He had every intention of returning home after graduation, however, it only took one mild winter for him to realize he would be making California his permanent home. After graduating from culinary school, Livingston accepted a position at the Ritz Carlton in Pasadena where he sharpened his kitchen skills for seven years before heading to the beach, taking a job as sous chef at Studio at Montage resort in Laguna Beach.
Hayes has been focused on desserts since her childhood. She loves the joy that sweets inspire in people. When she was quickly offered a full-time position, she gave up her day job and has been baking ever since. After Copia closed, she did a stint at Bardessono in Yountville before joining the team at La Toque in She has been the Pastry Chef since She is self-taught and a perfectionist, driven by her love of the process, taking pleasure in a shiny meringue, a smooth chocolate mousse or perfectly churned ice cream which gives us pleasure every day.
He was drawn to the Bay Area by his love of food and wine. He proceeded to fine-tune his culinary skills as Sous Chef in a number of good kitchens before shifting gears and moving to the front of the house for Bob Klein at Oliveto, in Rockridge.
Robert settled in Napa with his family nearly fifteen years ago, working for Etoile Restaurant at Domaine Chandon until he joined La Toque in as a Server. She makes multitasking with charts, reservation lists, turn times and menu requests look far easier than it really is. If there is a way to make something happen, she will find it, and make sure everyone knows when. Richard came on board with La Toque in and was the driving force behind our first Wine Spectator Grand Award in Richard can be found nightly in La Toque, on the floor serving our guests or roaming the cellar, tasting wines, and telling jokes that are drier than a Grand Cru Chablis.
Like most of us, Beki has been working in Restaurants since she was barely old enough. She was serving tables at Outback Steakhouse in Reno when she decided to go to culinary school and study wine. In , she moved to the Bay Area and enrolled in the French Culinary Institute Sommelier program where she graduated at the top of her class and became a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers.
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She is a chronic over-achiever and has won a number of prestigious competitions. She earned her Advanced pin from the Court in March We talked her into joining our team in Her two cats are appropriately named Sassicaia and Tignanello. If you wish, our Sommeliers will select just the right wine to pair with each dish, bringing years of wine and service experience directly to your table. Their expertly chosen wines and interaction with your guests can make for a truly memorable evening. You can make your wine selections from our Grand Award-winning Wine Cellar as well.
We can accommodate groups of up to 12 guests in our main dining room, and up to 45 on our beautiful glass-enclosed, fully heated terrace. For larger groups of up to guests, we offer 12, square feet of event space, inside and out, within The Westin Verasa Napa property. Let us create a memorable experience for your next important event.
Every January we feature this special menu with fresh black truffles in every course. They are every bit as good as the finest European Truffles. The availability of Winter Truffles during our Summer season is particularly exciting as it allows us to cook them with a completely different set of ingredients. We are eagerly awaiting their arrival in early June. We only use truffles from sources we know well and have used for years.
We do not use truffles native to China or Oregon, although we look forward to the success of American truffle plantations in the next few years. The truffles from the Himalayas are technically truffles, but their flavor pales in comparison to the real thing. Flavored truffle products are crap, shunned by good chefs who know better.
All of these products will desensitize your palate to the true but more subtle flavor of real fresh truffle. Truffles have been savored for millennia but truffle oil is a new phenomenon. If it was possible to produce truffle oil by natural means, the Romans would have figured it out, long ago. It is simply too good to be true. Gift cards are available for purchase in any dollar amount. With pristine Bluefin tuna sashimi and fresh wasabi root, they match a Franz Hirtzberger Gruner Veltliner from Austria that helps to clean the palate without overpowering the delicate fish.
Unlike chefs who create a dish and leave it to the wine guys to find the best match they can, Frank willingly adjusts dishes to bring out the best in the wine; in so doing he often brings out the best in the food. One of the most versatile and delicious foods you can make at home is preserved lemons.
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Here, they add intense lemony flavor to just about anything Carrots, parsnips, rutabagas, turnips, celery root and radishes can all be the star of the sho The ocean is full of weird looking but delicious treasures. Skate is one of my favorites. Skate are smaller members of the Ray family who fly along the sandy bottom of the ocean propelled by their wings. Once considered a trash fish in the US We promise not to spam you and you can cancel at any time!
