Sunday, January 25, 2009

Restaurant Review: Martini House!

The Martini House is nestled right off of main street in St.Helena, CA. It's reputation spreads all the way to my great home state of Arkansas, and pretty much everywhere else in-between. Why might one choose such a nice restaurant for a casual dinner date on a Saturday night? Perhaps for a celebration of sorts?
The ambiance of the restaurant is a little dark, giving it that feel of high-end dining, but in an atmosphere that is highly welcoming. The circa-1920's architecture of the building is a key design element of this Pat Kueleto owned restaurant. Is that some World's of Healthy Flavor attendees I spy? Sure enough it is. Welcome to the economic stimulus impact of The Culinary Institute of America on the Valley economy. The signature appetizer of Martini House is the house Cream of Mushroom Soup with Toasted Croutons and Chives. Chef Todd Humphries has made his name with the use of the infamous, yet delicate and complex mushroom. Being known for his use of mushrooms, I was more than happy to try out the Mushroom Tasting Menu. Thanks go out to Chef de Cuisine Christopher Litts for tantalizing our palates with the above amuse bouche's. His wife is actually the executive chef at the WineSpectator Restaurant at Greystone. Busy Couple!
1st Course: "Pleurotus Eryngii" King Trumpet Mushroom Salad with Shaved Celery, Radish, and Ricotta Salata Truffle Vinaigrette. Enjoy with a Casamatta Bianco, Toscana, I.G.T. Italy, 2007 (90% Vermentino/10% Moscato)
2nd Course: "Lentinus Edodes" Ginger Braised Shitake Mushrooms with Pomelo Sake Mirin Broth, Scallions, and Bok Choy with Steamed Basmati Rice. Tasty with a Gobelsburg ‘heiligenstein' Riesling, Langenlois, Austria, 2006. My motherland does produce a great wine!
Chef's Compliments: Sautéed Nantucket Bay Scallops with Sautéed Winter Mushrooms, Sunchokes and Saffron Gnocchi with Hollandaise Sauce.
Entree Course: “Agaricus bisporus” Portobello Mushroom Burger with Cole Slaw, Tater Todd's and Poppy Seed Mayonnaise. Washed down with Hourglass ‘Blueline' Merlot, Napa Valley, California, 2006.
I don't know what fast food chain uses this slogan, but it is all too true for this burger. "Goodness on a Bun!"
Entree Course: Red Wine Braised Beef Oxtail and Spinach Raviolis with Buttered Rutabaga Puree, Black Trumpet Mushrooms and Parmesan Cheese. Delightful with a Ristow Estate ‘Quinta de la Pedras Vineyard' Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California, 1999
Pastry Chef Jennifer Archer's Compliments: A delightful play on Cookies and Cream, in a glass of sugar.
“Lactarius rubidus” Candy Cap Bread Pudding with Currants and Golden Raisins topped with Maple Sugar Anglaise. Sweet with your sweets, try the Monte Tondo, Recioto, Soave, Italy, 2003 (Late Harvest Garganega).
Oh yeah, it just so happens to be the Mrs. and I's anniversary of our engagement (not really for sure if this is celebrated or not by the common public?). A year ago, Kristen and I got engaged, and that night we had dinner with Mike and Jacque Martini. Better known as the Martini's house. Now that we are celebrating our anniversary, it is only appropriate that we dine at, you guessed it, the Martini House. Clever, ridiculous, or just plain coincidence. Maybe a bit of all three.
What a year it has been! I would have never dreamed that we would have done some much in 365 days. Let's recount:
1: Visit the CIA Open House in January 2008. Subsequently, Get Engaged!
2. Scott defends M.S. Thesis and passes! Turns in Thesis day before departure.
2. Scott leaves Kristen stranded in America to plan a wedding as he studies abroad in Toulouse, France for 5 months.
3. Kristen graduates from the UofA with her MBA in May. Scott graduates with his M.S. in May and celebrates from France.
4. Kristen comes to visit Scott and a 3-week tour of Europe proceeds. The future Walnofer's meet the original Walnofer's in Austria.
5. We see the Tour de France in person on one of the most famous climbs in all of Tour history.
6. Couple returns to America, only to spend 3-days pulling a UHaul all the way to Napa Valley California.
7. Guests arrive days after bride and groom-to-be and all celebrate a joyous wedding ceremony.
8. Guests hang out and go to San Francisco. Honeymooners cross the 2nd ocean that month and hang out in Hawaii for a week.
9. Old married couple returns to Calistoga and Scott starts school one week later. Kristen finds great job working for a winery 1 mile from our home.
10. Couple lives happily ever after.
The End...........I mean The Beginning!


Anonymous said...

Loved the recount of the busy year that I got to share a little bit of with you guys! The dinner celebration looked amazing even if I was not sure what it all was (of course I did recognize the burger)and I did have my eye on the delightful cookies and cream! Cheers to another fabulous year!

Pastor Lance said...

Cool, and to think I was part of that history! WOW! I feel special. What was the name of the place we ate for your rehearsal dinner?