Archive for the 'General' Category

North Cal trip continued….. MANRESA

Manresa in Los Gatos and David Kinch, the chef/owner have been favorites and great friends for many years.  Liz and David were great friends.  They loved talking food and menus.  David is from New Orleans.


Manresa specializes in California cuisine. It was founded in 2002 by chef David Kinch. The Michelin Guide: San Francisco, Bay Area and Wine Country conferred two Michelin stars on the restaurant in 2007, and upgraded it to three stars in 2016.


It is clearly one of the best restaurants in the world.  David has spent a lot of time in Japan cooking with many of the best chefs.  I always love to visit.  Even alone it is a great evening.  Occasionally I meet interesting people.  Not this time, but it was perfect anyhow.



Picture2Petit fours “red bell pepper-black olive”                                                               Granola crisp with goat cheese.


Picture3Oyster, caviar, leeks and…


Picture4Sea urchin with burdock root and shell fish essence.


Picture5Cioppino with geoduck, lobster and mackerel.


Into the vegetable garden Mercy Mercy.


Picture6This is a fabulous signature dish.  I am not a vergie lover, but I love this dish.



Picture7Dungeness crab and cabbage.



Picture8Marigold panna cotta and citrus sherbet.


Manresa continues to exceed expectations.  It is as legitimate a Michelin 3 Star as The French Laundry or any other place in the USA and definitely the equal of most in France.


David Kinch has learned how to maintain quality and continue to innovate.  I missed taking pictures of several of the later dishes.  I guess I got caught up in the flavors and the wines.


Here are pix of the wines just for the record.  No comments needed.  The sommelier is excellent and the cellar has developed nicely over the years.


I look forward to visiting again soon.  It is a very expensive meal but like any 3 star worth it!





Picture13The road back home…early morning headed to LA.

North Cal trip continued……CALENDA

Finding a good place for lunch in Yountville is never a problem.  I love Bistro Jeanty.  Phillipe Jeanty has been a nice friend and much appreciated chef for years, ever since he was the head chef and Domaine Chandon’s lovely restaurant.  His number two there, Cal Stemanov, worked for Michel Richard at Citrus for a while and then joined Chef Jeanty at Domaine Chandon.


He has moved on to Bernardus Lodge.  Liz and I visited him several times and were delighted with the cuisine and his warm welcome.


On this visit to Yountville I heard that Thomas Keller had opened a new place, Calenda in the spot formerly occupied by Hurley’s.  Hurley ‘s had always been good for a hamburger and a beer.  So I decided to try Calenda.


Picture1.pngNot much difference except the sign.  Calenda is about 200 yards from Bouchon right on Washington.


Picture2.pngSimple menu like a place mat.


Picture3.pngBlack bean enchilada and quesadilla al pastor.


Picture4Excellent churros with chocolate sauce. Cheating in style.

Calenda is a very nice addition to the Yountville scene.   The service is excellent.   The margherita was very good and the meal solid and delicious.






North Cal trip continued… THE FRENCH LAUNDRY

I’m going to let the pictures speak for themselves.  We have dined at The French Laundry so many times and never been disappointed.  I was a little concerned about dining alone.  No need. Everyone was so attentive and charming.  Good visits with some old friends and meeting some newcomers.


Just enjoy and realize that this is the best of the best.





Oysters.png  Oysters to start.


Thecone.pngThe cone with a new flavor twist.


Picture1Cheese toast…


Picture2Crème de champignos


Picture3The famous oysters and pearls.  I must have had this dish 100 times or more…for real…it was never better—what a treat.


Picture4Assorted goodies…


Picture5Hen egg custard another standard that never gets old.


Picture6Monterey Bay Abalone au gratin…amazing!


Picture7Hawaiian hearts of palm terrine.


Picture8Hand cut Tagliatelle.


Picture9Wolfe Ranch white quail with sunny side up quail egg—life can’t get better than this.  I love quail and this dish was perfection.


Picture10Beef stroganoff…I’m usually too full for meat at this point, but this was light and a perfect ending.   I neglected to take a picture of dessert…my regular doughnut and hole…if you have never had it…make it one of your desserts.  TFL really out does itself on desserts, but Liz and I were always too full and such great lovers of dessert…leave us to the savory dishes…what a meal.


Three wines, all delicious.  They really spoil me.




The last word…I will continue to journey North as often as I can.  Yountville has grown and offers enough to make it worth spending more than my usual 2 days there.  I wish I had a dining companion that would enjoy and appreciate as much as Liz and I used to, but that is more than anyone can hope for.   But, I did well on my own.  People were especially nice and considerate.  I think I can handle dining alone most places.   The French Laundry is family and home, a real privilege.


My review of Manresa will have the same feeling and the upcoming review of David Kinch’s Bywater shows it is special and definitely worth returning to….more to come on Refined Palate…thanks for looking in.

