The State of Sweet Napa


Back in January, when I decided to name my blog Sweet Napa, I knew that it was both a challenge and a limitation. Would I stick with blogging through the duration of my 30 week program? What would I do if I wanted to continue it after I graduated and moved away from Napa? Would I try to retain the “spirit” of Napa somewhere else?

My major reason for starting a blog was to contribute information that I couldn’t find when I wanted it. When I was researching culinary schools, I had a hard time finding out differences between schools beyond geography, and I couldn’t find much about what culinary school would be like day by day, and month after month. Now, I hope that others like me will find my “Culinary School” category useful in the future — it’s a rather thorough account of every single block that we did and just about everything that we made. Of course, it’s seen through my eyes, but I tried to keep it as objective and informative as my stronger opinions would allow. And now, that category is complete, available for others to read at any time and for me to read if I need to remember something that we learned.

Also, when I was in law school nearby during the Fall of last year, I had a hard time finding reliable information about what restaurant in Napa to go to for my birthday. The fact that I put so much time into deciding on one should have been an indication of where my interest in food would take me, but deciding on a restaurant is something that I’ve always taken seriously and wanted to help others with. Going out to eat is expensive, chock full of opportunity costs, and for many people, the highlight of a day or a vacation. So, I think that every meal should count. Written descriptions are helpful to an extent, but even then, people have different tastes and impressions. That’s why I felt that taking pictures of a dish was an important attempt at objectivity… Readers may not be able to taste the food, but they can get a snapshot of what it’s like so that they can judge for themselves. And of course, a snapshot is just that — a glimpse into what was served one night at one table at one restaurant. I’ve never been comfortable “reviewing” restaurants for many reasons, and honestly, I think of my accounts of restaurants as descriptions, not really critiques. As someone who’s changed careers, I really use them to study food and its arrangements.

So, what am I going do now? Well, first of all, I’m going to New York City to do an externship at a fabulous bakery for the month of September. As a student, I felt comfortable writing about culinary school and restaurants, but as I move into the professional side, it feels different. Writing about work is much dicier than writing about school, and posting about restaurants and other bakeries seems a bit unfair to colleagues. But the former law student in me has convinced me that an extern isn’t a full professional, so I can still write about the food that I eat at restaurants and bakeries… I just hope that I’m not called out for being, say, “that extern at that other bakery who talked smack about our cinnamon rolls online.” And I’ll see if I can write about what I’m learning at the bakery. I doubt I’ll post as often, because of my short amount of time there, but I’ll make it interesting when I do. Or I’ll do shorter, guerrilla-style postings.

As for October and beyond, I’m not sure where I’ll be yet. I may stay in Napa or I may not. Once I get a real job, I’ll probably continue blogging, but probably about food that I make and food stuffs that I find interesting. I’ll see how it develops.

If anybody reading this doesn’t have a blog (food or otherwise) but has thought about starting one, I highly recommend that you do. Although I’m not as active as I wish I could be in the blogging community, it’s full of amazing people around the world who share your passion and are extremely generous with their knowledge and goodwill. I couldn’t imagine having gone through culinary school without my blog. It helped to keep me as informed, thorough, honest, and humble as I could be on subjects that I knew virtually nothing about when I started… Unveiling your exploded cherry pie to the world is as humbling as sharing an exciting new tip about cake is rewarding. When I thought about all the people from all walks of life electronically looking over my shoulder as I considered my food (some tens of thousands of people total at this writing), it never failed to invigorate me. I’m very grateful for my fellow bloggers and readers.

This may sound like a goodbye post, but I’ll probably be posting again within a week… about New York… and Provence!

13 Responses to “The State of Sweet Napa”

  1. JO Says:

    Party on!!!!

  2. Jen Says:

    I’m really happy to hear that the blog will continue, at least in the short term! I have absolutely loved reading about your culinary school experiences and salivating over your restaurant reviews. I’ve been reading your blog every day for several months, but have only commented once before, and I just wanted to thank you for the entertainment and inspiration. Oh, and congratulations on your graduation, too!

