Sunday, August 16, 2009

Culinary Getaway - Napa Valley

As you can imagine, my weekend was off-the-charts fantastic! I'm still in a state of culinary bliss! Sherry Page truly has to be one of the most generous, fun-loving, talented and enthusiastic chefs I've ever had the pleasure of knowing (and now, I can say, learning from).

The Napa Valley Culinary Getaway began Friday evening with a welcome dinner at Sherry's adorable cottage in Yountville. Every detail of the evening was divine - meeting the other happy attendees (there were only 7 of us because Sherry prefers intimate groups), the tour of Sherry's terraced garden of herbs, rhubarb, tomatoes, chard, peppers, figs, pomegranates, pears, and more, and dining al fresco underneath the rugged beauty of her walnut tree on a warm summer night. It's difficult for me to choose one favorite item from Sherry's 5-course dinner menu, so I'll share a few of my favorites: the Salad of Fresh White Corn, Sungold Tomatoes and Basil, the Roasted Chicken with Roasted Meyer Lemons, and the Lemon Verbena Ice Cream. Not to mention, she pairs each course with an exceptional wine. Are you drooling yet?

Saturday morning, we met at Silverado Vineyards for our hands-on cooking class. Of course, it wouldn't be right if a private winery tour wasn't part of the day, so this is how the sun-kissed morning began along with a glass of Sangiovese in our hands. After the very informative tour, Sherry gave us a class on sea salts which was so interesting and useful. She then passed out our personalized embroidered aprons (she doesn't miss a detail!), and we headed to the kitchen to begin preparing our multi-course lunch of Carmelized Dates with Roasted Almonds and Fleur de Sel, Figs stuffed with Fresh Chevre and Chopped Hazelnuts, Farmers Market Vegetable Paella, Filet of Beef Tenderlion Roast with Tattooed Yukon Gold Potatoes and Dressed Greens, and Balsamic Strawberries with Cracked Pepper and Creme Fraiche. Yes, this was our lunch! We prepared every course with our own hands along with the guidance of our gracious and very patient 'food mentor', Sherry; so when the time came for us to enjoy the 'fruits of our labor', we did so with much glee while dining on the outdoor terrace overlooking the vineyards. Two words: Culinary Heaven!

As a grand finale, on Sunday, we learned to make the glorious galettes I mentioned here, and we made blueberry, nectarine, and apple. (Oh my, look out friends and family, I see lots of these tasty tarts in your future!) After this cooking lesson, we all sat down to Sherry's delicious breakfast of grits with piave vecchio cheese, chicken and mango sausage, fresh seasonal fruit, Bouchon bread with strawberry rhubarb or blackberry preserves, and our fresh from the oven galettes. A very hearty and satisfying Sunday morning indulgence!

Hopefully, my words did this experience justice, for I highly recommend attending one of Sherry's Culinary Getaways. If you love good food, have the desire to learn to cook delicious dishes, and enjoy being taught by a very knowledgeable and fun person, then one of these getaways would be ideal for you. I'm already looking ahead to 2010 in hopes of attending one of the European Culinary Getaways in either Provence or Tuscany. And as a food lover's good fortune would have it, Sherry is also going to start offering one day classes in the Bay Area too! I urge you to sign up for her newletters here; I guarantee you will be just as excited as I am when they arrive in the inbox, for they are always filled with great recipes, reviews, culinary getaway updates, and seasonal tips. This weekend was the perfect combination of incredible food and wine, breathtaking vistas, great people, and extraordinary lessons to expand my culinary knowledge - all wonderful elements that helped to create a blissful memory I will cherish for a very long time.


49 comments:

  1. What a wonderful weekend! You must be over-the-moon with excitement. What dish will you prepare first. This is a dream of mine. Next trip to Italy I will be taking some cooking classes. I have to re-read this now. Thank you for the lovely way your describe it all.

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  2. What a sensation blog you have! Just wanted to tell you that! So glad I found it.

    Hope you have a lovely week :)

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  3. That sounds so utterly delightful in everyway darling Mel. What an absolute treat, Sherry sounds like a fabulous person as well as a talented chef.

    Next year's plans sound to die for.
    xoxo

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  4. SUperbe post, because is superbe your week end and your interests. PS: when I read your post, my mouth is watering!

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  5. i AM drooling!
    what a fun weekend!!!
    xx
    callie

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  6. Oh my goodness, yes I am drooling already. And I am signing up for those newsletters and putting this getaway idea in my file cabinet of things I really really want to do and soon...Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us! It sounds just divine!

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  7. i'm so glad you had an amazing time. this sounds like something to put on the "to do" list for my future.

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  8. Oh Mel, I've been waiting all weekend for you to report back on your culinary getaway.
    It certainly sounds like it lived up to expectations....you have described every detail so well that I now believe that I went as well !!!!!!
    What a fabulous time you must have had....can't wait to go with you on one of your European jaunts !! XXXX

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  9. You really said it best: off the charts. Everything, and I do mean everything, looks and sounds so good.

