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Report: Chicago Hounds in Napa Valley

chicgail | May 22, 200804:11 PM

We had 2-1/2 days in the Napa Valley earlier this week. It was pretty hard to choose where to eat, what vinyards to visit, etc., so thanks to all who made suggestions. Here is our report.

As we drove in on Monday, we stopped for a late lunch at Mustards. We had wanted to try Bouchon, but it was closed at lunch for some construction. Mustards hadn't had great reports, but we enjoyed it. I had a fried oyster po'boy that was light and lovely (ok, so I ate the oysters and trimming, but skipped the bread). Very hot out of the frier (fries, too) and that went a long way. Mr. CG enjoyed a duck salad dressed with a Thai curry. Also very good. I loved the glass of Hess Sauvignon Blanc with it.

That evening we dined with friends at their home so no restaurant to report on

On Tuesday we wanted to lunch at Ubunto, but they, too, were closed at lunch for construction so, diappointed, we ate at Bistro Don Giovanni -- sharing the beet green bean salad, a pizza and Mr. CG also wanted to try the spaghetti with duck Bolognese. All tasty, but expensive. Also a great (but also costly) 1/2-bottle of pinot noir. The view from the back veranda was very pleasant and we tried to figure out what the fountain sculptures represented -- Cirque de Solieil? Probably wouldn't go back.

Late dinner at REDD. Once we found the place -- and that took something for Napa Novices like us -- we had the chef's tasting with wine pairings. Mr. CG and I each had different courses each time and if I did it again, I would simply choose the appetizer, entree and dessert I wanted because, while mine was fine, his was sooo much better. The luck of the draw, I guess. I wll say, however, that my peanut butter desert was to die for. I would love to go back and choose on my own (dying for the foie gras), but it was excellent.

It's probably not a good thing, but we did compare REDD to some of the great restaurants in Chicago. We did not think it stood up to Tru, Charlie Trotter or Alinea, but was comparable to NoMi.

Lunch on the way home at Taylor's Refresher. Great burgers. Awesome sweet potato fries. I would not order the garlic fries again. Tasted them all the way back to Chicago. Not good.

Vinyards we visted included Clos Pegase - unpleasant experience due to the person who "served" us and we wound up not appreciating even what he served us; Gloria Ferrar and Cline (both in Sonoma) - Beautiful view at Ferrar and we enjoyed both the sparkling and the pinot noirs there. Cline was delightful with surprisingly good wines and very good prices; Luna - nice experience and enjoyed the wines; Van Strasser -- Had the full tour and Rudy VS stopped to visit with us and talk culture and politics. Extraordinary wines; Clif Lede - bad art but good wines; unfortunately by the time we got there, we were kind of "wined" out.

We're now back home detoxing from all the rich food and wine, but so happy for the experience.

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