Friday, March 14, 2014

Napa Valley Conference - Day 2

I honestly have no idea how my eyes are still open right now. It seems as if we've been here in Napa for about a week and a's hard to believe we just flew in yesterday! Today was a long day with the conference going from 7 AM until 5 PM.

This morning when the alarm went off...I didn't want to believe that it was already time to get up. So I made Michael get up to shower and get ready first. :) I managed to catch a few extra minutes of sleep and then it was my turn to get ready.

We managed to make it to the CIA in time for breakfast. Now I'm going to be quite blunt's not a good thing to gather 400 people in a room and fill them full of food packed with fiber...and then hand them plates that have things that are made mostly with beans. I'm going to leave it at that. Take from it what you will.

We managed to have a lovely fruit salad, a small muffin and some orange juice before the first presentation started. As a physician, Michael loved today's talks because it was full of wonderful information that he can utilize. Me on the other hand...had to fight to stay awake for most of the morning. The CIA has classes Monday through Friday, so we aren't able to get into the kitchens until the weekend. Because of this, today was packed full of talks and was skimpy with the cooking demos that I'm really here for. But that being said, the speakers are full of knowledge and what they have to say is very interesting...when it's not going over my head! :)

The cooking demos that they did have today were quite good. The first guy tackled the subject of healthy breakfasts. He made some interesting "bread." I say "bread" because it isn't what we'd consider a consisted of whole grains and nuts that were held together by some eggs and then baked. **This bread was part of the breakfast spread...and it was actually quite good.**

The second demo of the morning was called, "A Chef's Toolkit of Ideas for Home Cooks: Essential Equipment and a Well-Stocked Pantry." This presentation could have been given more than just 25 minutes. They cooked two meals using pressure cookers (which is something I really want to learn to use!). He made some good points about what tools you should have, mainly being that you should invest in a good chef's knife! On a side note, we gave Michael's mother a Wusthof knife as a gift last year and she's even commented on how much of a difference it makes to use a good knife! So it really is important to have good kitchen equipment because it really aids in making cooking enjoyable.

One of the other things he stressed upon was the importance of "mise en place," which is French for everything in it's place. Having all of your vegetables chopped/minced/crushed before you start as well as everything you are going to need will help streamline your cooking and make it a more enjoyable process. Also cleaning up as you go...this is something I struggle with! :)

For lunch they had another Tasting event. We managed to hit every table in a decent amount of time! I'm not going to lie, some of the things were amazing...others...well I won't be making or sharing those recipes. ;-) It was wonderful walking around, trying different things and just getting to experience foods in ways that I haven't before.

After eating we made our way down to the gift this was something that I was afraid of. I am not one who can control themselves easily in a shop that sells kitchen wares. But I must say that I conducted myself in a very adult like manner. I only purchased an go with the 125 others that I have in my pantry! :) I don't know what my obsession with aprons is...but as Michael says, "It could be could collect things that are more expensive." Always looking for the silver lining! :)

After lunch it was a few more talks and a few more cooking demos. The one I was looking forward to was the seafood one. Now I have to get something out of the way. I catch a lot of flack from people because I don't like seafood. I've been told, "You just haven't had it cooked properly." I've been told countless things, many of which I just smile and nod to. It took Michael quite some time to understand how someone could be so adverse to certain foods, mainly because he'll eat anything you put on his plate. I don't hold it against people who don't like the foods I do, I'm also not the kind to try and force my likes and dislikes on those around me. Well when it comes to food. :) But other's aren't like that.

Now I said that I was looking forward to the seafood demos...and I'm being 100% honest. I enjoy cooking. But I enjoy cooking things that my husband loves. He loves seafood and I'm always looking for new recipes to make him. So I was really hoping to walk away from this demo with some recipes under my belt. But to be was a bit of a let down. I think if I had come into this conference not ever having cooked much, I would be walking away with a ton of knowledge. But I'm at a point in my cooking that I'm now walking away with wonderful nuggets of information. But I will honestly take whatever they are willing to offer.

After the last demo they had a Happy Hour Reception outside of the CIA. We were given "passports" that we had to take around to each table that had a winery and a exhibitor at it. We were given a taste of the wines and in some But the main goal was to get a stamp/sticker from each table to fill the passport and then we could turn that in to be entered in the raffle. Okay...let me just be honest again...people are jerks. It amazes me how oblivious people are when it comes to social situations. There are lines to the tables and for the most part people are milling around and casually getting in line and making their way to each table. But give some of these older ladies some wine and they think they rule the world. We were standing at one table and this older lady stepped in front of me, then got in between Mike and the table so she could get some wine and one of the stickers. I just looked at Michael and shook my head. I seriously don't understand why people aren't courteous. But I digress.

After the reception we made our way back to the car. Oh...did I tell you that we didn't win anything from the raffle. LOL. Oh well. But we were going to make our way back to our hotel to relax before dinner. But Michael's coworker texted us and said to find a bar in St. Helena for drinks. So we obliged and shared drinks and appetizers. But we knew our time was limited since we had dinner reservations here in Yountville at 8:15.

Now I don't consider myself a "foodie." We were invited to dine at French Laundry during this trip. From what I'm told, by several people, French Laundry is one of THE best restaurants in the country. It's suppose to be an amazing experience. And as much as I love to eat, I draw the line when it comes to the prices of certain experiences. To dine at French Laundry...we would have had to pay $300 per person, just for food. You can upgrade your dining options and pay more...and you can also have wine paired with the foods...but all of this costs extra. Like I said...we love food, but there are plenty of other things that we would rather experience besides a meal that will only be in your system for 12 hours at most.

French Laundry has a sister restaurant here in Yountville called Bouchon, and this is where we dined tonight with some of Michael's coworkers. The food is French, as the name would suggest, and it was quite delicious. Again, it isn't something that we'd eat all the time, but when you travel it's nice to have a good meal here and there. We had a wonderful time at the restaurant, and again shared many laughs with his coworkers. I again caught flack because I didn't want to have escargot or scallops. But I'm able to take what people dish out on this subject, and in some it right back. :)

Today was a wonderfully full day and as I said I can't believe my eyes are still open. Tomorrow we have our "Healthy Cooking with Nuts & Legumes" hands on kitchen session...GO BEANS! :) But for now...I need to get ready for bed.

Until next time...Keep Cooking!

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