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  10. Mel, not only i'm drooling but i wish i could go!!
    She sounds truly amazing and caring for every little detail (the personalized apron is great!)

    wish i could meet you in Provence or Tuscany next year !
    :-)

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  11. Wow....what an amazing experience...you lucky girl ... I so would of loved to be there. Thanks for sharing ...your images are amazing!

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  12. Wow....what an amazing experience...you lucky girl ... I so would of loved to be there. Thanks for sharing ...your images are amazing!

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  13. wow and wow some more ...
    you hardly had to say a word, i sat totally fixated on the images for a loooong time ... what an incredible and unforgettable experience for you ~ big time yum!
    thanks for giving us a tasty glimpse ~
    prairiegirl xo

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  14. Um, I'm going to have to pick up my jaw from the floor now. Those photos are lovely and what you described sounds amazing. Thanks for sharing. I'm so happy for you but also so very jealous of your experience.

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  15. That sounds lilke heaven! My cooking could really benefit from those culinary classes. Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience with us!

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  16. I am positively electric green with envy! What a fabulously indulgent weekend you had. So glad you enjoyed yourself.

    Cheers.

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  17. I read this post slowly to visualize every word and understand the ingredients, and I am so jealous! Sounds like you had a wonderful time. I noticed the abroad trips when you mentioned on Friday... oh wouldn't that be so so fun?!

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  18. wow...you just transported me to heaven.
    thanks!!

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  19. Glad to hear you had a fun weekend!!!! Fantastic

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  20. Sounds like you had a ton of fun! Brilliant! x

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  21. THIS SOUNDS INCREDIBLE!!! i printed out a couple of the recipes, and i cannot wait to try them! and someday i hope i can meet her and learn from her in person!!! oh man, that would be a DREAM!

    yum. it all sounds so good. how am i supposed to work now?!??! yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuum! amazing!

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  22. Am I incrediably lazy to admit that I wish someone would prepare these labors of love for me? Yes, I most likely am. But these dishes read divine! And your weekend even better. Fabulous descriptions. :)

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  23. That sounds absolutely amazing. I'm dying to go to Napa and a getaway like this sounds heavenly!

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  24. Drooling all over...sounds fabulous and I am going to forward this to a bunch of ladies who want/need a getaway. You did make it sound irrestible!

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  25. Oh, perfection! I have a huge bucket of figs just plucked from our fig tree and I am looking for recipes! I made fig jam but I just keep staring at all those figs helplessly!

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  26. You photos show the wonderful time you had this weekend. I too would have been over the moon! Enjoy. xoxo

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  27. amazing! along with the food, glorious food, you learned so much and shared the joy with others- love that! I'm signing up for the newsletter...Provence perhaps?

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  28. Le sigh...le sigh...
    Glorious Mel darling!
    I'm going to bed soon, I'm going to dream very well tonight, thanks to this post!
    Nightie-night & have a fabulous week darling!

    xo*

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  29. I'm so jealous of your trip! I absolutely love Napa and just about every food you mentioned :)

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  30. I have been dying to read about your week-end!!

    It's sounds ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!!! Everything sounded perfect....I was drooling I tell you!!!

    You are great writer Mel, as someone as said, I felt as though I was there......I could almost see the food....mind you, I am quite good at that bit anyway LOL!! :)

    Glad you had such a good time :)

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  31. It sounds such a fantastic experience. I envy you. :))

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  32. omg!!! I LOVE NAPA!! wow, I am now starving! :) heheh

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  33. Wow, did you ever have a wonderful weekend! I have always wanted to go to Napa, and this post makes me yearn for it more. Sigh***

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  34. Wow. I am drooling! It looks and sounds like a fantastic weekend and everything you mentioned sounds so incredibly delicious! xo

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  35. Ahhh...Napa..one of my favorite places!

    What a great weekend! Sounds like you had an incredible time.

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  36. been wanting to go to napa for a very long time. you should be a food writer! such wonderful descriptions!! sounds like heaven.

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  37. uh ok...yea let me wipe off my mouth! i'm drooling like a hungry bulldog. this sounds like an amazing experience. i love food! i must try this one day. thanks for sharing!

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  38. That's like idyllic, perfect California goodness right there. Ah, the good life.

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  39. Sounds absolutely amazing! I want a be there now! Figgggsssss... come to me pleaseeeee...
    I love your blog..

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  40. It all sounds wonderful Mel.....anything to do with delicious food and I'm there!!
    Something I should look into when I make a trip to the States...my tummy is rumbling now....

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  41. this sounds amazing! strawberries in balsamic and pepper is one of my favorite things...

    and a whole lesson on sea salt! i'm so jealous.

    what a lovely weekend!

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  42. sounds fantastic! hope you are well! xo.

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  43. I'm so jealous of your weekend! I wish I could do it one day. I'm dreaming of Napa Valley and the surrounding.
    Your post is fantastic.
    Can you give me the receipt of your tartelette?

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  44. napa is just like heaven to me....it's a world of it's own

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  45. Ah, these photos are so gorgeous, I'm salivating. And what a lovely weekend you've had!

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