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Posts Tagged ‘Wine Country’

Every time I step into Bouchon Bakery, it steals a little piece of my heart. I always joke that I’m going to set the alarm so that I can run over when the bakery opens and be the first in line. Tobey never thinks that I’m joking.

It all started when I had one simple sandwich- cashew butter and raspberry preserves on brioche. So creamy. So crunchy. So sweet.

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I had that sandwich once and haven’t found it since. I finally asked one of the girls and she told me that they stopped making it. That just means that I need to try to replicate it at home, right?

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There is always a line… always. Even on a rainy day like this one.

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Time for a cherry chocolate scone! Chunks of chocolate chips and cherries, drizzled with a sweet cherry glaze. Add a side of fruit and there’s no guilt involved. 🙂

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And because we don’t kid around when it comes to Bouchon, we went back for sandwiches later in the day.

I had a turkey sandwich, which was kicked up a notch. Bouchon has a way of taking normal things and bringing them to a whole new level.

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And on the last day, it rained!

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I would take this as a sign that it’s time to leave, but well…

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We had to get that guy fixed first. 😉

Thanks for coming along on our trip. I hope that I didn’t bore you to tears with my super long posts!

Do you have a trip planned that you’re looking forward to?

-Laura

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Hi! Is anyone watching the Golden Globes right now? I actually like watching the red carpet special more than the actual show- I love seeing what everyone is wearing!

(rewind to Saturday)

We started the day by walking into town for some coffee. I got a cafe au lait with nonfat milk.

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I felt compelled to take a picture of the Dr Wilkinson’s Hot Springs Resort sign. It always cracks me up- we stayed here and got mud baths two years ago, if you can believe it. The place is so ridiculous (a total throw-back) and I have to say that a mud bath is worth trying… once.

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Then, we went back to our inn for breakfast. Rick, one of the innkeepers, is a trained chef and is known for his 3-course breakfasts.

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We started with the orange currant anaise scones.

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Fresh mango and granny smith apple with proscuitto, toasted walnuts, and rum-infused cherries:

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Truffled parmesan polenta, sauteed spinach, poached egg:

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The breakfast was so decadent and delicious- it kept us full for hours. After that, we checked out and started our drive through Napa Valley.

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We stopped at Rombauer for a tasting.

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I’m not always a huge fan of chardonnays, but this one was really good.

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Mustard fields…

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And Cakebread! We had a fabulous guide named Paul, who has lived in the area for over 25 years. He was such a sweet man.

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We drove through the town of St Helena, so of course I had to stop at Woodhouse Chocolate.

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Like the Tiffany of chocolate! So sleek and fancy.

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I got a brown butter ganache and a peanut croquant. Surprisingly, I haven’t tried either one yet…

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We grabbed some sushi to share (it was gone so fast that I didn’t even get a picture) from Sunshine Foods since we had to get to an appointment at Beringer.

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I normally prefer open tasting rooms to set appointments, but our innkeeper recommended this tour so we went with it.

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We had an awesome guide named Dean, who spent 2 1/2 hours teaching us how to pair wines. I can’t say that I’ve ever taken interest in pairing before, but learning what foods & wines work together was really interesting.

For example, cabernet sauvignon goes well with salty + citrusy foods, but not with sweet foods. He used salt, lemon and red apple to prove this.

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Look at the scene by the time we were finished!

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We stopped at the original Oakville Grocery in Oakville. Does this sound familiar? We went to the store in Healdsburg the other day. 🙂

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I was so excited, only to find out that they had just closed. 😦

By the time we got to Yountville, we were tired and in the mood for an unplanned night. Who knew that eating good food could be so exhausting?

So, I cancelled our reservation at Ad Hoc (I love Thomas Keller, but the thought of a 4-course meal wasn’t appealing at that point!) and we went to Hurley’s instead.

I had the rosemary & maple roasted chicken, with lemon preserve, carmelized pearl onions, broccoli rabe, and macaroni & cheese with bacon. I prefer boneless chicken, but this hit the spot.

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Tonight is our last night here before we fly home tomorrow! Do you have tomorrow off from work? I love holiday weekends, but I often think that I don’t appreciate the meaning behind the days off. Do you know what I mean?

Time to get ready for dinner!

-Laura

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Dinner at JoLe

Last night, we had dinner at JoLe in Calistoga. They describe themselves as being a “farm to table,” Contemporary American restaurant.

We opted to sit at the bar, which led to the service being slow and spotty. Does this ever happen to you? The food was really good, but the poor service sort of took away from our overall experience.

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The plates were small, so we shared a bunch of different things.

