Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bistro 108 Cooking Class & Valentine's Movie

Monday, March 2 -- Bistro 108 Cooking Class

Bistro 108's first cooking class of 2009 will be Monday, March 2, 6:00 pm at the Bistro. The cost will be $38/person. Please email us at if you are interested in attending. Here is the menu:

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Soup

Oven Roasted Pork Tenderloin stuffed with sauteed onion, spinach, garlic and bacon topped with a demi glaze

Vegetable Gratin

Raspberry Orange Flourless Chocolate Cake

Along with the good eats we will be serving 3 wines.

Hope to see you there.

Valentine's Night

Valentine's Dinner was very busy at the Bistro. All of our customers had a great time. Some of our good friends Kent Cole and Diana Prechter from Austin came to the Bistro and brought their friends, the Fremals, with them. While visiting La Grange they made a little movie of their visit that they have given us permission to share with you. Click on the following link and be patient (it will take a while to load). Enjoy!

(if you can't click on this link, just copy it and paste it into the address area of your browser)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Wrapup of Napa Trip

The last two days of the trip were great. We tasted some great wines at the Chappallet Vineyard and the folks at St. Supery gave us the royal treatment. Other great wines were tasted at Girard's winery, Honig winery and a don't miss visit to the Shafer winery. One of the real highlights of the trip (not counting the wine) was an olive oil tasting at Round Pond. They have two varietals of olive trees, Italian and Spanish. The Italian trees have a smooth trunk and bark whereas the Spanish trees have a very knarly base trunk and look ancient. They do not "press" thier olives, they macerate them to get the oil out. In a good year it takes the production of 1 tree to produce a gallon of extra virgin olive oil. The taste of the Spanish, which is picked a little greener than the Italian, is an earthy, pungent, peppery olive oil. The Italian oil has a smoother more refined flavor. Both are excellent finishing olive oils. They also press the skins of the blood orange and the meyer lemon to fuse those oils with the olive oil.

We ate at Bistro Jeanty, 25 Degree Brix and CIA Greystone. Of all the places we is how we would rank them. Number 1 is Bistro Jeanty because of their excellent French Bistro food, such as sweet bread pie, tomato soup, french onion soup, pigs feet salad, etc. It is a quaint, unpretentious place. Next, would be Michael Chiarello's Bottega for his unbelievable ricotta gnocchi and polenta under glass. Then Thomas Kellers Ad Hoc for the unique food preparation and delicous food. Brix and then CIA. If you are planning on visiting the Napa Valley don't miss Bistro Jeanty and Bottega.

We discovered many new and exciting wines and have some ideas for some new dishes. Most of the really good wineries are tasting by appointment only. Most of the wineries we visited reserve their best wines for wine club members only or to sell at the winery only. But we still managed to find some we should be able to obtain for Bistro 108.

Susan has been working on her menu for Valentine's Day. For this Friday and Saturday she will add Duck Breast and Beef Tenderloin and of course we will have our seafood fresh from Hawaii.

It has been a good trip to reawaken our senses and renew our creativity. We look forward to seeing you and talking to you more about our trip. You will probably have to tell us to...go away and leave you alone...we will be so eager to share.

Mike and Susan

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Day 2 of Napa Valley - Sonoma Business Trip

Day 2 begins with breakfast and coffee at Lavender's. Then we headed north on highway 29 on our way to Sonoma County to the Peter Michael Winery. The thing that strikes you is how incredibly concentrated the vineyards are here in Napa Valley. In the 25 or so miles from Yountville to the Peter Michael Winery we drove by Elyse, Domain Chandon, Folie a Deux, Robert Mondovi, Cakebread, Silver Oak, Opus One, Nickel & Nickel, Turnbull, St Supery, Rubicon Estates, Franciscan, Hall, Louis M. Martini, Sutter Home, Beringer, Charles Krug, etc, etc. just to name a few of the many you would recognize and many more vineyards that I haven't heard of. These are just the ones along 29, a half a mile over on the other side of the valley is the Silverado Trail wth many more familiar vineyards. It is amazing. Solid grape vines and olive trees.

