Chef's Blog

Solage Calistoga's Executive Chef Brandon Sharp shares his passion for cooking, life and all things Napa Valley.

March 19, 2011

Early spring in Northern California.  Only here can you buy seasonal, fresh citrus, strawberries, and butternut squash at the same market with a straight face.

Ten years ago, I was on my way home at this time of day.  All right, fifteen years ago.



Brandon Sharp, Executive Chef, Solbar, CalistogaCalifornia. “If you asked me this question 10 years ago, it would be fried bologna, American cheese, barbecue sauce and potato chips wrapped in a tortilla. But now, rice, vegetables and gravy is something that’s really soothing to me whether it’s Thai coconut curry, chili verde or ratatouille.”

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March 9, 2011

On this week’s pizza:  salsa verde, house-made ricotta, english peas, bacon, oven roasted tomatoes, fried egg.

In other exciting news from the bar, oysters are now available on a regular basis, though we still feature them on Thursday nights with special pricing.  Yesterday we had Beau Soleil, today it’s Pearl Point.

March 8, 2011

Just took down the salt-cured, prosciutto-style hams that I’ve had hanging for the past 32 months.  

Took some forearm strength to get through the dried exterior, but it was pure pink porcine poetry on the inside . . .

Right on time for sweet pea season.

“Solage Calistoga’s hotel restaurant Solbar isn’t just another hotel restaurant. From the culinary expertise of Executive Chef Brandon Sharp, the menu denotes Northern California’s finest and freshest produce with modern French techniques. That “non-intimidating” approach to classic California cuisine is probably what earned Solbar attention from Michelin Guide, though that recognition has hardly stopped the furor of creation (after all, it originated as a bistro with burgers and pizza). “The cooking has French technique and a French backbone to it, but the [entrees] aren’t classical French compositions so they aren’t screaming for Napa Valley Cabs and Chardonnay,” says Sharp. Wine goes hand in hand with any restaurant in the Napa Valley, but sommelier Bradley Wasserman doesn’t feel the need to be bound by local wineries. “It’s a fun juggling act,” says Wasserman about mixing local wineries with those from around the globe.”

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March 6, 2011

Here’s the cochon555 menu from solbar:


for the judges

crispy head, tongue, and toe terrine creole remoulade and chive batons

steamed barbecue pork bun orange-ginger sauce

fried pork rind apple-miso soubise, toasted nori and pickled fresno pepper

ginger-spiked babyback rib pickled daikon radish, green onion

griebenschmalz-filled pretzel sea salt-cracklin crust, ballpark mustard

corn dog black garlic ketchup

banh mi pork liver terrine, roasted pork loin, quick pickles

chilled grilled tenderloin pasilla negra chile mayonnaise, spiked pineapple


for the partygoers

ancho chile taco avocado crema

seared pork belly hot ginger glaze, pickled daikon, green onion

corn dog black garlic ketchup

banh mi pork liver terrine, roasted pork loin, quick pickles

griebenschmalz-filled pretzel sea salt-cracklin crust, ballpark mustard

steamed barbecue pork bun orange-ginger sauce


for the solbar cooks

bring over some bubbles.  we’re thirsty.  no, seriously.

may the best pig win!

Not thrilling photojournalism, I know, but the pieces are coming together–the black garlic ketchup, apple-miso soubise, pickled fresno chiles, orange-ginger hoisin sauce, pickled daikon radish, szechuan pepper-spiked pineapple . . . to say nothing of the pig itself . . .

March 3, 2011

Pork belly, braised and then pressed.

Same belly, skin removed.  We seared off a preview on the plancha . . . delicious!


March 2, 2011

Hope to see y’all there, come Sunday.  Our pig is a Berkshire/Duroc cross from Devil’s Gulch Farm and Mark Pasternak, out southwest of Petaluma.  They brought it in this afternoon and Zach and I went right to it with knives and saw:

Gustavo and Zach were like kids on Christmas morning.

Zach with a pork butt.

Removing a foreshank.


March 1, 2011

To everyone who voted and who passed the good word along, THANK YOU for voting for me to become the People’s Best New Chef!  The response was absolutely fantastic, not to mention flattering, and humbling. 

Back to work.  BIG deal with the Napa area Cochon555 this Sunday in St. Helena, lots of info and photos to follow.  Look at the murderer’s row of judges they’ve got lined up!