Some of the best restaurants in the Napa Valley share their recipes to serve their co-workers and those in need


When the glass fire ripped through Napa County in September 2020, it was only the latest disaster to hit the iconic wine region in the past decade. It happened for journalist Jess Lander, who had been reporting on the 2014 earthquake and the 2017 Atlas Peak fire for eleven years. The house where she and her husband lived burned to the ground. So she turned to the only place that could comfort her, the mix of restaurants that populate the county. But they too struggled to keep their heads up as the pandemic shutdowns brought financial blows at the same time.

Long before the fire took her and most of her belongings home, she ordered takeout and food from her outdoor dining areas to offer them some help. Whenever the restaurant closed or the staff was laid off, she wondered what she could do to help. It wasn’t long after her tragedy that she hit upon the idea of ​​creating the Essential Napa Valley Cookbook to raise funds to help. She was inspired by two other cookbooks that were born quick during the pandemic. A bite of a boulder and In the service of New York.

“I thought we should do something like this in Napa,” she says. “Despite our size, we have a world-famous culinary scene. I did some research and found that there hasn’t been a Napa Valley cookbook for nearly fifty years. There are many cookbooks by individual chefs and restaurants, but none, they are a collection from different companies. ”

Realizing that many organizations would not be very open to participating in a for-profit project, she decided to donate all of the proceeds from the cookbook sales to those in need. 75% of the money would go directly to the restaurant staff at participating restaurants, and the other 25% would support the efforts of Feed Napa Now, a nonprofit that feeds Napa families in need.

She threw herself into the project and started approaching farms during the winter break, which was proving difficult. Many of the owners and chefs weren’t in contact. It buried itself in the ground, and when spring came and stores began to reopen, it began to thrive. She ended up collecting thirty-six recipes from thirty different restaurants. There are luminaries like Charlie Palmer Steak House and The Charter Oak, and local favorites like Pizzeria Tra Vigne and Model Bakery.

In order to finance the production costs, she turned to the numerous wineries in the region. She offered them to secure a small sponsorship. Each participant received one of his wines, paired with a recipe. “I thought there was no way you could make a Napa Valley cookbook without adding wine pairings,” she says. “Also, most of the wineries here are feeling the effects of the pandemic along with the fires that have affected their crops. I thought it was a win-win situation for everyone involved. ”

The entire project was a collaborative effort with the help of the people in the valley, from developing recipes to designing books. “Although the past few years have been particularly tough, the Napans are resilient and we have an unusually strong community bond,” said Ken Frank, Michelin-starred chef and owner of La Toque restaurant. “We’ve seen earthquakes, floods and fires, so the pandemic was just the next challenge. The Napa restaurant community really came together to heal one another from the pandemic. Each of us thought about how we could help our teams and our company weather the storm, so this was a no-brainer. “

Here is an example of a recipe with a wine accompaniment from the cookbook.

Moules au Cider, Bistro Jeanty, Yountville

“Mussels with cider and crème fraîche is a traditional dish that originated in Normandy, France. When Chef Jeanty lived in Paris as a teenager, he often rode his motorbike to Normandy to visit friends and family. A friend’s family used to make their own cider and calvados. This is a dish you would enjoy a lot at home. ”- Bistro Jeanty owner Philippe Jeanty

For 2

Wine recommendation: Mondavi Fume Blanc


2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp chopped shallots

2 bay leaves

2 sprigs of fresh thyme

½ cup of crème fraîche

1 heaped liter of Saltspring Island or other fresh mussels, cleaned

1 cup of dry apple cider

4 pieces of grilled bread

1 clove of garlic


Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, then add the shallots, bay leaves and thyme. As soon as the shallots are tender, add the mussels, apple cider and crème fraîche. Cover the pan and cook until the clams open.

Remove the mussels from the pan, place in a bowl and pour the cooking liquid over them (watch out for sand or grit at the bottom of the pan). Garnish with freshly chopped parsley. Serve with grilled bread, rubbed with a clove of garlic.

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