08 April 2011

napa valley & a buchon lemon tart

today let's go traveling...
Last weekend, while Kevin's parents were in town, we took a little overnight trip to Napa. Even with my oenophilia, I hadn't made it up to California wine country, and since Kevin's dad is also a huge wine lover, it was the perfect time to make the first trip. Let's just say I'm hooked. I would go back today if I could. Can't you see why? Besides the wine, could the scenery get more beautiful?
We started our trip fairly early, hitting the first wine tasting room (at Hess) by, oh, I'm not sure, before lunch. The picture below is me taking a little sitting snooze in the sun after a few glasses of morning wine and only a bowl of cereal in my tummy. We'd packed a lunch, so before our next stop had a little picnic at one of the wineries on Hightway 29 (though I think we would have chosen a more remote winery if we'd known better). At any rate, cheese, bread, & fruit were eaten and we were off to more tastings.
Beaulieu Vinyards was next and though I enjoyed the wines and was lucky enough to have a pour of their George de Latour (which was quite good and quite expensive), the setting wasn't my favorite. I think I prefer the wineries that are a little more set back and off the main trail, that have a unique feel and ambiance. That said, I would still go back to BV. Next we stopped over at my dad's favorite, Silver Oak, and basked in the sun, the good wine (especially the 2004 Alexander Valley they were pouring, can we say yum!), and the beautiful scenery - see below.
We headed to our hotel, the Vintage Inn (thanks to Jetsetter), which was totally amazing, had a little afternoon tea, and got ready for our dinner at Ad Hoc. That meal was basically to die for. We had a lentil salad, which while it may not sound so glamorous, had me taking seconds and thirds, even knowing 3 more courses were on the way... I wish I could get my hands on that recipe!!  That was followed by osso bucco which had been cooked sous vide for 36 hours (I think, something close to that) on saffron risotto, then a little cheese (delicious!), and finally a blueberry financier and vanilla ice cream which had everyone up in arms about how good it was! So, would I go back? Umm.... yes, anytime!
The next day, Kev's mom and I got a pretty amazing pedicure at the spa, did you know the new thing is to lie you down on a comfy heated seat? It does make it hard to drink your glass of champagne you have and it also makes it pretty hard to stay awake! We then soaked up a little more sun, wine, and scenery before heading back home.
Pretty much everything about our little trip to Napa was perfect. I wish I had a recipe to share for you, from our meal (I might need to pick up Ad Hoc @ Home), but alas all I have for you is a recipe for a delectable lemon tart that comes from another Thomas Keller restaurant, Buchon (the bakery is pictured below).
I actually made this tart for the Ladies Activity Club last week. I thought it was great and I think all the ladies did as well. It was fun to make, and I've never actually made a lemon tart using sabayon as the base, so it was fun to learn that method. It was also fun to eat, and putting it under the broiler sure made it pretty, don't you think? This really is a winning recipe for me, and one I am sure to make again, which as you may know, actually means a lot.

lemon tart
adapted from Tarte au Citron at Buchon (here)
note: the crust is my recipe. If you want to use Buchon's pinenut crust, the recipe is here.

for the crust:
1/4 c shelled pistachios, toasted and cooled
1 1/4 c all purpose flour
1/4 c sugar
pinch of salt
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp ice water

for the filling:
2 large eggs, cold
2 large egg yolks, cold
3/4 c sugar
1/2 c fresh lemon juice
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut in 6 pieces, cold

for the crust:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse pistachios to grind finely. Add flour, sugar, and salt and pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse until it is the size of peas. Add vanilla and water while leaving the processor running until the dough comes together. Remove the dough and place onto prepared tart pan. Press dough down onto the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan with fingertips. There should be just enough dough to fill the pan completely. Cover with a piece of parchment paper and place pie weights on parchment to weigh it down. Cook 30 minutes then remove from the oven. Let cool just a minute or two, then remove parchment and weights. Place tart shell back in the oven and cook 15-30 minutes more until slightly golden and cooked through. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Shell may crack in places, but it will not effect the tart 

for the filling:
Bring about 1 1/2 inches of water to a boil in a pot that is slightly smaller than the diameter of the bowl you will be using for the sabayon. In that large bowl, whisk the eggs, yolks, and sugar for about 1 minute, or until the mixture is smooth. Set the bowl over the boiling water and, using a large whisk, whip the mixture while you turn the bowl (for even heating). When the eggs are foamy and have thickened, which may take a few minutes, add one-third of the lemon juice. Continue to whisk vigorously and, when the mixture thickens again, add another one-third of the lemon juice. Whisk until the mixture thickens again, then add the remaining lemon juice. Continue whisking vigorously, still turning the bowl, until the mixture is thickened and light in color and the whisk leaves a trail in the bottom of the bowl. The total cooking time should be about 10 minutes.

Turn off the heat and leave the bowl over the water. Whisk in the butter a piece at a time. The sabayon may loosen slightly, but it will thicken and set as it cools. Pour the warm sabayon into the cooled  tart crust and place the pan on a baking sheet. 

Preheat the broiler. While the sabayon is still warm, place the tart under the broiler. Leaving the door open, brown the top of the sabayon, rotating the tart for even color; this will take only a few seconds, so do not leave the oven. Remove the tart from the broiler and let it sit for at least 1 hour before serving. Serve at room temperature or cold.

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