“18 Questions” Reveal Everything About Ada Campos

AdaMutts.213609If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it one thousand times from Carpe Vino customers:  “Gary, your staff is terrific.”

It’s true.  Carpe Vino has always seemed to attract immensely qualified, over-the-top professional staff—in both the back and front of the house (kitchen and dining room, to be abundantly clear).   People love working in the “Friendly Confines”, and we love them back.

Though some Carpe Vino staffers have been with us for nearly a decade and many have abundant fans, how much do we really know about them?  Our new column, 18 Questions, will help change that.  Starting today, and continuing in future editions, we’ll ask our peeps the same 18 questions with the goal of revealing more about each of them.  Plus we’ll illustrate each column with a photo of our staffer out of uniform (in most cases, but not all).

Up first is Ada Campos, our indestructible and unflappable restaurant manger.

1.  Position and start date:  Restaurant Manager, February 14, 2007

2.  Birthplace:  El Salvador, “Central America”

3.  Family: Are you married, engaged, children. . .?  Single with two furry, four-legged children.

4.  How did you get started in the hospitality business; where else have you worked?  I first entered the industry as a hostess at the age of 18 and have been working in the industry since.

5.  College or formal hospitality training:  I’m a graduate of the CIA in Hyde Park, New York with a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts management.

6.  The part of your job you like best:  I like being  in charge and to orchestrate (the puzzle and the rush) each evening and knowing every night will be different.

7.  If you ran this joint, what would you change?  I wish we could also have a restaurant POS.  (Note:  “Point of Sale system, a computerized cash register and inventory manager.)

8.  The book on your nightstand is:  Touching the Void: It’s about two friends who summit a peak in the Peruvian Andes and are struck with tragedy during the descent and one of them is faced with the decision to cut the rope; every alpinist’s worst nightmare.  Miraculously they both survive.

9.  What do you do for fun?  Are you involved in any sports?  I run and participate in races. I hike with my mutts, mountain bike, a little rock climbing and more recently I have started mountaineering and climbed Mt. Rainier last year.  Hoping to summit three peaks this year!

10.  What’s your passion?  Food: I live to eat. I am extremely fortunate and grateful to be able to dine at fine establishments but certain events in my childhood have also made me appreciate the most simple meals and ingredients.  You can’t really understand food if you can’t appreciate both ends of the spectrum.

11.  In five years, I’ll be. . .:  In five years I will be living in a different city and maybe be a mother.

12.  Favorite Carpe Vino dish:   Favorite Carpe dish is too hard of a question for me.  I can’t narrow it down to one especially because each season brings something new.

13.  Favorite restaurant, other than Carpe Vino:  Waterbar in San Francisco.  Nothing says Sunday, Funday like a couple dozen oysters, a Bloody Mary, and the view of the bay bridge and across to the east bay.

14:  Favorite wine:  Billecart Salmon Brut Rosé. There may not always be food in the fridge but there’s always a bottle of bubbles.

15:  What would we be surprised to learn about you?  I listen to classical music while I run, love the ballet and the Wu-Tang Clan.

16.  What do you like best about living in the Foothills?  The best thing I love about living in the foothills is the access to the canyon and the endless trails for hiking, biking and running.

17.  What one quality of yours do you think makes you most successful at your job?  The tenacity to make every night a successful night because at the end of the day, I’m ultimately responsible.

18.  Who in the whole world inspires you most and why?  I know this may sound cliché but my Mother inspires me the most.  At the age of seven is when I learned and truly understood that she would never let me down and that she would always be there for me.  She taught me to be a strong, independent woman and to appreciate my family, which is the core of who I am today.

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Parisian Bistro Prix-Fixe Menu is Soooo Ooh-La-la!

No doubt about it, those of us making the prix-fixe theme decisions at Carpe Vino have a decidedly French pre-occupation these days.  We just can’t seem to get our fill, but trust me, there is no danger we’ll be sporting berets any time soon.

As a warm-up to next week’s “Welcome to Café Carpe Vino, a Nouveau Parisian Bistro,” we’re hosting a get-together tonight for our Provence travelers who will be touring the south of France in early October.  This meet & greet is an icebreaker and an opportunity to sip on Bandol Rouge and, of course, rosé.  Chef Alexander is preparing some very special appetizers, too, flexing his French culinary skills in advance of the big show that runs from May 26 to 31.

