Eduardo Dingler, Wine to Sake: Napa's take-out riches -- and what to pair with them
Exploring with Eduardo

Eduardo Dingler, Wine to Sake: Napa's take-out riches -- and what to pair with them

From the Napa Valley Wine Insider Digest: May 1, 2020 series
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Amidst the current situation affecting most of the world, we can’t deny there’s a number of positive outcomes evident in everyday life.

Indeed, there is a cloud above us of things that inevitably make us want to return to normalcy. Our daily activities are greatly missed, especially the social aspect upon which we depend to function.

This isolation has connected us more than ever by reaching out to friends and family to make sure they’re OK.

But let’s not forget there are a number of industries being tested to the limits, the hospitality sector being one of them. Safe to say, the Napa Valley community has shown overall resilience.

Wineries and retailers conducting virtual tastings has been one of the most successful venues to stay afloat.

For restaurants, the take-out option has given some sense of stability, not only to the businesses but also to the thousands of patrons that benefit from having their favorite food at home.

During the last few weeks we have taken breaks from home cooking and recipe trials to support our local establishments. Thankfully, options are vast, and we are slowly working our way through the available fare.

Here a list of the top experiences, prices and hours of operation vary daily in some cases.

Compline Wine Bar and Restaurant, owned and operated by Matt Stamp MS and Ryan Stetins has consistently delivered a range of dishes crafted by the great Chef Yancy Windsperger. Our choices were their famous cheese burger with duck fat fries, crab dip and the spring green salad around $50. It paired perfectly with a bottle of Hirai Junmai sake.

NapaSport in South Napa has been raising the bar with their menu. Executive Chef Arnaud Drouville, who just relocated from Thailand a few months ago, has been showing off his talent with a number of new dishes aimed to deliver an experience and manage to keep it pocket-friendly. We recently enjoyed the paella for four, which should read “for six” and the fall- off-the-bone pork ribs prepared in a unique spiral shape and a mouth- watering glaze. For pairing we picked up a bottle of 2018 Illumination Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley, all under $100 and plenty of food!

Fumè Bistro, the ultimate neighborhood spot north Napa, has consistently kept the locals well fed. We ordered a variety of dishes to satisfy the cravings. Seared salmon, BBQ ribs, grilled artichokes and the lemon-parsley risotto, along with a half bottle of 2017 Comte LaFond , all just over $100.

We are lucky that Chef Curtis, Jessica and the team at Miminashi in Napa have been featuring a rotating menu every Friday. Along with mixologist Andrew Salazar’s libations pre-batched and ready to go. We ordered the delicious spicy shrimp gyoza , not one but two orders (that good), and also the Magurodon bowl with big eye tuna, steamed rice and all the goods. To pair Andrew’s El Diablo cocktail with tequila, ginger and cassis. Total: $70.

Chef Gary Penir, the talented mastermind behind GP Cuisine, decided to delight his followers with a series of Saturday pop-ups, featuring some of his favorite dishes available for pick up at La Taberna on Main St., Napa. A couple weeks ago, we couldn’t resist his menu and we ordered the pho and Khao Soi Gai, which stands among the top ever tasted. $30 for both. The spicy Asian-inspired fare called for a number of Rieslings including 2018 Benevolent Neglect Nelson Family Vineyards Mendocino.

New kid on the block, Hal Yamashita Napa has been offering variations of their menu to go. We decided to dig into their list and ordered a variety of rolls including Spicy California Roll, Shrimp Tempura Roll, Japanese Wagyu Roll, Spicy Tuna Roll, Edamame and Chicken Karaage. Although we don’t usually think of sushi as the ideal take-out option, this was incredibly fresh. They also offer their sake list to go for a killer price. We ordered Katafune Tokubetsu Honjozo Genshu. Total just over $150.

Without a doubt one of the top comfort foods is BBQ. It’s presented with many options in the valley, we have tried two so far during the shelter in place.

Bounty Hunter Napa always out performs with the Platter that includes brisket, pulled pork and ribs for $42, paired beautifully with the 2015 Heitz Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley.

The other contender The Q in North Napa with Kelley Novak’s “can-do” attitude and her skills, alongside Gene, they deliver a great BBQ Combo with zesty sauces, the famous Leslie Rudd slaw and the cauliflower trio. Total under $50. Paired with an Italian favorite 2017 Meroi Sauvignon from Friuli.

For a midday snack we tried Tarla‘s Beef and Lamb Doner Kebab Gyro, which has kept us dreaming since, $16

The highly anticipated return of Blanchard’s Fried Chicken couldn’t have come fast enough. Chris and Lauren delivered their best pieces yet alongside the Gruyere Mac ‘n’ Cheese, slaw and their famous biscuits. Total under $50, paired best with M Brugnon Champagne.

One of Napa’s best-kept secrets, The Dutch Door, tucked on Randolph Street, keeps us coming back to indulge in their now famous Korean Fried Chicken Sando and their Kale Yeah! Bowl to balance the goods. Under $30, paired perfectly with their neighbor’s 2016 Gambling & McDuck Chenin Blanc Suisun

Thank you to all restaurants and wine retailers for staying open and keeping our community going. Looking forward to sharing more experiences!

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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