Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Our Napa and SF Weekend

After living in SF for 3 years, it's definitely one of my favorite cities in the world.  I left my heart in SF and find every opportunity to go back there and to visit Napa Valley (another one of my favorite places).  We decided to do a short family weekend up there to spend some quality time with my mother in law and I mapped out our weekend itinerary so you can see some cool places we checked out!  Some of the places in our itinerary I have gone countless times and it never ever gets old.  I just love it THAT much. 

We flew into OAK and barely made it on the flight.  It almost gave me and my husband each a heart attack but that is another story and I hate the 91 freeway.  When we landed, we quickly headed north towards Napa in our rental car, checked into our hotel and drove directly to Bounty Hunter Wine Bar & Smokin' BBQ for a late dinner.  It's really hard to find places in Napa that are open past 10 or 11 pm so this was the perfect pick for us since we flew in around 7:30 pm.  We ordered a couple of wine flights and other drinks, a lovely grilled asparagus salad, jalapeno corn bread, and cheese plate for starters.  Then, we moved on to some fabulous pulled pork sandwiches, ribs, and a beer can chicken.  The atmosphere was super cool and lively which we liked and the food was better than expected.  Not what you would expect from bar food at all!

After our late dinner, we called it a night and went to our hotel.  I slept like a rock!  

We started our day bright eyed and bushy tailed with a cozy breakfast at Boon Fly Cafe at The Carneros Inn.  You have to go to this place at least by 10 am because it gets very packed and they do not take reservations.

This is the second time I have eaten here and this time around, I realized that their flat breads stand out from their menu.  This is their interpretation of salmon and lox on flat bread.

Next up was a stop at Domaine Carneros.  It was a couple minutes away from Boon Fly Cafe and we were ahead of our schedule itinerary so we squeezed this activity in.  We enjoyed some champagne and wine and got to feel the light breeze on our faces from the outdoor patio.

Then on to our first tasting at noon.  I decided to plan something different instead of a full day of wine tastings and try a cheese tasting at The Cheesemongers. John Raymond was the instructor and he is truly a cheese expert.  He was so informative and passionate about his cheeses....you could really tell.  When he cut his favorite cheese for us to taste he said, "I love this cheese as much as I love my own life" which got a few chuckles from his audience.  We tried over 15 or 20 types of cheeses (I lost count) and I have never had so much cheese in 1 sitting in my entire life.

Afterwards, we headed to my favorite wine tasting tour in the afternoon at Newton Winery.  The views from this winery are unreal (Martha Stewart asked the Newton's to have her wedding at their winery and she was denied so you know that the grounds are beautiful if Martha thought it was) and the unfiltered chardonnay is fantastic.  The unfiltered wine that Newton Winery offers has more body, color, aroma, taste than the typical filtered wines and it is always a treat to drink their wines.  I love this place because not a lot of people know about it (they opened up their winery to the public only 5 years ago) but you still have to make reservations weeks in advance. 

They also offer amuse bouche like food pairings with each wine.  Each bite of food is suppose to reflect the deconstructed tastes and aromas of the wine you are pairing it with.  Fancy pants! 

After the wine tasting tour, we headed to Oxbow Public Market and I planned this so we could walk off some of the calories that we consumed but then we just ended up eating and drinking some more!  We walked around and I observed the different shops and vendors checking out the unique herbs, spices, and produce.

When I lived in SF, I used to have a weekly CSA produce box sent to me that was filled with fresh organic fruits, veggies, nuts and preserves.  I miss the romanescos I used to get!  It is the green alien looking vegetable below on the right.  I can't find them easily anymore. 

I forgot that there was Hog Island at Oxbow!  We ordered a couple dozen oysters which paired beautifully with my glass of sauvignon blanc and shared a bowl of clam chowder with nice crusty bread.  We unanimously decided that the Blue Pool oysters were the best and the clam chowder was better at the SF Ferry Building location.

We even found Mat's favorite ice cream flavor, Earl Grey, at Three Twins Ice Cream.

One of our stops was also Fatted Calf Charcuterie for my brother in law.  He loves cured meats and it did not disappoint.  Like his gf, Alice, puts it, if life were a cartoon he would have had red hearts shooting out from his head as he saw all the different types of cured meats and sampled them.

After Oxbow, we I had to take a siesta from food coma and all the wine.

Before dinner, the sun was setting and it was just beautiful driving to our dinner location.

Unfortunately, I couldn't get a reservation for 5 at my favorite restaurant Ad Hoc.  I called about a month ago and they were completely booked.  This place is excellent but I would not recommend it for vegans or vegetarians as they have a pre-set menu that changes daily.  You never know what you are going to get and they always have a main meat course that is usually not adjustable.  But that is one of the reasons why I love it so!  I get to try things that I wouldn't normally try.  So I went back to the drawing board for our dinner reservations and found The Farm. Mat and I loved the outdoor fireplace.  We want one!  Lol!

I highly recommend late dinners in wine country because there is not much to do after dinner because the area closes early around 11 pm.  I made our dinner reservations at 9 pm and the dinner ended up being perfect because the portions were perfectly sized for us.  We had been eating all day as you have seen with your own eyes.

The head chef specialized in vegetarian food for a number of years so the vegetarian plates at The Farm were delicious.  His beet salad was especially yummy for me because I love quinoa and beets.

We checked out of our hotel and drove to SF.  One of my must-do's in SF is to go to the Ferry Building (especially on a Saturday when the farmer's market is open).  We stopped by Blue Bottle Coffee.  I got a cafe mocha and we shared a fresh waffle.

Even though we just went to Hog Island the day before, we still thoroughly enjoyed another couple rounds of oysters, clam chowder, grilled cheese, more wine, and since it was Sunday, we enjoyed the Sunday special of gumbo.  We ate our meal outside by the water and it was just fabulous.

I love the smell of the ocean, watching the dogs walk by and birds flying around on the pier.  It was a beautiful SF day and the sun even came out for us =) 

After lunch, I stopped by Miette of course!  Another one of my normal SF routines.  They are famous for their cute cupcakes, tartlettes, and cakes but I absolutely love their macaroons.  Chocolate lavender has become a new favorite flavor combo for me.

I love checking out things at the Ferry Building because I always learn something new.  I expanded my vegetable vocabulary to include fiddlehead ferns, ramps, and sea beans.  Oh the nerdy things that I remember!

Last but not least, we headed over to the Palace of Fine Arts to walk around and see the gorgeous views before heading to the airport to go home.

I can't wait to go back again!!


SLidog said...

your heart is here for sure. =) come back and visit more often.

vicki said...

That's funny, Fiddlehead Ferns, Ramps, and Sea beans have all made an appearance on our spring and summer menus. Yay for discoveries^^

Monica said...

@vicki: that is SO hilarious! i love it!!

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