Hurray, I finally found time to recap the rest of our trip to Napa Valley! Just to warn you, this post focuses mainly on eating and drinking (as if that differs from any of my other posts…).
My coworker happens to be friends with the folks at Terra Valentine, a winery located in the hills of St. Helena, and helped set us up with a tour and tasting there. It also happened to be yet another great recommendation from Jenn 🙂
The drive there was simply breathtaking, and I wish we weren’t on the brink of being late so we could have slowed down and enjoyed it more.
The winery itself was extremely charming and reminded me of a miniature castle.
We took a brief tour of the grounds, which was informative and interesting, but I was most fascinated in hearing about the history of the winery (apparently the original owner of the estate was extremely eccentric and a recluse).
After the tour, we were brought into the tasting room where we were sat at a table with a huge stained glass window overlooking it.
For the tasting, we tried a riesling, a pinot noir, a cabernet franc, and a couple cabernet sauvignons. All were outstanding.
We learned that the pinot noir is transported from a vineyard in Sonoma since the weather in Napa Valley is not well suited for growing pinot grapes. It was also quite interesting comparing the two cabernet sauvignons – one grown at this vineyard and the other grown at their other estate just over the hill. The different growing conditions lent each wine a unique flavor even though the aging and bottling processes were the same.
To compliment our wine, we were given this tray of cheese, chocolate, and nuts.
We loved everything about this winery, and although it was one of our first tours in Napa, we could tell right away it would be one of our favorites!
I must admit, I made the rookie mistake of drinking a good majority of the wine that was poured for me, so when the tasting was over, it was definitely time to get some sustenance. Good thing Patrick had the good sense not to drink all of his!
For lunch, we had made reservations at Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch, a cute farm-to-table restaurant that was once a former nursery barn.
We opted for outdoor seating which had a nice rustic and summery ambiance. The menu here had endless options I wanted to try.
I ordered the kale caesar salad to start, which was very light, yet flavorful.
I also ordered the potato gnocchi with ragu – very rich and decadent.
Patrick ordered the ribs, which were nice and tender and came with a side of coleslaw.
After lunch, we took a short driving tour around St. Helena and stopped in Yountville for some long awaited Bouchon Bakery.
The pictures pretty much speak for themselves! We ordered the “oh oh” (a fun take on ho ho’s), a pistachio French macaron, and a homemade peanut butter cup.
Later that night, we returned to Yountville, this time for dinner at Ad Hoc, (also a Thomas Keller establishment). My friend Megan recommended this place, and I’m glad she did since I’ve owned the cookbook for a couple years and somehow didn’t realize it was its own restaurant!
A word about this restaurant- unlike the French Laundry just down the street which is as high-class as you can get when it comes to dining, this restaurant is meant to be casual and cozy. It features a prix-fixed 4-course family-style dinner with a menu that changes daily There is only one meal offered each night, which is posted on their website early in the day (helpful for picky eaters).
Also, behind the building is a little shack called Addendum which serves box lunches featuring Ad Hoc’s famous fried chicken (more on this later).
Here was what our menu looked like for the day:
And here is how it came out:
There must have been a last-minute change, since the ravioli wasn’t offered.. Instead, we were given the option to add a whole baked sea bass, which we couldn’t say no to.
Dessert was this amazing blackberry financier (my first time hearing this word), which was still warm when it came out.
Since Patrick has some inexplicable aversion to cooked fruit, the waiter was kind enough to bring out this sorbet for his dessert instead, which was also very tasty.
One of the best meals we’ve eaten… we both agreed this place is our new favorite restaurant!
We greeted the next day with a trip to Model Bakery in downtown Napa, recommendation from our friend Ann, to fuel up before our next wine tasting session.
Of all things, this place is famous for its English Muffins, which appeared on the Food Networks “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” (which I recommend watching here).
Unlike regular English muffins which tend to be dense and crumbly, these are light and airy.
I ordered the Veggie Breakfast Sandwich, which featured the English muffin with a fried egg, hash browns, avocado, mayo, ketchup, tomato, and provolone cheese. By far the best breakfast sandwich I’ve tasted!
After breakfast, we made our way to the Cakebread winery where we had reservations for a white wine tasting. This was another recommendation from my friend Megan. Also my sister and her fiance are huge fans of their chardonnay, so I definitely wanted to try it.
We tasted a cabernet sauvignon as well as a number of chardonnays, which each had a distinctive flavor (although Patrick said he couldn’t really tell the difference). If you like chardonnay (which I happen to), this really is the place to go!
And so that is where we ended up that afternoon.
Though the line was rather long, it was only about a 15 minute wait before they brought out our meal. We ate at a picnic table just outside the little shack.
Each box contained 3 pieces of chicken, some cornbread, potato salad, and coleslaw. The chicken was super crunchy and flavorful – just the way fried chicken should be 🙂
If you love fried chicken, I recommend putting this place on your bucket list!
After lunch, it was time to said our goodbyes to Napa and made our to Cupertino, where Patrick is spending the rest of the summer working his internship.
We moved all of his things into his apartment and took a quick driving tour around the town, where we ran into this random fruit company.
And we then ended the night and our San Francisco/Napa adventure with some quality In-N-Out.
Maybe it’s because of the sheer quantity AND quality of amazing food and wine that we tasted, but this makes the list of one of my favorite trips thus far. Good thing I will be returning to Northern California for another visit next weekend!