Napa Style

Napa Farmhouse Inn offers farm-fresh foods and a taste of the local lifestyle.

| Fall 2013

It makes perfect sense that Mimi Chiang-Brown and her husband, Ed Brown, grow heirloom vegetables and herbs on their 1.5-acre organic farm to star in the dishes they serve at their inn and café. The unique colors and shapes and nutrition-rich nature of organic heirloom produce are fitting parallels to Mimi’s passion for creating beautiful things that also nourish.

A visit to the couple’s Napa Farmhouse Inn in Northern California’s famous Napa Valley wine country or to their French-inspired Flower Flour Bakery and Café in San Jose, south of San Francisco, offers a kaleidoscope of colors, textures, and flavors, the presentation of both sweet and savory dishes expressing epicurean artistry that pleases the eye as well as the palate.

I arrived at the inn just in time to enjoy the day’s bountiful and artful breakfast. In addition to an open-faced omelet, garnished with fresh dill from the garden, and a roasted potato, onion and bacon side, organic zebra-like Chioggia beets were served steamed and sliced in half, revealing their unique burgundy and luminous pink striping. Tossed with local olives and fresh lemon slices, drizzled with Caesar dressing and a touch of locally-made balsamic and olive oil, and elegantly displayed on a glass platter, they were a beautiful, mouth-watering and healthful showstopper.

“I like to showcase the true flavor of the vegetable itself,” says Mimi. “We cook vegetables in many ways … grilled, steamed, blanched.”

Mimi also values the versatility of a single vegetable and uses her crops in as many ways as possible. Onions, for example, are chopped and tossed in salads, creamed in soups, minced to add to dips and sour cream, as well as roasted or caramelized.

Her crudités are simple. These traditional French appetizers featuring vegetables in the raw can be daunting to some, she says, especially if there are a lot of veggies. Mimi keeps it basic: thinly sliced yellow squash, fresh, just-picked radishes, and a little salad dressing and fresh-squeezed lemon on the side.

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