I am woefully behind on these honeymoon posts but I still want to share them despite the fact that the honeymoon was 2 1/2 months ago. Mostly so that I have the rest of the trip recorded in some manner other than photos.
On the 3rd day, we woke up in Napa at the lovely Avia Napa Hotel, a recently opened boutique hotel in downtown Napa. Since we were honeymooners, the hotel upgraded us from our Priceline standard room to a nicer suite with a fireplace. Of the hotels we stayed at while in California, the Avia was by far the nicest and the friendliest.
Since we were in the Napa Valley, we obviously needed to visit a winery and that was the first order of business for the day. We ended up choosing Ravenswood as it was a name we knew and was relatively inexpensive for a combined tour and tasting. They also weren’t closed or already booked that morning, so that may have swayed us a bit (Cakebread, I’m talking to you since you had no tours available to us on a Wednesday morning in April).
So we headed off to Sonoma and arrived at the Ravenswood door. That door was not open, so we left. Fortunately about 3 minutes later Peter from Ravenswood responded to a voicemail I had left and told us to come back for a tour. So we did. We were lucky enough to be the only guests on the tour and Peter (who was very entertaining) led us around a small part of the vineyard, educating us about the vines, varietals and much, much more. Then it was off to the barrels for a tasting and then back inside for a tasting from bottles rather than barrels. I remember very few details about the wines now, but we did try a chardonnay that we adored. Generally Joel and I both loathe California chardonnays, but this one was different and we bought a bottle for consumption later in the trip.
If you’re in the Sonoma area, give Peter a call to see if you can grab a tour and tasting with him. As wine drinkers who are not wine experts, his tour and tasting was fantastic. Enlightening and amusing with not even a hint of wine snobbery.
After lunch, we headed into Sonoma for lunch at The Girl & the Fig. The food there was excellent (grilled cheese with tomato confit on it was out of this world) but the restaurant was a bit fussy (think tea room for old ladies) and our server was less than nice. No photos of the food from this restaurant as there wasn’t a lot of room for me to even get out the camera.
After lunch, we spent the rest of the day lazily wandering around Napa (and taking a nap). That night we had reservations in Yountville at Bouchon Bistro, one of Thomas Keller’s restaurants. I had made the reservation a few weeks earlier because I felt I should eat at one of his restaurants while in the area. The French Laundry didn’t interest us for several reasons including price and the lengthy multi-course prix fixe menu. I don’t like a lot of foods and for this reason alone, prix fixe menus don’t usually appeal to me. Ad Hoc would have been the perfect choice but sadly the 2 nights we were in the area were the 2 nights they’re closed each week. So Bouchon it was.
Or Bouchon it wasn’t. As dinner approached, we agreed that we weren’t really in the mood for a fancy, long dinner. And Joel had also very recently decided that he doesn’t adore French food as much as he thought he did. So, sin of foodie sins, I cancelled my reservation at Bouchon Bistro and found someplace else to go for dinner. (But don’t worry, we did hit up the Bouchon Bakery for goodies the next day!)
We went with Go Fish, a seafood restaurant in St. Helena owned by Cindy Pawlcyn of Mustards Grill fame. I had heard of Mustards Grill and I’d read one of Cindy’s cookbooks, so this seemed like a safe choice for dinner. And it was!
I had a delicious salad to start the meal off. I seem to recall that it was topped with spiced slivered almonds. For dinner, I had fish tacos and Joel chose their salmon burger. While my fish tacos were delicious, they did not compare to Joel’s salmon burger. The burger itself was delicious but the tarragon mayonnaise served with it elevated the sandwich to another level.
And then there was the asparagus with Parmesan cheese. A plate of this was delivered to a nearby table when we were making our dinner choices. We both took a look at it and knew that we needed it no matter what else we ordered.
As we almost always have room for dessert, we took a look at the dessert menu and went with their affogato. As a fan of espresso, I’d wanted to try affogato for quite some time and the caffeine would be a good energy burst for the drive back to Napa. That and the ice cream in this particular affogato was salted caramel. I cannot turn down salted caramel anything, especially not salted caramel ice cream. Our affogato choice was a winner that we polished off in what felt like seconds.
More soon about lunch in Yountville as well as The French Laundry’s garden.