Monthly Archives: November 2011

"Restaurant Review: Brassica, Napa Valley" by Chef Shane Zimmerman

Cross one box off the bucket list!  I recently had to chance to spend a few days in the Napa Valley of California for yet another one of the MOE foodtruck excursions.  We had a sampling of some of the best restaurants in the region, and it did not disappoint.  One restaurant in particular stood out above the rest; Chef Cindy Pawlcyn’s Brassica.  Ironically enough, this was the second of the former Top Chef Masters contestant’s restaurants we had the opportunity to try, but this brand new place was the best of the bunch.  Brassica had only opened two weeks prior to our visit, a switch from the sushi restaurant, Go Fish, another Chef Cindy concept.  I actually had a chance to chat with her about the quick change over.  Because she herself is a major proponent of sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices and her active involvement with the Monterey Bay Aquarium and their Seafood Watch Program she decided to change the restaurant.  Also, Brassica’s wine-friendly Mediterranean cuisine, was a better fit for the region. 
Speaking of the cuisine, the food was top notch.  We started off with a sampling of crispy fried stuffed olives, eggplant fries with Za’tar spice and spiced yogurt, fried zucchini blossoms with ricotta and mozzarella(one of my all-around favorite dishes), a chantrelle mushroom, pancetta and thyme pizza, leek and pancetta risotto with a fried egg, crispy whole sardines and Serrano ham with Marcona almonds and idiazabal cheese.  For entrees, I chose the braised beef cheeks with Pedro Ximenez sherry and cauliflower puree.   All of course paired with a local Cabernet and the ubiquitous bourbon cocktail of the night (mine was a Sazarac).  This was by far the best way to end an awesome trip to Napa.