Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I went to Napa and what did I buy? Well, it wasn't wine ...

My boyfriend and I made an impromptu visit to Napa, Yountville, and St. Helena this weekend, and, I can't believe the highlight of my trip to Napa Valley wasn't the wine. It was two things, entirely different, and one of them involved a bathroom. Sorry, but I speak true.

I enjoy wine, but I'm not half the oenophile my boyfriend is (as further evidenced by the fact I had to check and make sure I was spelling oenophile correctly). For instance, it never occurs to me to open a bottle of wine at home. I live alone, and no matter how nice a meal I make for myself, the thought to open wine for myself with a meal doesn't even occur to me. Nor when I take a bubble bath or try to relax, as a matter of fact.

For that reason, at lunch he had wine, of course, but I ordered a Moscow Mule with my lunch and I make no apologies for it.

The weather was spectacular, the food was wonderful, the tourists were non-existent (except for us, of course) and we wandered about dining on wonderful meals, buying picnic treats from Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery and Dean & Deluca, and then I saw it ... in the refrigerator case at Dean & Deluca ...

A tub of rendered Duck Fat.

"I've heard of that!" I exclaimed. "I heard roasted potatoes and fries in Duck Fat are out of this world."

My boyfriend and Michelle Obama share a trait: They've both said if they could get away with it, they would eat french fries every single day, maybe even at every meal. He loves them so. For me to exclaim that Duck Fat makes wonderful fried potatoes and is actually healthier than butter, made him give me the high sign and encourage me to buy it. He thought I was thinking only of him, but to heck with that. I want to try cooking with duck fat for me! Hoo yah! Duck Fat Fries and Moscow Mule? Mm mm.

I bought the tub of fat, brought it home, and began my Google Search. I found a thread on Chowhound which talks more about how to store it and make Duck Confit than anything else, and I found a post by Mark Bittman recommending I try it in my Buttermilk Biscuits (::Perk!::). Since I'm on a quest for Perfect Biscuits that tip will have to go into the rotation.

So, what say you all ... what do you do with your rendered duck fat that is out of this world? Roasted potatoes? Fries? Savory Collard Greens? I'm all ears and open to suggestions.

What we bought in Napa, while everyone else was buying wine (this is embarrassing):

From Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery

1) TKO's (Thomas Keller Oreos) (fantastic, swoon worthy, here's the recipe)
2) Pistachio Macaroons (too sweet)
3) Warm Brie Tomato Basil Sandwiches on Baquettes (excellent)

From Dean and Deluca Napa Valley

1) Rendered duck fat
2) Goat Cheese and Macaroni Mini Casserole
3) Roasted Chicken
4) Coconut Cupcakes (so damn good)
5) Alfajores
6) Old fashioned lemon mints; old fashioned spearmint gum
7) Beeswax hand creme
8) Apricot Morning Buns
9) Glazed Old Fashioned Donut
10) A small wire sieve I need when I'm roasting and sorting schezwan peppercorns.

From a collection of art galleries and shops:

1) A 3 strand necklace of seed pearls.

For lunch at Bardessono Hotel & Spa:

Heirloom tomato salad with basil oil and burrata cheese (oh my gosh...simplicity at its finest)
Marin Sun Farms Hamburger on Brioche with Aioli and Herb Fries
Oyster Po Boy

and the grand finale...

The bathroom at the Bardessono Hotel. My boyfriend said "You really must use the loo. You'll love it." I walked it...and just loved it. It's a mini spa all by itself. I won't regale you with the decor itself, which was lovely, but they have the Neo-Rest bidet system -- automatic toilets which gently lift the lid when the door opens and you walk in. The seats are heated. The controls on the wall let you take a nice little spa treatment right there, with warm water, mists, and a blow dryer with warm air for your nether regions. I so love a nice bidet system -- it's just so civilized, isn't it? I was in there a good long while testing out all of the various options and controls.

Way too much information, but I thought you really needed to know that the highlight of my trip to Napa Valley was a coconut cupcake, a Thomas Keller Oreo, a tub of duck fat -- and a wash and style for Miss Virginia.


  1. This is quite an interesting post. I was definitely smiling, especially towards the end. Hope you find loads of uses for your duck fat..such an odd buy!

  2. "a wash and style for miss virginia" had me on the floor.

    I also read once that duck fat is the gift that keeps on giving. Use a little to cook your goose (nice and crispy on the outside), then save the fat. Which brings me to. Which came first, the fat or the duck?

  3. sounds like things are good for ya these days.. amen. and i bet that would be AWESOME in biscuits *grin*


  4. I am with you on the duck fat. Each year during the Christmas holidays I roast a goose. Not because I love goose, but because I love what goose fat can do for other dishes.

  5. We went to Napa for our mini-moon last year, stayed at Petit Logis, which literally shares a wall with the Bouchon Bakery so we got to enjoy some delicious treats from there! Lucky you!

  6. cool!!! I just went to Napa but did not bring home all the cool stuff you did. i've never cooked with duck fat but everyone says it's so good i know i need to try it one of these days.