In September of 2006, I went on a wonderful 40th birthday trip to Napa Valley with three other women who were also turning 40. My main partner in crime, Kim Gerkin, had planned this trip with her good friends Sara and Susan, along with another unfortunate lady who could not make the trip. I was invited to go in her place and had a great time. We visited 11 wineries, stayed at an amazing spa, and ate great food. We wanted to have our official birthday dinner at the world famous French Laundry, in Yountville. Even with 3 months advance notice, we could not get reservations during our visit. I asked my brother Joe, and his wife Kelley, who have a wonderful home in Sonoma, where they would recommend. Without hesitation, they said CYRUS.
CYRUS is just off the main square in the quaint town of Healdsburg. This elegant restaurant is located in the Les Mars Hotel. The atmosphere is very relaxed and inviting, with it’s dark wood and yellow tones. Chef Douglas Keane has been written up in many magazines, and is known to foodies all over. His special tasting menu did not disappoint.
The Birthday Girls:
Kim, Me, Susan and Sara
After lovely canapes and an amuse bouche, we began our seven course tasting menu with Seared Blue Fin with Lemon Verbena Tomato Water. The tuna was done perfectly, and the tastes blended together so well. The sommelier, Jim Rollston, picked the perfect wines to go with each course. Mukune “Root of Innocence”, Junmai Ginjo Sake, Osaka, Japan, was wonderful with the tuna.
Seared Blue Fin
Our second course was Pen Shell with Sweet Corn and Pickled Scallion Greens. The Pen Shell is a sweet scallop that was seared and served with a sweet corn foam. Delightful! It was served with Gruner Vertliner, Hirsch “Heiligenstein”, Kamptal, Austia 2004. This full bodied, crisp white wine blended so well with the sweet scallop and corn.
Pen Shell with Sweet Corn
Next came the amazing Spiced Dungeness Crab with Tamarind Glazed Claw and Lychee, Red Curry Sauce. The red curry sauce was a light and frothy foam that complimented the crab and tamarind glaze very well. Tamarind has a fruity-sour taste and is used often in India, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. A Riesling, Domaine Ostertag “Vignoble D’E, Alsace, France 2005.The sweetness of the Riesling played well with the tart, spices of the dish.
Spiced Dungeness Crab with Tamarind Glaze
The fourth course was the CYRUS “BLT”, Bourbon Glazed Pork Belly with Braised Lettuce and Fried Green Tomato. I don’t know if I have ever had Pork Belly before, but it sure makes a great BLT. I liked the fried green tomato and crisp lettuce with the rich tasting pork. We sipped Chianti Classico, Le Cinciole, Tuscany, Italy 2003 with the BLT. A nice, dry red wine, with a full-bodied flavor, was really great with the dish.
Course five was my favorite. Wagyu Beef with Foie Gras, Rosti Potatoes, and Chanterelles, Vin Santo-Verjus Sauce. Every bite was amazing. Very robust and flavorful, it was melt-in-your-mouth tender. Such a delight. And the wine, Ramey “Claret” Napa Valley, California 2004, was heavenly. The most amazing wine I had ever tasted and even better after a bite of the beef. I inquired about it and was told that it was a local wine, that was very popular with all the sommeliers in the area. We were not able to go to the vineyard, but I shipped three bottles home from the local wine shop. I only have one left and will save it for a special occasion.
Wagyu Beef with Foie Gras, Rosti Potatoes and Chanterelles
The cheese course was next. We sampled many great artisanal and farmhouse cheeses with complementing breads and fruits. The Ramey was so good with all of the creamy and salty cheeses.
Artisanal and Farmhouse Cheeses
Our desserts were beautiful and fun. Two of us had Yellow Nectarines with Almond Financier and White Chocolate Ice Cream paired with Muscat Beaumes-De-Venise, Domaine De Durban, Rhone Valley, France 2004, and two of us had Carmel Soup with Kettle Corn Sorbet and Chocolate Filigree with 1991 Colheita Port Niepoort. We all shared and it was a fun way to end our meal.
Yellow Nectarines with Almond Financier and White Chocolate Ice Cream
Carmel Soup with Kettle Corn Sorbet and Chocolate Filigree
At the end of the evening, Mignardises were brought out, and looked very pretty on the plate. Little sweets to end a perfect meal.
Kim, Susan and Sara went back to the kitchen and met Chef Douglas Keane. He was kind enough to poise for a photo with them.
Kim, Chef Drew Glassell, Sara and Susan
The service at Cyrus is unbelievable. We had no less then four people helping serve our meal. We never knew what was coming next, as it was a surprise. We had a great time guessing what the kitchen would whip up next. At the end of the night, we were presented with a beautiful menu prepared just for us, that the chef signed. This truly was the perfect birthday celebration. I hope to take Tom to the wine country this fall with our friends Barbie and Keelan, and Cyrus will be at the top of my list of things to share with them.