Just as Myrl Jeffcoat and I were about to head out into the rain for a road trip to Napa country yesterday, I heard my housekeeper groaning in the back bath. I scurried into the room, looking at my watch. We had a 12:00 reservation at Bouchon in Yountville. My housekeeper had managed to pop off the drain to my vessel sink and it was now sitting out-of-sight somewhere in the depths of my toilet bowl.
These things happen in sitcoms, you think, but no, it's real life. "If I had a bendy-type stick, I could get it out," my housekeeper said as she continued to probe down the hole with a rubber-gloved hand. You couldn't see the drain part anywhere. I handed her a turkey baster to suction the water and a cat toy attached to a bendy stick. Myrl and I left.
We initially had intended to take 128 out of Davis and drive back from Yountville via I-80, but due to the rain, we flipped the route. It did rain all the way. Didn't matter. My motto is if it rains on your parade, then you parade in the rain. We had canceled our trip the previous Wednesday due to rain, so we weren't about to cancel it a second time. Why, I ask you, is it raining in May in Sacramento? Global warming, I guess.
The thing about spending an afternoon with a person like Myrl is you never run out of things to laugh about. Sometimes, things are funny due to the sequence or circumstances because, in an isolated incident, to an outsider, they might not be amusing at all. For example, Myrl told me about a Mexican feast she had prepared and laid out. Not only did she make a red chili sauce, but she also prepared a green chili sauce. When she brought out the enchiladas, the inevitable question was: Where's the mole, Myrl? Hey, you set expectations when you go that extra step. That's why if you come my house for dinner you're getting only red chili sauce. No mole for you.
Myrl, of course, is nothing but resourceful. She threw a bunch of chocolate into a frying pan, dumped in a jar of salsa and sprinkled the concoction with cinnamon. Everybody loved it.
Fields of grapes soaked by rain. Low-hanging clouds over green hills. The air temperature dipped into the 50s. It was chilly as we approached Yountville. We turned onto Washington and Myrl, as navigator, directed us through town and to Highway 29. Our first thought was we were supposed to stay on 29, and Google thoughtfully directed us through the business section. Our second thought was we were heading back to Sacramento, and Myrl should not have been looking at the directions home on the next page. Fortunately, unlike me, Myrl is capable of thinking in reverse and she directed us back into town.
We pulled into the parking lot of Bouchon at 11:58 AM. Great timing. In case you're wondering, a bouchon restaurant is French and serves comfort food in a relaxed setting. The guy who owns Bouchon Bistro, Thomas Keller, also owns The French Laundry, a 3-star Michelin restaurant, which is where we would have had lunch if the The French Laundry had been open on Wednesday.
It took us a while to figure out that the paper folded up like a napkin on top of our plates was actually a menu. We had been studying the plate du jour on the chalkboard, considering the mushroom soup, given the weather, or maybe the steak tartar.
Imagine our delight when we discovered there was actually a full-blown lunch menu of delectable items to choose from with unlimited possibilities. Myrl said she had died and gone to heaven but she looked very much alive to me. It was a difficult choice to make, what with our stomachs having limited room. Myrl finally selected the mushroom soup. I chose escargot. Only because I've never tried escargot, and this preparation seemed relatively safe.
For one thing, these weren't the garden snails crawling around the wet sidewalk outside. These snails traveled all the way from Burgundy, a fact I verified with the waiter. They were braised and served inside a puff pastry shell alongside mushrooms, peas, and fava beans in a cream sauce. It's not like I had to face their beady little eyeballs or antennas sticking out of a shell.
They weren't as chewy as you'd think and had a soft, almost earthy flavor. Sorta like a mushroom, Myrl says, and she was right. I carefully cut through the pastry shell, just in case exploding snails were likely to bounce forth and savored every bite. I also tried a spoonful of Myrl's mushroom soup, which was light, creamy and melted in my mouth like sugar.
We were faced with a dozen choices of main plates for lunch. But we could have easily satisfied our appetites by choosing several more appetizers or a salad or even a petit plateau: 1/2 lobster, 9 oysters, 3 shrimp, 3 clams and 6 mussels for only $65. Instead, our eyes seemed to zoom in simultaneously to the sole. Sole a la dieppoise, which I think means it was prepared in a shrimp sauce.
The sole was rolled into a roulade and placed on top of a round fennel stem, surrounded by bits of sweet Maine lobster, fennel hearts, mussels touched by dill and globe artichokes. The artichokes had a bit of a tangy kick. Every bite was sheer delight. I considered picking up my bowl to lick it when I was finished. Instead, I used pieces of our braided French bread to soak up the remaining sauce, it was that delicious.
Did we have room for dessert? Is the pope Catholic? The pot of creme for the day was lemon, and while that choice sounded completely yummy, there is nothing like chocolate to warm a girl's heart and almost full belly. We both chose the marquise au chocolat, which was described as a dark chocolate mousse with a burnt orange cream. It tasted like a smooth, luxurious candy bar that tickled my tongue and danced all the way down my throat. The burnt orange cream tasted of citrus, sugar and butter. The presentation was topped by a couple of thin chocolate glazed crackers peppered with ground nuts. We searched for these crackers in vain at the Bouchon Bakery next door.
As luck would have it, when we stepped outside at 2:00 PM, the sun was out. The rain had stopped. People were milling about. Flowers were everywhere. It was like Dorothy stepping into technicolor after her house lands in Oz. So, we put the top down on the car and took the 2-hour drive home to Sacramento down 29 to 128.
When I walked in my front door, I spotted the cat toy lying on the kitchen floor. That could mean only one thing. Yup, my housekeeper must have managed to fish the drain out of the toilet.
Photos: Myrl Jeffcoat and Elizabeth Weintraub
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Elizabeth Weintraub is an author, home buying columnist for About.com, a Land Park resident, and a Land Park real estate agent who specializes in older, classic homes in Land Park, Curtis Park, Midtown and East Sacramento. Weintraub is also a Sacramento Short Sale agent who lists and successfully sells short sales throughout the four-county Sacramento area. Call Elizabeth Weintraub at 916.233.6759. Put 35 years of real estate experience to work for you. Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate. DRE License # 00697006.
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Lyon Real Estate is not associated with the government, and our service is not approved by the government or your lender. Even if you accept this offer and use our service, your lender may not agree to change your loan. Photo: Unless otherwise noted in this blog, the photo is copyrighted by Big Stock Photo and used with permission.The views expressed herein are Weintraub's personal views and do not reflect the views of Lyon Real Estate. Disclaimer: If this post contains a listing, information is deemed reliable as of the date it was written. After that date, the listing may be sold, listed by another brokerage, canceled, pending or taken temporarily off the market, and the price could change without notice. It could blow up, explode or vanish. To find out the present status of any listing, please go to elizabethweintraub.com.