Bottega Napa Valley, Chef Chiarello, you had me at brussels

Bottega, in the heart of Yountville, is apparently one of the busiest restaurant in Napa Valley. It is here, Chef Michael Chiarello, melds two cultures of food, Italy and Napa Valley. Chef Chiarello is acclaimed chef, Emmy-winning host of Food Network’s Easy Entertaining, and proprietor of Chiarello Family Vineyards. Bottega Restaurant in Napa Valley has been named Best Newcomer by Zagat, Top 10 by Forbes, Top 20 by Esquire, and Top 100 Bay Area by Michael Bauer.

 

Chef Chiarello's food plates are works of art. And, there is good reason why.  Arrived to a bustling spot, at 2:45 pm on a Saturday, where we scored 3 seats at the bar, my favorite place to sit, to take in the local atmoshere.

 

I selected the wine, with the help of the enthusiatic Sommelier, Ryan (from NY), who helped me decide between a sauvignon blanc and a bone dry chardonnay. We came to decide on something new for me, explained it is a 2016 Il Borro Chardonnay 'Lamelle,' ($54) a Tuscan chardonnay, which tastes like a blend of chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. What made my decicion easy is the producer, made by the grandson of my favorite shoemaker in Italy, Salvatore Ferragamo. To dig a bit deeper into the winemaker, in 1993, one of Salvatore’s sons, Ferruccio, purchased the historic Il Borro property which dates back to 1246. His original intention was to keep it as a family residence; however he soon embarked on an ambitious restoration project to bring the estate back to its former glory. After spending years rejuvenating the vineyards and renovating the cellar, Ferruccio’s son, Salvatore, now runs the 45 hectare estate, producing delicious Toscana IGT wines. Our bartender, George, also an East Coaster, was quite engaging. I think he has a lil puppy crush on my friend.

 

Very engaging staff, even met the GM, Paolo, who is very hands on. We sat at the bar.

TIP: They have a $35 corkage fee, recommend buying a bottle from they list. Many affordable options exist. Even Chiarello Family Vineyard wines.

 

The brussel sprout salad presentation was a strong indication of how fabulous the dish actually would be. Laced with eggs, pecorino and a Meyer lemon dressing, it exceeded my expectations. By the way Chef, you had me at brussels, which was kindly shared by my co-diners.  Obsessed, I found the Bottega Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad recipe online by Chef himself:

Serves 6

I add enough sieved eggs so each serving has about two whole eggs. If you want fewer eggs, that’s your choice, and for vegans, you can leave out the eggs entirely.

Marcona almonds from Spain make this salad crunchy. You can fry your own almonds in a few tablespoons of olive oil with a pinch of sea salt, but it’s easier to buy Marconas that have already been cooked in olive oil and salted.

For Whole-Citrus Vinaigrette (Juicer Version):

2 lemons, preferably Meyer lemons

1/2 navel orange, or 1 small orange

1 shallot

1 1/2 cups pure olive oil (doesn’t have to be extra virgin)

1 teaspoon sea salt, preferably gray salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

For the salad:

6 to 12 large eggs, hard cooked (optional)

6 dozen (8 to 9 cups) Brussels sprouts

3 dozen (3/4 cup) Marcona almonds, finely chopped

1/4 cup grated Pecorino-Romano

For the vinaigrette: Use a juice extractor to juice the lemons, orange, and shallot using the entire fruit with peel. Pour the juices into a small bowl and gradually whisk in the olive oil in a thin stream to form an emulsion. Season with the salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Whisk again, cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 3 days. Makes about 2 cups.

To sieve the eggs: At Bottega, we push the hard-cooked egg whites through the sieve separately, then sieve the yolks and layer the two separately for each serving. If you want, sieve the whole eggs and forget about separating whites from yolks.

Using a mandolin (an inexpensive $30 version works fine), carefully shave each Brussels sprout holding the stem end. A finger guard with prongs is a good way to keep your knuckles away from the blade. You can also cut off the stem of each B. sprout and use the shredder blade of your food processor. You should have about 9 cups when all of the B. sprouts have been grated. In a large bowl, toss together the shaved Brussels sprouts, sieved eggs, and chopped almonds. Pour on about 3/4 cup of the vinaigrette and toss again. Spoon into chilled small bowls and top with the pecorino. Top with a little more of the vinaigrette.

 

I was guided to order the the grilled octopus, by George, who added to eat it properly, I must eat with all items on the plate simultaneously, as they all work to add an original taste to the dish. Love the potatoes, serving as the base of the dish. It paired perfectly with the crisp white wine, see below.

 

After our late lunch, we went across the street to his cfe and shop, aka Bottega, called Ottimo, where there are foods being served from pizzas, gelato, salts, oils and wine, coffee and handcrafted products for sale.

 

Patti Neumann is Founder of CITYPEEK.com & an award-winning 21 C website & blog. Based in Napa Valley & Baltimore, She is one of the region's top Social Media Publicists and Influencers on food, sips, hospitality & the good life. CITYPEEK.com has its finger on the pulse of what's hot in the world of food, cocktails & travel trends.

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