Just a quick note about our little adventure to the Peter Michael Winery. We had a 3 hour private guided tour of the vineyard and winery by our host Kevin Toomajian their hospitality and wine education manager. Only people on their mailing list can get a tour. The winery is not open to the public. Michael & Cheryl have been on the mailing list for several years. The winery is owned by Sir Peter Michael and Lady Margaret Michael from England. It is 605 acres that starts at the base of a mountain (500 ft) and the highest vineyard is 1900 ft. Cabernet Sauvignon growing at the base and Chardonnay at the top. Their wines have been on allocation from their first vintage and they will probably always be on allocation. It was a breath taking view from the top vineyard looking down to the valley below. After touring the vines we were escorted to the tasting room to sample the wines.

We sampled two estate Chardonnays, a Sauvignon Blanc and a Red Bordeaux Blend. I will have complete tasting notes when I get back. The wines were superb. All were silky smooth, complex and delicious. It made tasting other wines the rest of the day difficult.

Next we sample wines at the Bennett Lane Winery, eat luch in Calistoga at Brannon's then more tasting at the Frank Family winery followed by wine and cheese at Lavender and dinner at Ad Hoc.

Dinner at Ad Hoc is served family style and there is only one thing, several courses though. Ad Hoc is also a Thomas Keller venture. On Monday night dinner menu was a lovely romaine salad with pickled vegetables dressed with a little vinegar and oil with Russian dressing on the side. Next came the main course of Beef Stroganoff, not your everyday variety. In this case it was beef short ribs which had been braised for 48 hours, sue vied, over fresh pasta with morel and button mushrooms and fresh carrots with sauteed cauliflower. Then there was the cheese platter with local cheeses served with crisp toasted French bread and orange perserves...yummy. For dessert there was a warm apple crisp with amaretto ice cream. Nice dinning experience in a deliberately understated decor.

And then we waddled down the street for a night cap at Bistro Jeanty followed by a sound nights sleep.

We taste so much wine during the day that by the time we go to dinner we are on wine overload.
So we find that we are shipping most of wine purchases back to be enjoyed later.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Mike & Susan Day 1 Napa California

Well here we are in Napa, California. Our first stop was at Fumi Bistro on highway 29. We had a great brunch. We started with Blood Orange Belinis along with a cheese plate of four different cheeses, Marcona almonds, pears and honey. The Bleu de Basque was fabulous. It is a mild sheeps milk bleu cheese. Susan ordered wood fire roasted artichokes (yum) and I had Sunshine scrambled eggs with avocado, apple smoke bacon and cheese. Next we hurried up the road to Yountville where we are staying at the Lavender (a French country inn). Our guides are our good friends and customers Michael & Cheryl Holt who immediately took us to the Hill Family Estate Vineyard tasting room just 2 blocks from the Lavender. There we met Ryan Hill who was our host. We tasted their 2006 Chardonnay Carly's Cuvee made from the same grapes they sell to Far Niente and Cakebread Vineyards. Next was the 2006 Pinot Noir Stewart Ranch, 2004 Merlot Beau Terre Vineyard, which is made from grapes they sell to Duckhorn and Napa Vally vineyards and we finished with their 2006 Clarke Vineyard Syrah. All their wines will make a great addition to our wine list once they have finalized signing a deal with a Texas wine distributor. Maybe even a future wine dinner.

So many options here from Napa!!!

We came back to the Lavender for their complimentary wine and cheese where we met Gina & Marcello Betti, fellow restrauantuers from San Fransisco. They own and operate Manga Rosa an Italian with Brazil influence restaurant on Stockton Street. We will have to go there on our next trip to California.

Cheryl & Michael are great guides. She made dinner reservation at Bottega, Chef Michael Chiarello's latest adventure. It opened in December 2008. Cheryl had the house made Veal Tortellini in Brodo di Carne with Browned Butter, Butternut Squash and Sage. Micheal had the seared Day-Boat Scallops with Pink Chickpea Passatina, Cauliflower in "Agrodolce". Susan ordered the Chicken & Basil Canneloni and I had the Ricotta Gnocchi, salsa pomodoro alla nonna, pecorino. The gnocchi was soft and light as a feather. All the dishes were impeccable and we were all very satisfied. Then Chef Michael came out of the kitchen to say hello. (Of course I did not bring my camera to dinner) What a great surprise. It just goes to show you that if your own a restaurant you have to work the restaurant, even if your are a famous TV chef. For dessert we shared a Chocolate-Almond Molten Chocolate Cake with hazelnut creme anglaise and caramelized hazelnuts. As we were leaving Chef Michael gave Susan a quick tour of his kitchen. You could not have asked for a better day.

Now we say goodnight.