the omigosh meal

At better Japanese restaurants you can order what’s called an omakase meal. Omakase means “I’ll leave it up to you” in Japanese. It apparently comes from the Japanese word “to entrust” because essentially what you are doing is entrusting your sushi selections to the chef. Supposedly it’s the best way to get the chef’s freshest fish, and often you will receive items that aren’t on the menu. I find it funny that the word omakase sounds suspiciously like omigosh or “Oh My Gosh.” It’s ironic, because often at the end of an omakase meal you’ll be thinking omigosh, as in “Omigosh that was an incredible meal!” or “Omigosh I can’t believe how expensive that was…”

So anyways, you’re probably thinking– “What does omakase or omigosh have anything to do with anything?” Well, while I did eat at a pretty nice Japanese restaurant today, I did not order the omakase meal. So in truth, omakase has nothing to do with anything I did today. In fact, I wasn’t even really going to write a blog post about today. I didn’t bring my SLR camera and I didn’t even take many pictures with my phone camera. But I was asked by Mr. Paul Liu to write something about today in the best possible light, so he supplied most of the pictures. So I figured I would try to write something a bit out of the ordinary, so that little intro spiel about omakase and omigosh was my segue into the rest of this post.

So here we go. Omigosh! Paul, I can’t believe you would actually want to be featured in this crappy blog of mine. And to my two loyal readers– Omigosh! I apologize ahead of time for this post.

I met up with the group at V. Sattui Winery in Saint Helena. Apparently Paul’s friend Anthony is a member of their cellar club, so we were able to get into the member’s only tasting room in the cellar. Omigosh! VIP Status!

The member’s only cellar club is in the winery’s basement. Omigosh! It looks like a castle dungeon!

The staff at the winery is really friendly. All the way up to the owners. Omigosh! Paul got a picture with the President and Co-Ownder of the winery!

Being a member allows you to taste and purchase from the futures barrels. Omigosh! Wine futures! Cool stuff!

We ended up somehow spending over three hours in the tasting cellar. We tasted over a dozen wines. We ended up splitting a case, which we put on my credit card, which made me a member of the cellar club. Omigosh! Mike Hong, VIP cellar club member!

I’m not sure what the benefits are of being a member. I guess free tastings are good. Omigosh! Complimentary tastings and private vineyard and winery tours!

We spent a little bit of time exploring Yountville. We got to see the famous French Laundry Restaurant. Omigosh! I’m at the French Laundry!

French Laundry is cool because they have a plot of land in front of the restaurant where they grow much of the produce that’s used in the restaurant. Omigosh! They grow their own vegetables!

Anthony Bourdain, host of “No Reservations,” one of my favorite travel shows, calls French Laundry “the best restaurant in the world, period.” The wait list to get a reservation here is months long, and the prices are steep. Omigosh! It’s so expensive!

Thomas Keller, owner of French Laundry owns several other restaurants in the area, as well as an amazing bakery. I don’t think he himself is a pastry chef, but I guess owning the best restaurant in the world allows him to hire a pretty talented pastry chef. Omigosh! Bouchon Bakery!

I’m a big fan of the TV show Iron Chef America, so when Paul asked for restaurant recommendations I jokingly suggested we eat at Iron Chef Morimoto’s restaurant in Napa. I didn’t think he’d actually make reservation there… Omigosh! Morimoto!

Iron chef Morimoto is known for his creative uses of fish. This is the toro tartare, which Paul ordered, which is one of Morimoto’s signature appetizers. Omigosh! Deconstructed food!

I look pissed off. In truth, I’m more confused than anything. Chi looks somewhat less confused and pissed off. Omigosh! How do you eat this stuff!

I’m a huge fan of raw beef preparations, so the appetizer I ordered was the wagyu beef carpaccio. It was tasty, but seriously expensive for the amount of beef you get. It doesn’t seem all that difficult to make. I’ll probably try making it at home sometime soon– there’s a Japanese market in Sacramento that sells wagyu beef rib-eye, and it seems like all you need on top of that is some olive oil, ponzu and some micro greens. Omigosh! Wagyu beef carpaccio!

Here’s a picture after the entrees arrived. I ordered a sea urchin carbonara. I like pasta in general, and I like sea urchin, plus I thought that by ordering a pasta I would get a bigger portion (dude noodles are cheap…) I was wrong. My pasta was tiny. It was probably the best pasta I ever had, but it was also the most expensive and smallest plate of pasta I ever had. Omigosh! Tasty but sooo expensive!

Afterwards we sat at the waterfront and ate some of the pastries from Bouchon Bakery. I mentally totaled how much I spent. If I include the wine I bought, it was easily the most money I had spent on a day with all guys, even more expensive than any of the bachelor parties I’d been to. So the day had the dubious distinction of being the most expensive sausage fest ever. But I guess it’s not really fair to include the price of the wine, since it would be months before I finish it all, but either way it was an expensive but interesting day. Omigosh! Expensive sausage fest!

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