As I told you in a previous post, my husband Brad and I have recently returned from Lake Tahoe, where we watched our son, Austin, ski race in the California State Championships.

Austin Becker | State Championship Ski Racer | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

This trip we rented a condo in Northstar Village which technically is located in Truckee, California.  But, on a previous trip to Tahoe ,we stayed in a great place called the Cedar House Sport Hotel.

Cedar House Sport Hotel, Truckee, CA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Every morning we enjoyed a delicious breakfast in the hotel restaurant called Stella. But on that trip we didn’t have a chance to eat dinner there.

Stella | Fine Dining in Truckee, CA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Having heard their restaurant was rated number 1 in the Lake Tahoe area, and having experienced their delicious breakfasts, I was determined to have dinner at Stella on this trip.

Stella Restaurant at the Cedar House Sport Hotel | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

The restaurant has two seatings a night, so I booked their second seating at 7:45pm.  Its kitchen is open to the dining room, and I found that watching the chefs meticulously prepare the food was great entertainment.

Stella | Fine Dining in Truckee, CA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

The kitchen is overseen by Executive Chef Jacob Burton.  I discovered he has a great cooking website called Stella Culinary that is dedicated to teaching people to cook through a series of free podcasts.  Chef Burton also offers cooking classes at the restaurant.

Stella | Fine Dining in Truckee, CA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

I have traveled the world and eaten at many very fine establishments, but I must say the dinner Brad and I enjoyed at Stella will go down as one of our most memorable meals ever.  Who would have guessed that the little town of Truckee, California would have quite simply the finest restaurant in Lake Tahoe.

Quite Simply the Finest Restaurant in Lake Tahoe, Stella | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

I am very glad that my husband wanted to order the $60.00 per person Tasting Menu. Had he not decided on the Tasting Menu (with a 2 person minimum), I most likely would not have gone in that direction.  However, I am so happy we agreed on this, because it allowed us to fully experience many of the chef’s wonderful and very creative dishes.  They started off by bringing a selection of home baked breads, accompanied by butter that had been topped with a sprinkling of smoked sea salt.  Each of the breads was divine, and the smoked sea salt butter was a delicious added treat.

Fresh Baked Bread at Stella Restaurant, Truckee, CA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.comFresh Butter topped with Smoked Sea Salt, Stella Restaurant, Truckee, CA  | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Because they did not know they had a Food Blogger in their midst, I did not want to draw attention to myself by pulling out my camera at the table.  Instead, I used my IPhone to take these photos of less than acceptable quality.  So, while both the atmosphere and the food were outstanding, my photos are not.  Neither do they do justice to the food, which was wonderful in every way.  So, please accept my apologies for the poor photos, and take my word for it when I say that the food at Stella is truly quite stellar.  The wait staff, which by the way took care of us to perfection, explained that before each of the 4 courses we would be offered a palate cleanser.  So, the first thing brought to our table was this tiny and delicious house-made cracker topped with a duck pate and lentils.  I did not take notes as each course was delivered, and I am reciting the ingredients from memory, so my apologies to the chef for not describing them as eloquently and accurately as the waiter did.

Stella | Fine Dining in Truckee, CA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

For my 1st course, I selected the roasted baby beets & heirloom carrots over a parsnip pureé with a pickled radish dressed in a 20-year-old balsamic & mustard oil dressing.  WOW!  That was a mouthful, both to say and to eat.  And it was a marvelous mouthful at that!

Roasted Baby Beets & heirloom carrots over a parsnip puree. Quite Simply the Finest Restaurant in Lake Tahoe, Stella | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Brad selected the duck pate with frisée & pickled onion salad with orange supremes, fleur de sel and crostinis.

Puke Pate | Quite Simply the Finest Restaurant in Lake Tahoe, Stella | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

This time to cleanse our palates the waiter brought us another house-made cracker with duck breast and a house-cured pickle.  He explained that this is the chef’s take on a corn beef sandwich.

Quite Simply the Finest Restaurant in Lake Tahoe, Stella | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

For our next course, we each selected the seared rare albacore with charred bok choy in a spicy coconut red curry with fingerling potato chips.  It was indeed spicy, but quite delicious.  A dusting of baby cilantro leaves gave it an added flavor dimension that I enjoyed.

Seared Albacore | Quite Simply the Finest Restaurant in Lake Tahoe, Stella | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

I regret that, while it was delicious, I have no idea what was on this fork, brought to us as our next, tiny-bite palate cleanser.  I do remember that I was amazed by the number of things the waiter recited to us as the contents of this fork. I commented that it was hard to imagine that so many things could be put into one little bite! But it was a delicious bite, whatever it was.

Quite Simply the Finest Restaurant in Lake Tahoe, Stella | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

For my main course, I chose this pan-roasted duck breast, served with brussels sprout leaves, shaved endive and morel mushrooms with Parisian gnocchi.  I asked the waiter what the difference was between the typical Italian gnocchi and “Parisian” gnocchi and he said the Parisian style is made without potatoes and is nothing more than flour and egg.  They were outstanding!

Pan Roasted Duck Breast | Quite Simply the Finest Restaurant in Lake Tahoe, Stella | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Brad decided on the petite rack of lamb with roasted butternut squash, toasted pecans and beet greens in a rosemary-garlic jus.  We watched the chef roast the squash in the wood fired oven.  My husband, who regrettably was not a huge fan of butternut squash, now is.  In fact, I think I might be able to entice him into installing a wood fired oven in our kitchen if I agree to make him butternut squash like this.

Petite Rack of Lamb | Stella | Fine Dining in Truckee, CA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

It was fun being served lots of creative little bits-of-something after each course. This time, having completed our main course, the waiter presented us with what is the typical palate cleanser: a sorbet. But this was no ordinary sorbet!  This was Stella’s take on Peanut Butter and Jelly:  Strawberry sorbet covered in pecan oil and dusted in sea salt.  The combination was to die for!  You can bet I’ll be serving up this combination real soon in my own kitchen.

Strawberry Sorbet with Pecan Oil & Sea Salt | www.AfterOrangeCounty.comStrawberry Sorbet with Pecan Oil & Sea Salt | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

But wait, that’s not all!  I ordered Stella’s croissant bread pudding with brûléed bananas, graham cracker, butterscotch and coffee flavored marshmallows.  It was every bit as delicious as it sounds!

Bread Pudding in a Butterscotch Sauce with Coffee Marshmallows | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Brad selected the maple ice cream with strawberry mouse, waffle crisp, blueberry pearls, dehydrated pecan oil and candied bacon.  Can you believe it!!??

Maple Ice Cream with Candied Bacon | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

But no, that’s not it, that’s not all folks.  Our meal did not stop with desert!  As the grand finale to this stupendous meal we were presented with 2 little decadent balls of deliciousness.  They consisted of a chocolate truffle ,rolled in dehydrated pecan oil.  DIVINE!

Chocolate Truffles dusted in dehydrated Pecan Oil | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

As we were finishing our last delicious morsels of our wonderful meal, the waiter presented us with not one but two loaves of their home baked bread.  It seems that at the end of each night, whenever bread is leftover, it is given away to the diners.

Home Baked Bread at Stella | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Wow!  What a way to leave dinner happy, satisfied and already looking forward to our next visit.

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