what a weekend. i mean like seriously. i’m going home because i have to. i am going kicking and screaming though because i am in my element here. the people are my people and the food is fantastic. i don’t wanna go home.
i’m going to try and break this down as best i can. friday we had hopped in the car and went to breakfast at oxbow market. we got a couple different dishes (it’s set up in food stalls) and wandered around. i got lavender donuts with caramel bacon sauce, biscuit and sausage sandwich and two scrambled breakfast tacos. (we split!) after we were done with breakfast the market was all open and we checked out all the cool little shops inside the market. our favorite was the cocktail and bitters bar. they have every kind of cocktail accessory, book and addition you could ever think ok. it was incredible. i also greatly enjoyed their book nook that was jam packed with foodie books and cookbooks.
after breakfast we headed up the wine trails. we had an appointment at kendal jackson (the only big winery we go to) and just drove up that way stopping at domaine carneros that serves sparkling wine. we got to kendall jackson about noon and spent an hour walking around their culinary garden which i enjoyed almost as much as the food and wine pairing. they have a sensory garden set up so you move from whites to reds in the garden and each area is the notes you would pick up in the wines. sage,plums..etc it was quite incredible. their new gardener came three years ago from thomas kellers restaurants and he was growing all of these interesting veggies and lettuces. it was quite intense. we did the food and wine pairing for lunch which i highly recommend. it’s just a really fun experience to learn how really taste the way food and wine enhances each other. we drove to a second tasting at la crema and spent the rest of the afternoon talking with new friends and learning about wine and hating on the giants. after that we tasted our way to dinner.
we arrived at ad hoc for our reservation and were in and out of there within an hour. the food was amazing but the service was horrendous. it actually really ruined the entire experience. the place has prix fixe menu so you get what they are serving which is a blast. they were serving fried chicken (sprinkled with rosemary salt) and all the fixings. the first course was a buttermilk greens salad with pickled onions and roasted roma tomatoes. the third course was a cheese and raspberry preserve and to finish a homemade meyer lemon bar with a toasted marshmallow topping. it was very very good but for the price of dinner the service was very lacking. as in the waiter was super pretentious. so much so that we cancelled our reservation to bouchon.
the three hour time difference here is kind of a killer so we actually headed back to our hotel room and crashed after dinner.
saturday we woke up bright and early and headed out to this adorable little roadside diner called the fremont diner. we had an amazing brisket breakfast hash with mimosas and coffee. the place was absolutely charming. it was a little diner that served coffee in the super heavy diner mugs and coffee came in thermoses. the tables were aqua and that is all that really counts right?
after a full breakfast we headed up again towards the st. helena region of wine country. that area i think might just be my favorite. in my opinion it’s one of the prettiest drives. we stopped at a winery called alpha omega and sat on the patio overlooking the vineyards and hills drinking wine like we owned the joint. after that we went to a winery called v. sattui and got a bottle of wine and a loaf of bread and cheese and sat in the picnic area eating lunch and hanging out with other visitors. after that we headed to our cellar tour and tasting at del dotto which was yet another amazing experience. we got paired up with these people who were vip club members and were there to taste the reserve collection. we were absolutely spoiled. i have never and probably will not again (unless i get lucky again) be able to taste and sample $200-$300 bottles of wine. it was incredible.
the tasting took us until late in the afternoon so we headed back to downtown napa and went to dinner at oenotri a delicious italian place. we relaxed and ate pasta you know to soak up the juice from the day. we finished off dinner with a strawberry mint sorbet on a bed of whipped marscarpone. again by the time we were done with dinner it was almost 11pm michigan time and we were again exhausted so we headed back to the room and crashed…again.
sunday was our final full day here in wine country and also joey’s birthday. we again got up early and went for brunch at the boon fly cafe which is just off the road as you enter into napa valley. i got this amazing eggs benny with a jalapeno cream hollandaise and joe got the omlet of the day. we then made the one hour drive to the dry creek valley where we had a 1pm tasting.
we started at rodney strong and did just the basic tasting before making our way up the dry creek road. i would highly highly recommend that area. the wineries there are very small, family owned and not as commercial as the big players. the tasting rooms are usually very simple and fun. one of my favorites was a winery called cast. you do your tasting at the top of the hill overlooking the vineyards in adirondack chairs. we split a cheese plate and a bottle after the tasting and soaked up our last morning in California.
we then headed to our 1pm tasting and stopped at this cute store and deli called dry creek general. i bought an adorable little market tote and we stocked up on some picnic essentials and beverages. we made it to our 1pm only to see that the winery was closed due to a water main break. we decided to make our way down around the mountains towards dinner. when you are here just figure it’s going to take you an hour to get anywhere.
we swung into a winery called twomey that was serving morel mushroom woodfired pizzas on the porch with tastings. duh that was a no brainer. i was amazed that morels were being served on something as simple as a pizza but they were some of the best meaty morels i’ve ever had. we hung out on the porch a bit more and continued on.
we made it to dinner area in st. helena about 2 hours before our reservation so we ended up sneaking into a small tour and tasting at cakebread. i was so sad to hear that they no longer owned their zinfandel vines. that was the wine that got me hooked into it. however my new love from them is not the cab but the syrah it was fantastic. and of course the chardoney. we hung out there before going and tasting at our dinner destination.
let me say this. thank goodness we cancelled our reservation to bouchon because the farmstead was the best restaurant we have ever been to in wine country and quite possibly on vacation. the farmstead at long meadow ranch was an old white farmhouse looking building converted into a tasting room and general store. outside there was a giant bar and patio overlooking the hills and vineyards with a big white restaurant inside. we went a little nuts. we had the pimento deviled eggs, melted burrata cheese with pickled beets and onions, the cheddar biscuits with honey butter, the grassfed meatballs with tomato jam and the wood grilled pork chop with jalapeño grits. we were so full but we didn’t care it was phenomenal and a fantastic way to end the trip.
we headed back to the hotel and finished our bottle of wine on the hotels patio, packed and hit the hay for a long day of traveling home. it was one of the best trips we have ever been on. but grateful to have a home to come back to.