Olive Oil Tasting in Napa’s Round Pond Estate

Round Pond Estate Olive Mill
886 Rutherford Road
Rutherford, CA 94573

Rated: ♣♣♣♣♣

Napa Valley is a premier destination for wine tasting in Northern California, but the warm Mediterranean climate has attracted another burgeoning industry—olive oil.

Olive oil tasting in Napa is perfect for the non-drinkers in wine country or those who just need a break between wineries. Round Pond Estate in Rutherford offers an intimate hour long tour of their olive mill with a very generous tasting meal for only $30. The tastings are appointment only, so call ahead to book.

The tour through their mill is short and sweet, giving you just enough information to be interesting at a dinner party. The rest of the time is spent at a communal table tasting the different oils with soft and hard cheeses and organic fruits and vegetables from their garden. Also on the tasting menu are a two of their vinegars and their citrus syrups. One piece of advice—plan to eat lunch or dinner here. There’s enough food here to get you stuffed!

Round Pond Communal Table

Round Pond Olive Oil Tasting

Side note: We also took a trip across the street to their winery. Both scenes seem to be under the radar and the architecture at both estates are amazing – modern, industrial and luxurious.

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Ad Hoc – Yountville

Ad Hoc Exterior

Rated: ♣♣♣♣

As I will never get into the famed French Laundry, I went for second best and dined at one of Thomas Keller’s other Yountville restaurants, Ad Hoc. This restaurant serves down home cookin’ family style and on a prix fixe menu. The restaurant is famous for its buttermilk fried chicken, which unfortunately, is only served on every other Monday. Good luck trying to get a res on fried chicken day because it’s always booked up! I came to Ad Hoc on a Monday evening thinking it was a fried chicken day, but was fooled when I realized they were serving BBQ. However, it did not disappoint!

The meal started with “The French Laundry Garden Celery Salad.” The tender greens were gently picked from French Laundry’s garden. The mixed greens were lightly tossed with walnuts, sweet apples, shaved celery and a very light creamy dressing. The salad sounds simple, but I could taste the care and thoughtfulness put into the dish.

Ad Hoc Celery Salad

Between a party of 4, we shared 1 order of fried calamari. Oh my gosh. This was hands-down the best calamari I’ve ever had. Lightly battered, perfectly tender. The spiced aioli was the perfect compliment to the crispy goodness.

Ad Hoc Calamari

The main course was the Santa Maria Style BBQ platter. We each got a half-rack of smoked pork spareribs and several slices of the Snake River Farm wagyu beef tri-tip. Let’s talk about the ribs first. These babies were smoked for thirty. six. hours. Unbelievably tender and smokey. The sauce they topped it with had the perfect combination of tangy and spicy. The wagyu beef also was to die for. If you’re not familiar with wagyu, this kind of beef is America’s equivalent to kobe beef. In my picture, you can see the beautiful marbling which made this succulent tri-tip so tender and juicy. To give visitors the courtesy of serving veggies so that you don’t feel completely guilty for what we’ve eaten, Ad Hoc served a savoy cabbage, broccolini and Yacon root slaw.

Ad Hoc BBQ Plate

The platter came with buttermilk biscuits with burnt ends gravy. That means the burnt ends from the BBQed meats were cooked into a creamy gravy and poured on top of fluffy biscuits. Oh my it was good.

Ad Hoc Buttermilk Biscuits

The pre-dessert dish was a platter of plumped prunes, a few slices of Central Coast Creamery’s Seascape and palladin toast. The cow and goat milk cheese was sharp, creamy and smooth – almost like a soft white cheddar. The combination of the sweet prunes and the buttery toast was like an explosion of flavors. Everything paired perfectly.

Ad Hoc Prune Jam Bread

It’s restaurants like these where I despise the custom of eating dessert last. I was way too full to eat the banana cupcakes, so I took only a tiny bite. Light in banana flavor, these cupcakes were topped with a rum buttercream and filled with a salted caramel center. So sinfully good. The frosting tasted like pure butter.

Ad Hoc Banana Cupcakes

For the blogs sake, here’s the inside of the cupcake.

Ad Hoc Banana Cupcake Inside

The only reason why I’m giving this 4 stars is because of the service from the hostess. I feel she intentionally put our party in the “Asian corner” of the restaurant, meaning us and 3 other Asian parties sat at the back of the restaurant. I quickly forgot once the food came. I can’t wait to come back here to try the fried chicken. It’s totally worth the 1.5 hour drive after work.

Ad Hoc
6476 Washington St

Yountville, CA 94599

To give visitors the courtesy of serving veggies so that you don’t feel completely guilty for what we’ve eaten, Ad Hoc served a savoy cabbage, broccolini and Yacon root slaw.

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Press – St. Helena

Press Market Cut RibeyePress
587 St Helena Hwy S
St. Helena, CA 94574

Rated: ♣♣♣♣♣

When I go out for a meal for a work function, I know I’m going to eat well. A few weeks ago, we had an overnight sales summit at Solage in Calistoga (review to come) and I had the privilege to dine at Press. Dedicated to supporting local farmers and using organic ingredients, this high-end restaurant celebrates the freshness of their food by refusing to use sauces and heavy seasonings. The quality of their ingredients is so fresh, it doesn’t need any additives for it to taste amazing.

The scene:

Our party of 30 sat on the outside patio decorated in white Christmas lights, white table cloths and a large fireplace in the center of our 2 tables. The atmosphere was almost fairytale-like – absolutely beautiful.

To be honest, I didn’t get much of a feel for the service. The menu was set and the only interaction I had with our waiter was when he took my order.

The food:

Our EVP of Sales selected the menu and he definitely was not shy. We had about 6 different appetizers and sides to go along with our entrées. I’ll go through the most memorable below

Chopped Salad – This was the best chopped salad I ever had. The greens were fresh and well seasoned and the quality of their bleu cheese blew me out of the water.

Dry-Aged “Cowboy” Bone-In Rib Eye, Flannery Private Reserve – I just checked the online menu and this 20oz. steak is $49. I can’t believe I ate only half and left the rest at the table! This was the most expensive steak I’ve ever had and you can definitely tell the difference between this and a $20 steak. The grass-fed beef was aged for 28 days for supreme marbeling. The massive steak was so tender, my knife cut though it like butter.

Press Truffle Mac n CheeseTruffle Mac ‘n Cheese – Again, another favorite of mine. Press takes the average mac ‘n cheese to a whole ‘nother level with a shaved truffle and crispy panko crust. I was bummed that I had to share this with others at my table.

Broccolini – Wow, I never thought that I’d love broccoli this much. The green veggie was perfectly al dentè. Staying true to their food philosophy, the broccolini was completely naked so that the devourer can taste the pure freshness of the vegetable.

Strawberry Shortcake – I was 110% full before I got to this dish, but I managed to squeeze most of it in. Although very tasty, it was not the best I’ve had. This strawberry shortcake is made with freshly baked scones, strawberries and home made whipped cream. Bake Sale Betty’s beats this one out of the water.

The restaurant is so beautiful, I’d say it’s an ideal location for a wedding reception or a special date (hint, hint, K). If I could every afford to come back here again, I’d come in a heartbeat.

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