Friday, April 29, 2011

Bottega - Because A Return Visit Was Necessary (Yountville, CA)


About a year ago, while I was looking for an upgrade for my dSLR, Cathy of Gastronomyblog told me to wait until I had posted 100 reviews on my blog. Why 100 you ask? Since I was a slacker (and still is one) with my blogging, she figured setting a goal would get me to post more. it is, number 100. There's not a better place for number 100 than to revisit one of my favorite meals in 2010, Michael Chiarello's Bottega in Yountville.


Since my friends and I had a day of wine tasting, we decided to change it up a bit have start the meal with some cocktails. It's not the best I've had (Milk and Honey in NYC is my favorite), but these were still some refreshing concoctions.

Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad
Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad - marcona almonds, sieved egg, pecorino and whole citrus vinaigrette

For fans of the Top Chef series, this was one of the dishes Chef Chiarello made on Top Chef Masters Season 1. As a fan of brussel sprouts, I natually had to order this dish. I enjoyed the texture of this salad with the brussel sprouts and the marcona almonds, it provided a nice crunch. The egg and the citrus vinaigrette provided a nice creamy and acidic touches needed to complete the salad. Very nice.

Polenta Under Glass
Polenta Under Glass - caramelized wild mushrooms, balsamic game sauce

A favorite from the last visit, and as I said from the last post, I'd order it again. Nothing new to report other than I think I enjoyed it better this time as it was not as salty as I had remembered. Polenta and mushroom? Yes please!

Pork Belly & More
"Bacon and Eggs" - Pork Belly and Crispy Fried Soft Boiled Egg (Photo courtesy of loreleyheart)

Next up was the dish I saw on Food Network's "The Best Thing I Ever Ate," Chiarello's "Bacon and Eggs." But honestly, how could anyone pass up pork belly with a sugar brûléed top and a soft boiled egg that's battered in panko and deep fried to perfection? Was it good? Ya, it's was pretty damn good. The only thing missing were the roasted peppers from the dish I saw on the show, but really, I wasn't missing it. If you see this on the menu, order it. On the previous visit, we had a similar dish called "Green Eggs and Ham." That was a tasty dish, but this one was much, much better!

Truffled Fries
Truffled Fries (Photo courtesy of loreleyheart)

Another item we had from the last visit, the truffled fries. For those that love truffle flavor things, order it. For those that just like fries, order it. Hell, just order the damn thing. That is all.

Risotto del Giorno
Risotto del Giorno (Risotto of the Day)

This was probably the one dish of the night we weren't too crazy about. I really enjoyed the risotto from Bottega from the last visit and knew I had to order the daily risotto special. Originally we were told it was going to be a seafood risotto, then was informed they ran out of the fish and had to switch it to a ham (I believe?) version. While the texture of the rice was fine, I found the dish to be too salty and the ham version wasn't all that exciting. While I'll still order the risotto of the day here, I might be a bit more mindful of the ingredient used on that particular day.

Clam Pasta
Hand-cut egg linguine with Manilla clams, Calabrese sausage, garlic, basil, parsley, and white wine (Photo courtesy of loreleyheart)

Since the pasta dishes were the hit of the table last time, we had to get some this time around. We started with the hand cut linguine with clams and Calabrese sausage. Now this was a beautiful bowl of pasta. I loved the flavors of the clams and sausages together. This was truly delicious. I gotta give thanks to my buddy Benny for taking some of those shots as his food pics are much more kick ass than mine.

House-made egg pappardelle with veal, pork & porcini mushroom Bolognese, Sweet 100 tomatoes, rosemary & parmigiano
House-made egg pappardelle with veal, pork, porcini mushroom Bolognese, Sweet 100 tomatoes, rosemary and parmigiano

This was another delicious plate of pasta. I loved the meat ragu made from veal and pork. The pappardelle was just perfect. You can't really ask for anything better than found on this plate.

