Published this year, The Essential Napa Valley Cookbook was born out of a need to do something that could help save Napa Valley’s incredible restaurant community. Like everywhere, our restaurants were struggling immensely during the pandemic, and because Napa Valley is a region that relies on tourism, the locals simply couldn’t eat enough to keep them in business. Trust me, I was trying.
In the autumn of 2020, another round of vicious fires hit the region, forcing our already vulnerable restaurants into additional closures. It felt as if we couldn’t catch a break.
While many of our chefs have their own cookbooks, I was surprised to find there wasn’t a published collection of recipes from Napa’s restaurant scene as a whole, despite the fact that this is one of the most renowned culinary destinations in the US.
So I set out to create one. The book features many classic Napa dishes, such as the ‘mighty meatloaf’ from Mustards Grill, Bounty Hunter’s beer can chicken, and this burger from Goose & Gander in St Helena.
Of the proceeds, 75% will go directly to workers at Napa Valley restaurants and 25% to Feed Napa Now, an organisation that partners with local restaurants to feed community members in need.
I recruited local Master Sommelier Desmond Echavarrie to match each dish with a suitable wine. He followed three guiding principles that anyone can easily apply when pairing wine with food.
Firstly, ‘what grows together goes together’, meaning that native grapes often pair perfectly with the cuisine of the region.
Secondly, ‘tannins need fat’, so pair bigger wines with rich and fatty dishes.
Lastly, ‘salt loves sweet’, which is why Champagne and caviar is such a classic pairing.
G&G burger recipe
‘We have served the G&G burger at Goose & Gander since our opening night in 2012. It was instantly labelled a ‘Napa Valley classic’ and continues to be the most talked-about item on the menu today.’ Goose & Gander owner Andy Florsheim
Preparation time 60 minutes
Cooking time (burger) 10 minutes
- 150ml rice oil or vegetable oil
- 1 egg yolk
- 3⁄4 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1⁄2 tsp sriracha sauce
- 21⁄2 tbsp capers, chopped
- 2 tbsp dill pickles, chopped
- 2 tbsp cornichons, chopped
- 3 tbsp chopped tarragon
- 3 tbsp chopped chives
- 3 tbsp chopped dill
- 225g butter
- 1⁄2 bunch rosemary
- 1⁄2 bunch thyme
- 1⁄2 bunch sage
- 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 shallot, chopped
Burger (per person)
- 225g minced grass-fed beef, shaped into a patty
- 2 tbsp herb butter (see above), separated
- 1 slice Gruyère cheese
- 1 ciabatta bun
- remoulade (see above), to taste
- 2 leaves little gem lettuce
- 2 rashers smoked back bacon, cooked until crispy
- 2 slices dill pickle
1. For the remoulade, add the egg yolk, mustard and sriracha to a mixing bowl. Begin mixing with a whisk or stick blender, slowly drizzling in the oil to emulsify. Then, fold in the capers, pickles, cornichons, tarragon, chives and dill. Set aside.
2. Add the herb butter ingredients to a pan, and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and leave to cool.
3. Heat your grill. (Goose & Gander uses a wood-fire grill with a combination of white oak and fruitwood. The wood fire is a distinct flavour in the G&G burger, but if you’re cooking on charcoal or gas, the other flavours will still hold their weight).
4. Brush the beef patty with 1 tbsp of melted herb butter and a generous sprinkling of salt, and place on the grill. In order to get good marks on the burger, don’t fuss with the patty and let the fire and the grill grate do their job. Cook to the desired temperature. We recommend medium, as it’s a very juicy burger. On the wood-fire grill, it takes a few minutes on each side.
5. After you’ve flipped the patty and the second side is cooked halfway through to your liking, place the cheese on top to melt. While the burger finishes cooking, brush your bun with another tbsp of melted herb butter and lightly toast it, cut side down, on the least hot section of your grill.
6. To assemble the burger, slather remoulade on both sides of the bun. Lay two leaves of little gem lettuce on the bottom bun and place the patty on top. Add the crispy bacon and pickles.
7. If you like, top your burger with some of Goose & Gander’s optional additions, such as bone marrow, a fried duck egg, or shaved truffle. Serve with duck-fat fries.
Leftover remoulade is great with crab cakes, shrimp cocktail, or as a binder for tuna salad. Use any leftover herb butter to dress up ravioli, toasted cheese sandwiches or vegetable soup.
The wines to match the G&G burger
A medium-to-opulent style of white Burgundy will go nicely with this burger. It’s less about the place and more about the style. The goal is to find a balance of acid and fat, so look for a wine that has some richness in the mid-palate, a tiny bit of oak – not too much – and great acidity.
The Puligny-Montrachet-based family producer’s Rully white has been matured on fine lees for eight months, giving the wine a creamy, buttered nose of ripe yellow apple and citrus. The rounded palate of butterscotch and brioche is well balanced by elegant lemon zest. Poised and long. Drink 2021-2026 Alc 13%
Big reds are often the go-to for a burger, but in this case, opt for one that’s fruit-forward and low in tannin, such as a Grenache, Gamay or Dolcetto. Condiments like ketchup, mustard, pickles and onions are all going to pair well with a fruitier wine.
La Madone, Côtes du Forez, Upper Loire, France 2020 91
The Côtes du Forez is a little-known area of the most southerly extent of the Loire region, home to only a small number of independent growers. This delicious alternative to Beaujolais comes from the Gamay vines grown on ancient volcanic rock, soils more similar to those found in the Auvergne than in Beaujolais. Purple in the glass, it’s a fairly rustic wine, but bursting with juicy blackberry and cherry fruit, and unoaked. Drink 2021-2023 Alc 13%
The Essential Napa Valley Cookbook is available in the US from napavalleycookbook.com, priced at $39.95