Napa, CA Trip Day 4, Part 2: The French Laundry

Missed the previous 3.5 days? You can check out day 1 here, day 2 here, day 3 here, and day 4: part 1 here.

After our tasting at Robert Sinskey Vineyards, we ended our Napa trip on a high note with lunch at The French Laundry. The French Laundry is a three-starred Michelin restaurant from Chef Thomas Keller. It’s known for not only high quality, delicious french food but impeccable hospitality. I’ll be honest with you guys, I was nervous it was going to be a stuffy environment. I was sooooo wrong on that one. I literally wanted to be BFFS with everyone there by the time our meal was over.

NOTE: I am no way a professional food critic, so I will use very descriptive words such as “delicious” 🙂 I am just a girl who loves to eat!

We arrived at The French Laundry around 11:45 am for lunch. I would have never known this was the restaurant if Greg didn’t point it out to me a few days before. How cute is this blue door and courtyard?!

After we entered the restaurant, we were greeted by a friendly hostess and were promptly seated next to a window with a view into the wine cellar. I need one of these in my house…or maybe not because I’d never leave 😛

We started off with cornets and crackers that were delicious. Also, I’m a sucker for presentation.

A few moments after we finished, our plates were cleared and up next was the “Oysters and Pearls”, a “sabayon” of pearl tapioca with Island Creek oysters and Regiis Ova White Sturgeon Caviar. This dish definitely set the tone for the day with it’s powerful, distinct, and rich flavors. I can still taste the oysters. *drool*

After polishing off that bad boy, it was onto the Hudson Valley Moulard Duck Foie Gras “Terrine”, made with white wine poached Bartlett Pears, Sicilian Pistachios, Toasted Oats and Black Winter truffle puree.

Then it was onto Slow Cooked fillet of Wild Scottish Sea Trout, with a “ragout” of vidalia onions, Candy Roaster squash, Celery Root and Sweet Curry “Bouillon”.

OMG talk about fresh! That trout was amazing! After savoring the fish, we moved onto the Sweet butter Poached Stonington Maine Lobster, garden carrots, young coconut puree and arrowleaf spinach salad. This was my second favorite dish we had at The French Laundry.

Then it was onto some bread! YASS!! Next up we had “Bread and Butter”, aka “Parker House Roll” and Diane St. Clair’s Animal Farm Butter. Again, I’m a sucker for presentation. That butter is what dreams are made of!

And then (yep there’s more…) it was onto my absolute favorite dish that I have ever had in my entire life, “Carnanoli Risotto Biologico”, Castelmagno Cheese, Browned Butter, and Shaved White Truffles from Alba. Talk about decadent and rich!

I probably could have stopped here and died happy but no, we still had more dishes to go! Next up, “Chateaubriand” of Marcho Farms Nature Fed Veal, with Black Trumpet Mushrooms, Musque de Provence pumpkin, crispy sage leaves and sauce “bordelaise”.

And then before dessert (remember there’s always room for dessert!) we had the Charcoal Grilled Japanese Wagyu, with “Ris de Veau” slow cooked La Ratte Potatoes, Preserved Green Cabbage and “sauce Raifort”.

And then, a mountain of desserts came at us! Macaroons, Coffee Semifreddo and donuts, real life coffee that rocked my world, and the best of all? They came out with a wooden box of chocolate truffles and you could pick whatever you wanted!!  Mind = blown!!

After we said our goodbyes to the wait staff, we lethargically walked out of the restaurant and took some pictures of the kitchen. I waved at them and they waved back. Yay!

Also, this picture of me cracks me up!  Why did I not just move 1 step to my right to get out of the sun?! I blame the wine.  😉

Some key take-aways:

  1. Soooo glad we did lunch. The whole event lasted about 3 hours and if we would have went for dinner, I would have been asleep by the 4th dish. #jetlag
  2. The timing of the dishes was perfect. We never felt rushed and we had enough time to enjoy conversation and drink the wine.
  3. It was 100% worth the money. This food was on a whole other level of delicious. I have never had anything so good and fresh in my life. Plus the service was fun and top-notch.
  4. You may want to use Uber after you have had so much food….and wine 😉

That wraps up our Napa trip!  Greg and I 100% agreed that this trip was one of the bests we have taken to Napa.  The itinerary was nicely timed without ever feeling rushed and we got to see different areas of Napa Valley and Sonoma. We can’t wait to go back!

