Thursday, November 20, 2014

California Dreamin' - Part 4

The last of the California updates. Le sigh.

When we woke up on Monday it seemed all of the partying finally caught up with us. It was a struggle to get out of bed, but we had wine touring to do! We started the day with breakfast at a little off road diner. I ate another huge omelette and was ready to go.

Our first stop was Silver Oak Winery. It was absolutely gorgeous. We shared a tasting flight and sat outside in the sun admiring the scenery. I have nothing inspiring to say about the wine except that it tasted good :) Here are some photos:

Next stop was V. Sattui Winery, another gorgeous place.

Not gonna lie, we were there for the food! They had an amazing tap room and deli area.

Check out our picnic spread:

Our next stop was Alpha Omega Winery, which came recommended from a few friends. The winery had a more modern feel, and I think had the best tasting wine we tried. Another flight enjoyed in the sun with a beautiful view:

I was surprised how much time we spent at each winery. By the time we finished at Alpha Omega it was after 5 pm and almost every winery was closed for the day. We took the ride back to our house and made one more stop for a photo:

At the house we spent a few minutes snuggling with Sophie and then got ready for dinner. GAH! She is just too frickin' cute.

I was hellbent on eating at a Thomas Keller restaurant in Napa but had a feeling the extremely expensive tasting menu at the French Laundry wouldn't fly with Sara. One day I shall return with my rich foodie husband.

Instead, I made us a reservation at Bouchon, which is, "where Thomas Keller likes to eat after a long night at TFL." Works for me! Bouchon was super cute -- I really felt like I was walking into a true French cafe.

We started with some warm pistachios and fresh bread straight from the Bouchon Bakery next door.

We also ordered AMAZING deviled eggs and Sara ordered the french onion soup. You know I snuck a few spoonfuls of that cheesey goodness.

For our entrees, Sara ordered the moules-frites, and I ordered a riccota gnudi special that came topped with bacon and fried brussels sprouts. It was so rich and delicious -- I loved every single bite.

Such a great way to end the trip to Napa!

When we got back to the house we attempted to finish the growlers we bought from Russian River but fell asleep. Looks like we'd be drinking them in the morning at the airport! We had a surprisingly easy ride back to San Francisco and I had an eventful time in the airport -- I somehow lost my license and was neurotically searching for it for about 20 minutes until I stumbled upon a guy yelling, "Julie!". My flight back to Boston was fine -- I managed to hop on an earlier flight but had to sit in the middle seat. Yuck.

That's all for the California updates! Now, when can I go back??

PS, I knocked off THREE things from my Life List on this trip!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

California Dreamin' - Part 3

If ya missed parts one and two, check 'em out!

We woke up bright and early to a BEAUTIFUL day. I don't know how we got so lucky, but every day in Napa was 80 degrees and sunny. The weather gods were on our side for sure.

Our AirBnB host told us about a nice hike about 10 minutes down the road at Skyline Park, so we decided to try it out. After we parked the car we noticed a few signs warning of recent mountain lion sightings. Eek!! Last time Sara and I hiked together we saw a bear and were unprepared, so this time we asked a guy what to do in case we saw one. He said to stand tall and make noise -- do NOT act like prey. We were ready!

We didn't see any mountain lions, but we did see tons of deer! They must have been really accustomed to people because they weren't scared of us at all. I get so flippin' excited when I see animals of any kind, so of course I took some photos. And even a video!


We saw a whole deer family! If you listen closely you can hear my ridiculous breathing like I'm in the freakin' Blair Witch Project. I told you, animals excite me.

We also saw some amazing views! Is the Napa Valley gorgeous or is it gorgeous??

We hiked for a few hours, then were ready for breakfast! We decided to stop at a little Mexican market that was famous for burritos. There weren't any tables or anything so we opened up the trunk and ate in the parking lot. Classy ladies, I tell ya.

That burrito looks normal sized in that picture, but it was ENORMOUS, like bigger than Q'doba size! I could only eat about half and was busting out of my capris. When we got home Laura had put out breakfast for us, including her homemade orange marmalade. We were totally stuffed but felt bad so we split a piece of toast. The marmalade was good!

We freshened up after the hike and then hopped in the car for a mini road trip. First we drove to Domaine Chandon for some sparkling wine!

It was fun but way crowded. The drive over was totally stunning. I love Napa!!

After the vineyard it was time for stop #2. When I found out I was returning to California a few months ago I made a plan that no matter what I would try Pliny the Elder (and Pliny the Younger, if it was available)! Sara's a big beer nerd as well so we figured, why not go all out and make the hour long drive to Santa Rosa to visit Russian River Brewing Company?

Once we arrived we put our names in for a table and grabbed our first Plinys. The beer did NOT disappoint. Believe the hype people, Pliny is the bees knees!

Even better, it was "happy hour Sunday" so all beers were half off. It was only $3.50!!!

Once our table was ready we got down to business. The brewing company offers a 19-beer sampler flight for just $15. Insano.

This was definitely one of my all time favorite beer experiences of my life! We even took home two full growlers (even though we had just 24 hours to drink them...oops)!

Eventually it was time to leave the bar and head back to Napa. Sara had to drive and needed to sober up a bit, so we discussed how we should waste some time. As we walked around Santa Rosa we realized there were strangely, a ton of massage parlors and spas. Why not get a drunk massage?? We went into a random place and they could take us immediately. They put us in a couples room (LOL) and got down to business.

The massage was...interesting. For some reason I could NOT breathe at all. I seriously felt like I was suffocating and my nose was completely stuffed up. Secondly, this was a reflexology massage so the women were rough. They were sitting/kneeling on us and basically moving our bones out of the way. Sometimes I was cringing in pain, sometimes I was trying to force myself to stop laughing because the whole thing was so comical. For the most part though the massage was relaxing! The next day Sara and I were both completely sore. Bahaha.

It did the trick though because we were ready for the drive back to Napa. We got home pretty quickly and decided to get changed and go back out before we got too tired. Our host told us that since we loved beer we had to try out a nearby pub that had great beers, billiards and darts. Are we the only people who go to Napa and drink 90% beer?? We had SO much fun at this bar and made a million friends, plus I kicked ass in darts. We stayed out way too late and *almost* walked a few miles to a nearby In n' Out. Can you believe I've been to California twice and have not eaten In n' out?

The only picture I took from the evening:

Only one more California post to go. Sorry I'm not sorry for the overload. I was so crazy happy in California -- 3,000 miles away from real life, nature, sun, beer, new friends and an old best friend. Not sure if it gets better than that!