Monday, February 29, 2016

The Bywater - Los Gatos

5/5 stars

I am obsessed with this place. 

Since January, if anyone asks me where I want to eat or where they should eat or where their mom should eat... I say TheBywaterTheBywaterTheBywater!!!

The first time we went for my birthday and I was *so* giddy, I want to take this moment to thank the staff for putting up with me. I mean, I literally squealed like a fangirl when David Kinch stood by my seat at the bar. Squealed. Like. A. Pig.

I think the Birthday Gods were kind because we found parking right away and there was NO LINE! Woo! 

Right when we entered, we were ushered to an empty spot near the bar with a great view of the kitchen. We started with half a dozen oysters (my favorites are from St. Simone), and a Hurricane for me (jamaican rum blend, passion fruit, campari, lemon) and a Sazerac for him (rye, armagnac, hermsaint, peychaud's bitters, gomme). Hubby said it was the best Sazerac he's ever had.

Actually, everything you drink at The Bywater will be the best you've ever had. Reason: Tin Roof Drinking Company. Claire & Chad are not rising stars in the cocktail scene, they ARE the stars. They've created a menu highlighting New Orleans ingredients, dazzle, and idiosyncrasies. Yes, they're talented, but they are also super humble and thoughtful. Claire spoiled us and spent the evening talking to us. I had such a wonderful time because of her. She even made me a birthday cocktail: tequila, lemon juice, honey, herbsaint, sparkling cava, and the fluffiest egg whites ever.

We also had the:

PRAH-LEEN (bourbon, pecan, banana & lime): tastes like pie

Frappé (herbsaint, apple & lime): this has a very distinct taste (anise) and if you want a cocktail you've probably never tasted before, get this one

Irish Channel (whisky, cognac, nitro cold brew coffee, cynar & spice mix): it goes really well with the butterscotch pudding

Shrimp Po' Boy: BEST SANDWICH IN THE BAY AREA (possibly the world)

Red Beans & Rice: succulent, tastes like bacon

Butterscotch Pudding: I'm christinepuddin and I adore pudding

Now you wanna hear about my other visits here? (I told you I was obsessed.) I'll keep it short and just tell you that we were spoiled silly by the awesome Jeremy & Nikki. This is what we had:

West Indy Sour (cabernet wine, cognac, all-spice dram & lime) 

No Mayo (gin, aperol, St-Germain, lime & champagne)

3 Dots and a Dash (2 types of rum, falernum, lime, all-spice dram, bitters, honey, oj, and tiki love)

The Maguey Sour (the only mezcal I've ever liked, orgeat, lemon, egg white & benedictine)

And because it was almost-Valentine's Day (and because it's SO hard to get): Old Rip Van Winkle 10 year... and in case you were wondering, hubby said that Pappy wasn't just hype ;)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Restaurant At Meadowood - St. Helena

Going again soon... so moving this to the top of my blog because *squee*...

5/5 stars

Transcendent. I felt like I was floating, watching this girl, this couple, experience this - they are very lucky.

The dining room is quite intimate, with only 20 or so tables. Dark wood, cream-colored walls, crisp, white tablecloths with bright, yellow flowers in cloudy vases, and big windows allowing lots of light. We got seated next to one of the windows, overlooking the porch and the trees. An envelope with the restaurant's seal greeted us. It wished us a happy anniversary.

Olin was our host for the evening and he was friendly and easy to talk to. He asked us if we wanted to see the menu or if we wanted to be surprised. We said we wanted to be surprised. We were there for the journey. And one of the best parts of this journey? Getting to see what vessel Chef Kostow was going to use to display his food. The ceramics were part of the joy.

My husband did the wine pairing, but I opted for the bartender's, Sam, wild and wonderful concoctions. He even makes his own root beer. He delivers the drink with stories about what inspired them - thoughtful childhood memories. He was so sincere and incredibly talented.

I didn't get to speak to Chef Kostow that night when we toured the efficient kitchen, but I saw him again a couple weeks later when he came to Google to talk. I got another cookbook signed and got to tell him that his mashed potatoes with caviar was the best thing I'd ever eaten in my life.

The teasers:
Kale chip with chorizo

The menu:

Gwen avocado oyster rancho chimiles walnut
Fermented potato caviar nasturtium
Broccoli whelk agretti
Abalone coal roasted eggplant smoked pepper
Cod cooked in sunflower petals
Kohlrabi cooked in it's own juice flax seed mustard
Squab "tea"
Grilled squab hibiscus leaf berries
Veal short rib tendon roe dill
Alpine cheese roasted pumpkin honey truffle
Olive oil coconut borafe
Ha'ogen melon padron pepper vanilla

The highlights:

Fermented potato caviar nasturtium: Picture a smooth, white, perfect mound of the most delicious mashed potatoes ever made. Then imagine dipping your spoon into the center of it and, to your surprise, exposing a heart of tiny, quivering, shiny, black caviar. Served with warm, fresh, tiny, fluffy, buttery, salty rolls. Best. Thing. I. Have. Ever. Eaten.

Alpine cheese roasted pumpkin honey truffle: The presentation was fun (it was served in the pumpkin itself) and the cheese was creamy and only slightly pungent. It was perfect paired with the sweet honey and the homemade sourdough rye. I am not a rye fan, but I ate that entire loaf.

Grilled squab hibiscus leaf berries: Chef Kostow seems to utilize every bit of the plant or animal. Before we had the squab, we drank its tea. The squab with berries was amazing. It reminded me of the nursery rhyme, "Sing a Song of Sixpence":
Four and twenty blackbirds,
Baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened,
The birds began to sing;
Wasn't that a dainty dish,
To set before the king?

I am no king, but Meadowood made me feel blessed. I'm coming back, and I'm bringing family.

(Oct 1, 2014)