We started with the roasted cauliflower since I saw that the man next to us was eating it. He cracked me up because he ate the cauliflower, but left the lentils and raisins on his plate. 🙂

Roasted Cauliflower- lentils, raisins, butternut curry:

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Sea scallops- potato latkas, apple sauce, mushrooms:

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Branzino- broccoli rabe, peanut sambal, carrot ginger puree:

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Roasted Quail- brussels sprouts & garlic mashed potatoes:

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And now, my favorite…

Mascaparone Cheesecake- sugar cookie crust, blood oranges:

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The cheesecake was amazing. The mascarpone mellowed out the cream cheese flavor, and the sugar cookie crust added a nice twist.

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Do you decide if you’re going to order dessert ahead of time or do you just order it if you’re in the mood and something looks good?

Maybe I’m weird, but I sort of set it up in my head ahead of time whether or not I’m going to get dessert! I think I look forward to it more if I do that… either that, or I’m just crazy. 😉

-Laura

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Happy weekend!

So last I wrote, we were on our way to Cyrus for a drink. It was a great place for a pre-dinner drink because it was just a block or two from our hotel.

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Sure enough, I got the Meyer Beautiful! The egg white foam on top of the drink was so unique… in a good way.

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After that, we headed back to the plaza for our reservation at Scopa. We had a hard time finding the restaurant because there was no sign anywhere and the restaurant was really small. Luckily, the address popped into my head and we found our way.

We ordered the lupini beans (which reminded me of edamame) and the polenta special to start.

I really wish that I had a better camera, if only so that you guys could see how delicious this polenta looked. It was bubbling and sizzling when it arrived in its scorching hot cast iron skillet. To the point where the leftover cheese got that good, crunchy texture to it. OMG, you guys. The cheese! The cremini mushrooms! After my first bite, I forgave Tobey for over-ordering. 🙂

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We shared the pizza special, which had leeks, ricotta insalata,marinara and homeade sausage on it.

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This morning, we went to the gym and then I walked over to Flying Goat for coffee.

I needed coffee after last night – random tangent here – somehow we got a room next to a bar that had Thursday night karaoke. This was annoying because our hotel was definitely nowhere near being full and they had to know that the bar next door has Thursday night karaoke. It was funny at first, but not when I was trying to fall asleep! Frustrating, right?

Anyway, there was a long line for coffee and somehow I ended up talking to a girl about blogs that we read. Fast friends in a coffee shop line? I love it.

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I got a soy cafe au lait (coffee and steamed soymilk).

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Tobey and I met back up at the karaoke bar hotel for breakfast. I always look forward to their housemade granola- it has almonds, pecans, walnuts, peanuts, coconut and brown sugar in it. I don’t know what else is in it, but it’s so addicting.

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Relaxing after breakfast…

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Tobey, at his fancy winery- this picture cracks me up because he looks so serious.

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We headed over the mountain and now we’re in Napa Valley… we’re staying in Calistoga for the night before we head over to Yountville. Calistoga reminds of an old Western walking town… it doesn’t seem like much changes here, which totally adds to the charm.

We had lunch at Bosko’s, an Italian restaurant.

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I had the minestrone soup and we shared a quattro formaggio (mozzarella, fontina, gorgonzola and pecorino) pizza. Pizza for dinner and pizza for lunch!

We hated it–

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Then, we walked over to the Sharpsteen Museum of Calistoga History.

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I learned that Calistoga became a popular vacation spot in 1850, after people realized that they had access to stock ticker tape and telegraph service. It seems like people gravitate towards places with hot springs, which tells me that people have always been somewhat interested in healing methods. 🙂

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After our little history lesson, we checked into the Chanric Inn. The innkeeper, Ric, was very welcoming & hospitable. Places like this make me love bed & breakfasts.

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I am so looking forward to the 3 course breakfast tomorrow morning after seeing this…

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Do you prefer staying in hotels or bed & breakfasts?

I like a mix of both… sometimes, I like the predictability of hotels, and other times, I like the unpredictability of bed & breakfasts.

-Laura

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The weather today… to die for! It has been unseasonably (and unreasonably?) cold in the Southeast lately, so California is proving to be the perfect escape from the cold weather. It was a gorgeous day today, so we walked around town after breakfast…

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I have been oohing and ahhing over the clouds today (dork!), so of course I took some pictures to show you guys.

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A cute little theatre…

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Interesting architecture…

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And a spontaneous wine tasting in the Kendall Jackson Tasting Room! We met a couple yesterday that was raving about their visit to Kendall Jackson, so I had their wines on my mind.

