Today Mike and I are celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary! It’s hard to believe how the time’s flown. And we are still very much in love.
A special anniversary, of course, calls for a very special meal. We decided to celebrate one day early, at The Restaurant at Meadowood – a Michelin three-star restaurant in Napa County. Here we are in front of the restaurant:
On our table was a little card from the director of the restaurant, congratulating us on the occasion:
We had a lovely view from our table:
But (of course!) I was mostly paying attention to the handsome man sitting across from me:
Alas for you, I have no food photos to share. I am devastatingly old-school on the subject of fine dining: I don’t take photos of my food, generally speaking, and especially not in fine restaurants. My feeling is that if you are dining with someone, the focus should be on the food and the conversation, not immortalizing your meal for the Internet. In some ways, that was a pity – the food was beautiful as well as delicious, and I would have loved to share it. But one has to draw the line somewhere.
That doesn’t prevent me from describing the food, of course! I think my favorite dish in the eleven course meal was the opener: squash blossom “chips” with a dollop of house-made creme fraiche, studded with minced red peppers. The squash blossoms had been very lightly battered and deep-fried; they were fragile, translucent, crispy, and delicious. The creme fraiche and the tiny cubes of red pepper set them off perfectly.
There were ten other dishes, plus a few extras thrown in. My favorite dessert was a chilled olive oil custard (very firm – partly frozen, I think) molded into a disc, topped with quartered blueberries and a sprig or two of tiny flowers, and drizzled with walnut oil. The quartered blueberries were arranged cut side up, and looked like a flurry of flower petals atop the dessert. The walnut oil added a touch of bitterness to complement the round smoothness of the olive oil and the sweet fruitiness of the blueberries. Wonderfully done.
Then there was a delicious course featuring a daylily flower wrapped around a delicately cooked prawn, garnished with a sauce thickened with daylily bulbs and flavored with caviar. And a black cod that was the tenderest smoked fish I’ve ever eaten – it practically melted in my mouth.
The cheese course was also intriguing – preserved white peaches from last year (grown in the restaurant garden), with house-made ricotta cheese (superb, and nothing like the stuff you get from the store!), topped with little sprigs of Thai basil and shisu. The herbs added just a kick of spicy sweetness – perfect!
And then there was the duck “tea” course. The waiter brought over a small decanter of duck broth, and said, “Excuse me – I’m going to borrow a bit of your centerpiece.” He pulled out a tiny sprig of chrysanthemum from the decor and clipped little bits of the leaf into our bowls, then poured in the broth. We drank it like miso soup – straight from the bowl. It was delicious, and the chrysanthemum leaf added a lovely tingle to the flavor. And I had never expected to have a garnish come from the centerpiece! How delightful.
At the end of a thoroughly lovely meal, they invited us to come see the kitchen. It was impeccable, as you can see:
And here’s a photo of the two of us in the kitchen:
Finally, a touch of elegance: our check, upon arrival (sealed with sealing-wax, no less!).
Inside, in addition to the bill, was a handwritten note from our server:
And we got a lovely souvenir menu, with our names on it, and a listing of each of the wines from the wine pairing. All in all, a thoroughly wonderful evening, and a great celebration of five years of marriage.
We drove home and fell into bed, as blissful as a contented cat.