A City, If You Can Keep It: Keep it French, cozy and delicious

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A Winters Express opinion column

By Richard Casavecchia
Special to the Express

If you’re not going to the L’Apero Les Trois seasonal dinners, you are missing out. Send your kids to their grandparents, put on a dress or a jacket with a nice shirt, get your tickets the next time they’re available, come hungry and arrange a ride home.

Every two months, L’Apero has a 32-seat prix-fixe menu dinner celebrating one of the fruits that create the delicate flavors of their apéritifs. To quote the website, “Our space is transformed with long tables draped in rustic linen, set with candles, and vintage Haviland Limoges, to serve our family-style meal, created by award-winning cookbook author and partner, Georgeanne Brennan and cooked by Berryessa Gap winery owner, chef and partner, Corinne Martinez.”

My wife and I went to the second dinner, “Celebrating the Quince.” I must admit I never had a quince before and I gravitated to the Meyer Lemon and Black Mission Fig apéritifs when I tried a flight at the grand opening a few months back. I wasn’t overly excited by the menu reading it beforehand, but “Wow!” is all I can say after finishing dinner. It was delicious, from top to bottom with every course featuring quince in some form. This is a good reminder to myself not to judge a menu without trying it.

The night starts at 5:30 p.m. with the featured apéritifs and passed appetizers for about 30–45 minutes out front under the pergolas. Once inside, you find your seats (drop something off earlier to save them if you have more than two people). The tables are set in two long rows just as described on the website. The plates and utensils are antique and not all exactly the same, giving a very old farmhouse family dinner feel to it.

Then the food comes, paired with Berryessa Gap wines with winemaker and le troisième of Les Trois, Nicole Salengo as your sommelier for the night. I don’t think our wine glasses ever got empty from that point on. The courses came out with excellent timing, some of them were plated, and some were family-style to be passed around. It was decidedly different and decidedly excellent.

I woke up the next day with only one question, “Why are Winterites sleeping on this event?!” Most of the 32 attendees were from out of town, and not Davis out of town but Napa, Roseville and the Bay Area. They drove here over an hour each way with the purpose to attend this dinner. Driving as far and as long as people do to eat at the French Laundry in Napa or the Kitchen in Sacramento. They came for the food and the experience.

I think the distance people traveled on a Monday night is a testament to the caliber of this event. Is it a little different than what we typically see? Yes. It is smaller, a touch more expensive, and rarely do we see anything happening on a Monday in Winters these days. But, it is also very Winters. Fresh seasonal food, tied into a local farm, creative, intimate, and really well done. The pride and care the three women of L’Apero Les Trois put into what they were doing was evident in every aspect of the night.

L’Apero is unique in both Winters and the state. No one else is doing what they are doing, so there is a level of risk involved in the new and novel. But there is more to it than what you see Wednesday – Sunday downtown. I definitely plan on going to the next dinner in December, it is already on my calendar.

If I don’t see more folks from town around the table next month, I’m going to be very disappointed in you all. Then you’ll just have to hear me gush about it afterward.

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