I want to share with you the wonderful Napa Valley trips I took back during the week of New Year with some lovely people. It is truly a beautiful place to spend a relaxing weekend especially during early summer. I’ve been to the wine county several times but have never written about the places that I visited. Although it should be included on your Napa’s things-to-do, there is more to do than just wine tasting. Take a look at this site for the Musts when you’re there.
My original plan for the week was to head down to LA to hunt for fabrics for a project and to visit a friend who moved there recently but it got cancelled last minute. I didn’t want to spend my vacation sitting at home so I rallied up cousins and friends and headed to Napa.
First stop was Thomas Keller’s charming Bouchon Bakery in Yountville (outposts in Las Vegas & NYC too), which is right next door to his Bouchon Bistro. A trip to the bakery has been planted in my mind since I bought this beautiful book - Indulge by Claire Clark (Head Pastry Chef at Bouchon’s brother restaurant – The French Laundry), which I am still yet to try all those yummy recipes in the book!
There were 3 of us so together we ordered a couple pastries to share and my favorite was the butter croissant; it was just delish! My brother and cousin loved the chocolate croissant, the pear tartlette, and the lemon meringue tartlet =) If you don’t live locally or won’t be visiting anytime soon, you can have a taste of their yummy treat - Chocolate Bouchon Mix, which they sell exclusively at Williams-Sonoma’s.
Next stop was the Dean & Deluca gourmet market in St. Helena, which by the way is only 15 minutes drive from the bakery and right across the street from the V. Sattui Winery. After discovering this store from my trip to NYC last winter, I have fallen madly deeply in love with this place!! Everywhere the eye could see, there was food -- fresh seasonal produce, a cheese counter, fresh bread, a meat counter, a chocolate and confectionary case, olives, foie gras, black truffles, Mariages Frères tea, Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract, edible gold/silver, a wine store, and a lot of imported foods and spices; this was a gourmand's dream store! There also was a gadget wall, a bakeware shelf, a deli, a small café, and a wine store stretched out on the other side of the store that offers wine tasting and housed many large format bottles and unique or rare wines.
We spent an hour in the store, wandering around, adding goodies into my basket left and right and by the time I was at the cashier – it was overflowing! I know from now on this is a place I will return often to restock hard-to-find ingredients.
We stopped at Buster’s Southern Barbeque in Calistoga for our late lunch. I have been dreaming of their Tri-Tip sirloin steak since my brother brought some home on his last Napa trip - so tender and juicy – just to die for! We killed a whole sirloin steak within 20 minutes^^
We stopped by the downtown area near St. Helena because it was lined with beautiful stores and restaurants. However, we didn’t realize they were closing the door early for the holiday so I only get to do window shopping! I suppose I can stop by next time. We called a day at about 4pm because I have to make it home to join friends for the count down for New Year, which we did so over wine and this yummy treat that I whipped up =)
Fast forward a couple days - I was up in Napa again but this time with a group of friends. They wanted to visit wineries and to stock up wines for the upcoming Lunar New Year and of course, house parties. Since many are fans of the V. Sattui Winery, we stopped there first. While they were wine tasting, I was out snapping pictures and sneaking out to the Dean & Deluca store right across the street to buy the fruit purees that I forgot to pick up.
We enjoyed a light picnic of bread, artichoke cheese dip, chicken salad and sips of Gamay Rouge - 1 of the 3 winning rosé wine that is bursting with ripe strawberry flavors - at the winery. It was great time spent with lovely people. We then moved onto Robert Mondavi Winery.
Founded in 1966, the winery's beautiful architecture reflects the missions of early California history. Out in the back of the building, there is a sitting area over looking the vineyard and a beautiful, small but bountiful garden where organic veggies were grown. It sort of reminded me of Jamie Oliver’s garden. It was just a lovely sight! We went to another winery afterward, which I didn’t catch the name. It was closed for the holiday so I didn’t get to explore! Oh well, there is always next time =)
The sun was already setting when we left Napa to go back home, good time always fly without one ever know it ;)