Wine Travel Adventure

Bay Area & California travel blog

Tag: Bouchon

Thomas Keller’s Yountville

            Thomas Keller did not grow up eating in restaurants like The French Laundry, his world-famous Michelin 3-star restaurant in Yountville. As a boy he ate Dinty Moore stew out of a can. “I’ve liked stew since I was a boy,” he confided, “even when it was Dinty Moore out of a can, which it often was in a household of five kids and a working mother.”

Goodies at the Bouchon Bakery, one of Thomas Keller’s restaurants in Yountville.

Born at Camp Pendleton near San Diego, Keller is the son of a Marine Corps drill instructor. But his father abandoned the family when the children were very young, leaving Betty, his auburn-haired mother, to raise the boys on her own. She headed off to Florida to start their lives anew. There she found work as the manager of the Palm Beach Yacht Club, the starting point for her son’s glittering culinary career. This was where he entered the restaurant business, finding work as a pearl diver—old school lingo for a dishwasher—before gradually moving up to cook.

Thomas Keller.

“I wonder if I love the communal act of eating so much because throughout my childhood with four older brothers and a mom in the restaurant business, I spent a lot of time fending for myself, eating alone—and I recognized how eating together made all the difference,” he recalled. “The best meals are the ones you eat with the people you care about.” Continue reading

Greatest blueberry muffin in the world

By Kevin Nelson

The world’s greatest blueberry muffin can be found in the charming wine country hamlet of Yountville, California at the Bouchon Bakery on Washington Street. Of course, you will find lots of blueberry muffins there, not just one, for they are made seasonally virtually every day at this small and busy bakery next to the café of the same name.

World's greatest blueberry, right.

World’s greatest blueberry, right.

You will know you have reached Bouchon in Yountville when you see a light green building with a yellow awning and a line out the door. Virtually the only time there isn’t a line is when it’s closed.

Now some might quibble at designating anything, especially something so ordinary as a blueberry muffin, as “the world’s greatest,” and they probably have a solid point. Nevertheless there is nothing ordinary about a Bouchon blueberry muffin, which, for $3, is the opposite of grand larceny. I’ve had meals for 25 times that price that haven’t given as much pleasure.

More than once I have eaten pastries while sitting on a wooden bench in front of Bouchon, but until the other day for some inexplicable reason I had never had a blueberry muffin. After my first bite I thought, “This is really good.” After my second and third bites I thought, “This is really really good.” My grand plan was to save it for later in the day but it was gone as soon as I hit the road heading up Highway 29 to go to Francis Coppola’s winery in the northern wilds of Sonoma County.

You never experience food in a vacuum; it is always connected to the experience of that moment, how you are feeling, who you are with, whatever it is. In my case I was at the start of a day of free play and it was a lovely warm morning, blue skies and wispy clouds, and I had a full tank of gas and nowhere I had to be for hours. So how I was feeling surely magnified the pleasure of the muffin. Naw, it really was that good. Be sure to pop one in your bag the next time you get there. If you’re like me, it won’t stay in the bag long.

 

 

Joshua Schwartz, Del Dotto chef, has a question for restaurant critics

Joshua Schwartz is the executive chef at Del Dotto Vineyards in the Napa Valley, and he has a question for food writers and restaurant critics. “No one really writes about winery chefs. They write about restaurant chefs but usually not winery chefs. How can winery chefs get the recognition they deserve?”

Joshua Schwartz, left, in the kitchen at Del Dotto.

Joshua Schwartz, left, in the kitchen at Del Dotto.

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