Napa, CA Trip Day 4, Part 1: Robert Sinskey Vineyards

Alright we are back with the 4th and final day recap of our Napa trip! I am breaking day 4 into 2 parts; 1) Robert Sinskey Vineyards and 2) The French Laundry. The French Laundry deserves it’s own post. 🙂 But I don’t want our meal at The French Laundry to overshadow our AMAZING experience at Robert Sinskey Vineyards.

Missed the previous 3 days? You can check out day 1 here, day 2 here, and day 3 here.

Earlier that morning since I knew it would be a day of an exorbitant amount of eating and drinking, I knew I should get in a workout. My original intention was to hit the hotel gym. You know the one. The one that only has 2 treadmills and a space the size of a bathroom stall to lift weights. Well guess what? It was full.

via GIPHY

So then my plan B was to walk outside on the trail.  I stepped outside and it was pouring rain. I was just about to bag the workout when suddenly I got the idea to run the stairwell in the hotel. Problem solved! I did that for 20 minutes and then went back to the room and did squats, pushups, and crunches. #noexcuses

After getting ready for the day, it was time to go to Robert Sinskey Vineyards. Not only is the vineyard itself beautiful but their food is amazing!! I mean look at this wood-burning oven!

As soon as we walked in, we were greeted with a glass of wine and explored the lobby and dining room. We opted for the Perfect Circle Tour, which includes a stroll through the culinary gardens, an introduction to RSV’s estate Stags Leap District vineyard, an unveiling of the wine production cellar and a journey to the center of the barrel aging caves followed by an indulgent tasting of seasonal dishes from the Vineyard Kitchen accompanied by a flight of RSV wines. Then as we sipped our wine, we were given the tour of the grounds.

Loved the wrought iron structures to hold the wine. To keep the bottles in place they actually wrapped wire around each bottle neck to the iron frame.

Before we arrived at the vineyard, Greg and I agreed to not snack before The French Laundry. Well, that quickly went out the window after they brought out this board for us. Those pickles are life! I normally hate bread and butter pickles but these rocked! My mouth is watering….

We had a TON of fun at Robert Sinskey. Greg and I agreed that our next Napa trip we will visit this place again. After buying a few bottles and having them shipped back to our home, it was time for The French Laundry!!

To be continued… 😛

Napa, CA Trip Day 3: Road Trip to the Sonoma Coast

Happy Monday!  Hope everyone had a great holiday weekend! I took a quick break from blogging to spend time with family and friends. Now back to it! Today we are continuing on with a day-by-day recap of my Napa, CA trip. Day 3 was a fun road trip from Napa to Healdsburg then down through the Sonoma Coast.

Missed the previous 2 days? You can check out day 1 here and day 2 here.

We woke up early to hit the road first thing since we had a long but fun day ahead of us. Luckily, the enormous amount of food we have been eating up until this point had us still full in the morning, so we were able to delay breakfast until we got to our destination. We drove through some of the most beautiful scenery on the way to Healdsburg.

Unfortunately we did drive through some areas that had been affected by the wildfires. I cannot even fathom the thoughts that were going through the minds of those who had to be evacuated. You could still smell the smoke as you drove through some of these areas.

After about an hour and 15 minutes of driving, we made it to Healdsburg. A small town known for its quaint shops and town square. Greg and I grabbed a quick breakfast and walked around and stopped at all the little shops. Fideaux, a boutique pet shop, in particular caught my eye because I was missing my dog Tadd. Definitely stop into this shop because they have the cutest dog and cat stuff you have ever seen! Since Tadd is the most destructive beagle ever, I opted for a stuffed turkey that was literally stitched so tightly that you couldn’t even squeeze it. The turkey only lasted a week haha! But it’s still around, minus the stuffing (get it!?).

