Napa’s clinking-glass culture is an incubator for more than world-class vino. Proof: Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen in downtown St. Helena, which globe-trots via diners’ taste buds each Wednesday for their year-and-running Supper Club.
Aptly named, Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen is a white-linens eatery cached behind Main Street with a scene that feels more neighborly than swanky. Head chef Cindy Pawlcyn—known better for another of her endeavors, Napa favorite Mustards Grill—infuses her farm-to-table Supper Club menus with tastes inspired by street food, festival food, and cultural delicacies, showcasing locally sourced ingredients (some from her own organic garden). Each Wednesday, her menu pulls into a different port of call.
At a recent Israeli dinner, guests noshed on hummus-inspired soup, Isreali shnitzel, and tabouli sprinkled with pomegranate seeds. And those lucky enough to attend the Spanish country dinner were treated with a dessert of decadent ropes of crispy churros dunked in chocolate, the official 3 a.m. snack of Madrid. Cindy highlights stateside cuisine some weeks, from Southwest corn and chilies to San Fran cioppino.
On deck this summer are dinners to celebrate the tastes of South Africa, Morocco, the Caribbean, the New England Shore, the bistros of Paris, Festival of the Tomatoes (we don’t know what that means either, but we hope it includes some fresh gazpacho!), and more.
For just $40 a seat (including all courses and wine pairings), we’re hard-pressed to think of a better way to taste world cultures and defy the devaluing dollar at the same time. After all, even the most dedicated oenophile needs to refuel with food, occasionally.
The five-hour feast starts at 5 p.m. each Wednesday. 1327 Railroad Ave., St. Helena; +1 707 963 1200.
Photo: Laurie Smith