Friday, April 1, 2011

Napa valley trip

Well, I set out to have my vacation be all about food and wine, and it was! I have had so much to eat in the last three days I am surprised I haven't burst! This weekend was my second spring trip to the Napa Valley with my girlfriends. We plan and look forward to it for months in advance. It was a bit touch and go with the weather last week, we weren't sure if we were going to get a nasty rainy weekend but man did we get the opposite! It was gorgeous! The buds are just barely breaking on the vines so it's not all that green as far as grapevines go, but the hills and all the meadows were lushly green.

We started out at Bouchon Bakery first thing Friday morning. It's sort of famous as far as the foodie world is concerned. Thomas Keller is the owner and he also owns Ad Hoc, Bouchon Bistro (where we had dinner) and French Laundry. French Laundry is I believe, the only three michelin star restaurant on the west coast. That is a big deal.
I saved up for this mini vacation for a while so that I could spend my money on food. And wine. I was very successful! I wasn't shy at Bouchon Bakery, I got a coffee cake, a passion fruit macaron and a mini baguette for later that day.

The coffee cake was so-so but the macaron was awesome!

Our first tasting was at Tamber Bey. Actually, it was at the house/estate of the owner of the winery, who also happens to be one of, it not the founder of AOL. It was a great experience! We tasted at the tasting room in November but this time we were lucky enough to go to the estate. Very cool, and he was really nice.

Lunch at Sullivan winery. I swear I can eat nutella on just about anything!

Ok, so Grgich Hills is my favorite winery of all. I went knowing that they were having a huge deal on half bottle cases, so I bought all of these! Just kidding, I did buy a portion of the five cases you see here. It was almost embarrassing to walk out with this much wine.

Beignets de Brandade de Morue cod brandade with tomato confit & fried sage

We ate at Bouchon Bistro for dinner on Friday evening. It was so good. These are little yummy pockets of cod with sun dried tomatoes underneath, the sweetness from the tomatoes was a perfect compliment and nice surprise. I tried pork belly for the first time, one of my girlfriends had it as part of an appetizer.

I ordered trout amondine, it was really yummy.

This was my friends dinner, it was croque madame. So yummy.

Ok, so we bought a lot of wine. Like, a lot. I ended up coming home with eight half bottles and one full bottle. I'm excited to have a small collection started!

On Saturday we started out at Alexis Baking Company for breakfast and afterwards our group split up for a few different activities. I was with the group that went to taste at Tulocay winery. It was a neat experience because it wasn't a fancy winery or tasting room. We were literally at the wine makers house, sitting out on his patio. It was a normal ol' house, nothing fancy. We sat at a picnic table and drank a few wines with him. He was an old dude that has been in the wine business since before Napa Valley became what it is today.  His wines were good, but nothing super great or fancy. I would recommend visiting him though because if you are into wine in the what goes into it sense, and you enjoy the history of it he is full of information. I learned some things from him that I had never heard before!

From there we went all the way up to Calistoga to Chateau Montelena. I really wanted to visit that winery because of the history of it, and the movie Bottleshock. The film is based on the story of the Paris wine tasting of 1976. It's what put the Napa Valley on the map as far as wine making goes. Chateau Montelena won for the best chardonnay.

We went to St. Helena Olive Oil Co. I really wanted to buy an oil, a vinegar and a honey there but I couldn't decide so I didn't get anything. I was happy sitting outside soaking up the fabulous sun and watching the world go by.

Our last tasting of Saturday was at Domain Chandon. It was a lot more commercial and crazy then I typically like but it was so nice to get to sit down with my girls and gossip and drink champagne.

We went back to Bouchon Bakery on Sunday morning, we got to sit outside and enjoy our tasty treats for almost two hours. It was sinfully relaxing.

I got some things to go, on the left is a TKO (Thomas Keller Oreo) and on the right are french macarons.

This little thing is called a fugetaboutit. I had to ask what it was because of the name, it all went downhill from there, I had to get one. It's a rice crispy treat, with a layer of salted caramel, dipped in chocolate with sea salt on the top. Can you say holymolythatsoundsdelicious! I haven't eaten it yet, I'm thinking tonight might be the night!

Our last tasting experience of the weekend was back at Grgich Hills. We did the tour this time. The chardonnay vines are the first ones to have bud break and the vines shown above don't really have any yet.

Last but not least, the big fat burger I ate at Gott's Roadside (formerly Taylor's Refresher)

This trip was truly a gastronomic one.

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