Friday, March 18, 2011


These days seem to be going by rather quickly. Which is why it's nice to getaway once in a while to a place where time seems to stand still. A place surrounded by rolling green hills, nature, wine, great food, and extremely friendly people. This past weekend, Matt and I took a relaxing trip to the North Bay to explore Yountville and other parts of Napa. (The above picture was taken behind the Yountville Dean & Deluca. Looks like something out of the French countryside doesn't it?) This is going to be a rather long post, since I have so many pictures to share.

Speaking of Dean & Deluca, I had been pestering Matt about coming here since we started planning the trip. I don't know what my obsession is with this store, it's probably because I'm notorious for being willing to pay gross amounts of money on "specialty" food items, especially cookies and candies. That, plus I just really enjoy the layout and the feel of the store.

I was hard to resist picking up some cold cuts for a nice little picnic since we were lucky enough to catch the good weather, but we had to save our appetite for what would be a delicious and very hearty lunch.

I adore the presentations of their desserts! They're so creative and just so darn cute.

Ok, so we did walk out of the store with a few things--cheesecake caramels and nougat.

We probably could have stayed at Dean & Deluca for a little while longer but to avoid buying anymore goodies, we made a quick getaway and left with about 10% of what we had originally had in our hands. Matt and I made it to our lunch spot a little early, so we walked around the property to look at some of the small lettuce and herb plots they had growing around the side of and behind the restaurant. We even found a tree swing! That pretty much occupied our 15 minutes before the restaurant opened.

I really like the concept of Farmstead. They feature farm to table meals using seasonal and local ingredients in each dish. From the veggies, to the herbs, to the meat, everything comes from either Long Meadow Ranch or other local purveyors. To me it was like cozy, hearty, farm house food but dressed up. I could totally see myself becoming a farmer if this was fed to me on a daily basis.

"Potted Pig"
This was such an amazing appetizer. It was a pork riette with a fat cap on top served with honey mustard and crispy, buttery crostini. I could have seriously sat here all day drinking wine and eating potted pig.

I had the gnocchi with beef ragu.
Very well prepared gnocchi with tender beef and tangy, rich tomato sauce.

LMR Burger.
Best burger ever. Both Matt and I have had our fair share of $15+ burgers that weren't worth their money, but this burger is a different story. I could taste the burger before I even took a bite. It smelled so rich and beefy--it was delicious. And the potatoes with the fried sage were also amazing. I'm definitely a French fry person, but these potatoes really caught me off guard and I didn't miss the fries at all.

Lunch was so filling that we could barely fit anything else in our bellies...including wine. But we were in Napa, and this is what we came for--the food and wine.

We tasted some really great local olive oils, sauces, balsamic vinegars, and many different types of imported salts. We even picked up a few jars of heirloom tomato sauce and butternut squash sauce. Both were well worth it.

Robert Mondavi
I know you see Robert Mondavi everywhere. It's no secret that it's massed produced and some even talk down on the quality of wine. But like it's other mass produced competitor, Gallo, they were among the first to produce wine in Napa Valley and that deserves a great amount of respect and recognition. Plus, if you're a fan of the pricey Opus One wine you'll be surprised to learn that Opus one is a joint venture between Robert Mondavi and Baron Phillippe de Rothschild.

Robert Mondavi has a beautiful property, with hectares and hectares of vineyards located at the foot of Napa's rolling green hills.
It's a great way to enjoy a glass of wine and maybe a picnic...if we weren't so full.

After all that food and wine we were experiencing a serious food coma and decide to go back to the hotel to rest up before dinner at Bouchon.

The moment that I had been waiting for all day, Bouchon! A visit to Napa wouldn't be complete without a visit to a Thomas Keller creation, right? It's no French Laundry, but we're slowly (VERY slowly) eating out way up the restaurant hierarchy.
I love brasserie food. I guess what I really mean is that I love a good steak frites.

The seating is a bit snug, but not quite as snug and uncomfortable as Les Halles in New York. And the food was much better, especially the fries.

A bottle of Chateauneuf-du Pape that we brought with us, and thank goodness we did because a bottle from the same estate would have cost us double at Bouchon.

Lobster Bisque.
This had really deep lobster flavor, and the lobster croquette was so good. I don't know if it's just because I haven't had lobster in a long time of if this was really THAT good. But we pretty much licked the plate clean.

Matt had the Berkshire Pork Loin

And I of course had the Steak Frites.
The flat iron steak was cooked to a perfect med. rare, and maybe even a little under that which was great. And there was a MOUNTAIN of perfectly cooked fries. I don't know if Thomas Keller would be insulted by this, but they were like McDonald's fries that held their crisp better. I was in French fry heaven.

Pot du Creme with Lime Curd
Delicious. I'm a sucker for custards and really any dessert with an eggy taste, and this went really well with the thick, tangy, lime curd cap.
I usually don't drink coffee (mostly because Starbucks' sour coffee has turned me off to all coffee), but if it's at a nice restaurant I'm usually compelled to get a cup because I know I won't be disappointed.

I have to say, this was a rather successful trip!
I have a feeling we'll be going back to Napa real soon.

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