The idea with transforming the Friendly Confines into Café Carpe Vino is to create a menu typical to any bistro menu you would find in a Parisian neighborhood. . .but with two differences:  Chef Alexander’s peculiar twist and a seasonal influence.  So, if you’ve been to Paris, expect the unexpected!

Join us next week starting at 5 p.m. each night for four courses, with choices, for $59.95++; wine is additional and your server will be delighted to make a recommendation.  Call 530-823-0320 for reservations or go to www.opentable.com.

Here’s a course-by-course peek at the menu:

First Course (choice of one):

Housemade and Artisan Charcuterie, seasonal pickles, Dijon mustard and grilled levain:  Here’s an illicit and sinful treat. . .pork pate with pistachio, foie gras mousse and duck confit rillettes. . .shredded and emulsified in duck fat rendering it amazingly spreadable.  Chef has sourced “saucisson sec,” dry-cured salami from Olympic Provisions in Portland.  All served with pickled bing cherries and “cornichons,” pickled veggies. . .and country-style, rustic French bread grilled to perfection.

Salt Cod Brandade au Gratin, summer truffles, chervil, toast:  “Brandade” is the Provençal handle for salt cod.  Chef poaches the cod in milk with garlic and thyme, then blends with a garlic-infused EVOO (extra virgin olive oil).  This is combined with pureed russet potato and whipped into a spread.  Then it is baked with summer truffles in a casserole until golden brown.  Garnished with chervil (an herb) and toasted baguette. . .a perfect for this amazing spread.

Tarte Flambe of Escargot, fromage blanc, green garlic, smoked bacon:  Whenever we have escargot on the menu, we sell metric tonnes of it!  With this dish, think French pizza:  “tarte flambé” is a thick crust, fresh white French cheese, bacon and onions. . .a classic dish that is baked just like a pizza.  Chef’s twist is using a rich puff pastry, made even more indulgent with the snails in green garlic butter, baked to delicious perfection.

Second Course (choice of one):

Sunchoke Vichyssoise, hazelnut oil, garden thyme:  This is a classic French potato-leek soup you’ll find in any traditional Paris bistro. . .but Chef is adding sunchoke, a wholesome root vegetable.  He purees until impossibly smooth and garnishes with hazelnut oil and the pink flowering tops of thyme plants from the Carpe Vino garden (behind the building).  Word up: this soup is chilled and scrumptious!

Endive and Frisee Salad, tarragon, Saint Maure, brûlée, walnuts:  Simple salad you’re thinking?  No, it’s more than that. . .it’s an abundance of flavors and textures.  First, the bitterness of the endive and frisee greens, offset by the tangy richness of goat cheese from the Loire Valley in France (covered in ash and ripened like Humbolt Fog. . .very tasty).  The centerpiece is first-of-the season apricots from Frog Hollow Farm (Bay Area) that have been halved, sprinkled with sugar and caramelized.  Then for a crunchy finish, toasted walnuts.

Main Course (choice of one):

Red Trout Meuniere, potato puree, Delta asparagus “polonaise”:  Another classic French bistro dish, this one starts with California farm-raised trout prepared in a pan sauce of brown butter and lemon juice.  This is placed on a platform of potato puree and served with Delta asparagus.  Chef says “polonaise” is French for “Polish style,” and old-school French garnish of chopped hard-boiled eggs, buttered and toasted bread crumbs and fresh parsley.

Beef Cheek Bourguignon, Thumbelina carrot, smoked bacon, button mushroom, pearl onion:  Beef cheek is one of Chef Alexander’s signature dishes of which Carpe Vinians just can’t seem to get enough. . .so here’s another opportunity presented in “the style of Burgundy”.  Prepared with a rich combination of bacon, pearl onions mushrooms and red wine.  Typical French preparation is to serve this “stew” over egg noodles, but Chef has substituted fingerling potatoes.  You’ll concur with his decision, n’cest pas?

Fava Bean Cassoulet, duck and foie gras sausage, pork confit, brioche crumbs:  In one of my rare menu confrontation with Chef Alexander, I passionately urged him to change the title of this to:  Duck and Foie Gras Sausage Cassoulet (more appealing than “fava bean cassoulet), but my entreaties were summarily ignored.  This classic French (please forgive the repetition of the phrase) casserole starts with a base of dried beans cooked with garlic, onion, tomato and veal stock.  Finished with fava beans and pork cheek confit—slow cooked in duck fat.  Next is a layer of brioche crumbs (enriched bread), topped with duck and foie gras sausage and then baked to perfection.  The line starts here.

