If you get out to Napa, go to St Helena, make a reservation at Cindy’s, and enjoy. As the name and address suggests, it is located on a backstreet from the main drag, and is on the road next to the rail. The food at Cindy's is like Margot’s food: simply delicious. The preparation of food using a few excellent ingredients is the secret to fabulous food, and Cindy Pawlcyn, James Beard Award Winner, has that secret tied up.photo by Nina
One aspect I like about Cindy’s is that it is in wine country, and there is an extensive wine list of many wines from Napa and Sanoma. The waitstaff has a wide range of knowledge of wine, as they should because local vineyard owners, wine experts and wine tasters dine here, and they need to know what they are talking about. I do not know a whole lot about wine, and I learned a lot about wine and my food at Cindy’s. We got a white zinfandel for the table and I began to panic. I was thinking we are getting some nasty 1980’s “get the date drunk” type of wine cooler that had a “zinfandel wine spritzer” label on the screw-cap bottle. I learned that REAL white zin is made by crushing the dark red/purple zin grapes, and all the skins are removed from the start instead of letting the skins sit for a week (which adds the tannins and ruby color to wine). The remaining white zin juice is then fermented as if it were a white wine like chardonnay. The result of the white zin is a light, refreshing and very sippable wine without the sour apple front that some new chards have, and without the heavy tannins like the kin red zins have. I have learned that real white zins are NOT that bad stuff of the ‘80s.
Our table started off with one Oyster Pablo per person. What a mistake that was! We should have ordered a Dozen per person because we love these little gems. The mouth feel, the comfortable simplicity yet elegance of the oyster was divine. Don’t be like us, order one more than you think you want to eat because you are going to wish you ordered just one more.
I ordered the duck as my main dish. I always order duck when I can get good duck because it is so hard to make good duck. In my attempts to cook duck, I have made duck only once in a way that was really good, moist, yummy and a thin crispy skin on the outside. Other attempts were dry, stringy and fatty, or fatty, rubbery and nasty – all the rest of my attempts were disrespectful to the duck lying on my plate. Anyway, at Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen, the duck was cooked moist, defatted, and the outside was crispy. It was the perfect preparation of duck. It was simply delicious.
I don’t know what category to put Cindy’s (and Margot’s) in. Do people call this style of simple and awesome – the New Classic American? I dunno, I just love it.