Chef Lee Richardson of Ashley’s at the Capital in Little Rock, Arkansas, recently spent some time eating and wine tasting in Napa Valley. Here he shares highlights from some of his best meals and vineyard visits.
“This was my most memorable meal in Napa. The food worked together with the atmosphere to create a sublime experience. I really enjoyed the classic, French bistro style of the mussels. Atlantic mussels were grilled over oak and served with chorizo in a broth of garlic, tomato, and red wine, with grilled ciabatta to soak up the remaining broth. The buffalo short ribs glazed with tamarind and chipotle were another winning dish. I think my favorite part of the meal though was the Bloody Mary. The smoked pepper dusted rim won me over.” 6518 Washington St., Yountville, (707) 944-2345, hurleysrestaurant.com
“I loved the very simple salad of housemade mozzarella, arugula, preserved lemon, and chili flakes. It’s something that you can find a version of anywhere, but done here with immaculate restraint. There is nothing additional that shouldn’t be there. The cheese was soft and flavorful, with tiny peppery arugula leaves and just the right amount of chili flakes with local extra virgin oil and the delicate nuance of lemon, a benchmark.” 1310 Main St, St. Helena, (707) 963-7088, cooksthelena.com
Auberge du Soleil
“Going to Auberge [shown at top] at sunset was the perfect antidote to a week of hard-core wine tasting. We had lots of snacks as the sun went down on the deck, but the Hong Kong chicken wings with soy lime vinaigrette was one of the most delicious, satisfying appetizers I’ve had anywhere. Had it just been a succulent fried chicken wing, that would have been enough, but the salty umami of soy sauce and the sharp aromatic twang of lime formed the perfect assault on the senses in the very best of ways. Never mind the view!” 180 Rutherford Hill Rd., Rutherford, (707) 967-3111, aubergedusoleil.com
Revana Family Vineyard
“Revana’s Taco Truck Extravaganza has become a signature event marking the end of the Premiere Napa Valley wine futures auction that takes place each year in late February. The soul-satisfying tacos and burritos please all people all the time, and you are invited to bring a bottle of your favorite wine. I stick to Revana’s Cabernet. It’s the most delicate and femininely beautiful cab I think I’ve ever had, made by one of Napa’s most highly regarded winemakers, Thomas Brown.” 2930 Saint Helena Hwy N. St. Helena, (707) 967-8814, revanawine.com
Photo by Neeta Lind via Creative Commons.