Confit of Half Duck
Confit of Half Duck - mostarda di frutta, Forni Brown greens, pomegranate salad, red wine duck jus

I tell everyone that goes to Bottega to order their duck confit. Why do I do it? Well, for one, I love duck, it's a truly remarkable animal. However, the duck confit here is, pardon my French, fucking delicious! Go order it! See, she did, umm, and I think she'll do it next time. Trust the Panda on this one. If you don't like it, I'll pay for it (BTW, I'm joking).

Twice Cooked Natural Pork Chop
Twice Cooked Natural Pork Chop - bacon wrapped tomatoes

This was a nicely cooked pork chop and I especially like the bacon wrapped product on top, though you can't go wrong with bacon, ever. However, the duck was better. Hey, I'm just honest.

Smoked & Braised Natural Short Ribs
Smoked and Braised Natural Short Ribs - preserved Meyer-lemon spinach, smokey jus

It's true short ribs is a bit played out in the past few years, but I do enjoy eating it. This particular short rib was quite nice and juicy. I especially enjoyed the side of spinach with preserved meyer lemon. All in all, a fantastic ending to the meal.

End of the meal? Where's the dessert you ask. Well, even though the popular theory states: there's always room for dessert. After 4 appetizers, 3 pastas, 3 main courses for a group of three, we simply could not taken in another bite of food.

Overall, the return visit to Bottega was successful. While I enjoyed the first visit more, the second visit was still wonderful. Chef Michael Chiarello still patrolled the dining room and kitchen like the last visit and the meal as whole was terrific. I'd recommend Bottega wholeheartedly to anyone that's planning to visit the Napa Valley area. Again, order the damn duck. Thanks!

Oh, and back to the camera story. I'm still using my original Canon (Go Canon!) XSi, but since I have the green light to upgrade, it's time to start looking again. Thanks again for all the inspiration and keeping my blog alive and kicking Cathy!

Bottega Ristorante
6525 Washington Street
Yountville, CA 94599-1300
(707) 945-1050


Anna A. said...

Take me with you on your next No. Cal adventure. Such a jet setter. I love your pics and I want that b sprout salad. #winningpanda

Diana said...

Yeah yeah yeah... next time I'll get that darn duck! And the brussels sprout salad - yum! :)

Pinoy Panda said...

Congrats on your 100 post! The pork belly and deep fried soft boiled egg looks fantastic. I planned on dining at Bottega the last time I was in Napa, but my travel companions had other plans. I still need to hit up this place and hopefully soon.

Gastronomer said...

Wowsas! Congrats on the big 1-0-0!! I knew you could do it Panda!

Might I suggest upgrading to a Nikon? You know it's better than Cannon ;-)

krissy @ said...

you always dine in such great places! that cocktail looks so refreshing. i like anything with mint in it. congrats on your 100th post!!!

gourmetpigs said...

Ohh duck confit eh?
So are you upgrading your camera now? Btw, if you haven't, try the polenta w truffled mushrooms at Scarpetta. I loved it.

Pepsi Monster said...

Thank goodness the Becks are not there to prevent you from taking photos. Looks great!

Kung Food Panda said...

Anna: Sure! Are you going back to Nor Cal anytime soon?

Diana: I hope you'll make it back!

Remil: Then you had some bad travel companions! :)

Cathy: Thanks! And no thanks for Nikon!

Kung Food Panda said...

Krissy: Thanks Krissy! It's always when I'm on vacation when I eat well!

Fiona: I hope to make it to Scarpetta soon. And in terms of upgrading, I'll probably do it before Asia.

Mike: Haha, definitely no celebrities in the house that night!

effingdericious said...

100 posts! That's really something. Belated Congratulations! At the rate I'm going (~4 post a month), it'll take me nearly 2 years to hit 100. Scary! haha

bagnatic said...

you made me crave pasta you bad, bad man.

the food looks really good.

Kung Food Panda said...

Daniel: Thanks D! Uh, 4 posts a month is pretty good, there were a lot of times where I'd be lucky to get 2 posts in a month.

Amy: I want some Italian food now as well.