Archive for the 'Ubuntu – Napa' Category

Ubuntu

First, a huge apology to Chef Jeremy Fox for not writing up our meal at Ubuntu in July.  Second, a huge congratulations to Chef Jeremy Fox for being named by the James Beard Foundation as one of the final nominees for Best Chef: Pacific Region. As it has been some time since this meal, my descriptions will be somewhat limited (I can’t find my notes), but hopefully the photos will tell the story.

Ubuntu is an all vegetable restaurant – no meat, no fish. This is not to say that it is green grass restaurant with no taste or low in calorie. Jeremy handles vegetables with the care and finesse normally accorded to proteins. What you are immediately struck by is his layering of flavors and his reliance on culinary technique not “tricks.’

jeremy1

Adorable Jeremy

 

ubuntu-olives

Italian olives, Nasturtium pesto, Nasturtium petals

 

ubuntu-almonds

Marcona almonds with lavender sugar and sea salt

 

ubuntu-radishes

Breakfast radishes with local chevre, nori infusion and smoked black sea salt

 

ubuntu-chickpea-fries

Chickpea fries with herbs, Romesco sauce

All of the above are addictive

 

ubuntu-assorted-peppers

Assorted fried peppers from the garden with mint

 

ubuntu-watermelon-soup

Watermelon Velouté with Basil, Basil Seed Caviar, Sprouts – I am not sure I got this right so apologies to everyone if I am wrong.

 

ubuntu-vichyoisse

 Cool Watermelon and Lemongrass Soup with a splash of coconut milk and decorated with a cascade of shoots. This had a definite Asian feel due to the lemongrass and coconut milk.

 

ubuntu-leaves-and-things

Leaves and Things – walk into a garden and enjoy.

 

ubuntu-ehglish-peas

English Peas and Shoots in Pea Shoot  Consommé with White Chocolate, Macadamia and Mint – never in a million years would I think to pair peas with white chocolate, but it was a remarkable marriage.

 

ubuntu

Grilled Peach Panzallels, Burrata, Mozarella, Brioche, Basil, Aged Balsamic – I think

 

ubuntuwater-retained-plants

Water-retained Plants 

 

ubuntu-pizza

 Ubuntu Pizza with truffled pecorino and ???

 

ubuntu-squash

Roasted, Puréed, and Raw Courgettes and Succulents with Ubuntu Vadouvan and Panisses 

 

ubuntu-squash-1

Squash #2

 

ubuntu-eggs

This was in a word a masterpiece – we requested an egg dish and Jeremy did eggs in all its various guises – absolutely extraordinary

Now for Deanie’s desserts

ubuntu-plums

Plums with Nasturtium

 

strawberries

Strawberries

 

last-dessert

 

A wonderful meal and a huge thank you to Jeremy and Deanie.

 

Ubuntu

Convincing John to go to a just vegetable restaurant was initially a tough sell. It has taken me years to finally convince John that small bites, particularly of fish canapés, is much more satisfying than a 16 ounce steak. In fact, John now generally prefers one or at the most two ending meat courses at French Laundry and Manresa.

But knowing Jeremy was from Manresa sealed the deal and we went for lunch. What a lunch it was – absolutely sensational. John was not only convinced; he can’t wait to go back. Jeremy and Deanie completely spoiled us – we basically said you cook, we eat.

We were also lucky to spend time with the owner, Sandy Lawrence. She explained that Ubuntu is a Zulu word that means “humanity toward others.” She learned the word while working in South Africa.

From their web site:

Ubuntu, briefly stated, is “humanity toward others”, which is the basis of this community-focused restaurant.

Also from the web site:

“Ubuntu chef Jeremy Fox says “I am really excited to have the chance to do something that hasn’t been done before-this project has the distinction of being more of a vegetable restaurant than a vegetarian restaurant. We are not offering a philosophy of no meat, we are celebrating what comes from the gardens, what shows up at the door and our relationships with farms in Napa…all new rules for what people expect.” Fox will showcase his considerable talents and knowledge of the very best in farm to table cuisine.”

The room is beautiful – high ceilings, lovely light, a wonderful communal table – in fact on Thursdays, you can take a yoga class and then have a “family-style” dinner at the communal table after class.

 

What impressed me most about Ubuntu is the incredible flavors in each dish – this is very, very labor intensive cuisine and it shows.

Wine: Ladera 2006 Sauvignon Blanc

Beer: Moonlighting Brewing Company – By Boat IPA, santa Rosa, Ca (John wanted beer and wine!)

 

Radis au beurre, smoked salt, butter – the radishes were baby D’Avignon radishes, also called breakfast radishes from France. I learned from a google search that the French like to eat them for breakfast dipped in butter and kosher salt. The smoked salt added just the right touch.

Sunchokes with romesco, buddha’s hand – these was absolutely addictive – the sunchokes were perfectly fried, the Romesco spicy, but not overly aggressive. Buddha’s hand is a member of the citron family, famous for its fragrance.

 

 

Assorted broccoli a la catalan Pine nut-soy milk pudding, golden raisins, roast red pepper consommé

Who would think that broccoli could taste so good, but the combination of flavors was wondrous and that is what makes this cuisine so special. There is such a burst of flavor in each bite.

 

Artichokes and Buttercrunch Lettuce with celery salsa verde (olives, capers, parmesan)

Carta da musica ( A Sardinian bread that is very thin, dry and crispy. The name Carta da Musica (music paper) is attributed to the noise produced when they are chewed.

 

 

Oxheart carrot, roasted whole with satsumas

Fresh-picked greens, parsnip puree, mortared hazelnuts, parsley, rue oil

 

 

Erin, our wonderful server, first presented the oxheart carrot whole. The effect was like looking at a huge piece of roasted meat. The taste was superb and the hazelnuts added just the right amount of texture.

Beautiful plating

 

 

Four cauliflowers in a cast iron pot

Roasted-pureed-raw, vadouvan spice, brown butter toast – there is a reason this is a signature dish – there is just no way to describe how good this is.

 

This was comfort food at its best and the Vadouvan spice is a favorite of mine and worked beautifully with the richness of this dish.

Anson mills speckled grits, hickory smoked

bbq Brussels sprouts, celery root, tiny mizuna salad, housemade barbecue sauce – my or my – the barbecue sauce was just perfect with the grits and who cared that there was no beef, chicken or pork – you didn’t need it or for that matter want it. By the way, Jeremy could bottle that sauce and make a fortune.

 

Farm egg and fried Robuchon potatoes Black truffle “bordelaise’, Bordeaux spinach

Just when I thought I had two most sensational courses in a row, out comes the egg!!!!! I will let the photos do the talking – absolutely over the top spectacular. My assumption for the reason that it is called Robuchon’s potato is that it was equal parts butter and potato. This is NOT diet cuisine and to be honest, we were getting very full.

 

John’s plate after he ate the egg

 

But now it was Deanie’s turn and she was not to be outdone by Jeremy

Slow-cooked pineapple (done in a cryovac)

Fresh passion fruit, smoked mango sorbet, passion fruit gelee, crisp shiso – delicious and I loved the addition of the tempura of shiso.

 

Vanilla bean “cheesecake” in a jar

Sour cherries, pine nut sable – John hates cheescake and he wasn’t exactly fair about sharing, but it was his birthday weekend.

 

Freshly brewed tea

Mignardises

This was an exceptional lunch and I would go back in a heart beat.

 

 

 


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