Sunday, June 10, 2012

Farm Fresh

Another day jaunt to the Napa Valley!

I'm writing this entry to mostly highlight our lunch experience at Long Meadow Ranch and their Farmstead Restaurant. One of my favorite places to eat and hang out in Northern California, no doubt about it, the hubby and I discovered this place about two years ago in St. Helena when they opened and have been coming back ever since.

*Long Meadow Ranch*
"To be a family-owned producer and purveyor of world-class wine and food in the Napa Valley that is economically successful and socially responsible using diversified, sustainable, and organic farming methods. Excellence through Responsible Farming"
"To produce and purvey world-class wine and food employing entirely sustainable, organic farming methods and to create the highest quality wine & food experiences that are richly flavorful, healthy, safe, and enjoyable."

Long Meadow Ranch is a 650-acre historic ranch nestled high atop the Mayacamas Mountains above the Napa Valley. Here they produce award-winning wines and handcrafted extra virgin olive oils - as well as grass-fed beef, eggs, and heirloom fruits and vegetables. They have a store front located next door to Farmstead where you can purchase their fine wines and olive oils- their Prato Lungo olive oil is to die for. Prato Lungo was named "Best California Olive Oil" and "Top Recommendation" for the USA in The Buyer's Guide to Olive Oil by renowned expert, Anne Dolamore. The 2011 vintage presents with a wonderfully fresh nose of green grass, green apple, and a touch of citrus. The entry into the mouth is silky smooth and the peppery after tastes reinforce the oil's role as the perfect condiment, also great for cooking.

Farmstead Restaurant ingredients are sourced from local purveyors, featuring Long Meadow Ranch's all-natural grass-fed beef, vegetables, extra virgin olive oil, and honey. Housed in a former nursery barn, their 110-seat restaurant is a casual, social culinary hub revolving around a central open kitchen with booth and central seating, community dining, and a full bar. Chef Stephen Barber possesses a substantial background in Southern cooking styles, he emphasizes a wood-burning element for select dishes, including wood roasted grass fed marrow bones with beet and parsley salad; wood grilled Pacific Cod with house made sausage, clams and potatoes; and brick-roasted Petaluma chicken with flageolet beans, greens and lemon.

One of our favorite parts of Farmstead- outdoors in season, guests can enjoy a meal among the espalier apple trees, drinks at the bar, or relax with friends and family by the cozy wood-fired authentic forge. The outdoor seating is tremendous! Comfy, cozy, warm in the winter, shaded in summer. We look forward to visiting as much as possible throughout the season. This time around we sat at the bar because the weather was enchanting. Here are some pics & details from my meal...

Started out with the wood grilled Castroville jumbo artichoke with sauce gribiche and lemon.

Potted” pig with homemade mustard and toast: a glass mason jar of fresh pulled pork with a lard cap that you mix in, creating a creamy delicacy that spreads easily.

Carpaccio of LMR beef with arugula, citrus, San Joaquin gold and toasted almonds. Divine!

Skillet Mac n Cheese... White cheddar and creamy Gruyere. Broiled golden on top.

Last but not least- The cookie platter! Double chocolate chunk, peanut butter and butterscotch chip cookies, powdered with sugar. The peanut butter were my absolute favorite.

The hubby and I left so darn fat and happy we could barely walk. The restaurant was beginning to get crowded as they were having a special summer concert later that evening that we weren't able to stay for. Once again, Farmstead, you rocked my world. The staff, ambience and foodie fare make it so hard to walk away from the counter. I could sit there all day, sipping wine and sampling the menu. It's restaurants like this one that keep me absolutely fascinated with food. Well prepared, simple and well presented, this place is successful in the sense that food should look good. But food should TASTE even better, and at Farmstead, they've got that part covered!

Realistically, the point of our trip up valley was to visit the beautiful Schramsberg Vineyards. I'm a huge fan of champagne, and having never been to see the estate itself, so I was very much looking forward to it. The home, winery and vineyards of Shcramsberg are spectacularly beautiful- a mile long driveway surrounded by dense woods and wildflowers, a restored turn of the century Victorian style manor along with classic, earthy timber built wine production facilities- and last but not least, the caves. Over 1.5 miles of sparkling caves dug under the earth, home to the thousands of resting bubbly bottles. The tour and visit were lovely, and Kelly, our guide was a fun addition to our learning experience. I finally convinced the hubby to let me join a bubbly wine club (Hooray!!!) as well. We left with three bottles of incredibly fancy bubbles, me with a huge grin on my face and the hubbs happy that he got to geek out on some serious sparkling wine. Here are a few pics from that visit:

The Frog Pond.

All for me. Heh. Bubbles!!!

Well, that's all I have for today- I'm off to finish making my hand-rolled chicken tamales for dinner. Hope everyone has had a lovely weekend!


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