We zip through Napa Valley, sunroof wide open, as the highway narrows to a smooth two lanes, bypassing the toniest wineries, the Oakwood grocery, the subtle turnoff to Yountville (hi French Laundry!), wave to the passing wine train!, slow to a crawl through sweet fancy St. Helena, then off again past the imposing CIA at Greystone (hello!), and finally finally into the homey town of Calistoga with its myriad thermal “resorts” and quiet main drag – this is our home for the week! So lucky. So so hot (I love hot).
Here’s what’s on the menu: Fresh trout!
Smiths Trout Farm – Yes this is a little drive, but it’s a super fun excursion and a great break for the kids from all that tedious wine tasting. Navigate the winding little road past the cattle (moo!), through the vines, up and up with a brave occasional glimpse back down the valley (how much further?), through the woods (are we there yet?), and finally you’ll emerge at this lovely little fishing spot. Bamboo poles, bait and a pond full of hungry trout (and newts!) await. Bring a little picnic, bring a cooler (for your catch), lawn chairs, a camera to capture the moment. You’re in luck because Bob Smith will gut, clean, ice and bag your fish for you on the spot. 18401 Ida Clayton Rd, Calistoga (707) 987-3651 open Saturday and Sunday 10:00am-5:00pm
How to cook a fresh trout: Wash and dry the trout, s&p the cavity and add something wet (lemons, limes) to keep it moist, and herbs. Skewer it together at the edge with a metal or a wooden skewer (soaked in water for 20 minutes) so none of the good stuff escapes. Rub it with olive oil and grill a few minutes on each side. For such a delicate fish they hold up nicely on the grill, but do be gentle…
Here are some of the combinations we tried. Any seasoning you add really infuses the fish with flavor. Truly they were all good and you can’t go too wrong:
- lemon slices, tarragon, fennel pollon
- lime, basil, sliced green chili
- tomato, pimenton
- wrapped in a slice of bacon secured with a skewer to keep it from unraveling
- za’atar spice mix and lemon with smoked olive oil