Things To Do In Napa #2: Fried Doughy Love
The density of culinary delights that exist in the Napa Valley creates the kind of attraction that foodies have to this region that might be compared to the way matter gets sucked into a black hole. The culinarily inclined simply can't resist the pull of this valley.
I mentioned one such example of culinary decadence in an earlier post. The doughnut holes produced at Solbar located on the grounds of the sumptuous Solage Spa and Resort located just south of Calistoga provides a second example of something that makes foodies crawl up into a fetal position and rock back and forth.
These little pieces of fried doughy love are a staple at Solbar, a beautiful restaurant I retreated to last night with the lovely Kathy and two great friends. In addition to harboring a GREAT Wine Program, Solbar delivers a fantastic menu of creative an comfortable food. But I've yet to get through an appetizer or an entree at this place without being interrupted with the thought of the Doughnut Holes arriving at the table later in the meal.
The Solbar Doughnut Holes come to the table in a simple basket, accompanied by some sort of sauce. Sometimes it's a chocolate sauce. Last time it was a sort of creme anglais. The accompanying sauce, while always tasty (particularly when consumed with a spoon), tends in my view to get in the way of the remarkable lightness, airiness and perfectly arrayed grains of sugar distributed around the holes that make these little items the fetal curl-inducing experience that they are.
I almost always hold the first one in my hand (they are about an inch and a half in diameter) and bite it in half. But that's a head fake toward propriety. The next one always gets popped in my mouth whole in order to get the full experience. These little balls, once enveloped by my palate, seem to pause to distribute their goodness, then melt away, as though teasing me to take in another the way the residual effects of heroin pull on an addict who is just nearly finished coming down from their last fix.
Napa Valley is indeed a culinary Nirvana. Clearly it has developed into such a thing by virtue of its concentration on wine production that sucks within its borders the foodies among us looking to fulfill their desire to indulge in the hedonism of the palate.
But it is the individual experiences of the palate, like this Fried Doughy Pieces of Love that Solbar pushes, that people talk about when they recount their Napa Valley food experiences.