A few years ago, when I accompanied my husband to a Napa Valley conference, a British colleague of his told us that whenever she was in that part of California, she made a “pilgrimage” to eat at Auberge du Soleil, an upscale resort and restaurant.
I’d never heard the word “pilgrimage” used in that context before, and it stuck in my head.
We went there together on a beautiful, sunny day, and ate lunch at an outdoor terrace that was part of Auberge du Soleil’s Bistro, the more casual counterpart of its Michelin-rated restaurant.
That’s where I had the best dessert I’ve ever had in my life, filo-wrapped chocolate dumplings with tarragon ice cream and Arbequina olive oil. The dessert provided a multi-sensory experience, from the temperature contrast between the dumpling’s warm chocolate filling and the perfectly chilled ice cream, to the latter’s tarragon flavour, a taste counterpoint to the sweetness of the chocolate and the ice cream itself. Not to mention the plate’s visual appeal, as well as the contrast in textures of all the dessert’s components.
If I didn’t have a pro-chocolate bias, my husband’s dessert, a trio of seasonal melon sorbets, would probably be the best dessert I’d ever had in my life. Each spoonful contained a surprisingly fresh burst of melon flavour – as if I was eating the fruit itself in a different form.
Recently, I’ve been finalizing plans to be in Sacramento, only an hour away from Napa, for a wedding. But I’m not sure I’ll repeat the pilgrimage, given time constraints and other local attractions that I haven’t visited before.
Whether I do or not, I look forward to some good meals. And to the wedding!