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Bits and Bites...

WHAT & WHERE: “Dinner’s On Us!” Package – Napa River Inn - Napa, California  (www.NapaRiverInn.com), the only Michelin three-starred downtown Napa hotel ideally situated in the Historic Napa Mill, just steps away from the newly re-developed Napa Riverfront District, is pleased to offer the “Dinner’s On Us!” package featuring overnight accommodation and dinner at any one of four dining spots on the much buzzed-about Restaurant Row: Angele, Fish Story, Tyler Florence Rotisserie and Wine or Morimoto Napa. “The Napa River Inn is in an ideal location to explore and enjoy downtown Napa .  We’re steps away from shopping, wine tasting, entertainment and gourmet restaurants,” noted Sara Brooks , general manager of Napa River Inn.  “The ‘Dinner’s On Us!’ package gives guests the perfect opportunity to explore downtown Napa and dine at some of the latest gourmet hot spots.”

Angele, located in the Historic Napa Mill, features French-country cuisine highlighting traditional recipes with contemporary influences from classic simplicity to robust balance.  Fish Story is the newest venture from Lark Creek Restaurant Group highlighting local sustainable fish with both new and familiar preparations.  Recently opened, Morimoto is a Japanese-inspired restaurant with Napa influences from celebrity Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto.  Food Network celeb Chef Tyler Florence has teamed up with Jeremy Fox of Ubuntu fame to open Rotisserie and Wine.  All of these restaurants are located just steps from The Napa River Inn. 

Guests that stay at Napa River Inn from November 15 through March 31* and book the “Dinner’s On Us!” package will receive a dinning credit of $100 per night booked, at a choice of four of the restaurants on Restaurant Row (Morimoto, Rotisserie, Fish Story or Angele), plus all the luxurious amenities that are standard at Napa River Inn.  To book this package please visit www.NapaRiverInn.com or call (877) 251-8500.

As with every stay at the Napa River Inn, guests will enjoy complimentary breakfast-in-bed delivered each day to their room from Sweetie Pie’s Bakery. Guests may also take advantage evening wine tastings featuring local wineries, nightly turndown service, wireless high speed internet access in all guest rooms, four award-winning restaurants, on-site shopping, live jazz music at SILO’s Jazz Club, and rejuvenating spa treatments at La Pelle Skin Spa& Boutique. *Rates starting at $249 per night, for a limited time only.  Stay dates are November 15 through March 31. Saturday nights may have a two-night minimum and all nights are subject to package availability. 

About Napa River Inn

Situated in downtown Napa in the Historic Napa Mill, along the banks of the Napa River , Napa River Inn is Napa ’s only locally-owned and operated luxury hotel, offering premium quality guest rooms with luxurious linens. The Napa River Inn, the only Michelin three-starred downtown Napa hotel, is located in the Historic Napa Mill, a National Registered Landmark built in 1884 and a world-class urban destination in the heart of California ’s beautiful wine country.  The Historic Napa Mill offers luxurious lodging options at Napa River Inn with exceptional service, four award-winning restaurants — Angèle, Celadon, the Napa General Store and Sweetie Pies Bakery, premium wine tasting, on-site shopping, live jazz music at SILO’s Jazz Club, and rejuvenating spa treatments at La Pelle Skin Spa & Boutique.  The Napa River Inn is a fun, historic, downtown hotel that personifies the California wine country experiencehighlighting Napa ’s rich and colorful history. 

The Napa River Inn is located at the Historic Napa Mill at 500 Main Street , Napa , California , 94559.  For reservations and information, please visit www.napariverinn.com or call (877) 251-8500.



Portland Restaurants go Green At the Northwest's Big Show

By: Valerie Brockbank  If you have never been to a restaurant industry conference and trade show, make friends with a chef or your barista and get them to take you along as an “employee for a day.” You’ll get a ring-side seat at an event that is part education, part food tasting and part entertainment.

The Northwest Foodservice Show was in Portland this year. The focus was on helping the restaurant trade to “Go Green” and find ways to streamline their businesses in a tough economy.

The entire event was green, with separate recycle bins everywhere. Boyds Coffee partnered with a local company to produce compostable cups and lids; The Hilton in Vancouver, WA was there to look for the next sustainability breakthrough; and Duck Delivery, a Northwest fruit and vegetable purveyor, is the first distributor in the USA to be Food Alliance-Certified. “We’re doing everything we can to look at the carbon footprint and trying to use as much local product when it’s available. We think we’re ahead of the curve,” said Ernie Spada Jr., V.P. of Duck Delivery Produce. “In the certification context, sustainability encompasses water and soil conservation, human resource practices, and recycling. It’s definitely not a rubber stamp!”

