Chef's Blog

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

“The next couple of nights, I stayed at the Mt. View Inn, my old standby in Calistoga, and dined at Solbar at Solage, the new hotel resort which is part of the Auberge de Soleil group. Solage has given the little hot springs town a serious injection of style, and its restaurant, which recently received a Michelin star, has revived the spirits of local foodies after the closing of the Wappo Grill. Chef Brandon Sharp’s food is well worth a detour—he’s great at deep frying, though there is a spa side of the menu and an appetizer of peaches and onions with a parmesan foam was one of the best things I’ve had this summer.”

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Time to update the bar menu again, and these two were done pretty much on the fly yesterday afternoon.

Cheese fritters–the new and undisputed heavyweight champ of the mozzarella stick weight-class–with genovese basil from our garden and hot fra diavolo for dunking.

Ant the extra crispy cobb salad, which contains all the required ingredients, then some twice-fried chicken wings.


August 28, 2010

Tonight we hosted a winemaker dinner (Meet the Maker–you like that?) for Kelly Fleming, one of our Vintner Members at Solage.  Of course, I was so worked up about the ingredients and other common frustrations in the kitchen that I forgot to take pictures of the food.  It was all gorgeous, so just imagine that.


August 22, 2010

Ryder and Greg met at the garden at Fisher Vineyards on Friday, and I headed over there in the pickup this morning for tomatoes, only golf-ball size but incredibly sweet and juicy;


August 20, 2010

Changing the menu is more than just up and switching around some print and a few ingredients. Tonight we had two dinner entree menu changes, lemon steamed sole with black corinth grapes, icicle radish, pickled shiitake, broccoli, cashews, and lime, and petaluma chicken a la plancha with calasparra rice croquettes, salsa diablo, sun gold tomatoes and sugar snaps.


After an old friend’s wedding and an intensive tour of Govan, Strathloanhead, and Avonbridge, as well as some other, better-known parts of Scotland, I was back in the kitchen this week, and what a firestorm it has been.  We are incredibly fortunate at solbar to be screaming busy–last night and again during lunch today, I was expediting and the tickets were coming out of the printer much faster than I could call them.  Several times during each service, a string of them reached all the way down to the floor . . . thankfully, we have a wonderful atmosphere and very patient guests.  And plenty of ink.


August 1, 2010

We had been talking about a quail dish for a while, and what better segue from the last post than to describe the dish we put on the menu tonight:  buttermilk-fried quail with cheese grits, fresh black-eyed peas, ham hocks, red eye gravy and pickled watermelon rind.  Serve it with a side of rusted-chevy-propped-up-on-cinder-blocks-in-the-yard and that’s as Southern as an Alabama Slammer.


July 28, 2010

Protein cookery can be divided into two categories:  dry-heat and moist-heat.  Moist-heat cookery encompasses poaching, braising, boiling, steaming, and the like, as well as sous vide techniques where a water-based solution is added to the protein before vacuum packing.  These are usually done at lower temperatures–obviously these processes cannot exceed 212 Fahrenheit, except for steaming, which is actually gentler than boiling (because of the lessened density of the cooking medium).


Or so (almost) goes “One More Saturday Night”.  Far Niente threw their a 125th birthday bash last Saturday night and invited me, along with 14 other chefs, to cook for their 800 guests.  The crowd was hip and excited, the music was festive, the Cirque du Soleil dancers were out there.  You can see a better picture of, and read about, the soiree here.


On Wednesday and Thursday past, I opened–6am–because Zach had a few well-deserved days off (though at 945 Thursday morning, as I returned to the kitchen from a meeting, he had come in to do his dry-goods order and got stuck in the middle of the breakfast line, plating pancakes and hash browns in his flip-flops to dig out the new breakfast cooks).  My prep list on Thursday started out:

smoke andouille

smoke eggplant

smoke shortribs

smoke pork ribs