Honestly, my expectations were low because I’ve always thought that their wines are so widely distributed that the quality can’t possibly be good, but boy was I wrong!

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Sauvignon blancs are always my favorite.

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Next, we walked to the Oakville Grocery for lunch. Total foodie stop- it’s like a small, gourmet market that reminds me of Dean & Deluca.

It was so nice outside that we ate lunch on the patio!

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We shared an applewood smoked ham sandwich and roasted bell pepper soup.

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The dutch crunch roll totally made this sandwich… a little less dijonaise and this sandwich would have been perfect.

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We split (and when I say split, I mean that Tobey got a bite) the dark chocolate sea salt grahams. Is it weird that I think of certain bloggers at random times during the day? Because this totally had Angie’s name written all over it! 🙂

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After lunch, we headed out to do some more wine tasting. First stop? Rochioli, where we met a family from Georgia.

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They have so much land, so it was neat to look at a map and be able to see where each wine came from.

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Christie, this one is for you… introducing Sweetpea, the vineyard’s cat! So pretty.

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We stopped at Gary Farrell, which was perched on top of a hill.

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View from the top:

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Driving along…

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Last stop of the day was at J Winery. We had a fun pourer named Ron… he was definitely not short on stories to tell! 😉

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We’re resting up before we head over to Cyrus for a drink, and then Scopa for dinner.

We walked by Cyrus this morning, so I already have my eye on one of their cocktails- the Meyer Beautiful. It’s made with meyer lemon vodka, meyer lemon juice, elderflower syrup, egg white foam and meyer lemon zest, with a black lava salt rim. Got all of that? 😉

-Laura


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Hi guys! I got into San Francisco at 11:00 this morning… on time!

I grabbed a tall soy misto (really hot drink while walking to the gate= not the brightest idea), an unpictured blueberry scone, and an US Weekly to get me through the flight. I only buy US Weekly when I fly, and I think that Tiger Woods has been on the cover every time for the last two months! Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego Tiger?

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I watched The September Issue, which I’ve been wanting to see since, well, September. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at Vogue and Anna Wintour, and while it was good, it was pretty predictable. I’m not convinced that Anna Wintour is “as nice” in real life as she appeared in the movie.

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We got into our rental car, but not long after, we stopped for the gorgeous views…

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Alcatraz Island

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Healdsburg is in Sonoma County, which is ~70 miles from San Francisco. Not a bad drive at all!

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We had lunch at Cafe Gratitude, which is right off of the town square.

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It’s a really neat place- every dish had a positive affirmation associated with it, and the food was as fresh as can be.

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I got the ‘I Am Worthy’ juice- kale, beet, celery, apple and ginger.

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8 oz of goodness:

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Tobey ordered the turnip soup to start… I had a few bites and it was creamy and full of flavor.

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I had a 1/2 order of the ‘I Am Graceful’ bowl…

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Oh, so good. This was so fresh & tasty that I definitely had a “I’m full, but I can’t stop eating this because it’s so good” moment.

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Next up? Wine tasting at Ridge. Interestingly enough, we had the same pourer as last year!

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I put Michel Schlumberger on our list after reading about it on Jenna’s blog. We had a really friendly pourer named Francesco and had so much fun talking to him that we stayed for probably an hour and a half.

I can never get over how genuine and friendly everyone is here- I love just sitting around, drinking wine, and talking to all different types of people.

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We have a reservation at Zin tonight, so I’ll pretend that you guys care and let you know how it is. 🙂

-Laura

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* I tried to post this last night but my internet connection wasn’t working! *

Hi! Happy Bachelor Monday! Is anyone else a Bachelor fanatic like me? Each season just gets more and more ridiculous… like, is this season for real?! Not gonna lie- I’ve already read this season’s spoilers on realitysteve.com. 😉

Monday isn’t so bad when I have yoga + The Bachelor to look forward to. Oh, and TJ’s nonfat greek vanilla yogurt and maple pecan clusters. I love this combo so much that I ate it for breakfast AND lunch today.

I can’t think of the last time that I ate the same thing for two meals in a row. Do you ever do that? Or, are you a creature of habit and eat the same breakfast, lunch or dinner every day?

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So, I’m flying out to San Francisco on Wednesday morning. ROAD TRIP- Tobey and I are driving up to Sonoma and Napa from there. We’ll be stopping in Healdsburg, Calistoga and Yountville. This is our third trip there and I couldn’t be more excited. Have you ever been to CA wine country?

I’m bringing my laptop with me so that you guys can come along! 🙂

-Laura

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