Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

A few good meals: releasing my inner gourmet

There's nothing like being in Northern California to release your inner gourmet. After all this was the birthplace of nouvell cuisine, the food child of Alice Waters at Chez Panisse in Berkley.

For me I reached my gourmand potential in Fort Bragg, Santa Rosa and Calistoga. Whether is was a mobile taco stand, a coffey cafe, a modest restaurant, or four stars all aimed to please and did.

Here's the four star on the main street in Calistoga: Sitting in the Mission Inn's garden in Calistoga I reveled in Drake's oysters on the half shell served on a bed of ice in a crystal bowl. Plus: avacodo pasta.

Here's the Coddington Santa Rosa Japanese restaurant: The surprise here was oysters on the half shell partnered with two types of caviar (I kid you not), uni (sea urchin) with quail egg. While that may seem like too many flavors it brought forth the taste of the sea. All at less than the price of the Mission Inn's oysters.

The taco stand: Soft tacos filled with cabeza or lengua two organ meats of my childhood.

Now, back in St. Louis novelle cuisine comes on huge plates, Midwestern style. All trends travel from California it seems. Novelle cuisine is now mainstream. Thanks, Alice. Unfortunately there is no taco stand to equal the one tucked to the side of that gas station.

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