NAPA-LY EVER AFTER

 

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This is the view I see every day when I take my dog, Phoebe, and my grand dog, Whiskey for a walk. I call it the Vizsla Vista. It’s Alston Park, an off-leash park that is surrounded by reserved land planted with grape vines.

Did I mention I’m spending the winter in Napa Valley?

I was invited to stay with my son and lovely daughter-in-law to escape the Northeastern winter and work on my new website &  project Recipe For Reinvention. It’s a rare thing if your grown child asks you to come and stay, so there was no way I was going to say anything but “yes” and do whatever I had to do to make it happen! This included finding a tenant to sublet my house for 5 months and getting a letter declaring I need a “therapy dog” so I could bring my elderly Viszla, Phoebe along for the plane ride in comfort.

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So far, so good, here in Napa. My daughter-in-law, Theresa, who is on the wine team at The French Laundry has been arranging tastings for us at small, unique wine producers through out the valley. It’s been wonderful to meet these passionate hard-working people who work the land and create these delicious, unique wines. You may never find their work on your local wine shop shelves because they just don’t produce the volume for national distribution, or they sell a bulk of their wines to high-end restaurants with great wine lists, but they all have wine clubs and will ship wine directly to consumers. And having a tasting with these small producers is more like being invited into someone’s home, as opposed to the “bus tour” feel of tastings in the larger, more familiar brand tasting rooms that line the highway.

One I really loved was White Oak. Just a beautiful vineyard, friendly people and a nice picnic table overlooking the vineyard that would make a wonderful stop on a Napa Valley Curated Culinary Tour (I’m hoping to put together for late summer or fall of 2017).

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For Thanksgiving we had a big “Friendsgiving” with 20 or so of the young staff from The French Laundry, (where my son is a Sous Chef), who find themselves far from home. Needless to say it was a helluva potluck with all of these talented culinary types bringing dishes.  My son had a fresh ham brining for days and made a rich pork stock with the hoof and bones. The skin is drying out and there will be homemade pork rind to crunch on. I made my Turkey Leg Confit that is based on Thomas Kellers Duck Confit recipe from Bouchon Cookbook and the cornbread stuffing that I posted here a few years back (see link below). Every counter and surface in my son’s little bungalow was covered with food and drink.

So much fun!

Sorry, I did not post this in time for Thanksgiving, but here are a few recipes that may do well for your Christmas feast or potluck. Happy cooking!

Not Your Mama’s Greenbean Casserole

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Red Wine Poached Pears with Vanilla Marscapone Cream

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Cornbread Stuffing with Bacon, Leeks and Pecans

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Pinot Noir Spiced Cranberry Sauce

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Give yourself the gift of a Recipe For Reinvention culinary tour in Italy with Chef Rachel. Cook up what’s next for you in your life!

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