Napa Valley California - 99

A culinary cultivator

Auberge du Soleil,
Rutherford

AARON KEEFER, GARDENER EXTRAORDINAIRE AT THE FRENCH LAUNDRY

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: TRINETTE REED; ERIC WOLFINGER; NAT & CODY GANTZ; ILLUSTRATION: SVETA MEDVEDIEVA

Q:
A:

Aaron Keefer's formal title at The
French Laundry is "Manager of
Gardens and Grounds." But he
prefers the more humble "farmer,"
as he personally gets down in the
dirt with his plants, from seed to
ripened glory. For a decade now,
he has cultivated the three-acre
garden that supplies the three
Michelin star restaurant with its
fresh-picked produce. See for yourself: No reservations are needed to
stroll the gardens, across the street
from the restaurant.

Q: What's new in the ground?
A: We dedicate about 15 percent
of our garden space to new varietals, to see how
the crops are received by our chefs. Some of the
most exciting items this year include pipicha, a
Oaxacan herb that has hints of mint, cilantro, and
cucumber in its intricate scents; and Shirohana
Mame, broad beans that we grow for the blossoms rather than the beans. The blossoms are
huge, pure white, and sweet as sugar when picked
at the right time of the day. We also like Agretti, a
plant that is very interesting for its intricate little
tendrils that look and taste like seaweed.
Gott's Roadside,
St. Helena

pappardelle tumbled with king trumpet
mushrooms, shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, and plenty of garlic. Stop in at Yountville's adorable Ciccio - the rustic, red
painted cottage and market offers a daily
menu that might include tender bavette
steak over polenta with a drizzle of leekred wine jus, or wood-fired pizza topped
with ramps, morels, and Taleggio.
ALFRESCO FEASTS
Many area restaurants feature lovely landscaped patios and terraces to
complement the cuisine. A few favorite
garden and view spots include the new
Cal-cuisine Lovina in Calistoga, the

Press steakhouse,
St. Helena

Michelin star Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford, Angèle for French repasts overlooking the Napa River, and Farmstead at
Long Meadow Ranch in St. Helena, for
dining next to the lavish culinary garden.
But this is Napa Valley, after all, where
wine makes every meal even more
memorable - even the order-at-thecounter Gott's Roadside in St. Helena
and Napa offer selections like Schramsberg sparkling. It's worth a visit to Press
steakhouse in St. Helena for a collection
that's so valued, the restaurant built a
cellar to hold more than 10,000 bottles
with vintages dating to the 1950s. Only in
Napa Valley.

Q: With plant-based dining so popular now,
are more guests requesting the Vegetable
Tasting Menu?
A: That menu is as carefully curated as the Chef's
Tasting Menu, and has become more popular
over the years. I love
the way that our Chef
de Cuisine, David
Breeden, and the culinary team highlights
the flavors coming
straight from the garden. It's a snapshot of
true Napa seasonality.
Our daily bespoke
AARON KEEFER, GARDENER
harvest means the
produce is still alive
when the chefs work their magic and craft the
dishes that make memories for our guests.

THE FRENCH LAUNDRY

VISITNAPAVALLEY.COM | 2019

99


http://www.VISITNAPAVALLEY.COM

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