May 15, 2009

blue sky and mountains


We left last Saturday morning for Napa Valley and I really can’t remember anything about the prior week other than being ridiculously excited about the trip. I suppose I have vague memories of researching restaurants, wineries, picnic spots, parks, scenic routes, etc.

Meanwhile these are some of my favorite snaps from our 5 day trip to Napa Valley. This was my second visit, and Mark's third, but we had never been together. It really is a spectacular place, with unbelievable weather -- and for longtime city dwellers, it never felt so good to get out of the city!

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Highlights: 

Tasting at Silver Oak Cellars. Since we've both done lots of tastings in Napa Velley, we decided to pick just a couple of wineries. We visited Silver Oak Cellars, a cult favorite that produces classic California cabs (although plenty of people also vehemently say it's not that great), and we had a terrific time talking to the staff about the wine and looking around the property. We tried two 2004 releases as well as a reserve wine, the 2000 Napa Valley blend (cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, and petit verdot). All were quite nice, but the 2000 stood out for me because, besides having amazing flavor, the tannins had receded and the finish was super smooth, almost velvety.

Tour/tasting/dinner at Pine Ridge Winery. We tasted their rosé, merlot, chardonnay, and a few cabernets and had dinner deep in the caves (this was part of the workshop where Mark gave a talk). The property was beautiful and, from the tour, it was clear that this is a top-notch winery. However, I didn't enjoy their cabs as much as I liked those at Silver Oak. The Pine Ridge cabs we tried were on the young side and, to me, had a very harsh taste. On the other hand, the first course was outstanding -- seared scallops served over tarragon scented corn and garnished with crispy shallots. Must try to make this!

Yank Sing in San Francisco with my dear, awesome friend Sue. The first thing I did was splatter hot xiao long bao juice all over myself (so smooth), but after that it was a nice lunch.

Taqueria San Jose (San Rafael) -- My dad used to work in San Rafael and I found this little taco place on a previous visit. Messy, drippy, but ever so tasty carnitas and al pastor tacos.

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Angele (Napa) -- Well done French fare -- I had a salade Nicoise and Mark had duck confit -- on a shady patio overlooking the river (or so they told me -- I couldn't see it at all!).

Pizzeria Azzurro (Napa) -- Loved the Point Reyes blue cheese, house cured olives, and pizza with burrata, freshly pressed extra virgin olive oil, and tomato sauce.

In-n-out -- How could we not get double doubles while in California? I do like their burgers, though their fries suck.

Finally, the best part of our trip was driving around in our little yellow punchbug convertible. Spectacular routes: Silverado Trail, the Oakville Grade, and the drives to Lake Berryessa, Robert Louis Stevenson State Park (we did a short hike here), and the Pope Valley. Valley with my husband. What a treat!

2 comments:

Agrado said...

Everyone splatters xiao long bao juice on themselves at some point. comes with the territory :P but seriously, do y'all travel every weekend?!

she cooks, he bakes said...

I know! at least I waited a few minutes so I didn't splatter *scalding* xiao long bao juice all over myself.

and to answer your question: nah, but I do sorta feel like something is off if we don't have at least one trip a month. basically, traveling = our crack. :D we feel really lucky to be able to do it so much.