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The flamboyant Peta Mathias hits the gastronomic road again with Taste Takes Off - a revamped overseas version of Taste New Zealand. New Zealand's footloose TV foodie explores the flavours, the style and the sights of 10 destinations around the Pacific. Peta's lived the food traditions of the world and each Taste Takes Off travels to a country seeking out the people and stories behind the flavours.

Taste Takes Off to the world's most famous wine tourism destination, Napa Valley, just north of San Francisco. We find in the valley there's much more to sample than the wine. The Valley is just 30 miles long and 5 miles wide there are 5 picturesque little towns populated by people with high expectations when it comes to food and wine.  Farmers' markets, fine dining and gourmet food stores are all on the menu when you visit the Napa Valley.


St Helena Farmers Market, is the classiest and probably the most expensive farmers market in the world
Copia, the American Centre for Food, Wine & the Arts
La Toque restaurant
Dean & Deluca food store
Schramsberg Winery

The Napa Valley town of St Helena is home to one of the most upscale Farmers' Markets you'll find. The valley's food savvy residents shop here, not only for outstanding produce but also for an extensive range of specialty items and homemade goods. There's also chefs demos and you might even see one of the valley's more well known residents, Francis Ford Coppola picking up his daily bread. The market operates every Friday morning from 7.30am in Crane Park, St Helena.

Contact: Karen Schuppert
PO Box 70
St Helena, California 94574
Tel: 1 707 486 2662

Other Farmer's Markets Operating in Napa Valley:

Calistoga Farmers' Market   
1546 Lincoln Avenue
Calistoga, CA 94515
Tel. 1 707.942.0808
Operates every Saturday morning from June through September.

Yountville's Farmers' Market
Vintage 1870 Parking lot, Washington St.
Yountville, CA 94599
Operates every Wednesday 4.00pm to 8.00pm June through September.

Napa Downtown Farmers' Market
First & Pearl Streets (Copia Carpark)
Napa, CA 94559
Operates every Tuesday and Saturday 7.30am to 12.00pm May through October.

Napa Chefs' Market
1290 Napa Town Centre
Napa, CA 94559
Tel. 1 707.253.9282
Operates every Friday evening 4.00pm to 9.00pm May through August.

Champagne Taste
Schramsberg is one of the valley's oldest vineyards and dates back to 1862. The original owner, a German named Jacob Schramm thought the location was the ideal spot to plant grapes and dig caves in which to age his wine. Current owners the Davies bought the vineyard back in 1965, with a view to producing premium sparkling wines from noble grapes. They extended the caves, which they use to store almost 2 million bottles of their award winning sparkling wine.

Contact: Sandy Maus Public Relations Manager
1400 Schramsberg Road, Calistoga
Tel: 1 707-942-6668
Tours: 1 707-942-2414

Peta Cooks
To go with a sparkling rose, Peta prepares a layered strawberry pastille with fresh California milk and roasted pistachio nuts.

Strawberry Pastilla with Goat's Milk Cream

Serves 4

1 cup (250ml) milk (preferably goats milk)
1 tbsp geranium flower water
2 egg yokes
1/4 cup (55g) caster sugar
1tbsp flour
1 packet frozen spring roll pastry sheets 21X21cm
1 punnet of strawberries, trimmed and sliced
50g sliced unsalted pistachios
Icing sugar

To make pastry cream:
Bring milk and geranium water to the boil in a saucepan. While this is happening, cream the egg yokes and sugar then stir into the flour. Whisking continuously, pour the hot milk into the egg mixture, combine well and pour mixture back into the saucepan. Cook on a low heat for three minutes and stir continuously with a wooden spoon until the mixture has thickened. Remove from heat, rub butter over the surface to prevent a skin forming and allow to cool.

To Make Pastry:
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Take 4 sheets of pastry, cut into 4 and place on baking paper on a cookie sheet and bake for 5 minutes or until golden.

To Put Pastilla Together:
Place a square of pastry on a plate and gently spread with a heaped tablespoon of pastry cream. Place some strawberries and pistachios on top and dust copiously with icing sugar. Repeat this twice more, finishing with a fourth pastry square dusted with icing sugar.

Guest Chef - Hats Off to Ken Frank
In a region with more than its share of chefs with 'star status' Ken Frank is a luminary.  He learnt his trade in France during his college summer holidays and his restaurant, La Toque, is named for the hat he worked so hard to earn 30 years ago. Ken shows how to prepare one of his once in a lifetime experiences, a crab so soft you can eat every bit of it.

Soft Shell Crab with Oyster Mushrooms and Herbs

Saute the crab in a little butter, breast side down. Then place into the oven to finish cooking.

For the sauce:
Saute oyster mushrooms until golden brown. Add about 1/2 tsp of chopped garlic.  Add a tbsp of pureed red pepper and a small handful of your favourite fresh herbs.  Add 1 cup of beurre blanc sauce (recipe below). Pour sauce onto a plate and place the cooked crab on top. Serve with a crisp chardonnay.

Beurre Blanc Sauce:
1 1/2 cups white wine
1 cup cream
2 shallots, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
150g butter
Salt and white pepper

In a pan combine the white wine, chopped shallots, and lemon juice and reduce by half.  Add the cream and reduce again by half. Add the butter, whisking constantly until the butter incorporates and the sauce thickens. Do not allow the mixture to boil (boiling will separate the sauce). Season with salt and white pepper to taste.

Contact: Ken Frank
La Toque Restaurant
1140 Rutherford Cross Road, Rutherford
California 94576
Tel: 1 707 963 9770

Super Wine
Increasingly visitors to the valley are seeking an educational wine experience and vineyards are catering for this by offering more education programmes and seminars along with tastings. Leading the charge in Napa is a very progressive vineyard called St Supery. Not only do they offer outstanding education programmes and seminars, the vineyard also houses a state of the art wine discovery centre where, among other things you can even make your own personalised cabernet sauvignon, blended the way you like it.

Contact: Lesley Russell
St. Supéry Vineyards and Winery, 8440 St. Helena Hwy, Rutherford California
Tel: 1 707 963 4507
Fax: 1 707 963 4526

Cuisine Art
Copia is a cultural museum and education centre dedicated to exploring America's contribution to wine and food in association with the arts. Here you can indulge in a range of activities that can keep you busy for days, including educational programs, demonstrations, exhibitions, dining, shopping and concerts. Their main attraction is their gardens; they showcase a variety of horticultural types and styles, from horizontally trellised apples and artichokes to a production garden for cooking classes and presentations. The centre offers something to excite every palate, whether you are a home cook or a professional chef, a wine newcomer or a sophisticated oenophile, a backyard dabbler or a master gardener. 

Copia is closed on Tuesdays but is open from 10.00am to 5.00pm every other day.  Entry fee is US$12.50.

Contact: Kathleen Iudice, Public Relations Manager
500 First Street, Napa, CA  94559
Tel: 707.265.5950 .

One Stop Gourmet Shop
Dean and Deluca is a not to be missed destination in the Napa Valley. People travel from all over California to shop at this very special food store. Providing your budget allows, you can buy the very best ready-made gourmet foods, local and imported gourmet produce, fine cheeses, state of the art kitchenware and wine. Dean and Deluca is open Monday to Friday 8.00am to 9.00pm and 8.00am to 6.00pm Saturday and Sunday.

Contact: Store Manager Cyrus Hazzard
Dean and Deluca
607 South St, St. Helena
Tel: 1 707-967-9980

Additional Information

The Food Lover's Guide to the Napa Valley by Lori Lyn Narlock.
Lonely Planet's California World Food Guide.