Ubuntu—Where Lotus Meets Lunch
With a name that means “humanity towards others” in Zulu and a reputation for hearty vegetarian fare, Napa Valley’s Ubuntu is delighting a host of appetites with inspired vegetarian cuisine and providing yogis with ample sustenance to continue their practice.
Owner Sandy Lawrence came up with the idea for Ubuntu after hosting several yoga retreats in her home. “The students traveled to Napa Valley from all over the world hoping to enjoy the world class cuisine we’re known for and it was challenging to find chefs that could prepare wonderful vegetarian dishes,” says Lawrence.
Enter Jeremy Fox. The young chef from Atlanta was praised for his experience working in a garden to table environment—but he didn’t have any experience with traditional vegetarian cooking. “I decided from the start that this wasn’t going to be about replacing meat, but about focusing on vegetables,” says Fox. As such, his menu boasts produce harvested mostly from Lawrence’s own biodynamic and organic garden six miles up the road.
Take the cauliflower in a cast iron pot—thin slices of cauliflower are roasted in a pizza oven so they come out nice and charred, then mixed with the restaurant’s own vadouvan, a mild French curry mix, and put in a black pot with a coating of puréed cream. Once the mixture is nice and bubbly, Fox adds some raw cauliflower chopped into a crunchy couscous and tops it all with brown butter sauce and more vadouvan. (For the recipe visit Cauliflower in Cast Iron Pot)
The decadence doesn’t stop there. Fox’s wife and Ubuntu’s Executive Pastry Chef Deanie Fox makes a “cheesecake” that is piped into French Mason jars and topped with a crumble ranging from almond and herbal coffee crumbs to blueberries that are cooked with a bit of chamomile. No wonder patrons are chanting “Om.”