The wing on the side cracks me up!

After some exploring around the square, it was time for our tasting with Ernest Vineyards at Grand Cru Custom Crush in Windsor, CA. As Greg and I  pulled up to the building we were awestruck by it’s cool modern design.  I’m a sucker for garage doors at breweries and wineries 🙂

Erin, one of the co-founders of Ernest Vineyards, and Nicole, the Hospitality Manager (I may be wrong on that title but I think it sounds pretty baller) rushed out to greet us and handed both of us a glass of Chardonnay. How’s that for a welcome?! They gave us the grand tour of the production facility and explained the various processes used to produce wine.

Then it was time to taste!  I absolutely loved the art on the labels and the story behind each wine name. My favorite in particular was “The Wrangler” named after Erin’s Great Aunt “Dude”, an honoree in the Cowgirl Hall of Fame and all around bad ass woman.

After sharing some fun stories and great wine, it was time to say goodbye to Erin and Nicole 🙁 From there we hopped in the car and headed to Santa Rosa to make a quick beer stop at Russian River Brewing Company, famous for it’s Pliny the Elder beer. Definitely one of my favorite beers. After relaxing and rehashing how great our trip has been so far, it was time to head back to Yountville for dinner at Adhoc.

Adhoc has a set menu each night and serves the meal family style. Our menu that night was garden squash soup, a fresh garden salad with watermelon radishes and mustard vinaigrette, and steak with cheddar and pepper grits, and cabbage. So. Freaking. Good! I literally could have eaten 10 ponds of that steak. Perfectly cooked and just the right amount of seasoning.

So guess what we did after that? Went back to the hotel and fell asleep. Hard.

That’s a wrap for day 3!  Stay tuned for a recap of our final day, day 4, in Napa that concludes with the most mind blowing experience at the French Laundry. Be forewarned, don’t read the post while hungry 😛

Napa, CA Trip Day 2: Croissants, Caves, and Winery Cats

I’m back with day 2 of our Napa, CA adventures! If you missed day 1, check out the full post here.

On day 2, I woke up early due to being on east coast time. Which was fine by me because it gave me plenty of time to go for a run along the Napa Valley Vine Trail. I absolutely love to run on vacation. It gives me a chance to explore the area or just zone out and enjoy nature.  In this case, the trail was along some vineyards so I just zoned out dreaming of the yummy wine I’d be having later that day morning 😛

After a nice run, our first stop was to Bouchon Bakery for a light breakfast since we were still a bit full from the day before.

First off, this is why I run. Because I literally wanted to eat every single thing in that bakery. But I was good and ordered a chocolate croissant and cappuccino. For good measure, I ordered a sandwich cookie for Greg and I just in case we got lost driving from winery to winery. 😉

After we said goodbye to Bouchon, we headed to our first winery of the day, Schramsberg. Known for their sparking wine and rich history in the wine business. We chose to do the tour and limited production sparkling wines tasting. The winery grounds were absolutely beautiful and we got to tour the wine cave which was pretty cool and fun to learn the history about the family and the cave. Greg and I have actually had their wine before so that’s why we chose to do the limited production sparkling wines tasting.  Schramsberg did not disappoint!

And they had a winery cat!! This started my obsession with asking every single winery if they had a winery cat or dog lol.

After saying goodbye to the kitty and awesome Shramsberg staff. We headed to St. Helena for lunch at Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch. This was hands down our favorite restaurant of the trip, other than French Laundry (spoiler alert! blog post to come on that!). The grounds that the restaurant was on was really cool. It was a compound with the restaurant, a general store, a cafe, a garden, and all sorts of other areas to explore. What a cute place!

But the food….my mouth is watering as I type this!! To start we had the mini ham sandwiches.  Mark my words, I will recreate this at home! It was basically small cheddar biscuits with salty ham and pepper jelly. To save room for dinner, Greg and I split the grass-fed cheeseburger. I was craving beef after having all that chicken the day before LOL. It was amazing!  The beef was so fresh and the avocado was so flavorful. I highly suggest everyone stop by here.

