Rutherford, California

January 2008

Ok, so it’s not like we don’t know about this place.  It is after all a Relais & Chateaux and we did make a reservation.  Who would have thought the weather would be so beautiful the day we got here! There is something to be said about being able to eat outside in the month of January in Northern California.  Inevitably there’s a view — vineyards, mountains, still budding rose bushes, coupled with lots of warm sunshine. This of course makes the anticipation of the good food and wine to come just that much more exciting. 

It was a Saturday afternoon and the restaurant was packed with people.  We sat outside on the terrace at the Auberge and ordered two glasses of champagne to start.  Auberge has an extensive array of appetizers on their menu.  If you order two or three (each), you’ll not only get a great spread but it will be better than a “proper” meal.

We started with a light gnocchi dish with mushrooms, then had a shrimp salad with artichokes in a curry vinaigrette.  Grilled tuna with an olive tapenade and a soft boiled egg encased in breadcrumbs came out next.  (Chef Dan Berber at Blue Hill prepared the first egg I had ever eaten this way.  Now it seems others have jumped on the breaded egg bandwagon. )

We were tasting some wines along the way: a Macrostie Pinot Noir; an August Briggs Zinfandel.  We looked at the vineyards.  We looked at the sky.  We looked at the Mayacmas Mountains in the distance. To sober up we ordered some coffee and split a trio of sorbets.  It was a perfect lunch.


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