Email address:. Our Reservationist is also available to speak to you in person, daily from 2pm at We look forward to serving you! We offer three different menus nightly at La Toque. Reservation Policies and FAQs. Are you able to accommodate dietary restrictions? How much time should I plan for dinner? Can I make dinner reservations for groups larger than 8 guests? Where can I locate my booking receipt? Will I receive any other communications regarding my reservation?
No-Showing a reservation No-showing will void your booking. Do you accept walk-ins? Can I give my booking away or sell it? Are children allowed in the restaurant? Do you allow corkage? What is your dress code? Can I charge my electric vehicle? Are pets allowed at La Toque? La Toque Reservations. Latoque Group Dining '; document. Instagram Feed.
Follow on Instagram. Hayes Pickett, Pastry Chef Hayes has been focused on desserts since her childhood. Beki Miller, Sommelier Like most of us, Beki has been working in Restaurants since she was barely old enough. Welcome to Group Dining. Thank you for considering La Toque for your special occasion dinner. You can see our truffle menus from previous years by clicking the links below. Black truffle being shaved. Gift Cards: Gift cards are available for purchase in any dollar amount.
Winemaker and regional style as well as oak treatment can cause a wine to be lighter or heavier in body. For example, Pinot noir can vary from being very light to more medium bodied.
Another example is the influence of regional climates. Warmer climate wine regions tend to produce wines with higher alcohol levels and thus more fuller bodied wines so that a Sauvignon blanc from California may have a heavier weight than a Sauvignon blanc from the Loire. Lighter reds Beaujolais , Dolcetto , some Pinot noir. While a perfect balance where both food and wine are equally enhanced is theoretically possible, typically a pairing will have a more enhancing influence on one or the other.
Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein notes that food and wine pairing is like two people having a conversation: "One must listen while the other speaks or the result is a muddle". This means either the food or the wine will be the dominant focus of the pairing, with the other serving as a complement to enhance the enjoyment of the first. In regards to weight and intensity, if the focus of the pairing is the wine then a more ideal balance will be a food that is slightly lighter in weight to where it will not compete for attention with the wine but not too light to where it is completely overwhelmed.
If the focus of the pairing is to highlight a dish then the same thought would apply in pairing a wine. After considering weight, pairing the flavors and texture can be dealt with using one of two main strategies — complement or contrast. The first strategy tries to bring wine together with dishes that complement each other such as an earthy, Burgundian Pinot noir with an earthy, mushroom dish.
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The second strategy operates under the truism that "opposites attract" and brings together food and wine that have contrasting traits such as a crisp, acidic Sauvignon blanc and a fish with a creamy lemon sauce. The crisp acidity of the wine serves as a contrast that can cut through the creaminess of the sauce and give a different, refreshing sensation for the palate as opposed to what a complementary pairing, such as a creamy, buttery Chardonnay, would bring.
For most of history, the "complementary strategy" was the prevailing thought on food and wine pairing. In the s, as more people started to discover and experiment with pairings, the idea of using contrast started to gain more favor. The same food may be complemented or contrasted: a hard, nutty cheese such as Hirtenkase should have "a nutty, slightly sweet wine with it,"  or a full bodied red wine.
While it is often said that "taste is subjective", there are quantifiable taste characteristics like bitter , sweet , salty or sour that can be perceived and measured as low, moderate or high—such as measuring the sweetness of honey or the saltiness of oysters. Flavors, such as butterscotch, char and strawberry, are more personal and can't be quantifiable. Flavors are either perceived to be present or not.
The perception of flavors is linked to our sense of smell, while tastes come from the sensory glands of the taste buds. Though individual sensitivity to the different taste "senses" can vary, wine experts will often recommend pairings based on these more objective measurements rather than the more subjective concept of "flavors". In wine there are three basic tastes-bitter, sweet and sour. These three tastes can each be identified with a primary component of the wine-tannins bitter , residual sugar sweet and acidity sour. A fourth component, alcohol, is identified in wine tasting with a perception of "heat" or hotness in the back of the mouth and is the primary factor influencing the body of the wine.
