Wednesday, February 29, 2012

napa/petaluma trip

the mister and i took a little trip to napa and petaluma this weekend. we got incredibly lucky and missed any rain, and instead, had beautiful 62 degree weather and bright, sunny skies dotted with white, fluffy clouds here and there. we drank some wine, ate some amazing food, walked a lot (thank god for comfy boots!) and just had a relaxing and fun weekend.

 our first stop once we hit the napa valley was a delicious al fresco lunch at gott's roadside diner in st. helena. i had the rare ahi sandwich with ginger wasabi mayo and asian slaw and the mister had the western bacon blue ring burger. both were delicious, and we washed it all down with a cute little half bottle of siduri pinot noir.

we made our way over to sterling vineyards because a friend had recommended it and said it was a fun place to visit, with a self walking tour and tram ride up to the winery.

we hopped aboard the tram and got to see the valley from up high, it was lovely.

we were probably there about an hour and a half, walking the self tour, relaxing in the sun on the patio overlooking the valley and sipping our 5 wines that were part of the tasting. we both agreed that the wines were good, nothing to write home about, but we both loved the experience and the atmosphere of the winery.

we made a stop into dean and deluca to browse and then headed to rombauer vineyards. we did the classic tasting of 4 wines that we got to choose from a list and we really enjoyed all of them, we tasted 2 cabernet sauvignons and 2 zinfandels. i have been trying to be better about writing down when we try a wine that we love so that we can find it again, but i dropped the ball and didn't do it at rombauer. the atmosphere was lively and the tiny tasting room and the shady patio were packed. we took our glass of wine and wandered the little garden paths and took note that they have many picnic tables dotted along the shady path so it would be a great place to bring a picnic.

we checked into the hotel and relaxed for a little bit and then headed out to the bounty hunter wine bar & smokin' bbq in downtown napa for dinner. the place was packed and we could either wait for 45 minutes (the mr. had a concert to go to at 7:30 so we couldn't wait that long) or we could sit out front on the sidewalk, at the teeny tiny tables, and eat there. we were pressed for time so we chose the sidewalk, but let me tell you to avoid that at all costs. the restaurant is right next to the river, and once that sun went down and the breeze picked up, it was chilly out there. plus, the tables were so tiny they barely held our 2 entrees and 2 drinks, and i could have elbowed the next table over without even trying that hard.

all of that said, the food was worthy. we ordered the pulled pork sandwich and the rubbed and smoked brisket sandwich and both were very tender and tasty and they bring 3 different kinds of bbq sauce out to the table for you to try out. the mustard & vinegar sauce lent a nice bright acidity to the pork sandwich and was a great match. we will go back, but we will either make a reservation or make sure we have time to wait!

we walked around the downtown area along the river a bit (so cute) and decided that next time we stay, we will stay at the napa river inn, which is right in the midst of everything and on the river.

the next morning, we went to the oxbow public market (think mini ferry building/pike's place) and walked around a bit. we had grabbed coffee at the whole foods next to our hotel and were headed to sonoma for breakfast at boon fly cafe, so we were in a bit of a hurry since our stomachs were rumbling. what we saw of it was great, there was a cheese shop (super friendly), ritual coffee, pizzeria, cupcake shop, kitchen gadgety stalls and much more. we did make time to pop into fatted calf charcuterie and the guys were knowledgeable, funny and helpful. we brought home a few little corsican style air died salami (think fancy slim jims), chicharrones and some dog treats for our pooch. we will definitely be going back next time we are in napa!

stay tuned for part two, where i tell you about our must-stop place in sonoma, boon fly cafe, and how we were pleasantly surprised by petaluma (so cute!).

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