Sunday, May 23, 2010

Napa Valley's Pearl

Every town in America should have an eatery like Pearl Restaurant. A place where you can go, and they know you by name. They know your likes, dislikes (no red meat, please), and your favorite spot to sit (at the bar). The Tea Drinker and I are lucky enough to have this gem of a restaurant just blocks away from where we live in Napa. Last night, we strolled down to Pearl, and saddled up to the kitchen bar, and ordered up some of our most coveted dishes. We started with a bottle of our house Chardonnay and slurped down oysters roasted with salsa verde and feta cheese. Delicious. It was the perfect way to wrap up a busy day at the Farmer’s Market, followed by laundry, cleaning, laundry again, and Japan research.

Nickie and Peter Zeller, the lovely owners, are always welcoming, and knowledgeable about the latest news in the neighborhood. They are the hardest working couple we know (besides yours truly and the Tea Drinker). Head Chef Jose Guzman is an unassuming guy, who has a gentle smile, and twinkle in his eye. I admit I am enamored with the food that he puts out, and the Tea Drinker would love a job there just so that he can partake in the best employee meals that we have ever witnessed. On the walk down to the restaurant, I kept rambling on about whether or not it was soft shell crab season, yet. The pan-fried panko crusted soft shell crab sandwich topped with avocado, and chipotle aioli (applewood bacon optional) on a ABC bakery’s potato bun is the best around, It's worthy of pushing someone off a bar stool to get the last order, if needed. The Tea Drinker feels the same way about the Guerrero corn on the cob. The corn is grilled, then rolled in a cotija cheese and sour cream chili mixture, and finished with a slice of fresh lime. Jackpot! The soft shell crab was in, but it was too early for the corn. Thank god, June is just around the corner. Another favorite is Jose’s Chicken Verde served with a side of creamy polenta, and steamed vegetables. However, last night the Tea Drinker opted for the Apple Dijon Brined Pork Chop, double thick, bone-in served with mashers and steamed vegetables. It’s important to have your veggies every day...

We celebrate this treasure called Pearl, and Nickie and Peter who make it happen every day! Before you start writing in and demanding the corn recipe, I have provided it below. June is just weeks away- dig out the Iced Tea Pitcher, your favorite Drink the Leaf blend (recently received rave reviews), or the makings for a gin-n-tonic. Get ready, set, go! Grill on.

Guerrero Style Grilled Corn on the Cob
This is a great dish for the BBQ. Grill the corn around the edges of the grill, while cooking meat, chicken, fish or whatever in the middle.
• 12 ears of corn, shucked & cleaned of all silk & steams cut
• 1 cup sour cream (can be nonfat)
• 1 cup mayonnaise (can be nonfat)
• 1/2 tsp chili arbol molida (ground fine) if unavailable
ground buy whole dry chili arbol & grind in mortar or
coffee grinder*
• 1/2 tsp chili pequin molida (ground fine) same as above*
• 1/2 pound cotija cheese grated fine (like dry Italian cheese)*
• 4 limes cut in wedges
Prepare ahead:
• Make wood or charcoal fire. While fire is getting ready blanch corn in boiling water for 3 minutes. Remove to
colander & set aside.
• Can be done 4 hours ahead: whip the mayonnaise, sour cream, chili pequin & chile arbol together until smooth.
Set aside.
• Brush blanched corn lightly w/ vegetable, canola or olive oil, place on grill & keep turning until brown all over. Remove from grill & brush with sour cream, mayonnaise, chili mixture & dust w/ grated cotija cheese.
• Put on skewers if you choose or use your hands.
• Serve w/ lime wedges.
*can be found in Mexican markets (in Napa at Morenita Market on Jefferson across from Napa High, very reasonable price on cotija cheese & dry chilis) or in the Mexican section
of most super markets.
Other notes:
-if you are not grilling outside you can brown the blanched corn on the burners of a gas stove or in a grill pan.
- grate the cheese 4 hours ahead and spread it on a sheet pan to dry. That makes it easier to dust it onto the corn.
** recipe provided by Pearl Restaurant

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