As my palate has matured, I have acquired

As my palate has matured, I have acquired

As my palate has matured, I have acquired an interest in learning more about wine, the traditional compliment to a fabulous meal.  When people ask me if I have an extensive wine knowledge, my current response is often the charming, “I know a decent amount…or at least I pretend to…”  Well, in my defense, I am working towards this goal.

In last week’s column, I described my San Francisco journey, but that was only half of my Northern California vacation.  I also voyaged an hour outside of the city to sample the exciting gourmet cuisine and New World wines of the Napa Valley region.  My first evening in the beautiful countryside began in Yountville, the culinary capital of the area.  Renowned chefs such as Thomas Keller and Michael Chiarello have put this tiny town on the map with their delicious menu offerings and regional ingredients.  Though I did not make reservations at the celebrated French Laundry, I did have brunch at Chef Keller’s unique and casual establishment, Ad Hoc.  The concept behind this restaurant is basically putting yourself at the mercy of the chef, arriving to a pre-planned meal courtesy of his daily ambition.  My three-course brunch menu revolved around the amusing Southern alliance of fried chicken and waffles.  With imaginative notions like that, you can expect to be awed with a unique experience on each visit, because even this leading global chef needs to get in touch with his playful side every now and again.

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