Dessert Course (choice of one):

Baba au Rhum, Chantilly cream, pineapple-rum sorbet:  Chef Courtney McDonald works her magic here, creating an enriched pastry from flour, butter, eggs and sugar. . .in which she pokes holes and saturates with the Jamaican rum.  Served with Chantilly cream and pineapple-rum sorbet on the side.

Vanilla Bean Crème Brulée, lavender sable:  What’s more dependable for a bistro final stanza that a simple vanilla bean crème brûlée?  Served with lavender sable, a thin French cookie similar to shortbread.

Join us for this amazing French bistro menu and bring your friends!

Cheers,

gary

Old Town Shuttle Service Launches this Weekend

Tony in GEM

Carpe Vino is taking customer service to the next level with our introduction of a weekend shuttle service for customers.  Every Friday and Saturday evening our new GEM electric vehicle, a four-passenger mini truck, will be plying the streets of Old Town to schlep our beloved customers (and their wine purchases) to their cars.  The service will run during dinner service, from 5 to 10 p.m. (depending on demand).

Your driver this summer is Tony Suverkropp, a strapping young man who will deliver you safely to your vehicle when you depart the Friendly confines after dinner.  Tony will work for us before heading back to college in the fall.

Our Gem is the hot little set-up.  It has a diamond plate truck bed that is perfect for hauling wine from our warehouse to the shop.  You won’t miss it at night because we had a neon light kit installed the illuminates the street beneath the GEM, and it pulsates to the beat of the onboard CD player.  Top speed is about 30 mph (but not uphill with a full load!) and a range of about 20 miles on a full charge.

This is actually the second GEM we’ve owned.  The first NEV (neighborhood electric vehicle) we purchased around 2005 was just two seats; we ended up selling it to customers who live in a golf community and it’s still on the road!

So, don’t be bashful next time you dine with us on Friday or Saturday.  Tony will be delighted to take you to your car!  If you would like a ride from your car to the restaurant, give us a call at 530-823-0320.

Welcome to Café Carpe Vino, a Parisian Bistro

Eiffel Tower With my next wine tour set for early October—to Provence in the south of France—I’m being transformed into a Francophile. . .seeking winery-visit candidates and stumbling around the Internet researching the region.  So, I’m definitely in the mood for our French-themed prix-fixe, “Welcome to Café Carpe Vino, a Nouveau Parisian Bistro,” scheduled at the end of the month, from the 26th to the 31st.

It would be tough to transform the look of the place, but the menu. . .ah, this is not a problem!  Chef Alexander is working feverishly to produce his next tour de force, this time creating a menu that will transport you to a neighborhood joint in Paris, kinda like a Carpe Vino cousin.

We’ll be announcing the menu next week, so stay tuned.  Same premise:  four course, with choices for $59.99++ per person.  Our annual French dinner is typically sells out, so the prudent among you may wish to make your reservations tout de suite by calling 530-823-0320 or go online to www.opentable.com.

We Say “Good-Bye” to One of Carpe Vino’s Finest

Beth WhiteNothing lasts forever, we know that, especially when it comes to longevity in the restaurant business.  This is an occupation that is transitional for some, transitory for others, but most people just seem to come and go.

There are a very few, however, who stay for the long haul. . .people like Beth White, a stalwart on our staff, who is leaving after nearly nine years of working mostly behind the bar at Carpe Vino.  Beth displays a mellowness and single-mindedness that I attribute to her many years of solitary training as a marathoner.  She has an unparalleled ability to focus on her work. . .an uncanny awareness of everything happening around her on busy, noisy nights in the restaurant.

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More information
Carpe Vino (Find Us) 1568 Lincoln Way Auburn, CA 95603
Phone Number: 530-823-0320
Get Directions to Carpe Vino
Retail/Wine Bar Hours Tuesday - Saturday
Noon - 10:00 p.m.
Closed: Sunday and Monday
Dining Hours Tuesday - Saturday
5:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Closed: Sunday and Monday
Make A Reservation Guests must be 21 years of age or older.
Reservations are suggested for preferred seating, especially on weekends.