Writing this blog has opened up so many opportunities for me. From attending marquee food events, to meeting world-class chefs, to being offered press trip invitations... I'm grateful for every new experience. Especially when that experience introduces me to people who are truly passionate about their jobs.
Our press group had the pleasure of spending some time at City Hall with Mayor Jill Techel while in Napa this past April. She spent the morning talking about the steps the city has taken to rebuild the Napa Riverfront after a series of serious floods completely destroyed the properties along the water and to revitalize Downtown Napa. It didn't take long for us to see how much she loves the city or how proud she is about the progress they've been making.
After "Mayor Jill" finished her presentation, we all made our way over to Tarla Mediterranean Grill for a specially-prepared, multi-course lunch of Turkish and Greek fusion cuisine.
While we waited for our first course to come out, owner Yusuf Topal (pictured) told us more about the restaurant, which gets its name from the Turkish word for "field". Executive Chef Michael B. Powell and Sous Chefs Carlos Barrientos and Matthew Ignacio create dishes using local, seasonal, and, when possible, organic ingredients that are modern versions of traditional Turkish and Greek food. By doing so, they help their diners cultivate a more intimate relationship with the food they're eating.
We started with Warm Hummus with Fresh Pita, and I have to admit that this was the first time I had ever eaten hummus warm. Most of the time, I eat hummus cold, straight out of the refrigerator, or at room temperature. What a difference warming makes! The flavor was deeper and richer, and I simply couldn't get enough of it. Frankly, I'm not sure I'll ever be able to eat hummus again without warming it up beforehand.
Next came the Oven-Roasted Beet Salad served with segments of grapefruit and orange, crumbled feta, and peppery arugula. Roasting brought out the natural sweetness of the beets, which balanced out the bite from the arugula, and I loved out the citrus gave the entire salad a refreshing brightness.
For our main course, we were given a choice between the Pan-Roasted Arctic Char and the Mushroom and White Truffle Risotto. It was a difficult decision to make since they both sounded wonderful, but I ultimately went with the fish. It had been a long time since I had eaten Arctic char, which a similar in flavor to both salmon and trout, so I skipped the risotto. The fish, served with cauliflower, snap peas, radish, and upland cress, was delicately seasoned and moist, and I truly appreciated the crispiness of the skin. Despite the generous portion, I didn't feel overly full by the time I ate everything -- and I mean, everything -- off my plate.
Of course, that meant I still had a bit of room left for dessert -- Baklava with Gelato and a Stuffed Apricot. The homemade walnut baklava was heavenly in its dense richness, which was cut by the accompanying scoop of vanilla bean gelato. And, as an added bonus, we were all able to try the Poached Turkish Apricots stuffed with mascarpone and garnished with chopped pistachios.
Thank you to Yusuf and his team for spoiling us! I will be forever grateful to them for introducing me to the concept of warm hummus. Simple, yet absolutely genius.
Tarla Mediterranean Grill
1480 First Street
Napa, CA 94559
(707) 255-5599 | Online Reservations | Map
For more of my Taste of Napa series, see:
- Gourmet Living at The Inn on First
- A Tapas Lunch at Zuzu
- Gluten-Free Living at The Inn on Randolph
- Winemaker Wednesday at 1313 Main
- Breakfast at Beazley House
Taste As You Go Disclaimer: I was provided with the opportunity to travel to Napa on this press trip at no cost to me. I did not accept monetary compensation for writing about the trip or about my experiences while in Napa. All opinions expressed are my own.
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