So where were we? Oh yeah, leaving San Francisco through the Golden Gate bridge…
… to stay in NAPA for a few days. We had big plans for the day, thanks to Meghan who put together a great itinerary for us for the first day (the girl knows wine country!) but unfortunately brunch and a crazy wait for our rental car took the morning away from us. Oh well, it’s vacation right – no need to stress.
After a short stop at Whole Foods for sandwiches, we were ready to start drinking. This is one place that was on Meghan’s list that I did not want to miss (well that, and lunch at Bottega but it was too late for that) – Gloria Ferrer. We were lucky to get to the winery a few minutes before the last tour of the day started, so except for the delicious bubbly we also got to see the premises. So fun!
This is where they ferment the skins with the grape juice in order to impart the pink color.
Pinot (Noir) grapes – they were SO sweet. I wasn’t expecting that.
Gloria Ferrer has award winning sparkling wine. It was smooth and delicious. We ended the tour with a tasting of their Pinot Noir (not as good as the bubbly!) while enjoying the view on the patio.
The scenery was definitely not bad. Not bad at all
We finally got to our hotel after a quick stop at the outlet mall (it was nearly 100* and all I had was long sleeved stuff – I was roasting!!). Look at the spread we walked on while checking in to our bed and breakfast!!
Happy Hour, baby. Oh, I was happy all right.
Seriously – vacations rock!
After chilling on the patio, we finally made our way to downtown Napa for some dinner at Celadon. Let’s just say it had so much potential and completely bombed. My food tasted like a lean cuisine (and I’m not being dramatic, Adam agreed). I won’t waste my energy telling you more about it (I’m all about positive vibes – not negative). Shall we fast forward to day 2?
Our B&B was seriously adorable. They made us feel so welcome – like we really lived in this gorgeous mansion and they just pampered us with food (and wine at HH). Coffee + a fruit parfait was the perfect start to a day of drinking.
The first morning, we also were able to chose between an omelet and strawberry pancakes for our “main course.” You know what I chose
[I actually didn't eat much of these - the apricot muffins (unpictured) were tastier so I opted to fill up on them before our long day.]
Ready for some wine tasting pics? We wanted to make the most of the day and got 2 tickets on the Platypus Tours – this way we didn’t have to worry about drinking and driving, and someone else set up a fabulous itinerary for us. The tour wasn’t cheap but it had a 5 star rating on Trip Advisor (with over 600 reviews!) so we trusted it was the way to go. I was shocked when a mini van pulled up and there were leather couches inside. We were going to be transported in style, that’s for sure [I'm kind of bummed I didn't take pictures.] All right, so I still don’t want to pretend I know anything about wine, so instead of doing reviews of each wine, I’m going to bombard you with pictures. All you have to know is that every winery was small with amazing quality of wine. I can definitely see how people become snobs after finding everything that goes into wine making (and what kind of 3rd grade grapes, etc. you get with a $10 bottle. Not saying I’ll never drink the stuff though. You know, we have a budget to work with )
[That's Judd himself, btw.]
I can get used to these views!
Good stuff. We bought a bottle of the 2009 Rose from here. It was mildly sweet and very smooth.
A bit of cheese on the ride to the next vineyard…
They buy their grapes from other Napa grape growers so the place looked like a warehouse on the outside. Inside was a completely different story… the space was warm and cozy and they had unbelievable wine (this was my favorite place!!).
We tasted some bottled stuff (the Chardonnay blew me away since I’m not a big white wine drinker – the Cabernet was great too – we bought both!)…
… and then did a bunch of barrel tasting! It was such a fun experience!!! We tried 100% Cab Franc, 100% Melot, 100% Cabernet… and then mixed them together. We also tasted their port straight from the barrel – and it was fantastic. I always thought that port was super alcoholic and practically undrinkable – this stuff was sweet and smooth. Mmm.
Next stop: Hagafen
Hagafen wines are often served at the White House!! The tasting here was free so we didn’t “need” to buy anything but we still walked away with 2 bottles of their award-winning Riesling. I mean if it’s good for our Presidents, it’s good enough for us. We also met a little friend… such cutie!
And finally got some pictures together. Again, the views were killer. I felt like we were in Tuscany (which by the way I totally want to visit now – my PILs are there now. I’m infinitely jealous )
And apparently I drank quite a bit because I can’t even remember the name of the last place we visited. They had fantastic reds (which we bought so I’ll check the bottle when I’m home and update here). For now, let’s just check out the views, k?
Now, how about some food? We wanted something casual and unpretentious after a long day of drinking. Zuzu was highly recommended by the locals.
I love tapas, don’t you? I love that we were able to taste so many of the restaurant’s offerings and even though a few of them were just okay, most were outstanding so overall we were very happy campers.
Shaved Artichoke-Portobello Salad with Lemon-Truffle Vinaigrette & Sao Jorge - aka the most amazing salad ever!!!
This was so amazingly balanced – the peppery greens, sharp cheese, the citrusy dressing with a serious truffle oil punch. Oh, I could eat this every day of my life and be happy!
Adam was equally enthusiastic about the Jamon Iberico de Bellota with “Pa amb Tomaquet” Heirloom Tomato rubbed Garlic Bread. I believe “life changing” passed his lips. (It WAS really good – so buttery).
He was also ecstatic to find his favorite beer, which is only available in a small region of California. I held off on more alcoholic beverages.
“Queso Frito” Pan Fried Manchego Cheese with Roasted Poblano Chiles, “Gambas al Ajillo” Fresh Gulf Shrimp with Garlic, Piquin Chili & Smoky Pimenton and Niman Ranch Grass Fed Flat-Iron Steak with Roasted Jalapeño “Chimichurri” were the next 3 dishes that came (they weren’t that special but I thought I’d share the pictures anyway).
We were still tiny bit hungry so we got one more – Boquerones: White Anchovies, Boiled Egg & Remoulade on Grilled Bread. I don’t have a picture for some reason but this dish basically ROCKED. We had 2 tapas with anchovies over the course of the trip (one was from Spork in SF) and both were phenomenal. Basically I now have “orders” to make more stuff with white anchovies at home. They go really well with eggs and also with avocado. Are you an anchovy fan?
The dinner at Zuzu was the best way we could end the trip. I was definitely sad to leave the next morning but I know we’ll be back again. Do you ever go back to the same place for vacation? What’s your favorite spot so far? You know I LOVE traveling so I’m excited to hear about your answers.
PS – Last day to vote for me for this round of Project Food Blog. I would love to move on to the 3rd challenge but I can’t do it without you. Please vote HERE. Thanks!!