So what’s there to do after you eat so much food?!  DRINK MORE WINE!!! 😛

After Farmstead, we headed to ZD Wines. Which I have a slight obsession with because it was started by two aerospace engineers who had a love for entrepreneurship and winemaking. Which then ties into my love for Neil degrasse Tyson and people who live their passions! The people at the winery were so nice and I really enjoyed their wines.

Greg and I bought their 2014 Cab and the Rosa Lee Sweet Whim (port-style wine) and we were off again to explore Yountville prior to having dinner there.  We both really wanted to walk through French Laundry’s garden, which is literally right across the street from the restaurant.  It was so cool to view the map of the garden and see what sunchokes actually look like. The highlight for me though was the chicken/duck coup.  How freaking cute is this?!

Oh man that last picture cracks me up!  I love the hen looking out the window haha. Then I made the mistake of asking out loud, “do we eat their eggs? or do we actually eat them?!” This made me think about becoming a vegetarian for a bit. But then we went to dinner at Redd Wood and ordered the Prosciutto Crudo pizza. Oh the fickle mind… 😛

Honestly we weren’t that impressed with Redd Wood. It’s so hard for a restaurant to stand out in Napa because all of the food is just on a whole ‘nother level. The pizza was good, just not great. Hey gotta keep it real with you guys!

So that ends our day 2 adventures! Stay tuned for day 3! 🙂

Napa, CA Trip Day 1: Fried Chicken, a French Chateau, and Mustard’s

Hey gang! My boyfriend and I just got back from a few days in Napa Valley and it was AMAZING. We had our trip planned prior to the wildfires that happened and were debating on cancelling.  But we reeaallyy had our hearts set on a Napa trip so instead reached out to the wineries to see if they were open. Every winery we wanted to visit was open and they encouraged us to come out. You don’t have to tell us twice!  It was awesome to go out and support an industry that we love so much! 😉

The 4 days we spent there were action-packed!  So over the next few days, I’ll publish a post for each day we spent in Napa 🙂

Day 1:

We took an early flight from the east coast and landed in San Francisco around 10 am local time. While planning our trip, we decided to rent a car to make it easier to get around since we had plans to visit all the areas of Napa Valley and Sonoma Coast. First up on the agenda? Fried Chicken Sandwiches at Fremont Diner in Sonoma.

Feel free to stare at the picture above and wonder at the glory of this sandwich. This was some of the best fried chicken I have ever had and it came with a side of collard greens. This is what dreams are made of. And I definitely had to eat a heavier meal before I started drinking…. or at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Next stop, just a short drive away, was Domaine Carneros for a sparking wine tasting. I have to be 100% honest here. I got hung up on the fact that the building was a french-style chateau. The wine? Meh. The thing I enjoyed the most (other than spending time with my boyfriend obvi) was the funny birds that hung out on the patio. They would wait until someone got up from their table and immediately  drop in and take the leftovers haha.

After enjoying the show from the birds, we headed to our hotel in Napa and relaxed. We had some time to kill before dinner, so we decided to head over to Oxbow Public Market in Downtown Napa.  Our main goal was to visit Whole Spice, a freshly ground, high quality seasoning boutique that has amazing blends.

Photo Credit: www.wholespice.com

I spent entirely too much time tasting salt there haha. I did manage to find the best cinnamon I have ever had in my life. After increasing my blood pressure from the extreme salt intake, it was time to increase it even more with dinner at Mustard’s. At this point, the jet lag was hitting us pretty hard but we powered through with some moscow mules 🙂

For dinner I ordered the lemon and garlic chicken which was perfectly cooked and seasoned. I would HIGHLY recommend Mustard’s for a simple, yet comforting dinner.

That’s it for day 1!  Stay tuned over the next week as I post a recap from each day of our Napa trip!

Tell me, have you been to Napa before? If so, what was your favorite place to visit?

