Posts Tagged ‘Apricots’

Ad Hoc – Yountville, CA

Thursday, October 9th, 2014 by virginia

DSC_2996

Even though I knew we were going to be in Sonoma, not Napa, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to eat at a Thomas Keller restaurant, especially because it’ll probably be years before we’ll be “in the neighborhood” again. I know we have Bouchon Bakery in NYC, but it’s not quite the same as a regular sit-down restaurant. The drive from Healdsburg to Yountville was actually over an hour, but it was a pretty scenic trip past rolling hills of vineyards. While I would have loved to eat at the French Laundry, logistically, and budget-wise, Ad Hoc made more sense for us. Originally we had made a reservation for a party of ten, but our group dwindled down to four, which fortunately was not an issue.

I was actually surprised by the decor of the restaurant when we walked in. I don’t know why, but in my mind, I was picturing something a little more casual and countrified. Instead, it was a beautifully modern space with tall ceilings, large windows, and a contemporary vibe. Even though we had a somewhat early reservation, the place was packed and the atmosphere was hopping.

The menu at Ad Hoc changes every day, but whatever is on the menu that day is what you get. There is usually a salad to start, a main course with the option to add a supplemental dish, a cheese course, and dessert. The meal costs $52, plus an extra supplement cost if you choose to add the supplemental dish, and you get everything. It’s all served family style, with enough portions for everyone at the table to have a healthy serving.

On the night that we dined there, the salad course featured a gorgeous mix of little gem lettuce, shaved fennel, apricots, radishes, pickled red onions, and ricotta, with a chamomile vinaigrette. The gem lettuce, which is similar to baby romaine, was unbelievably fresh, with such a crisp texture and intense lettuce flavor. The radishes fortunately were not too bitter, and the fennel was pretty mild as well. The apricots were a great addition – sweet and juicy, while the dollops of ricotta added a nice creaminess to the greens. We all thought the salad was slightly under-dressed, until we discovered that they had brought us a gravy boat of extra dressing that no one had noticed until we were almost finished eating. Oh well. The vegetables were so fresh anyway that we were sort of glad to have tasted them in all their semi-naked glory.

Salad

Salad with little gem lettuce, fennel, apricots, radishes, pickled red onions, and ricotta

The main course was grilled hanger steak, which was nicely browned on the outside and perfectly medium rare on the inside. The steak was topped with wilted mustard greens, fried polenta, bell pepper stew, and turnip agrodolce. The mustard greens were soft but not overcooked, and the slight bitterness of the turnips was counteracted by the sweet bell peppers. My favorite part of the dish, aside from the steak, was the fried polenta, which had a perfectly crisp shell and a creamy center. It was a hearty, homey dish and they definitely didn’t skimp on the meat. We wound up boxing up the leftovers.

Hanger steak

Hanger steak with mustard greens, turnips, bell pepper stew, and fried polenta

The supplemental dish was shrimp scampi, which we added to our meal without hesitation (the additional cost was $16). It was a good call, as the shrimp were perfectly cooked and the pasta was clearly homemade, with chewy strands that clung to the well balanced scampi sauce. The dish wasn’t overly garlicky and had just the right amount of acid.

Shrimp scampi

Shrimp scampi

The cheese course was the Lamb Chopper from Cyprus Grove, a sheep’s milk cheese that has a mild gamey flavor to it. It’s a hard cheese but texturally smooth, and it was served toasted cashews and honey. The sweetness of the honey really brought out the tang of the sheep’s milk. It was a nice palate cleansing course.

Chopper

Lamb Chopper cheese with honey and cashews

Dessert was ice cream sandwiches with sweet corn ice cream between shortbread cookies, rolled in blackberries. They were impossibly messy (the ice cream squeezed out the back when you bit into the cookies, and the blackberry juice got all over our hands), but they were delicious, whimsical, and just plain fun to eat. The shortbread cookies tasted like sugar cookies, though not too sugary, and the ice cream had a subtle hint of corn flavor. I was hoping to taste more of the corn, but the sandwich was just the perfect amount of sweetness to end the gluttonous meal.

