There are many times when we first tell people the name of the blog we get asked, "Ohhh, so it's a food blog?" We assure them that no, as much as we love food the blog features an array of lifestyle posts. But if you look at our Instagram account on any given day you might be fooled with all the pics of food and wine...we can't help it. Especially when we are together and being extra gluttonous - like Molly mentioned yesterday, we aren't together as often now that there are so many states and miles separating us, so any time we have feels like it needs to be celebrated. And celebrate we do...with sweet treats, reservations at yum places, delicious wine, and meals so good we'd be fine if they were our last.
Last weekend we drove from San Francisco to Napa Valley with a trio of favorite people and spent Saturday and Sunday exploring, drinking, eating, and drinking. It was the perfect warm escape from SF (not that it needs to be escaped, but summer isn't very summery in the city) and both of us left feeling sleepy after two days of stuffing ourselves with goodness. We thought we had taken a ton of great photos of the beautiful scenery but what you'll see in this post are a few vineyard pics and then lots of food spots along with a list of where we went and what we did. Whoops? Like our mom says, there's always a reason to go back!
Yontville: a small town in Napa Valley that’s adorable and notable for it’s food (four Michelin starred restaurants included). It’s where we first started our weekend trip and where we spent a good amount of time eating.
Redd Wood: this was our first stop. Before you start tasting a bunch of wine, it’s not a bad idea to make sure you have a full tummy first. This spot is by Chef Richard Reddington and it has delicious pizza (we suggest the Sausage and Prosciutto Crudo) and other Italian-based options. It was the perfect lunch.
Ma(i)sonry: wine tasting is the main activity of Napa and places like Ma(i)sonry are ideal for doing it. The pretty stone building (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) has a sun-washed patio and garden situation that features a collection of contemporary sculpture pieces…doubling as a tasting spot and art gallery. We had a great guide walk us through the wine flight offerings available before making suggestions on what we might like to try. As girls who enjoy wine but don’t know much about it, it’s always nice to have someone who can explain the grape varieties and wine varietals. Our favorite of the tasting was the Arriviste Rosé from Blackbird Vineyards – one of the vintner and winemakers currently being showcased by the tasting house.
Peju Vineyard: “It’s so good, once it hits your lips, it’s so good.” Old School jokes aside, once our group had finished our wine flights we thought it would be fun to drive past some of the beautiful vineyards on St. Helena Highway. We ended up stopping at Peju because we had heard great things about their wine and figured it would be a good idea to split a bottle of wine while enjoying the surrounding rows of vines (basically, we wanted to keep our wine momentum going – hence the movie quote). We’ll be honest, the estate is beautiful but the atmosphere is very corporate and there were tons of people either doing the tastings, bustling around the area where you can buy wines, or crowding the grasses surrounding the manor with wine and plastic cups in hand. After getting a bottle of rosé we snuck into a secluded picnic spot by the vineyard rows and got to quietly enjoy the setting. We all fell in love with the massive sunflowers and had a great time exploring for a bit.
Westin Verasa: having made our plans to go to Napa in the 11th hour (re: Friday afternoon) we were so happy to have found rooms at the Westin Verasa for a Saturday night stay. Though a bit further from the Yontville area, the hotel is so nice and proved to be the perfect spot for our group. Since we had some time to kill before dinner we got to spend time by the hotel’s pool and in the hot tub…it was the best way to relax after a day of wine sipping. We should also note that the rooms are great and we all slept like babies.
Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch: we were all starving for dinner and Farmstead did not disappoint. The restaurant is a full-circle experience of what Long Meadow Ranch has to offer: Estate grown wines, organic produce, grass-fed beef and lamb, extra virgin olive oil, honey and more. The farm-to-table menu offered delicious and thoughtful options and even though we were all stuffed from our entrees (and cheddar biscuits, and mac and cheese) none of us said “no” to splitting chocolate pie and beignets with caramel sauce for dessert. We basically rolled ourselves out of the restaurant at the end of the night.
Ad Hoc: because our bodies woke up hungry (doesn’t that always happen after you eat a big meal the night before?) we felt extra lucky that we had reservations for Sunday brunch at Ad Hoc. If you haven’t heard of Thomas Keller, be prepared to hear his name a lot when you are in Napa – he is a Michelin starred chef responsible for some of the best food Napa has to offer. Ad Hoc is just one of four Keller spots in Yontville and our group was very (very, very) excited to taste the family-style comfort food it’s known for. Each day the restaurant changes and sets the menu…our brunch had three glorious courses. It started with a fresh salad, led to chicken-fried steak with a side of chocolate chip pancakes, and ended with mini stone fruit pies. We can’t even really describe how incredible this food was. Our mouths are still watering and we may or many not have Ad Hoc at Home cookbooks in our future.
Bouchon Bakery: another Thomas Keller institution, Bouchon Bakery was opened after its bistro counterpart in the style of classic French boulangeries. It’s a very tiny retail spot but the assortment of breads and pretty sweet treats is worth seeing. And everything that the bakery makes is most definitely worth eating. We left with three of their large macaroons: vanilla, pistachio, and salted carmel. Melt in yo’ mouth good. If you’ve read about our obsession with the gluten-free flour substitute Cup 4 Cup, you’ll be interested to know that it was conceived and produced by Keller and one of his chefs at the French Laundry, Lena Kwak. Would love to try it with some of the recipes in the Bouchon Bakery cookbook!
The French Laundry: before you get excited, we should note early on that we did not eat here…we only walked by it and may or may not have peeked in some of the kitchen windows. The French Laundry is Thomas Keller’s most notable and awarded restaurant – it has received the highest rating of three stars for the sixth year in a row from the Michelin Guide San Francisco and makes Thomas Keller the only American-born chef to have two three-starred Michelin restaurants. Even if you’re not a foodie, you’ve got to bow your head in respect to that kind of culinary accomplishment. Someday we hope to taste the legendary French cuisine of Thomas Keller…till then, we are happy just to stroll by and take in the charming facade of The French Laundry.