This year for Thanksgiving, I opted for several changes to our menu. I cooked a turkey breast and skipped the whole turkey (for 2 to 4 people this is the perfect option), I forgot to add cranberries to my cornbread stuffing (but added a tablespoon of sambal olek, which made it even better), I made my sweet potato pie (and sprinkled it with Persian saffron sugar crystals) and my beer and honey flavored pumpkin pie. And, before I forget, a green bean casserole with lots of crunchy fried onions and cashews. I’ve learned that if I can’t find everything at the store, forget to add something to my list or run out of it at home, it’s possible to make it through without panicking by either substituting or “faking it till I make it”.
Last weekend, amidst moving and a few last minute painting mishaps, we decided to drop it all and drive up to Napa for a fall harvest festival hosted by Tillamook Cheeese at the Charles Krug winery. I’ve been to Napa and Sonoma counties in almost every season of the year but autumn and if you’re a fall person, it’s probably one of the prettiest time to visit. The vines are changing color and the larger walnut and oak trees are all sorts of shades yellow, orange and red.
We learned how to taste cheese like the pros do at Tillamook (and M took active part in his cheese training, I think this is as fascinating as people who get to taste chocolate for a living). To start you take whiff of the cheese and then you use a cheese-borer to drill a hole deep into a humongous disc of cheese and then you get to characterize the flavor in terms of different features that you notice such as lactic acid, sweetness, umami etc. Cheese was included in every portion of our lunch menu (pumpkin mac and cheese, grilled cheese and pear sandwiches, etc.) and ice cream made from Tillamook’s milk. M got the vanilla bean with caramel sauce while I got the marionberry. That meal made the thought of going back home to pack and move now seemed much more bearable.
Now obviously, if you’re going to pass through Yountville, you have to make the mandatory stop by Bouchon Bakery. You need something sweet to get absorb all that cheese and wine! (Pictured are the sticky buns, hazelnut eclair, TKO cookie and pumpkin spice macroon.