Sweet corn ice cream sandwiches

Sweet corn ice cream sandwiches with blackberries

Immediately after our meal, we had kind of mixed emotions about the dinner at Ad Hoc. The food was really good – seasonal, well prepared, and plentiful. But there was nothing that knocked our socks off. Everything was properly seasoned and tasted great, but it was simple, homey fare, and I think we were expecting something a little more extraordinary from a Thomas Keller restaurant. In hindsight though, it was our own preconceived notions that had us a little disappointed at the end of the meal. Thinking back, we truly did enjoy our meal, and each course was amazing in its own right. The salad was unbelievably fresh, the steak was expertly cooked, as were the sides, the shrimp scampi was nicely balanced,¬† the cheese course was simple but delicious, and the ice cream sandwiches put smiles on all of our faces. It was a meal I would happily eat again, and a complete bargain considering the quality of the food and the size of the portions. If you’re expecting more composed dishes and creative combinations, then this isn’t the place. But if you’re looking for uncomplicated, straightforward, and perfectly executed food that is also unbelievably tasty, don’t hesitate to make a reservation at Ad Hoc.

Ad Hoc
6476 Washington St.
Yountville, CA

While we would have loved to eat here (French Laundry), which is just down the street, Ad Hoc was still a great restaurant in its own right

While we would have loved to eat here (French Laundry), which is just down the street, we wound up having an amazing meal at Ad Hoc

CSA Week #10

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010 by virginia

Today’s CSA share was probably the heaviest one we’ve had so far. Josh was picking up the car from NJ (we’re dog-sitting the next two days) and I really struggled to carry our vegetables and fruits the few blocks home. According to the farm report we got, the heat wave has caused all of the melons to ripen two weeks early. We had a choice of melons this week, including the Asian variety we got last week, and I picked up one that looked like a small honeydew. For the greens, the email said we had a choice between kale and chard, but I think I picked up collard greens. I saw the kale but didn’t see anything resembling the swiss chard we got a few weeks back.

This week our vegetable share contents included:

Cucumber – 3 lbs
Squash – 2 lbs
Greens  Р1/2 lb
Melons – 1 each
Tomatoes – 3 lbs
Basil – 1/2 lb
Corn – 3 each

Squash, basil, melon, tomatoes, collards, corn, cucumbers

I was thrilled to see basil again, and half a pound is a ridiculous amount. Seriously, I have like an entire basil bush right now, just waiting to be turned into pesto. I don’t want to make the same mistake as last time, letting the basil blacken prematurely, so I want to use it up right away.

I have to be honest that I was not happy with the fruit share this week. I liked the kinds of fruit that we got, but the quality was pretty bad. I noticed the same thing with the tomatoes – most of them were super soft and had split open.

Our fruit share this week included:

Donut Peaches – 1 quart
Plums – 1 lb
Apricots or Peaches – 1 lb

Donute peaches, plums, apricots, peaches

I was super excited to see donut peaches, little peaches that look like they’ve been flattened. But when I dug into the quart container, the peaches at the bottom were brown and moldy. I tried cutting off the mold and brown bits, but four of them were totally inedible. Sad.

Moldy and gross

A few of the plums had also split open, but I just washed them off and ate them right away. They were sweet and tasty, but I was pretty disappointed with the state of the fruit. Hopefully it was just because the weather has caused everything to ripen too quickly, and that this won’t happen in later weeks. We still have a hefty bounty left but I hate seeing food go to waste.

CSA Week #9

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010 by virginia

It’s week #9 of our CSA share, and we’re really starting to feel overwhelmed! Our fridge is absolutely jam packed with vegetables and fruits right now, and we’re scrambling to eat everything before they spoil. Not to mention we’re going away Friday for a long weekend, and when we come back next week, it’ll be time to pick up yet another batch of vegetables/fruits.

No, I’m not really complaining. I love having so many different kinds of produce on hand, and we’re having a great time experimenting with things that we’ve never cooked before. We’ve already made two new recipes tonight, which I’ll talk about more shortly. This week our vegetable share contents included:

Squash – 1 1/2 lbs
Cucumber – 2 lbs
Eggplant – 1 each
Asian Melon – 1 each
Carrots – 1 lb
Napa Cabbage – 1 each
Tomato – 1 lb

Squash, asian melon (in the back), eggplant, napa cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes in the middle

I combined the cucumbers from this week and the larger ones from last week to make Julia Child’s famous baked cucumbers recipe (I mistakenly said braised cucumbers earlier!). Definitely an interesting outcome, which I’ll be posting about soon. We also made a gorgeous ratatouille with some of the squash and the eggplant we got last week. Yet something else to post about!

