If I’ve learned nothing else about myself in February, I now know that I wouldn’t enjoy being a restaurant critic. Writing about my experience at restaurants is some of the least exciting writing I’ve ever had to do. Well, perhaps not as painful as that freelance article about elevator safety,¹ but still not something I’d welcome doing again.
Still, to do justice to the month, I’ve got one more review to submit. And in this case, I’m happy to do so. Ad Hoc was pure delight. This Thomas Keller restaurant is the French Laundry’s warm, unpretentious younger sibling. There is a fixed menu each night, and the food is served family-style. The restaurant is meant to feel like home, and the noisy families with their rambunctious children ensured that it did. The food was humble but delicious and the service was spot-on, making for a wonderful dining experience.
Our meal seemed simple enough: wedge salad, sirloin with sides of cabbage and grits, cheese course, and chocolate pudding. But the preparation of each dish elevated it: the surprisingly sweet tomatoes and creamy dressing on the salad; the perfect texture (at once creamy and chewy) of the grits; a delectable sweet-and-sour flavor to the cabbage; the pudding that was so balanced and, with homemade whipped cream and a graham and toffee crumble on top, so much more than regular chocolate pudding.
It was sweet redemption after Poggio and a lovely note on which to end Foodie February. If you have plans to be in the Napa area, and you are looking for delicious, local food done right, you should give Ad Hoc a shot.
With that done, I can now clear my plate (hah!) from February and move on to… “Meditation March.”
Meditation March: the name makes me laugh. It’s a bit of an oxymoron- the idea of a march (loud, militant even) that is also a meditation. Or that people would be marching in support of meditation- a cause whose champions seem… well… unlikely to march. Meditators seem more likely to tread as lightly as possible.
But insofar as “march” indicates a steady rhythm, the name is apt. My hope is to meditate every day. I’ll try different approaches to see if there’s one that is a particularly good fit. I have tried meditation before, but never with any regularity or diligence, and I think My Year of 40 is the perfect time to give it another shot. The “new” aspect, in this case, is in making it a daily practice.
I’ll check in soon to let you know how it’s going. Happy March!
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¹Back when I was still figuring out who I wanted to be, I flirted with freelance writing. And in that flirtation, I did indeed write that captivating article linked above. Same Jill Witty. Living on, ad infinitum, in the never-ending cache of the Internet.