The $75-per-person passport lets you receive complimentary wine tastings at 19 participating wineries in Calistoga, Lake County, Pope Valley, and St. Helena, from Dec. 2 to Feb. 4, 2024. That’s more than $750 worth of tastings alone.
Chef Patrick Capurro wants to take you on a journey, one that recalls the cozy flavors and brisk weather of autumn in Chicago as when he lived there.
At Be.Steak.A in the Pruneyard in Campbell, he does just that with his new fall tasting menu that’s full of pure whimsy and delight.
That’s what I found when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant to try it on a bustling Tuesday night.
Be.Steak.A, owned by Chef Jeffrey Stout, offers both a la carte dining and a seasonal tasting menu that’s $185 per person with an optional $130 wine pairing (six different pours). You can book the tasting menu when you make a reservation online or opt to order it when you get there, though, you risk the chance of it selling out for the night.
Walk through the restaurant doors and you’re greeted immediately with a beverage.
When husband-and-wife chef-owners Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis chose Bavel for the name of their celebrated Los Angeles restaurant, they did so because they cherished they way the likely mis-transcribed word, taken from the original Old Testament’s story of Babel, alluded to a time when everything was one.
These days, that may be but a wistful notion. But Bavel gives you a semblance of that hopefulness, as you step through its doors to the cacophony of diners of all walks and ages, clinking glasses, digging into big plates of grilled meats, and using their hands to enjoy puffy pita together with abandon.
And loud it is, as I found when I dined a couple weeks ago. The chic dining room with its ceiling of cascading leafy vines is especially raucous, and the comfortable front patio, where I dined, is only a few decibels less. It’s like being invited to a rollicking party at its height.
It definitely adds to the anticipation for the superb modern Middle Eastern specialties to come.
Since learning of it from the first season of Netflix’s “Chef’s Table” in 2015, I have been fascinated by the Los Angeles restaurant, N/Naka.
This Michelin two-starred restaurant opened in 2011 to serve kaiseki, the elegant, multi-course Japanese meal spotlighting ingredients at their seasonal peak in a series of specific cooking techniques.
Back then, it was a type of cuisine that was a rarity in the United States. And even more so when it was crafted by a woman, Chef-Owner Niki Nakayama and her wife, Sous Chef Carole Iida-Nakayama, who dared to put their own thrilling contemporary touches on this classic Japanese haute cuisine.
At all of 26 seats, this restaurant is notoriously difficult to book. While I travel to Los Angeles maybe once a year, I’d never managed to plan the trip in advance enough to even try to snag a table there.
Until two weeks ago. That’s when the stars aligned and Lady Luck was on my side, giving me entree to a dining experience that was nothing short of singularly magical.
You see, N/Naka opens its online reservation bookings once a week at 10 a.m. on Sunday for tables a month later. But sign on right at that second, and you’ll likely find all the reservations gone already and your dreams vanquished — just like that.
After experiencing that disappointment a few times, I started searching online for reservation tips. I came upon a thread that advised staying on the booking site for at least an hour after reservations open, because people will click on a specific reservation that gives a 10-minute window to finalize, only to decide they don’t want it after all. The thread also mentioned that tables of 4 or 6 were easier to come by than for 2.
So, for more than half an hour, I kept refreshing the page again and again, growing more apprehensive by the minute. A 9 p.m. reservation for 6 people popped up, tempting me to claim it as I figured I could somehow rope a few more people into trekking to Los Angeles with my husband and me. But I hate dining that late, especially for a tasting menu that lasts 3 hours. So, I bit my tongue, and passed on it, wondering if I had just made a huge mistake.
It’s made with real fruit juice without any added sugar. It’s also vegan and gluten-free.
The canned sparkling water comes in five flavors: Yuzu with Ginger, Pomelo, Calamansi, Lychee, and Mango, all of which I had a chance to sample recently.
These do not taste like overly sweet soda by any stretch. They are refreshing, fizzy waters with a vivid, natural fruit taste.
The Pomelo is bright and tangy, but with less bitterness than the fresh fruit or a grapefruit.
The Yuzu with Ginger is yuzu forward with just a faint touch of ginger. It’s floral and citrusy with far less aggressive acidity than lemon.
The Calamansi is lime-like but with a lovely flowery presence to round it out.
The Lychee might be my favorite for its touch of natural sweetness along with an expansive floralness.
Unlike the others that are pretty much clear in color, the Mango one is yellow-orange in the glass. It’s made with Alphonso mango puree, so you really get the characteristic musky, peach-papaya-apricot taste.