The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone
Napa Valley was one of my best memory during my previous trip to California.
Magnificent view of acres of grape vines on both side of the roads was breathtaking. Too bad it was winter, not a single leaf was spotted on the vines.
Mr. Food Guide knows this place that have been always on my mind, it is one of the place I want to go the most, even till today. He stopped there without saying anything and asked me to go and have a look.
Cluelessly, I walked pass this beautiful front part.
Then, I came to it nice and tidy backyard.
Still, I didn't know what he was trying to tell me.
Then he pointed to the wall. All of the sudden, everything was more than obvious to me.
The FRENCH LAUNDRY!!! Oh gosh, it was like dreaming. I was in front of the place that I have dreamt countless times. Too bad, it was closed for the festive season. Oh well, French Laundry, I will definitely come again one day. I will make sure I taste you for real that time.
For those of you that have no clue what this place is, it is ranked the Best Restaurant in America and No.4 in the World by Restaurant Magazine. Even the waiters that serve you have a proper 3-year course before they are qualified to serve in this place. You have to book this place months earlier in order to be able to eat here.
Mmmm~~~ even thinking about it is making my adrenaline running wild now.
Well, we went to another place though for a good lunch. Past through this beautiful road...
... and one nice looking building showed in front of us.
Tralala~~~ another place that I have always wanted to go. The Culinary Institute of America in Greystone!! So happy that I was finally there.
This place produced many great chefs and will produce more.
They even plant there own big and juicy lemon...
...and their own olives.
Imagine these fresh from trees goodies will be served to us on the dining tables. ^_^
We were lucky to get our table although we did not do any booking. We waited for 45 minutes for our turn.
During that time, it was great to have a short visit to the CIA museum attached beside. Even had a nice little shopping in the souvenier shop.
That was just the perfect time to fill up our hungry stomach.
This restaurant is unique as all the people working inside are either the CIA teacher or student. How cool is that!!
Not many restaurants serve olive as starter but they have it here. Three different types of olive, tasted very different. One of them was my favorite. I hope these were the olives from their garden.
The bread was great. Especially with the butter, who cared about calories that time. :P
Since it was year end time, I wanted a seasonal warm Brandy Egg Nogg to soothe my throat before the real stuffs.
Sweetness from the egg nogg and kick from the Brandy, they just matched so well. *slurp*
Oolala~~~ look at our choice of appetizer.
This was called American Caviar and Oyster Tasting. It was a trio of caviar and oysters from three different regions served with crème fraîche and mignonette.
Well, these were the best raw oyster that I have ever tasted. They were small, but the taste was explosive even by its own. The companion of the caviar definitely boosted up the whole thing.
It was indeed a pleasant surprise for me. Each of them was so unique, neither one could overtake the other. I love the texture of these fresh oyster, therefore I prefer them over caviar. However, since my eating experience in caviar was very limited, I will only make my judgement when I get to eat a few more times.
Until then, hehe... I will always choose Mentaiko over caviar. :P
We ordered 2 main courses.
First was this salmon with goat cheese terrine. The different sprouts at the side looked good, but not my cup of tea. I am never a fan of sprouts, I just don't like the feeling of gulping these little plant down.
It was my first time trying a terrine. Lovely looking dish. I love the way how the mild goat cheese blended with herbs to give the irresitible temptation to me. The salmon was the best among the combination. A good slice of salmon was great to eat it just as it was. Lovely melting texture with the umami of the salmon. Serious stuff!
The next main course was Pan Seared Day Boat Scallops with gnocchi and green sprout. The scallops was cooked rare and went very well with the porcini sauce. I never really like gnocchi because it makes one full easily. However, the gnocchi in this dish was only a supporting role, only a few inside. Yet, these few gnocchi brought out the whole dish into a different level of enjoyment, both taste and texture.
Argh~~~ I miss these big and plump scallops.
Since I have an obsession to try different version of creme brulee, I decided to give it a shot for the CIA's version.
It did not disappoint me at all. In fact, one of the pretty good version in my creme brulee list. Look at those tiny vanilla beans inside the custard layer and the thin layer of the hardened caramelized sugar on the top of it, pretty much said how good this thing was. The moment when I break the hard caramel surface with my spoon, it splited just as where I wanted it too be, not too much nor less.
The whole lunch was absolutely a fantastic experience for me. It definitely qualified as one of my best lunch. Proper yet relaxing dining place, great food and pleasant service... that is really what I want in a good eating-out.
The next time if you go to Napa Valley, get yourself a chance to dine in CIA restaurant. It will be a good memory for your life time. ;)