Napa Valley’s Greatest New Restaurant: Ubuntu Combines Spirituality, Yoga, And Vegetable Nirvana!

ubuntu.jpg

sf.eater.com curbed picked up this article 

Since 1981 I have been on a mission to eat in every great restaurant the world over. Living in San Francisco, and traveling, has given me every opportunity to hit many 5 Star establishments. The list includes: Charlie Trotter, Aqua (SF), Masa’s (SF), Martini House (Napa), Gary Danko (SF), Jardiniere, Postrio, Boulevard, Slanted Door, Stars (back in the day), Tra Vigne (Napa), Lark Creek Inn (Larkspur), Terra (Napa), Acquerello, the Ritz (NY), Cafe Kati, Bix, Farallon, Domaine Chandon (Napa), Auberge du Soleil (Napa), the Meetinghouse (back in the day) and the list goes on and on to the detriment of my retirement fund.

Yesterday I found what may be the greatest health oriented restaurant, better than SF’s Green’s, in California: Ubuntu. Ubuntu bills itself as a restaurant & yoga studio. The restaurant is located in the revitalized up and coming downtown Napa. The space is nothing less than New York sophistication meets San Francisco luxury loft. Supporting high ceilings, matching polished steel, warm earth colors, and multi grained polished woods, Ubuntu feels like a destination restaurant.

Like most great destination restaurants, service and atmosphere go hand in hand. Our service from runner to general manager was outstanding. Everyone had a kind word and a smile on their face. It is obvious the staff understands that they work at a spectacular establishment that is about to take off locally as well as on the world wide culinary stage. The driving force behind this wonderful undercurrent of positive joy is GM Ed Puccio. Ed is a joy and his enthusiasm for Ubuntu and it’s concepts is evident in every way. Fine job Ed!

Like the special atmosphere, the food is spectacular! To attempt to describe it would be almost futile. Simply put it taste rich, creamy, crunchy, fattening, buttery, and filling. Yet all of these taste sensations come WITHOUT THE CALORIES, fat gram intake, or bloated feeling you get from a steak-lobster-pasta dinner of waistline wasteland! There is little doubt that chef Jeremy Fox is a superstar in the making and one of the fastest rising culinary stars in America.

For further proof of Ubuntu’s burgeoning greatness, look no further than Michael Bauer SF Chronicle’s superstar restaurant critic . Bauer knows food and he has seen and met them all. Check out Bauer’s review: “Ubuntu Takes Vegetarian cuisine to New Heights.”

Here is the menu from our lunch:

Bites: Assorted Olives; Marcona almonds

Starters: Garden Broccoli soup a la catalan; marinated beets and asian pears; savory fruit salad; artichoke salad with celery salsa verde; crunchy vegetables and redwood hill chevre.

Entrees: cauliflower in a cast iron pot- This tasted so rich and creamy yet it is all vegetarian and fantastic!; anson mills speckled grits, hickory smoked bbq brussels sprouts-The brussel sprouts were bacon flavored and so tender with creamy grits and celery root for crunch awesome!; stew of black radish, sunchoke, and turnip; mushroom pizza; and wild nettle pizza.

Desserts: Artisan Cheese plate; vanilla bean “cheesecake” in a jar; a shot of hot chocolate; float of tart autumn fruits.

Trust me on this one. It doesn’t get any better, any tastier, and any healthier than ubuntu. All their ingredients including vegetables and spices are grown organically in the restaurant. Combine the world class space, rising superstar chef, outstanding service and warmth, and ubuntu’s spiritual platform and you have what promises to be a nationally recognized restaurant on the rise!

If you liked this review so did Curbed site http://sf.eater.com. Check out my review and comments over there too.

Russian River Food and Wine Festival: Culinary Samples and Tastes From Super Star Chefs

The Russian River Food and WineFest is one of the most elaborate displays of culinary demonstrations, fine food samples from world class chefs, and rich wine tasting a foodie/wino will ever find in one place. Centered in the tiny, bohemian 60’s conscious burg of Monte Rio, near the Sonoma coast, this tranquil river side location is the perfect setting.

Sunday, September 30 from 12:00-5:00 for admission prices of $25 advance general admission or advance $50 VIP admission patrons are treated to “A Tasting and Sampling MarketPlace at the Peak of Our Sonoma Harvest Season.” The following is the schedule of food sampling and wine tastings. The “Meadow” is for general admission and there is the “VIP Area” for those willing to pay the extra freight

The schedule in the Meadow:

12:15: Jeff Mall of Zin restaurant and Ziggy the wine gal cooking demo

1:15: Mark Stark of Wili’s Wine Bar cooking demo

2:00 Eco Hero Awards

2:15 Author’s Panel with Scott Peacock, Carrie Brown, Scott Hocker, Michele Anna Jordan, and Davia Nelson

3:15: Mateo Granados formerly of Dry Creek Kitchen and now Mateo Granados Catering Flavors of the Yucatan

4:15 Scott Peacock Watershed restaurant

The schedule in the VIP Area:

12:45

Mark Malicki, Chef owner of Cafe St. Rose

1:00

Holistic Wine & Food Pairing with Chiara Maria Kae, PhD (at the EcoRing Table)

1:15

Carol Shelton, the Most Awarded Winemaker in America

1:45

Paul Thornton of Paul’s Smoked Salmon

2:45

Sonoma Wine and Cheese Pairing with the California Artisan Cheese Guild and Andreas Wilkamsch of Farm House Restaurant

3:00

Holistic Wine & Food Pairing with Chiara Maria Kae, PhD (at the EcoRing Table)

3:15

Carol Shelton, the Most Awarded Winemaker in America

3:45

Dan Imhoff, publisher & author of “Farming with the Wild” and

FOOD FIGHT: A Citizen’s Guide to the Farm Bill

4:45

Artisan Sweets tasting with Patisserie Angelica

5:15

VIP Ticket Holder Reception

If you prize great food and wine. If you are a foodie or a wino. If you absolutely love the Russian River area and it’s outdoor beauty. This festival is what you have been waiting all summer to attend!

Alpha Omega: Friendly Professional Staff, Incredible Wine Value

alpha-omega-wine-maker.jpg

Napa and Sonoma have no shortage of world class wines presented in beautiful surroundings with every bell and whistle imaginable. Yet in many cases, wineries spending millions on their grounds and tasting rooms neglect the most important asset they incorporate in promoting their products: people.

At Alpha Omega the people are just as special and rich as the beautiful wines they produce. The simple yet most important aspects of any trip to a winery tasting room for me:

1. Feeling welcome by the staff

2. Enthusiasm for the wines and educating the consumer

3. Connecting with consumers by relating the history behind the winery, wine maker, and up coming developments

Our recent visit to Alpha Omega winery was spectacular and fulfilled all three of my favorite aspects of wine tasting. Our “expert” and main contact was Marissal a recent addition to Alpha Omega. Marissal was very friendly and with her enthusiasm (desire for us to enjoy our time with A/O) she set the tone for our tasting.

Marisal gave us a complete overview on the wines, her passionate desire to work for A/O, and the plans for a new tasting room project that was under construction. In addition she provided us with Napa Valley news only those in the industry, or those living in the Valley, are privy too.

To top this off, Marisal provided us the type of generous (yet respectful to her employer) pours that make the consumer feel they are receiving enough to make an informed judgment on each wine. In many wineries (PlumpJack for example), the pour is controlled with a “measured pour” device the same as seen in any local tavern. The pour is so tiny that you barely have enough to wet your lips let alone make a tasting judgment.

alpha-omega-sauvignon-blanc.jpg

Our intention was to spend a relaxing 35-45 minutes sampling Alpha Omega’s wines and viewing the grounds. After engaging with ,we purchased a bottle of their lush grapefruit infused Sauvignon Blanc and enjoyed it in a beautiful pond side setting next to the tasting room. Throughout our 2 1/2 hour stay, different tasting room staff came out to chat and check on our “progress.”

alpha-omega-grounds.jpg

The staff ensures that the mood is jovial and fun. To my way of thinking, wine is the most entertaining and heartfelt “drink” we have to share with our friends and family. Alpha Omega understands that it is their people that make the difference, their wines that make a mark on the industry, and their tasting room that will bring more fans into the fold!

Buena Vista’s 2004 Chardonnay: The Greatest Value Chardonnay You May Never Taste

buena-vista-bottle.jpg

Chardonnay, easily one of the most controversial and popular grapes harvested , has many superstar offerings. Wines such as Kistler, El Molino, Beringer Reserve, Martinelli, Rombauer, Patz and Hall, Shafer’s Red Shoulder Ranch, and Ramey are bursting with multiple flavors, structure, and balance. The problem remains the price as most of these offerings begin around $30 skyrocketing up to the triple digit level. For everyday sipping, these fantastic chardonnays can become a bit pricey.

The most economical, rich, and elegant chardonnay (everyday tasting) we have tried is Buena Vista’s 2004 Sonoma Chardonnay. Crafted from Carneros fruit, this chardonnay is very smooth and creamy. It is reminiscent of Rombauer’s smooth malolactic mouth feel without a 2×4 oak log beating you over the head as you pull splinters out of your tongue.

hummingbirds.jpg

Mind you, I love Rombauer Chardonnay! Yet many self proclaimed “experts”, the folks who can detect 29 different and distinct tastes from moldy sweat socks to a hummingbird’s vapor trail, believe that oak in wine is an affront to mankind! A little oak never hurt, as long as it’s not coming from a wood shampoo, and in wine it can provide a fantastic background flavor.

wood-shampoo.jpg

All fun aside, Buena Vista’s 2004 Sonoma Chardonnay tastes like a superstar’s $50 per bottle offering. Yet, it is priced just right! We found this wine at various locations. The best price? At our local Longs Drugs store of all places. Long’s price: $10.99.

Please enjoy your wine responsibly: with a very close friend!