John Haskell

Husband for 50 years of Liz Haskell one of the greatest palates ever and a total gourmet with absolute appreciation of great food and great chefs.  With love…here’s to the memories.

North Cal Trip

I started this on March 10, but could not figure out enough time to do every stop.  Now I think I’ll do it one or two pieces at a time.  Keila, my assistant says it will be easy to. Post in pieces.  I hope you enjoy.  Perhaps some people will learn something that they can do after the virus mess is over…we will all need escapes and great meals.

Keeping Refined Palate going is a good activity for me and hopefully enjoyable for the readers who loved to read Lizzie.  “Traveling on our stomachs “  was our favorite pastime. Liz was a brilliant planner. Her only problem was that she did not know how to spell “budget”.

I scheduled visits to several favorite restaurants and with friends in Sonoma with Yountville and Los Gatos.

The trip started at Harris Ranch in Coalinga at the 200 mile mark on the 5 Freeway.   It is a great over-night place with decent food and very nice food and accommodations.

Sonoma was a new addition to my Northern California swing.  Dinner at Café La Haye was a real treat.  The company was great, the host/owner is very charming.

The food was excellent.  I loved my stuffed quail.   The Blue Farm pinot was a nice “discovery”.

I want to keep the words very brief and let the pictures do the talking.   Thanks for your interest and appreciation of these fine places.

Here are the first food notes and pictures…


1. Cafe La Haye.jpg  Café La Haye, Sonoma…really lovely little place with a charming owner/host…should be a must if you are in Sonoma. I stayed at Macarthur Court a very nice hotel with good facilities..


2. Green Beans @ Cafe La Haye.jpgGreen beans Café La Haye—I’m not much of a veggie guy…these were really good.


3.Ravioli Cafe La Haye.jpg  Café La Haye—a house specialty delicious.


4. Quail Cafe La Haye.jpgStuffed Quail—perfect and delicious…loved it.


5.Chicken Cafe La Haye.jpgRoast Chicken—thought of Michel Richard—he loved roast chicken—typical French chef’s favorite. Liz used to make it for him on Monday when he would visit—Citrus was closed Mondays…


6.  Blue Farm Pinot.JPG Blue Farm Pinot Noir…recommendation by my friend, Larry…excellent.


7.Memory-- Liz, Thomas at Michel's 60th.JPGHappy memory, Liz with Thomas Keller unknown chef and me at Michel’s 60th at Citronelle in DC…great time…


I moved from Sonoma to Yountville, home of The French Laundry, Bouchon and other Thomas Keller ventures, Ad Hoc, and newest La Calenda, Mexican.

I dined at La Calenda and enjoyed it.  No pix.  Good strong margherita and interesting cuisine.  Worth a try.

The next day, I enjoyed lunch at Bouchon once again.  I don’t know how many times I’ve dined at Bouchon in Yountville, Beverly Hills and Las Vegas…really miss the LA version.

I also dined at Redd Wood, a little pizza place in my hotel North Block.  The restaurant was done by Richard Reddington, a favorite chef, who had Redd down the street.   Liz and I followed him for years.

Redd Wood is nice, simple, not cheap but food is good and I enjoyed a very nice beer that I had never tasted before.


8.Redd Wood pizza.jpgYountville first dinner at North Block’s Redd Wood restaurant—pizza was very good. Richard Reddington terrific chef…miss Redd down the street.  Hope to catch up with Richard some time for some more of his great cuisine.  We have followed him for years.


9.Menabrea Redd Wood beer.jpgMenabrea beer—perfect with the pizza…my room was just a few steps up stairs…very convenient…no chance of a DUI.


Redd Wood Pizza—love it with the egg on top with sausage and pepperoni…I ate it all…bad boy!

Manabrea beer, Italian, lighter laager, I enjoyed.

Redd Wood a simple, nice dinner with decent service.  Found my way back up the stairs to my room and a very good night’s sleep.





Art’s Famous Chili Dog Stand—last day

What a sad occurrence.  The fabulous, famous Arts Famous Chili Dog announced that Sunday would be their last day.  The two sisters who own the place have decided to close down and sell their property.

Who knows what it could be worth at the corner of Florence and Normandie, not Beverly Hills, that’s for sure.

One of my friends alerted me and I just had to go.  $ 21.48 later I had made a complete pig out of myself—3 different dogs and the wonderful Frito “pie”…unbelievable.

Frito pie—the best chili, onions, cheese loaded in the fritobag….the only other place for this is Tim Hollingsworth’s wonderful Barrel & Ashes in Studio City—probably 3x the price.
3 dogs—jumbo with sauerkraut, jumbo chili dog with the works, and regular dog with the works.
Parting shot…I’ll certainly miss Art’s.