Thursday, January 03, 2008

Top Food

Yesterday, we took our friends Eric, Diane, and Abby to see Copia, a food and wine center in Napa. Copia was founded by Robert Mondavi and others as a place to educate about and celebrate food and wine. There are often food and wine related events there: talks, demonstrations, tastings, films... but even on a day like yesterday when there isn't anything special going on, it's a very fun place to visit.

There was a lot to look at, from the lobby, through the entire place, and out to the amazing garden. rI was captivated by two giant urns in the lobby, each about 5 feet tall. When I looked close, I saw they were made out of BOTTLE CAPS. Cool! (Oh my, an unintentional pun...CAPtivated, get it?!) Click on the photo for a closer look at all those bottle caps...

And here's something that impressed us no end... Automated wine tasting machines. There were various ones, loaded with different bottles of wine. You'd buy a "wine card" from another machine (insert credit card and load with however much money you plan to drink)...then you'd put a glass under the spigot of choice, insert wine card, and choose "taste," "half glass," or "full glass." How nifty is that?

After a bit of roaming around, we had a luxurious gourmet lunch at Julia's Kitchen, the restaurant named in honor of THE Julia...Julia Child, of course.

I simply could not get over the feeling that I had stumbled onto the judge's table in an episode of Top Chef. The food was so elegant and tasty, not to mention far more fancy than what we usually eat. I kept expecting Padma and Chef Tom to appear.

I started with an appetizer of grilled scallops in a citrus/fennel sauce. They were swoonably delicious.

Oh --and all this gorgeous food gave me the opportunity to use my new camera AND try out the "food" setting. I know -- a camera with a FOOD setting? I shamelessly photographed everyone's meal. Here's Diane's pumpkin ravioli.

And Eric's bouillabase. Look! There's some sort of foam on top! Remember Marcel from Top Chef and how he'd put foam on everything? We were thrilled with the foam.

My appetizer was followed by an ahi tuna salad in some special dressing devised by Julia herself (when she was alive, of course). It was fabulous. Those are brioche croutons, by the way. Not just ordinary stale bread croutons.

After all of those well-cleaned plates were cleared away, the waitress brought pre-dessert. Yep, mini dessert to be served before dessert. Who knew? This was some sort of raspberry champagne gelatin thingie over a very creamy custard. I was so startled by the concept of pre-dessert that I missed the official description. But it was yummy, especially the tart winey jello eaten along with the creamy stuff.

And the grand finale was the dessert, which I ONLY ordered in the spirit of doing research for my Twelve by Twelve challenge group, which has "chocolate" as its upcoming theme. Dedicated, aren't I? This was called "Rocky Road Redoux" -- and quite the presentation it made.

That little triangle in the upper left corner was a coating of unsweetened cocoa powder (which made a perfect zen garden for making shapes with a fork)...then a tall shot class full of fancy malted milk, then a square of a chocolate mousse-rocky road substance that was downright heavenly, topped by a crunchy dark chocolate brittle... then a little neat pile of chocolate nibs surrounded by dots of chocolate and malted foam (more foam!!), then a little round of dense foam topped with a perfect walnut half.

Oh my.

Here we all are, looking happy and well fed and ready for naps.

Our friends leave tomorrow bright and early (to fly back to Maine, which is reporting a temperature of minus 14 degrees) so we will be heading back to life as usual. We will miss them sorely and look forward to our next visit.


  1. everything looks delish! and a camera with a food setting --- oh my!

  2. Anonymous4:33 PM

    What a yummy night that must have been. The girls have grown so much, I remember seeing pictures some time ago, they are lovely young ladies now!

  3. I gotta ask! What brand of camera has a food setting? You sure take great food pictures with it.