One of the best abalone dishes I have ever had at Atelier Crenn at a lunch last week with the Basque Culinary Center. The Monterey Bay abalone was thinly sliced and topped with toasted seaweed, aioli, and a sauce made with abalone, served with egg yolk jam and smoked crème fraîche with oyster. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Buongiorno! You feeling some spring fever? I was so happy to be in Wine Country over the weekend—the fields are blankets of green velvet and everything is blooming, it’s all so lush. Saturday I drove to Petaluma for a class on California cheese at the Artisan Cheese Festival—great to get a history refresher on all our cheese pioneers!
I then scooted on over to Napa to check in to the Napa Marriott, a sponsor for Flavor! Napa Valley. But instead of hitting the grand tasting that night, I met up with friends to check out Miminashi in downtown Napa—what a styling space. Really enjoyed our meal, from all the robatayaki from their hearth to a fantastic okonomiyaki. And cocktails. And buckwheat soft-serve with sesame honeycomb and miso caramel, oh yeahhhhhh.
Sunday morning I emceed the final event for Flavor!, Bubbles and Brunch at Domaine Chandon. Chefs Brian Whitmer of VINeleven, Rick Moonen (RM Seafood), and Richard Blais (Juniper and Ivy) took no prisoners, what a spread! Thanks to Domaine Chandon for the beautiful venue and morning full of bubbles!
Don’t put those bubbles away just yet. Congrats are in order for chef Dominique Crenn, who placed 83 on this year’s list of World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards 51-100 winners. Check it out—Benu also placed well, along with The French Laundry, The Restaurant at Meadowood, and Manresa. The top 50 will be revealed at the awards event on Wednesday April 5th in Melbourne.
Speaking of faraway lands…I am so thrilled to share I’m going to Thailand for my first time (finally!) in May! I’m honored to be included on the Thai mission with the organization Pencils for Kids, celebrating their 10th year of providing backpacks, school supplies, and uniform vouchers for children so they can go to school in developing areas in countries like Thailand, Bali, and Myanmar. You’re going to be hearing a lot more from me about this amazing organization in the coming months, which has provided 13,755 backpacks to children so far! I’m going to be involved in a San Francisco fundraiser event later this fall and look forward to telling you more.
So, before the mission starts, I’m going early to have a week on my own somewhere beachy and beautiful (it’s going to be hot as hell!) and am then spending a week eating and adventuring my way through Bangkok. I’d love any recommendations for any beachy paradise you know of (but nothing fancy—this needs to be on the cheap!), and Bangkok favorites, of course! The final week, I’ll be heading to the Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp and Resort in Chiang Rai, our incredible hosts during the PFK mission. I know, what an amazing and once-in-a-lifetime experience. Thanks in advance—as always—for your excellent tips! You guys rock.