I’ve been meaning to write this post for a couple of weeks now, but life keeps getting in the way.
You guys! In July I was asked to represent the National Turkey Federation at the “Flavor, Quality, and American Menus Conference” at the Culinary Institute of American in … (wait for it) … Napa, California!
I know, right? I would be giving a presentation about turkey farming to a group of chefs, culinary directors, and others in Napa Valley. Where there is wine.
Turkey and wine in Napa? Dream gig for me, for sure.
And so off to Napa Valley I went – with Teacher Man in tow, as it was his last week of summer vacation. After a bit of travel trouble at both the Minneapolis and San Francisco airports, we got into our rental car and headed over the Golden Gate Bridge with St. Helena as our first destination.
I spent the better part of two days or so at the conference, meeting people from across the U.S., and giving a short presentation about America’s turkey farmers as well as sneaking in some messaging about the flavor, versatility, and value of turkey products. I think it went pretty well, although I’m my worst critic, so with something like this, I always feel I could’ve done better. Isn’t that always the case? Overall, I was happy so that’s what counts!
I also got to see the ridiculously fabulous kitchen area at The Culinary Institute and help (a little) when the chefs, culinary directors, and foodies did their “market basket challenge”. Essentially this event was a lot like Chopped on the Food Network, except everyone worked in teams, we knew in advance what food items we could utilize for recipes, and we had a little time to prepare for what dishes we wanted to create.
Turkey was the only meat protein represented as a sponsor at the conference so it was amazing to see all the different turkey dishes that were created over the course of the event!
Once the conference came to a close, Teacher Man and I had a little time our last afternoon in Napa Valley to visit a couple of wineries and drive through the area a bit. We also had the most incredible meal at Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen in St. Helena – truly a meal to remember for a long time!
I hope I represented the National Turkey Federation well while I was there. 🙂 Below are just a few of the photos I took while at the conference and in/around Napa.
xoxo – Lara
Ready to head to California!
The Golden Gate Bridge!
My first look at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in St. Helena – the Greystone campus. Gorgeous!The original wine casks from Christian Brothers Winery, which was the previous owner of the CIA’s Greystone building.
The kitchen at CIA Greystone.
One of the chefs working with braised turkey for one of the dishes we created.
Because I am a geek and was fairly awestruck by the fact that I was in the CIA kitchen … a selfie of course!
My first glass of wine in St. Helena at the evening recipe for our conference.
A few of the turkey dishes at the conference … definitely not boring and not for Thanksgiving!
Yep, pinch me – I was there!
You can’t see it well here, but our meeting room was actually attached to a wine cellar … of course. ;)
The coasters in our hotel room.
The first stop after my conference was over – a little lunch in Napa with Teacher Man!
Cute area in downtown Napa!
Next stop … Grgich Hills Estate Winery. With so many wineries to choose from, we hardly knew where to start. Luckily, one of the conference attendees I met suggested we hit Grgich Hills and later Mumm Winery so we heeded his advice and we were not disappointed.
After Grgich Hills Estate, we drove to Mumm Winery and had a front row seat to this gorgeous view.
Mumm specializes in sparkling wine so I sampled three of their different bubbly options!
The very pretty house that is Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen in St. Helena.
The restaurant is so gorgeous at night!
Our final night in Napa … feeling very lucky to have experienced this trip!
And one more glass of wine by the fire … all I can say is, lovely. :)