It has been years since I visited Napa and I was excited to finally show a piece of my home, the Bay Area, to my husband. It was a magical day and we ended up getting to relax with friends and make a few memories along the way. Here's a quick recap of what we did, where we ate, and places we visited, minus the wine and plus the cheese.
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Our day began at Boon Fly Cafe, located at the Carneros Inn. It's a classic farmhouse that's been transformed into a rustic eatery. I recommend the chilaquiles and avocado toast on levain bread, but above all the DONUTS! They are mini donuts, small enough to have a couple without feeling too guilty but they are super soft and generously covered in cinnamon. We got there around 10:30 am and had about an hour wait, which went by fairly quickly! In the mean time we decided to walk over to the Carneros Resort & Lounge to get in a game of Bocce ball and giant Connect Four.
Our next stop was at none other but Napa Valley's iconic Auberge du Soleil. The sun was glistening and there wasn't a cloud in the sky - a perfect start to visiting this resort. We began by walking around the sculpture garden; the grounds are filled with interesting sculptures and gorgeous plant life and it makes for a very refreshing walk. We also happened to stumble upon a tree house with large windows and french doors that open up to a private deck featuring panoramic vistas of the Napa Valley. Kind of perfect.
Our last stop before dinner was at Castello di Amorosa is a beautiful castle in the middle of Napa's wine country. The venue looks like it is in the middle of medieval Italy and I was half hoping to see Khaleesi's dragons fly overhead. I can't say much about the wine here but the grape juice (free with admission), was probably some of the SMOOTHEST grape drank I've ever had. They also sell bottles of the grape juice to go which would pair very wonderfully with some local cheese.
Our final stop for dinner was at Ciccio (pronounced chi-chi-oh), a cozy, Italian trattoria, with a huge wood-burning oven and a menu that changes daily. We waited close to 45 minutes for a table but the food did not disappoint. We ordered a cheese plate (because cheese all day every day!) and a couple of pizzas. The pizzas were outstanding and I really believe a lot of that is because it was all freshly made with local ingredients.
After brunch we drove a mile up to check out Domaine Carneros, a large European chateau that sits on the hill. We came here for the views mainly, it reminded me of a very miniature version of Palace of Versailles in France. I actually didn't know this but the grapes at this location are hand-pruned and we were able to walk through the grounds to see the grape vines. So beautifully planted!
The third stop was straight to Oxbow Public Market, a gigantic marketplace situated along the Napa River, which features a variety of local food vendors, artisan cafes and of course, the Food Network-famous, Gott's Roadside. If you're familiar with large public markets, this one is very similar to Seattle's Pike Place or San Francisco's Ferry Building. I'm all about supporting the concept of local harvesting to promote a healthy environment so this stop was a fun one! A few notables from this market include: Oxbow Cheese, Olive Press, Ritual Coffee and Three Twins Ice Cream. Basically, don't fall asleep on the olive oil and cheese samples offered around the market because you just might end up leaving with a bag of goodies.
For the night cap/dinner we went to Yountville, home of Chef Thomas Keller's The French Laundry. All my foodie friends know what I'm talking about! Side note: Thomas Keller is THE MAN! I was a bit starstruck to have met him. We wanted to take a peek inside The French Laundry (hope to dine there some day!) and he happened to be right by the front entrance, where he greeted us and made some small talk. It's so wonderful to see that a successful chef of such stature would be so personable. P.S. - he said he loved my shoes too!
Back to Bouchon Bakery: the interiors stay true to what an authentic French Bistro should look and feel like - brass accents, rustic wood tone, and mint green walls screams nothing but your typical neighborhood bistro in Paris. It exudes class without being overly pretentious. I've been to the Las Vegas location plenty of times but this one was a first. The macarons were fairly decent, although not the fluffiest I've ever had. My favorite was actually the birthday cake flavor. #NOM.
If you ever find yourself headed to Napa, give me a shout and I'll share my itinerary with you!