Foodie Sunday : I left my heart in Napa valley!
Hello to all! It's been awhile since I've been here, but trust me, I've missed you all so much! I've been traveling quite a bit this fall, first to Las Vegas which was a week long food and fun fest. Of course there was plenty of time for shopping and I came home with two new favorites; Tom Fords unbelievably tempting "Shanghai Lily", which is literally what you'd smell if you distilled 500 stargazer lilies. Next was Balenciaga's absolutely lovely "Paris", a beautiful Violet scent that just captured my husbands heart so much that he wouldn't leave me alone until I went back and bought the bottle! (What a guy!) If you haven't been to Las Vegas for awhile, I promise that you ARE missing a lot when it comes to amazing food to enjoy and you owe it to yourself to spend a weekend there enjoying the world class restaurants. I was pretty blown away by the wonderful meals that I ate but the most memorable was a romantic dinner at the top of the Eiffel Tower in the Paris hotel. A perfect blue cheese souffle, a remarkable unconstructed Caesar salad, pan seared scallops with sage and browned butter and champagne (which my husband ordered before I ever got a chance to think about it!) was eclipsed only by the amazing sunset view of the Bellagio fountains. Magnificent!
Fast forward two weeks which found me aboard a plane bound for San Diego to act as the Officiant at my nephews wedding which was absolutely beautiful AND made even more complete by the pod of about 30 whales that were migrating off the Del Mar coast and entertaining us. The whole weekend beginning with the sunset Champagne toast at the Salk Institute , an amazing black tie rehearsal dinner and ending with an English brunch at his uncles house set on beautiful cliffs overlooking the Pacific was incredible~ an absolutely unforgettable moment in time.
After the wedding we decided to stick around and play in the ocean for a few days and then go to Napa Valley for the weekend. We flew into San francisco, spent an amazing few hours in the Ferry Market Building eating the most delicious grass fed roasted garlic cheeseburger ever and a free range Chili dog. Then it was off to spend the evening with the fabulous Laurie Stern of Velvet and Sweet Peas Purrfumery(more about that visit later!) and the next day we were off to Napa and Sonoma!
Late September is harvest season in Napa valley and the intoxicating smell of crushed grapes was present everywhere from the moment that I got out of my car. To say that it was beautiful is an understatement, it is autumn there right now and although the colors aren't as vibrant as the fall colors back east you could smell the seasons change. I spent hours roaming the Oxbow Market, eating fresh tamales, sweetly briny oysters and sampling strawberries, tomatoes and fresh figs.
Jim's brothers and their wives met us a few hours later and we spent the rest of the day eating wonderful food and drinking some pretty incredible wine as we went from vineyard to vineyard. The next day we spent our time at Castelo di Amarosa which is one of the most amazing places that I've ever seen. It should come as no surprise to anyone that I'm a Medievalist and Castelo di Amarosa is a perfect replica of a 13th century Tuscan castle replete with drawbridge, dungeon and great room and the dining room of my dreams. It is also a working farm with chickens that wander the vineyard and lots of goats and sheep. We spent hours there drinking wonderful wine and just enjoying the magnificent views of the Calistoga Valley from every angle of the castle. It was like stepping back in time and we enjoyed every minute of it.
Our last stop before going back to Berkeley that evening was in downtown Napa for a scoop of gelato to feed my husbands never-ending sweet tooth! Flavor of the day? A fragrant blend of Blackberry, Sage and Cabernet which was a perfect ending to an absolutely magnificent day! To say that I was sure that I'd fallen into a bit of heaven was an understatement. If you've never been I can promise you that Napa Valley is all that they say it is and more. I didn't see enough of it and I want to go back as soon as possible!
Have you been anywhere recently that stole your heart?