The residual heat of the alcohol can be considered in food pairing with some ingredients minimizing the heat of the wine while some will accentuate it. Acidity is a dominant player in any food and wine pairing due to the pronounced and complex ways that it can heighten the perception of flavors. In wine tasting, acidity is perceived by a mouth watering response by the salivary glands.
This mouth watering can also serve to stimulate the appetite. In wine there are three main acids that have their own associated flavors-malic green apples , lactic milky and tartaric bitter. In dishes that are fatty, oily, rich or salty, acidity in wine can "cut" or standout and contrast through the heaviness and be a refreshing change of pace on the palate.
In cooking, acidity is often used in similar fashions such as a lemon wedges with a briny seafood dish such as oysters. The acidity of the lemon juices can make the oysters seem less briny. A wine that is less tart than the dish it is served with will taste thin and weak. A wine that comes across as "too tart" on its own may seem softer when paired with an acidic and tart dish. The complementing "tartness" of the food and wine cancels each other out and allows the other components fruit of the wine, other flavors of the food to be more noticeable.
The sweetness of wines is determined by the amount of residual sugar left in the wine after the fermentation process. Wines can be bone dry with the sugars fully fermented into alcohol , off-dry with a hint of sweetness , semi-dry medium-sweet and dessert level sweetness such as the high sugar content in Sauternes and Tokays. Sweet wines often need to be sweeter than the dish they are served with.
Vintage brut champagne paired with sweet, wedding cake can make the wine taste tart and weak while the cake will have off flavors.
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In food pairings, sweetness balances spice and heat. It can serve as a contrast to the heat and alleviate some of the burning sensation caused by peppers and spices , e. The astringency  associated with wine is usually derived from a wine's tannins. Tannins add a gritty texture and chalky, astringent taste.
It can enhance the perception of "body" or weight in the wine. Tannins are normally derived from the skins, seeds, and stems of the grapes themselves leached out during the maceration process or from contact with oak during barrel aging. Tannins react with proteins. When paired with dishes that are high in proteins and fats such as red meat and hard cheeses , the tannins will bind to the proteins and come across as softer. In the absence of protein from the food, such as some vegetarian dishes, the tannins will react with the proteins on the tongue and sides of the mouth—accentuating the astringency and having a drying effect on the palate.
Various cooking methods, such as grilling and blackening can add a bitter "char" component to the dish that will allow it to play well with a tannic wine. While fish oils can make tannic wines taste metallic or off. The dry tannins also serve as a cleansing agent on the palate by binding to the grease and oils left over in the mouth. Spicy and sweet foods can accentuate the dry, bitterness of tannins and make the wine seem to have off flavors. Alcohol is the primary factor in dictating a wine's weight and body. Typically the higher the alcohol level, the more weight the wine has. An increase in alcohol content will increase the perception of density and texture.
In food and wine pairing, salt and spicy heat will accentuate the alcohol and the perception of "heat" or hotness in the mouth. Beyond the basic guidelines listed above, food pairings can dive even further into matching several layers of texture and flavors. The term "bridge ingredients" refers to ingredients and flavors that have certain affinities in wine pairing such as slow-cooked onions with creamy wines, etc. It can also refer to using particular herbs and spices perceived in the wine such as rosemary in some Cabernet Sauvignon and adding them to the dish as an ingredient.
Their presence in a dish may increase the likelihood that the certain wines will pair well. The above principles can be used for pairing wines with Asian cuisine. Pair for the flavor of the dish - whatever the 'main ingredient' may be - it is not the meat, seafood, or vegetables that stand out as the predominant flavor. Rather the true flavor of the dish is determined by the cooking method for example, the toasty flavors of a stir fry , the sauce from curries to sweet-and-sour , the use of seasonings such as ginger and coriander leaves to mask fishy tastes , or the blending of ingredients to for new flavors as in sukiyaki or satay.
Indeed, it may result from a combination of any of these elements.