While the grape is king of Northern California harvest season, let’s not forgot our other Wine Country jewels: the best of late-summer produce. Whether it’s from our own gardens or a farmers’ market, the bounty is rich.
We can also leave the picking and cooking to the chefs. More and more, top-notch restaurants cultivate their own gardens, to guarantee the freshest farm-to-table experience. Beyond adding blasts of flavor to menus, the gardens can be inspiration for home growers too, who can peek at the pretty patches and learn, yes, it’s even possible to grow precious white asparagus in the North Bay.
THE CARNEROS INN, Napa
Named among Travel + Leisure’s Top 25 most romantic getaways, the luxury property welcomes with breathtaking vineyard views and an elegant entry to its fine-dining restaurant, FARM. A short walk along hillside offers a look at the garden, which currently boasts Oxheart carrots, eggplant, various squashes, tomatoes, mixed greens, squash blossoms, lemon cucumbers, peppers and basil.
4048 Sonoma Highway, Napa, 888-400-9000, thecarnerosinn.com.
FARMSTEAD AT LONG MEADOW RANCH, St. Helena
It takes an eye-popping amount of fresh, local produce to keep things humming this popular eatery. But executive chef Stephen Barber has immediate access to all the organic produce, grass-fed beef, eggs, and olive oils produced at the mothership Long Meadow Ranch just a few miles away. He sources from the ranch’s Mayacamas and Rutherford estates, but also has his own vegetable garden outside of the restaurant for quick runs from and to the kitchen. The current crop includes peppers, tomatoes, radishes, beets, okra, corn, parsley, melons, chives, lemon verbena, Swiss chard, broccoli and strawberries.
738 Main Street, St. Helena, 707-963-9181, longmeadowranch.com.
THE ST. REGIS SAN FRANCISCO
Executive chef Paul Piscopo spearheads the menu at Vitrine, the elegant restaurant located on the fourth floor of this luxury hotel. Through breakfast and lunch, seasonal and local ingredients take center stage, showcasing freshly harvested ingredients from the fourth floor Terrace Herb Garden, as well as artisan honey from the hotel’s own on-site beehives (try the honey treatments in the hotel’s Remède Spa, too).
125 Third Street, San Francisco, 415-284-4000, stregissanfrancisco.com.
LA TOQUE, Napa
Managing his own plots at Copia Garden next door, chef Ken Frank feeds his Michelin-starred restaurant with fresh from the earth goodies, such as the current harvest of tomatoes, melons, peppers and the wonderful, 30 to 40-pound “Lunga di Napoli” squash.
1314 McKinstry Street (in the Westin Verasa), Napa, 707-257-5157, latoque.com.
Tip: Go green when visiting the gardens, by hiring a private limo or Town Car for door-to-door service. Pure Luxury Transportation is a leader in environmental responsibility. As members of Green Ride Global™, Pure Luxury has committed to GHG emissions reductions from all areas of the company’s business operations of 20 percent over the next 5 years.