November 10, 2014

Grass Valley: Tess’ Kitchen; restaurant review

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country

Tess’ Kitchen  115 Mill St., in historic downtown, (530) 273-6997. 

This gigantic gourmet kitchen store sprawls over three levels.  It is by far the largest such store I have seen, and stocks both the latest and the greatest as well as the tried and true.  Among the goods are a large selection of knives, locally-made wood cutting boards, and pots and pans galore.

cheese case at Tess' Kitchen in Grass Valley, California

A refrigerated cheese cooler-case has the perfect pick-ups for a picnic, plus crackers, olives, and more.  The shop also carries goat milk personal products from local Nightingale Farms, my favorite being the thick ginger-lime body lotion. 

Alan Tangren, chef at Tess' Kitchen in Grass Valley, California

In addition to the hands-on cooking classes scheduled in the basement kitchen, Chef’s Dinners are offered one per month by reservation.  These expansive dinners are prepared by multi-talented chef Alan Tangren, who formerly was on the staff at Chez Panisse, taught meteorology at U.C. Davis, and was raised on a local farm!  Dinners are limited to ten participants and consist of five courses that are paired with local wines, plus a concluding course paired with coffee.  Diners sit on stools at a high marble counter—all the better to watch the preparations, listen to interesting stories between courses, and eat each item as it is ready.  Dinners sell out fast so plan ahead.  My dinner consisted of: 

goat cheese salad at Tess' Kitchen in Grass Valley, California
1.  Chez Panisse-style baked Sonoma goat cheese with garden lettuces, paired with a Szabo Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc

artichoke heart tart at Tess' Kitchen in Grass Valley, California
2.  a colorful artichoke heart tart with Dinner Bell Farm sweet red peppers, paired with a Solune Winegrowers Rose of Barbera, which stood up to the potentially wine-killing artichokes

naked ling cod ravioli at Tess' Kitchen in Grass Valley, California
3.  naked ling cod ravioli with butter and Parmesan and the secret ingredient nutmeg—a Florentine item that omits the pasta and just dusts the outside with a little flour, paired with a Solune Winegrowers Pandora

chicken stuffed under skin with herbs at Tess' Kitchen in Grass Valley, California
4.  truly free-range Family Friendly Farm chicken (making it less fatty but more flavorful) stuffed under the skin with herbs (parsley, rosemary, and thyme, but no sage) and served with roasted Nevada County tubers—turnips, carrots, and potatoes, paired with a lightly oaked Pilot Peak Winery Cabernet Franc

baked Bosc pear at Tess' Kitchen in Grass Valley, California
5.  a spiced baked Bosc pear with creme fraiche ice cream, paired with Szabo Vineyards Elvezet

Mignardises at Tess' Kitchen in Grass Valley, California
6.  a bonus course of Mignardises--Empire Apple jellies and chocolate almond rochers, paired with coffee

More things to do in Grass Valley.

More things to do in Gold Rush Country.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.
images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


  1. The food looks amazing! I'm ready to sign up for a class!

  2. Yummy! I'm sure my friends in Grass Valley know all about this charming place, but I'll be sure to mention it them just in case they haven't stopped by in awhile.

  3. The Chef's Dinner looks fantastic. I love these types of dinner. I would also enjoy exploring the store.

  4. It would be hard to get me out of a place like this. That pear looks divine - and not something I've ever made myself.

  5. The chef's dinner looks absolutely delicious and ... Darn! There's nothing in my fridge that remotely resemble anything in your photos or descriptions!

  6. Wow what a dinner! Must have cost a fortune!

  7. A cooking class at Tess' Kitchen sounds amazing …I'd love to learn how to prepare that cod ravioli.