Cyrus Restaurant was our big splurge, because try as we might, hubby and I just couldn’t get a table at The French Laundry. While pouring over the Burgundy Bible to plan our restuarants, we discovered that Cyrus had the same food rating – an astronomical 29 – as The French Laundry. We decided that just because we had bad luck trying to get into The French Laundry didn’t mean that we didn’t deserve a dinner we would remember for the rest of our lives, and man alive, will we remember this. From the moment you walk into Cyrus, you know that you are in a very special place. The restaurant was incredibly elegant, with dim lighting (as a result, I must apologize for my photography) and a staff of waiters that made you feel as if you were the only table that mattered. We ordered the tasting menu, sat back, and prepared to be amazed. And amazed we were – the quality of the food was outstanding, the presentation was spectacular without being pretentious, and the dishes were creative and sumptuous.
First off, amuse bouche representing the five tastes – sweet, sour, bitter, salty and savory. My favorite was sour, which was a “grape” filled with tart juice, and the savory, a miniscule tomato tartlet. Pictured below are sour and sweet, a tiny little gelee apple:
Seared Hamachi tuna with tomatoes and melon, sesame balsamic:
My porcini risotto:
Hubby’s foie gras torchon with cashews and plums:
Medai with corn and scallions in ginger-shiso dashi:
Duck breast with potatoes and peppers in sherry jus:
My chanterelle tagliarini with mustard greens and a steamed bantam yolk (hubby had seared Wagyu beef for this course, and I missed the photo):
Plate of farmstead cheeses, selected by our waiter:
Cherry and pistachio ice cream sandwich:
My polenta with figs and pears:
Hubby’s warm gianduja donuts:
Cyrus was just insanely good. Each course was intelligently planned and presented, and paired with its perfect wine – some local, some Old World. They gave us a copy of our menu to take home and dream about the meal we had, and I’ll be dreaming about it for quite some time.
Before our amazing meal, we drove through the Russian River Valley area of Sonoma County, which is one of my favorite wine regions in the world. I have a very hard time turning down a Russian River Valley wine – the area is particularly good for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which like the cooler temperatures. (The same is true of Carneros – more on that in a future post.) Because I don’t have enough pics to dedicate an entire post to Sonoma wineries, here are the highlights:
Lynmar Estate Winery. We were actually on our way to a different winery when the sign caught my eye and I shouted out “Pull over here!” We never made it to the winery we had originally planned, but I’m not sorry, because Lynmar was a treasure. It’s a tiny winery that does most of its sales through its website and right in the tasting room. The wines were some of the best that we tasted all week.
The beautiful tasting room:
Another Sonoma winery I love is La Crema. My parents introduced me to La Crema wines through the widely-available Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, which I love. (In fact, introducing me to La Crema is on my short list of things for which I’m most grateful to my parents – right under Giving Me Life and Paying For Cornell. Well, Taking Me On Awesome Vacations is probably ranked higher than La Crema too… but as you can see, I’m pretty grateful to my parents for La Crema.) Hubby loves the wine too, so we paid a visit to the tasting room in Healdsburg, where we got to try some of the fantastic wines that result from winemaker Melissa Stackhouse’s playing around. Do I even need to tell you that we joined the wine club? Or could you have guessed?
The La Crema tasting room, elegant and understated:
So! Many! Choices! What’s a messy Libra to do?
Between Cyrus and the Sonoma County wineries we visited (we also hit Taft Street, but I left the camera in the car – I’m awesome like that), hubby and I were pretty saturated with incredible food and wine, which was starting to become a theme of our California vacation…