Sunday, July 06, 2008

our time in napa valley

from the city we drove about an hour to napa, california.  we arrived at this precious bed and breakfast called the candlelight inn.  it is an english style tudor home and the place is fabulous!  we would recommend staying there if anyone goes to napa.  our room was cozy and quaint.  we were pretty tired when we arrived, so we decided to take about an hour nap before going to dinner.  we got cleaned up and headed north to a place in st. helena called go fish.  paul had read about it online and fish is what they do.  paul got sushi and a roll and i had fish and chips.  the french fries were amazing!  small, thin and crispy.....yum!  i also had a glass of nickel & nickel chardonnay from napa.  it was ok.  after dinner we went back to the inn and went to bed early!  we were exhausted.  

our full day in napa began with three course gourmet breakfast at the inn.  it was amazing!  we had fresh coffee and juice then the eating commenced.  the first course was fresh citrus with honey on top.  then we had banana pancakes with caramel sauce and fresh bananas.  wow!  the last course was a artichoke and egg tart with tomatillo sauce and sour cream on top.  it was the best breakfast i have had.  so good.  after breakfast we went to a place in downtown napa called copia.  they specialize in wine and food education.  we took a wine tasting 101 course at the suggestion of the inn keeper.  it was really informative and i learned a lot.  i do have to say though the two wines were disappointing.  after the tasting, we went out to our first winery, trefethen family vineyards.  the place was great.  we were the only ones there at the time and the lady helping us with the tasting was wonderful.  she was helpful and friendly.  we tried many different kinds of wines including varieties of whites and reds.  they are most known for their dry riesling which was superb!  all of the wines we had were of high quality and tasted good.  we enjoyed this tasting very much...very personal considering it was just her and us.  great experience!  she would not charge us either because she thought we were such a cute and happy couple.  

lunch was at bouchon in yountville.  this bistro is owned by a very well known chef, thomas keller.  he owns and runs a place next door called the french laundry.  the french laundry is rated in the top five restaurants in the world and one needs to make reservations two to three months prior to visiting.  paul was excited to be tasting a small part of the thomas keller brain child.  lunch was great.  paul had a lobster and crab salad to start followed by olive oil poached salmon.  i went with steak frites which is a pan seared prime flatiron steak served with butter, caramelized onions and french fries.  i think it might have been the best steak i have ever put into my mouth.  we had dessert next door at the bouchon bakery.  little chocolate mini cakes that were no bigger than a wine cork.  

after lunch we went out to the robert mondavi winery.  we had been told this was the best place to learn about the wine making process from grape to bottle.  it was indeed an experience and wealth of information.  we went on a tour through the vineyards, fermentation area, two aging cellars, and then had our own little tasting.  paul and i were not as impressed with these wines.  they were ok, but not our favorite.  

now that we considered ourselves wine snobs, our last stop was at a place that paul found online called the vintner's collective.  it had reviews from the thomas keller as a great place to taste many different wines from smaller, low production wineries.  so we had a tasting.  christina, our lovely wine steward, was friendly and informative.  all the wines represented here are small and not widely distributed.  again, paul and i were not blown away by any of these either.  it was fun and the company was fun and enjoyable.  we bought two cool wine glasses from there with the vintner's collective logo on them.  she also made reservations for dinner at the newest thomas keller creation, ad hoc.  

we went back to the inn for a short nap before dinner.  paul and i both have been fighting jet lag and it is a miracle we are still standing, but we knew we had to rally to make the day in napa worthwhile.  

back to yountville for dinner at ad hoc-- temporary relief from hunger.  it was so cool.  the place is clean and simple.  their menu is a daily set fixed menu served family style.  the menu itself is in a brown file folder.  the coolest part was that they had shiner bock AND cooper's lager from australia.  i was already impressed just by the beer selection.  dinner was phenomenal.  it began with a salad of spring greens including pickled sweet carrots, marinated cucumbers, yellow wax beans, haricots verts with apple cider vinaigrette.  yum!  the second course was spiced beef tri-tip...braised swiss chard, housemade speck, baked russet potato with horseradish aioli.  yum, yum!  the third course was foglie di noce (italian hard cheese) served on toasted garlic bread topped with tomato basic marmalade.  yum, yum, yum!  the final course, dessert, was panna cotta......homemade with a pine nut cookie and rainier cherry compote & tondo balsamic.  yum, yum, yum, yum!!!  it was so AMAZING!  we also had lattes to finish off the meal.  it took about two hours to get through it all and we LOVED every minute of it.  truly INCREDIBLE meal!  

the totally crazy part of this last meal was that the waiter when to seoul foreign school in the 80's.  his parents were in seoul teaching english as missionaries for five years.  he was eight years old when he left seoul, but did attend kindergarten at SFS.  SMALL WORLD!  it was so crazy.  he was super nice and i gave him my business card in case he returns to korea anytime soon.  i still am in shock of this...

after dinner we went back to the inn to turn in for another early night to bed.  jet lag is a beast.  the next morning though we had another lovely breakfast.  this time we began with a mixed berry and banana smoothie.  then we had cranberry and orange scones with small mini muffins.  the last course was a vegetable and cheese frittata.  WOW!  it was great and a nice way to begin the morning.  we packed up our things and then checked out.  we were going back to san francisco for a few days....

napa is an amazing part of the country and we highly recommend a visit.  

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