11.25.2013

Sister's Napa trip (day 3-4)

Part one of this adventure can be found at Sister's Napa trip (day 1-2).

Day 3 of the Sister's Napa trip had our first winery reservation at 11am so we had a morning to enjoy. I woke up and went for a run. I like to run in the morning when I travel. It gives me a chance to explore a place before anyone is up. This morning was no different and found myself in downtown Napa running up and down the streets. I stopped to take a picture of the sunrise through a bridge when the sisters called and told me to meet them at Oxbow Market for breakfast, they were walking into town. After breakfast I ran back to the house to take a shower and after a stop at Whole Foods for snack for the day, we were on our way.

Our first stop was the Black Stallion Winery. I think I might of picked this one based on my love of The Black Stallion movies when I was a kid. I loved those movies! The winery was beautiful and the wines were okay. I bought my only wine on this trip from The Black Stallion winery. I asked if the winery was named after the mvovie and was told it was named Black Stallion because the location used to be an equestrian center. That makes sence, but I think it would have been better to be named after the move...

Next we went to Paraduxx for a tour and tasting. As I am remembering it, I think we tried to visit three wineries each day and we booked one tour a day a one of those wineries. Paraduxx was our tour on the second day. The tour was fine, but our tour at Longmeadow Ranch was much better in my opinion. The tasting at Paraduxx was fun. It was in a private room with our tour guide and included cheese and chocolate!

Our final tasting was at Turnbull Wine Cellars. The owner had a fabulous collection older photographs displayed including some Ansel Adams. I spent most of my time at this winery looking at the art. I did eventually taste some wine and the gentllman who helped us was pretty funny.

That night we had dinner at Oenotri. We had been eating (and drinking) so much that I was not very hungry and had some sort of pasta dish. I know. I am sorry I can't remember what it was! And I love food! It was good, and I wished I could have ordered more food, but I was ready to burst by this point. When we discussed places to eat with locals we ran into, Oenotri was always one of the recommendations we got. It was on our food list too, and I woudl eat there again.

The next day we started our trip home with a stop at Model Bakery for those amazing english muffins and a few epi rolls for the drive home. We had a great time and really enjoyed getting to see a bit of the famous Napa Valley. I think we would visit again and I think we should go during this time of year. The weather was crisp, the grape leaves turning brillant colors, and the foods we ate reflected those comfort foods I think about in late fall. It was a great adventure!

 

 

11.18.2013

Sister's Napa Trip (day 1-2)

For Veteran's Day weekend the sisters and I headed up to Napa, CA for the first time. It seems a little surprising because we love wine and we live in California, but some how, even when the Little Sister lived in Santa Rosa, we just never made this trip. But all that changed Veteran's Day weekend when the Little Sister informed us it was time for a trip to Napa. She actually informed us a month ago and we had been planning the trip for a few weeks.
Preparation for the trip included narrowing down which of the 500+ wineries we should visit, where to eat, and where to stay. Surprisingly the narrowing down of wineries was the first thing we accomplished. We had some help from the September issue of Food and Wine which highlighted some wineries and then the sisters had some places they wanted to check out. Next we found a house to rent on VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) and made a rough outline of some potential places to eat. The week before the Middle Sister made up an itinerary and at 6am on Friday morning we started the trip to Napa.

We arrived in Napa a little after 2pm and made our way to the Oxbow Public Market. Our first impression was that it was very much like the Ferry Building in San Francisco. There were lots of little food-ish shops inside and a few restaurants. We walked around a bit and then each ordered something to eat. The Middle Sister and I went for tacos from C Casa and the Little Sister got some oysters from the Hog Island Oyster Bar. For the tacos I had a steak taco and a lamb taco. The lamb taco was the winner of the two. The Middle Sister had some sort of white bean taco and some veggie slaw. We both said the tacos were good, but not as good as the places we get tacos close to home. We used to like Taco Asylum for their innovative tacos, but the prices went up and the tacos got much smaller so we don't really go there anymore. Especially when we can grab great Vietnamese food at East Borough! Mmmmmm East Borough..... Sorry, I got distracted. Where was I? Oh yes, Napa at Oxbow Public Market. The Little Sister got six raw oysters from Hog Island Oyster Bar and really enjoyed them! She also got the English Muffin from The Model Bakery and it was incredible!
About 4pm we headed to the house we rented on VRBO. It was called the "Valencia House" and when I was trying to find a place to stay it was one of the few homes available. It was an older house, but was clean and fit our needs. Here is the listing on VRBO if you want to see some pictures.

We moved into the house and were in this limbo because we wanted to go eat dinner but were full from our snacks at the Oxbow Market. The little sister had a movie called Blood into Wine and we decided to watch it before heading out for dinner. The movie was a good segway into our wine weekend as it focused on wine making in Arizona. It is a documentary and the sisters and I enjoyed it. For dinner we tried Kitchen Door. I was not hungry and ended up having wine and chocolate pudding for dinner. The Little Sister had the Vietnamese bahn mi sandwich and the Middle Sister had the special chantrell pizza without the bacon. The restaurant was cute and attached to the Oxbow Market, but the sisters and I agree, we probably wouldn't go back there. We thought it was okay, but we were looking for amazing. Maybe the Napa hype had tainted us and we were holding it to a higher standard? Maybe we had evolved in our own cooking so much that if we could make something better at home, we were not going to be impressed. Maybe we needed to order something else on the menu? Probably a combination of all these things....

