Eduardo Dingler: Exploring with Eduardo: Emerging from shelter-in-place
Exploring with Eduardo

Eduardo Dingler: Exploring with Eduardo: Emerging from shelter-in-place

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Amidst the current global situation, the number of positive outcomes is remarkable. Locally, we are very lucky to have diverse dining alternatives; let’s not forget wine and food are what keeps the Napa Valley thriving.

As the strict shelter-in-place guidelines start to relax and popular eateries start reopening with extreme safety measures, we ventured out for the first time since mid-March.

I received an invitation on Thursday around noon from Lydia from Cole’s Chop House inviting us to a partial opening since Napa County had announced that restaurants could resume operations. We simply couldn’t resist. The iconic restaurant, which just celebrated its 20th anniversary, was an ideal outing. The place was dressed up and ready to deliver an outstanding experience, which turned out to be the perfect timing before the crowds of tourists rushed to downtown Napa for Memorial Day weekend.

It was great seeing the many familiar faces that keep this place amongst the best date-night options in the valley. As far as the fare, after we were greeted with the famous grilled gulf shrimp, we moved into the crab cake special. We buttoned up the experience with the grilled bone-in veal chop, accompanied by the creamed spinach and a side of the herb mushrooms.

To pair, we went with a white wine that stood up for the occasion and always delivers, 2018 Peter Michael L’ Apres-Midi Sauvignon Blanc, Knights Valley ($140), which with its Bordeaux Blanc attitude made it a memorable ride.

During the last few weeks, we have been exploring the take-out or delivery options that the many skilled chefs around us have to offer.

A bountiful fare from the talented duo from Blossom Catering was delivered with detailed instructions on how to assemble it. Chef Itamar Abramovitch and Chef Nate Smith, who run a successful upscale catering business, curated a menu to die for.

We ordered the Niman Ranch porchetta with roasted vegetables and tri colore salad, and the Duck a L’Orange with truffled mashed potatoes and roasted broccoli with Mimmolette cheddar “Mornay.”

They went above and beyond with a meal that I simply couldn’t replicate on my own. We paired the porchetta with a bottle of a sturdy and artisan sake from Tsuchida Shuzo from Gunma prefecture, and the duck with the 2017 Ram’s Gate Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, which was simply hypnotizing.

Last Friday, we couldn’t resist revisiting the highly rated Southside fried chicken that is offered every Friday. Irma, Morgan and Evan, who just celebrated four years in business at their Old Sonoma location, continue to charm their followers with honest and homey fare. The chicken was on point and perfectly paired with 2018 Matthiasson White Wine, Napa Valley bright and floral blend with Sauvignon Blanc, Tocai Friulano and Ribolla Gialla.

After a long tennis match and with no dinner plans, we resorted to one of our default consistent spots, Taqueria Maria. This newly renovated spot located on Third Street has never disappointed with their flare and balanced style. We ordered one of our favorites, Aguachiles, prawns cured with lime and habanero, and their new octopus tacos. To pair, we cracked a bottle of Gritsch Gruner Veltliner from Austria since we didn’t have the proper Michelada to pair, and it turned out great.

Speaking of octopus, I surprised Laura with the octopus ceviche from La Taquiza for lunch, the perfect respite needed after a busy day. This is a dish unlike any other in our world. Zingy and tender with a generous portion along with their famous salsas, it pairs ideally with a glass of Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs, North Coast.

A meal we haven’t stopped thinking about was Kenzo Napa. We were very pleased, along with hundreds of sushi fans, that they decided to offer an adapted take-out menu, for $50.

We ordered the sushi combo, chicken karaage and edamame. The team led by Tomo San and Nicholas simply knocked it out of the park with their attention to detail from packaging to every bite. We went all out and paired the exquisite dishes with King of Modern Light Junmai Daiginjo Sake from Niigata, an incredible sake with depth and silky texture alongside Agrapart & Fils 7 Crus Champagne from Avize, which elevated the experience.

We are truly blessed to have the enormous list of eateries near us. Our list keeps growing with open spots we are hoping to enjoy soon like Ristorante Allegria, Il Posto, Napa Farm and Zuzu.

Stay safe and raise a glass to our community and staying positive! Cheers!

Wine is like people, you’ll find the ones you can’t live without and the ones that you can.

Eduardo can be reached at eduardo@sakedrinker.com.

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