Thursday, April 30, 2009

Good thoughts, Great food!

David Grega is a certified sommelier and wine consultant living in the Napa Valley; In addition David is the consulting winemaker and national sales manager for Carlotta Cellars. For more information e-mail

Always start with a positive feeling, a thought of happiness and joy. Each morning my very first task is to put myself in a positive state of mind. I remind myself that today is a precious gift, the day will bring fourth ample opportunities to make a real difference in the world weather small or large. I will squeeze as much pleasure out of today as I possibly can. Everywhere I go, I feel like a child on Christmas morning, awaiting the gifts that lye just around the corner. On this particular Wednesday afternoon I found myself running errands in Yountville, Ca. As I got in my car to leave I noticed a certain rumbling in my tummy. Time to eat! All I had to do was look straight ahead to find relief. Bouchon! One of the perks of living in the Napa Valley is having constant access to some of the worlds finest feasting spots. The following is an account of a lovely lunch on a perfectly pleasant Wednesday afternoon.

I always know just where to go when dinning at Bouchon. The bar is the best seat in the house, I promise you there is no better. The bar tender recognizes me right away,"ah! a local!" It's hard to forget a bearded 6 foot 245 pound guy that swirls a burgundy glass like he was born to do just that. Not to mention the Blundstone boots and "Napa Casual" t-shirt and cargo shorts. I got straight down to business. I ordered a salad that has become a classic standard at Bouchon, the simple yet flavorful "Maraichere au Chevre chaud" basically mixed greens with red wine vinaigrette, warm goat cheese and herbs de Provence. My drink of choice to accompany this dish was a lovely Sancerre. The Pastou , les Boucalts 2007 Sancerre had a nose of fresh currant leaf, honey and wet stone. On the palate I found a refreshing and pristine acidity coupled with a tasty Meyer lemon, white flower and mineral component. The pairing was near perfect!

For my main course there was no question in my mind, I wanted the Croque Madame! For those who are unfamiliar with the Croque Madame I urge you to become acquainted as soon as possible. The basic makeup is a toasted ham and cheese sandwich on brioche with Morney sauce topped with a fired egg (normally served with fries) I opted to have the "Carottes" which is basically a side of butternut squash seasoned with sage and currants. No wine was going to do for me what a few well made beers would. I chose to have a small portion of three beers to accompany my Croque Madame. Kronenbourg (France), Napa Smith, amber ale, and Duvel. The Duvel paired best with the Croque Madame, but I found the Napa Smith amber ale to be right at home with the Carottes. The Kronenboug was quite Delicious but was better suited on it's own.

Now time for a little dessert! I chose to enjoy one of my favorite Madeira wines, the Cossart Gordon Bual 10 year. One the nose I found a tantalizing combination of Cashew peanut brital, honey comb and toffee. The palate was amazingly viscous and full of layered flavors mirroring the nose with a terrifically long finish. As I was enjoying my Madeira two friendly gentlemen took seats next to me and ordered some Fino sherry. I made conversation with them and soon discovered that one of them was from Napa and another was from France. I enjoyed a few laughs then prepared to set out. I didn't realize until just before I left that one of the gentlemen was the technical director for Dominus in Yountville and the other was in fact Christian Moueix, the owner of Dominus and chateau Petrus. This was a pleasant surprise and capped off my wonderful lunch quite nicely. It's days like this that I truly understand the reason I am in the wine industry. Wine Food and people is what it all boils down to. Stay positive! Cheers!

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