I had a typical Father. He was a California native who first dedicated his life to dentistry only to finish his life as a vineyardist and winemaker. In the middle he was an accomplished sailor who challenged the greats from his slip at Alamitos Bay Yacht Club. Three consuming occupations that would seem to have little in common but, for my father, they were about the mastery of tools. Dentistry depends on ones skill with hand tools. Yacht racing is about strategy but also the constant minor changes to the craft itself. As for wineries, the constant overhaul of tractors and equipment kept my father in hog heaven. He passed his tinkering skills on to me and I too love tools; I think most men do. So, all those years growing up, what did we give our Father for on his day: aftershave. Old Spice, Hai Karate, 007, all the best brands. What did he want? Well perhaps a set of tools that combine his love for tinkering and his love of sweets: Woodhouse Chocolate Tools. How can you go wrong? Standard Pliers, Needle Nose Pliers and Adjustable (Crescent) Wrenches in both milk and dark chocolate. This way when you ask him to fix the sink he can quickly eat the wrench and say sorry dear I just don't have what I need. Score! Then he can sit on the sofa and have a Woodhouse chocolate Cigar. Now that's a Father's Day any man would love. We can also tempt him with ganache filled Golf Balls, a box that says I LOVE DAD or, the king of the hill, our Father's Day Basket that combines all the items that Dads love. Whomever said that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach was certainly right. Happy Father's Day!
John and Tracy Wood Anderson
A wonderful new restaurant opened last week in St. Helena in what many of you will remember as the old Vanderbilt retail space (just north of us on Main St.). French Blue is the creation of architect Howard Backen, retailer and vineyardist Leslie Rudd (Dean & DeLucca, Rudd) and impresario Stanley Morris (late of Teatro ZinZanni). Howard's architecture can be seen all over the world from Esperanza in Cabo San Lucas, the Sundance complex in Utah, homes for numerous stars and, of course, his most important project, Woodhouse Chocolate. Yes, Mr. Backen designed our shop. French Blue will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and we went on their first day of offering lunch. The old building has been obliterated and in its place is a gorgeous, homey atmosphere of throw pillows and light woods. It is warm, inviting and once seated you don't want to leave. The food is California Bistro with a little something for everyone from the simple to the slightly more complex. The all-day menu runs the gambit from Fried Green Olives to Chorizo Roasted Mussels. We had the Spicy Pickled Things as a starter and loved the vinegary crunch of the fresh vegetables from Leslie Rudd's farms. For entrées I had the Grilled Chicken Paillard and my friend had the English Pea Agnolotti. Both were delicious. For dessert we shared a Meyer Lemon Upsidedown Cake. Served with candied cashews and coconut sorbet, the cake was outstanding; both sharp and sweet with a beautiful carmelization to round out the flavors. French Blue is a hit the should take St. Helena by storm: beautiful room, delicious, inexpensive food, great service, open all day. What's not to love.