The primary reason the food trade attends a show like this is to see what’s new in products and what the trends are. “You get ideas,” said Jan Wollett of Burton’s Catering. “We’re looking for everything from soup to nuts.”

I’ve been a recent convert to molecular gastronomy—where science meets cooking. I have eating dishes combined with algin, calcic, eines, xantana— yum! I sat in on a cooking demonstration by Chef Woojay Poynter, who has worked at Alinea in Chicago, and now teaches in Portland and Coos Bay, Ore. He produced a sou vide salmon, spherification for “dill caviar”, herb foams and CO 2 grapes. “Molecular gastronomy shouldn’t represent a type of cuisine that only certain chefs can do,” Poynter said. “Understanding what the cooking process does to your food, hopefully, can make everyone a better cook.” Well, I’m planning on experimenting with Merlot Caviar, CO2 muscat grapes, and powderized brie. I bought a texturizing kit at the show that has twelve little containers of gastronomy magic.

On the beverage front, Hood River Distillery was tasting their locally-made vodka, which is America’s first potato vodka. Spudka is smooth, lychee scented, 80 proof vodka made with Idaho potatoes and the famous glacier-fed Mt. Hood spring water. Their Pendelton Whisky has the best of both worlds for me; fine blended Canadian Whisky and the same spring water from Mt. Hood; rich, creamy with caramel overtones reminiscent of barrel-aged bourbon. The Rogue Ale Company, famous in Oregon for its microbrews, has ventured into making spirits. They showcased their dark and white rums, Dead Guy Whiskey, hazelnut spice rum, pink and spruce gin. Rogue started making spirits in 2003 using small copper pot stills, artisan practices, and no chemicals or additives.

With restaurants, hotels and food service people competing for our dollars, the food service industry has to entice us to buy and then develop our loyalty. I was impressed by the chefs, food purveyors and suppliers goals to provide the best products at the lowest prices, produced with sustainability.

Woojay Poynter’s Dill Caviar

5 grams Sodium Alginate

4 grams Calcium Lactate

4 oz fresh dill

1 tbs sugar

1/4 tsp salt

In a blender, blend Sodium Alginate and 500 grams of water until solution has thickened. Allow to sit for a few hours.

Blanch dill in boiling water for 5 seconds, and place in ice water. Drain well and chop coarsely.

In a blender, blend chopped dill, 100 grams water and remaining ingredients until dill is liquified. Check seasonings and strain.

Using a dropper or pipette, drop the dill liquid into the Sodium Alginate bath to form dill caviar of desired size. Leave in bath from 30 seconds to 1 min, skin will get thicker the longer you leave the caviar spheres in the bath. Rise carefully under cold water and serve. For larger spheres freeze dill liquid in ball-shaped ice cube tray, then put frozen balls into Sodium Alginate bath, until liquid defrosts. Rinse and serve.



The Wine Cask in Santa Barbara put up for sale

According to BizBen.com, the Wine Cask, in Santa Barbara, has been listed for sale for $517,000+ change. This is a sad turn of events for one of the top restaurants along the coast. A multi-time Wine Spectator award winner, the restaurant has offered an extensive 2,500 bottle wine list and sophisticated dining downtown for many years. Our hope is that a new owner comes along quickly to uphold the standard at this beautiful location. - JAS


Culture Magazine Launch Party at Oxbow Market

Off the Vine joined co-founders Kate Arding and Lassa Skinner along with a large group of chefs, restauranteurs, cheese makers and locals at Culture Magazine’s Launch party at the Oxbow Market in Napa. An upbeat vibe and great cheese from Ireland (several from County Cork) included a range of styles from soft to firm, blue to washed rind, and a crumbly white cheddar. The cheese was paired with a Napa Smith Porter. Wonderful to see how far cheese culture has come in the US over the last 10 years. We must give thanks to pioneers like Laura Chenel, Alice Waters, the Cow Girl Creamery, and now Kate and Lassa for there evangelistic fervor. The magazine is published 4 times a year. To subscribe go to: Culture Magazine



Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite hosts Chefs' Holiday

Yosemite’s Chefs’ Holiday at The Ahwahnee Hotel, held each year in January and February, features some of the world’s most innovative and acclaimed chefs. The 2009 Chefs’ Holiday special event features top-name chefs from across the country who will be coming to The Ahwahnee. The first session is set for January 11th and includes behind the scenes kitchen tours and demonstrations and culminates with the superb Chef’s Gala Dinner on January 13th. For more information visit Yosemite Chefs’ Holiday.