Your rolling hills,
Barrels of wine,
Wicked ass food,
I love you.
I was fortunate enough to spend this Memorial day weekend in one of my favorite places, Napa. I had forgotten how much I love Northern California, especially when it is sunny and 90 degrees out. No seriously, I love hot weather. I had been to Napa many times before for the typical wine tasting trips with lots of eating and boozing. But this time was different. I went with my family, and they don't drink. So what the hell do you do in Napa without wine? Let me tell you, it may have been my favorite visit so far. This may be the Grandma in me speaking, but between bird watching, water aerobics, sightseeing, bargain shopping, croquet, and a "Rock n Roll" workout class that featured the music of John Mayer, I was in heaven.
Obviously what I was most excited for was the food. Particularly Saturday nights reservation at Ubuntu, a restaurant I had been dying to try for the past year. I had heard about this revolutionary vegetarian restaurant from a friend who always knows the best spots for dining and is usually very reliable. He told me their unusual menu would please even the most carnivorous person and the Chef who was an absolute genius, had won a Michelin star for his creations. Obviously I was excited. I called 3 weeks in advance to book a table and spread my excitement with my sister and dad every time I spoke to them.
Saturday night approached and I was in excited. As we hopped in the car with our stomachs growling, we speculated about the many tasty vegetarian treats we would feast on. Would they have a vegetarian lasagna covered in thick layers of melted cheese with a pesto spread? Or perhaps a macaroni and cheese with truffle oil? Would a fabulous and exotic soup with mind blowing flavors be on the menu? Pizza? Chili? Amazing salads? The most flavorful tofu you had ever tasted? Our minds soared as our hunger intensified. I should mention that at some point during the car ride, I texted my friend to let him know about our future eating plans. His response was short. "New Chef, can't promise anything" "Oh whatever," I thought, "it can't change that much."
Flash forward to Ubuntu. I'm not sure if you can read the menu below but let me help you. MENU ITEM EXAMPLE: Arbuckle grits, slowly cooked with goats why, salsa MARO spezzato fresh ricotta, blackened and braised FAVAS, lavender mint.
There are 4 items in this dish that I can not verify. This is not always a negative thing, but in this case it was. See below to follow the course of our dinner.
Unfortunately the best part of the meal came first and was free. Their amuse bouche of deep fried fava beans. Obviously the best part was the fried goodness.
The Beet salad with a goat cheese horchata. Or as what my dad referred to as "Goat spit."
The second salad with burratta and greens. The cheese was the only part worth mentioning and the only thing I can say about that is that I wish there would have been much more.
"The Dragon!" As they called it. Or as I would appropriately rename it. "The Disappointment!" Smoked yams with turnips and a poached egg just seems wrong.
Yes it looked beautiful. But how can you be excited for a third course salad?
Finally! Something hot with some substance! This was honestly the only decent dish. At the time it seemed amazing, but I have no doubt it was only because by the time it finally came we were ready to eat our feet and were beginning to become nauseous from healthy overload.
Grits with strawberry jam. Need I say more?
I don't usually like potatoes. But potatoes atop of overworked scrambled eggs? It wasn't long before I had my head deep inside the toilet. After dinner there was only one thing on our mind- FAT. We needed some ASAP. We salvaged our stomachs on the ride home with malt balls, a milkshake and gummy bears from Dean & Deluca.
Though Ubuntu was disappointing, there certainly were other points of the trip that made up for it. My favorite would have to be the day we played croquet, (we're a classy family like that.) As we were about to take over the court in our bathing suits and tie dye, we were rudely informed that the dress code was all white. Of course we did not have all white clothing, what kind of family travels with all white jumpsuits? So we were faced with no other choice than to visit the local thrift store to purchase the necessary items. My dad found a white local hardware shirt for $4.90 and my sister got a great deal on a juicy couture tennis outfit for $0. I searched in vain for a ridiculously pompous outfit (something befitting a European Elitist) but had to settle for a pair of used banana republic shorts for $12 bucks. Adorned with our new purchases, we returned to the court resembling a white trash family more than ever. As I proudly swung my mallet and hit my ball into an elder ladies shin, I couldn't help but think how oddly at home I finally felt.