Girls Trip to Santa Barbara, CA: Day 3

Happy Monday everyone! Time to talk about our last day in Santa Barbara, CA! My cousin and I were deeply upset that our vacation was coming to an end so soon. So what better way to cope with our sorrow by hitting up a wine tasting room….for three hours 😛

But first, I enjoyed one final run in Santa Barbara.  This time I ran to the Andree Clark Bird Refuge at the end of East Cabrillo Street.  Even though it’s still on the main drag, it’s at the opposite end of Stearn’s Wharf and State Street. I wouldn’t say it was the most beautiful spot, but it was definitely peaceful. Basically, if I were a bird, I’d live there. 🙂

Since this was our last morning, my cousin and I kept it low key and went to breakfast at our hotel at 10 am, then walked to Kunin Wine Tasting Room in the Funk Zone!

Kunin Wines in Santa Barbara, CA

Photo Credit: Kunin Wines

Well, to say we had a great time here would be an understatement. The person walking us through our flight was fun and helpful! We may or may not have received some “bonus rounds” during our visit. 😉  After three hours of heavy-handed pours.  My cousin and I needed food. Stat!  And not a wimpy salad either.  Luckily, right next door was Santa Barbara FisHouse. You guys…I had the BEST fried fish sandwich of my life!! Yeah, the alcohol factors into my decision but seriously, it was really fresh!

Since we had a late lunch and some time to kill, once again we headed back to the beach for some final hours of California Sunshine and relaxation.

Image may contain: one or more people, sky, beach, tree, outdoor and nature

Photo Credit: My cousin haha

Alright friends! That ends the recap of our Girls Trip to Santa Barbara, CA! I would return there in a heartbeat.  So to that, I’ll say ta-ta for now Santa Barbara!

Girls Trip to Santa Barbara, CA: Day 2

Hey gang! Happy hump day! Maryland is currently (and feels like forever will be…) in a heat wave this week.  I hope everyone is practicing safe running 😉 Typically, I hate to carry anything while I run.  But I’ve stopped fighting it and decided to carry a small water bottle on my runs.  What a lifesaver! If I can do it, you can do it.

So onto the long awaited day 2 recap of the girls trip to Santa Barbara! I already miss it 🙁

That morning I woke up early and decided to go for a run along the coastline. Generally when I am running on vacation, I am not worried about my pace.  I take it slow and enjoy my surroundings.  I couldn’t help but notice all the beautiful landscaping on the side of the roads. In Maryland, we typically have free furniture on the side of the road 😛

I mean, who wouldn’t want to run by this every morning?!

flowers

After my run, my cousin and I headed to the breakfast at the hotel restaurant and fueled up for our first paddleboarding lessons! This has been on our bucket list for years and it is nice to have it finally crossed off.  I would HIGHLY recommend Cal Coast Adventures as the tour company.  Conner, our guide, was very encouraging and fun.  We paddled all around the harbor and saw some tiny sting rays.  Then we got brave and paddled under the pier, which I definitely ran into a few times before I made it through. We ventured out to some of the boats that were anchored off the shore and we found a sea lion just chilling on the back of a boat like he owned it haha.  After we returned to shore, my cousin and I definitely agreed we would do it again.  Yay for accomplishing some life goals!

After out paddleboarding adventure, we worked up quite the appetite and headed back to the Funk Zone to a pizza place called Lucky Penny.  If you find yourself in Santa Barbara, you NEED to go here. Immediately. We ordered the house market salad, The Parker pizza, frosè, and watermelon beer. We were in heaven!!!

After indulging, we needed to walk off all that food. We decided to walk around and just explore.  We came upon an arts and crafts fair right along the shoreline that had some beautiful jewelry. After some shopping we wandered over to Stearns Wharf to watch everyone catch some fish and enjoy the sunshine. The views from the pier captured the beauty of Santa Barbara perfectly!

After some wandering around, we decided what good is going to a beach town if you don’t sit on the beach?!  We headed back to the hotel, changed into our swimsuits, and off we went to the beach!

We stayed on the beach for a few hours and before we knew it, it was time to get ready for dinner.  We headed to Cadiz on State Street for some yummy tapas, that were apparently so yummy that we forgot to take pictures.  After dinner we just walked around State Street and enjoyed the evening people watching 🙂

That wraps up day 2!  Stay tuned for the day 3 recap with more delicious food!