Fruit-wise, our share this week included:

Peaches – 2 1/2 lbs
Apricots – 1 pint
Plums – 1 pint

Plums, apricots, peaches in the back

We got four decently sized peaches, but I don’t think it was 2 1/2 lbs worth, so perhaps they changed it but I didn’t notice. Oh well, not a big deal. We have an insane amount of apricots and plums in our fridge, so I think we’ll be taking a bunch with us on vacation. I can take fruit if we’re flying domestically, right?

Also, if anyone knows what an asian melon is, or how to cook it, please let me know!

CSA Week #8

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010 by virginia

It was a hectic CSA Wednesday for me, as Josh is currently in Las Vegas and I had a softball game right after work so I had to run out and pick up our share during the day. It was really hot out and I was a sweaty mess by the time I got back to my office, but I didn’t want to take the chance that I wouldn’t get back from the game in time to get our veggies and fruit.

This week our share did match what was sent in the email, and I was happy to see cucumbers on the list. Our vegetable contents this week included:

Squash – 2 lbs
Fava Beans – 1 lb
Carrots – 1 lb
Cucumber – 3 lbs
Eggplant – 1 each
Greens – 1/2 lb
Beets – 3 each

Cucumbers, fava beans, carrots, eggplant, kale, beets, squash

The greens this week was kale once again, and I look forward to making more kale chips. I also plan on making ratatouille with the squash and eggplant, something that I’ve never tried before. And of course, braised cucumbers, because I want to see what all the fuss is about!

We got lots of fruit this week as well, and our fridge is just bursting at the seams right now. We’ve actually found a great use for most of the plums we’ve been getting, making a really wonderful plum salsa that I’ll be posting about. This week our fruit share included:

Shiro Plums – 1 1/2 lbs
Apricots – 1 quart
Blueberries – 2 pints

Shiro plums, blueberries, apricots

I don’t know the difference between Shiro plums and sugar plums, since they look very similar. Maybe they taste different? We’ll see. And two pints of blueberries doesn’t sound like a lot but I feel like we have an abundance of them right now. Josh wants me to bake a pie so maybe I’ll consider doing that, or just making a big batch of blueberry pancakes. The possibilities are endless!

CSA Week #7

Friday, July 23rd, 2010 by virginia

No, I didn’t forget about CSA Wednesday. Due to a previous commitment for the church where we pick up our shares, this week our distribution was moved to Thursday. I was super excited when we got the email this morning that listed our share contents, as there were lots of new vegetables for us to try. Much to our dismay, however, when we went to get our share, three items were missing – basil, cucumbers, and purslane. We’re not really sure why those items weren’t delivered, and while our share was still pretty robust, I had already been thinking about the basil pesto I wanted to make, and I was looking forward to trying braised cucumbers, the highly touted Julia Child recipe.

Oh well. We did get some things that weren’t on the emailed list, like lettuce and greens, so I guess it works out in the end. Our share contents this week included:

Squash – 3 lbs
Fava Beans – 1 lb
Carrots – 5 each
Turnips – 4 each
String Beans – 1lb
Lettuce – 1 head
Greens – 1/2 lb

Turnips, string beans, lettuce, greens, fava beans, carrots, squash

For the lettuce, it looked like we had a choice between green leaf and Boston lettuce. Because we’ve already tried the green leaf lettuce before, we chose the Boston even though the heads were tiny. The greens turned out to be kale, which means we can make kale chips again! For the squash, there were lots of different varieties so we picked up a standard yellow one, a smaller, round yellow one, and a large, pear shaped pale green one.

Our fruit share this week was the best one yet, with several different items. The contents included:

Sugar Plums – 1 quart
Apricots – 1 quart
Red Plums – 1 pint

Sugar plums, apricots, and red plums in front

The apricots look gorgeous, and I really liked the sugar plums from last week, though the skin is a bit tart. Josh made a lovely salsa with it that I’ll be posting about. Unfortunately, Josh will be on the road for work the next two weeks, which makes it tough for me to enjoy our bounty. I don’t want him to feel like he’s missing out, but then again, he’s going to have a lot of access to great restaurants while he’s away so I’m the one who’s going to end up feeling jealous. I’ll just have to figure out some really awesome things to make so that maybe he’ll have incentive to travel less!