Saturday morning started with a trip to Bouchon Bakery in Yountville. This was a food stop on the list and it wasn't until we were eating our quiche and chocolate croissants that I learned it was a Thomas Keller restaurant. He is a famous chef if you are into those kinds of things. We walked around Yountville and then made our way to Chateau Montelena. Chateau Montelena made the list because we love the movie Bottle Shock and wanted to see the winery it was based on. The estate was beautiful and we were lucky to see some river otters on our way in. I didn't taste here but my sisters did and bought a bottle. Unfortunately we did not get to linger as long as we wanted to because we had made a reservation for a winery tour at Long Meadow Ranch Winery and were soon on our way.
We arrived at Long Meadow and soon realized we had a miscommunication about the time of the tour. We were a little bummed but Rebecca at Longmeadow just added us to the 4:30pm tour and then we decided to check out Beringer when we saw the wine and chocloate pairing!
Now I should maybe mention that my Uncle Joe likes Beriger wine and brings a bottle of Pinot Grigio to every event that involves food. I prefer red over white wines and have always thought of Beringer as White Zinfandel or my Uncle Joe's Pinot Grigio. It was the chocolate that brought me in and I was happy to try some Beringer wines I had never tried before. The grounds were beautiful and the chocolate and wine pairing were very fun. I split a tasting with the Middle Sister and then we all enjoyed exploring Beringer.
Our next stop was Farmstead for lunch at the Long Meadow Ranch Winery. This was an other food stop on the list and I can say it was one of the top ten meals in my life. We stated with fried green tomatoes with an aioli and wood grilled pardon peppers with sea salt. For mains I had the apple cider pork chop over jalepeno grits with brussel sproats and a cider chutney. The Little Sister had the best burger I have ever eaten and she added a fried egg on top and the Middle Sister had the most amazing beet salad. For dessert we had the grilled carrot cake and the chocoalte pudding pie. At least I think it was a chocolate pudding pie. It was FABULOUS! The youngest sister is on a no sugar thing right now and I told her that this dessert was worth the one bite! She agreed it was.

Soon after our late lunch we started our Mayacamas Estate Visit at Long Meadow Ranch. I am not sure how the sisters found this one (maybe the Food and Wine article) but we booked this tour and learned all about Long Meadow Ranch. This place was AMAZING! First, they have been organic and all those other buzz words since the 80's. The winery is built into a mountain so the wine is kept at a perfect temperature all the time. It is called rammed earth construction. There motto is Excellence through Responsible Farming and they practice what they preach. I could go on and on about how amazing this winery is but I encourage you to read it on their website HERE. They are an amazing company.

Rebecca was our tour guide and we were with five ladies from Texas who were so much fun. We toured the estate and farms. We learned about the olive oil production and the architecture of the place. At the end of the tour we had a wine and olive oil tasting. It was a fabulous way to end our second day in Napa!

Coming soon: Sister's Napa Trip (day 3-4)

11.13.2013

Instant Karma: Running

Funny running story.

The Middle Sister and I run at least twice a week. We take our neighbor's dog Eddie and we go EARLY, as in 5:30am. Daylight savings has us running with the sunrise currently and that is nice.

My story takes place last Thursday when we were on the last third of our run. My sister has this thing that she will speed up if she is planning on stopping. We have certain places we stop when we run and we have been trying to push ourselves to go further. She was speeding up and I started giving her a hard time and tripped on my own pants and ended up doing some sort of judo roll onto my back in the dirt on the river trail. I was on my back with the dog trying to save me when she came back.

Instant karma.

After we made sure nothing was broken and I was able to get to my feet and make sure I wasn't bleeding too badly, we walked it off and I made it home.

The power of instant karma was pretty potent that morning and it made me think about what life would be like if we had instant karma all the time! I hope I could avoid tripping on my pants.

 

11.06.2013

Boo to day light savings!

If you have been around this blog this time of year, you know that the "Fall Back" daylight savings day is one of my least liked days. I lament sunsets happening so early and generally hate the shortening of days and daylight! It affects me. Maybe I am S.A.D.? Who knows.

But this year I was having a hard time with my rant about day-light savings.

It started with sleeping in on Sunday. And then Sunday was a really nice day. And I had to pick my sister up from the airport so that distracted me from the early sunset. And Monday I was up early to take my car in. And then Tuesday I went running at 5:30am with the Middle Sister and it was light outside. Well, much lighter than it has been and I started to think that maybe I don't loath Fall Back as much as I used to.

And then I thought, I'm old.

Now four days later I had some time to think about it and I realized a few things.

My life has changed. I still watch sunsets but I work late and go to bed earlier so the night life I used to have doesn't really exist during the week.

I get up early. At an hour that I can't believe sometimes, to work out. Be it running, Shredding, or P90X, I get up early to work out. I also sleep 7-8 hours a night. Which is part of the early to bed, early to rise situation.

And, I am getting older. And I do like running when the sun is coming up. I realized that over the last few years I have seen more sunrises than sunsets. And while I am not a morning person, I can see that there has been a shift in how I spend my days.

And because of that it took me four days to remember that I do not like day-light savings and am ready to join Hawaii and Arizona and just stop doing it. Come on California! Forget the the Fall Back and Spring Forward! Lets just have sunrise and sunsets tell us what time it is!