  3. Catherine Says:

    Nina,

    Your blog has been a wonderful experience for me too! It’s certainly unique. This does sound like a goodbye post, but I hope you will continue your wonderful food blogging…how about “Sweet Napa and beyond”.

    Cheers!

  4. a geek Says:

    Please do keep blogging- while I haven’t commented I’ve enjoyed your writing immensely. I do, however, think I’ve gained a few pounds reading about your culinary exploits. 🙂

  5. Nina Says:

    THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH 🙂

  6. Nancy Says:

    Nina, Reading your blog was a delight. I’m an old lady trying to decide if I want to chuck it all and finally get into the pastry biz, and your accounts of school gave me insight like nothing else – including a couple of visits to Greystone to try to decide! You have a gift for writing, and I hope you can utilize all of your talents in the future – and continue your blog. Congrats on your graduation and go get ’em in NYC – and beyond!

  7. Susan Says:

    Nina, congrats on your graduation and externship, but please please please keep writing! I’ve enjoyed this so much. But oh no–does this mean no more LA visits and reviews? I’ll really miss those posts–I’m with “a geek”–I can definitely blame a few pounds on you, but happily so. Please tell me Chad’s staying in LA so you’ll come visit “us”! Good luck on your externship–as if you’ll need it. And thanks–again. Your blog is such a joy.

  8. Alison Says:

    Congratulations on your graduation! In the last year I have been contemplating attending a baking and pastry program myself (and was seriously considering Greystone), and so finding your blog was a great resource in learning about the culinary school experience. Thank you so much for all of your insight, and I am excited to say that I will be starting at CCA in San Francisco in November. I have to admit that your blog was a huge factor in me making the final decision to DO IT! Thank you so much for all of your blogging! Keep ’em coming!

  9. jon o Says:

    congrats! Have enjoyed irregularly reading about Napa food and was thinking of you when we were in Sonoma/Napa this last weekend, tasting at various wineries and having lunch at girl and the fig. cheers,

    jo

  10. Helen Says:

    Hi Nina,

    Congrats on your graduation and move to New York! I sure hope you don’t stop writing, but I know what you mean about the politics of food writing. I have to be careful about what I say and how I say it, and it’s terribly hard because I am just too damn opinionated. Have fun in New York and I hope to get some restaurant ideas from you because a few weeks after Sonoma, we are going to NY for a wedding. I can’t believe our CA trip is coming up. We’ve planned it so long ago, we almost forgot about it. Your site has been so helpful in helping us make dining out decisions. Thanks for all your hard work and great taste 🙂

    Cheers,
    -Helen

  11. lizelle Says:

    yay! good luck with whatever comes your way. i really look forward to continue to read of your adventures. thank you for allowing us to live vicariously.

  12. Nina Says:

    Thank you, Nancy! 🙂 And feel free to email me if you have any questions whatsoever about the school or what it’s like to work at a bakery.

    Susan – Thank you! Well, I have a couple LA eateries that I visited and still want to blog about, but that’ll probably be it. Chad will still be in LA, though, so I’m going to see what I’m going to do with LA posts…. He’s become quite the burger master in the past few months, so maybe I’ll post about those recipes… and trips to farmer’s markets. And I still have Literati II to go to, thanks to your recommendation, so I’ll let you know how it goes.

    Alison – CONGRATULATIONS! I hope that you enjoy it. I took a Saturday class at the CCA once about puff pastry, and I was impressed by the school… and I’ve also envied their possession of a revolving rack oven ever since!

    jon o – Thanks! I hope you liked the girl & the fig!

    Helen – Thank you! It’s such a shame that we’re missing each other twice, but I’m glad that I can help with recommendations. I hope you enjoy both trips!

    lizelle – Thank you… and you’re welcome. 🙂

  13. BonBonBar is Open For Business - Sweet Napa Says:

    […] So, this post feels like a bit of a milestone — like my State of Sweet Napa post last year. Let’s see where all this goes!!! […]

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