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Showing posts from September, 2015

The Chef's Picks with Pairings at Rich Table in San Francisco

After five days in wine country, my husband and I headed to San Francisco for our final night in the Golden State. We were wanting the high quality, innovative cuisine for which the city is famous but after a lengthy drive we were also wanting a more casual atmosphere; Rich Table was the perfect choice. This small, noisy restaurant is located on Gough Street. Its open kitchen and close quarters encourages informality and guests may feel comfortable striking up conversations with those seated nearby.

We were seated at the communal table right next to where Chef Evan Rich was overseeing the kitchen. We opted for the Chef's Pick menu with the added beverage pairings, our own creative thinking was flagging from a bit of travel exhaustion. We feel we made a great choice, check out the pictures in the video clip.

As soon as we relinquished control over our dinner, the food and wine began to flow. We were immediately poured a glass of 2014 Broc Cellars Sparkling Cabernet Franc from Santa B…

h2hotel and Spoonbar

In historic Healdsburg, the h2hotel was my choice for lodging during my recent trip to Sonoma County wine country. I loved the eco-friendliness of this boutique hotel along with its clean, modern interior design. In addition to the excellent location and the cool decor, the service was top notch. I was assisted with restaurant reservations, spa appointments and accommodated with an early check-in time.

I enjoyed both dinner and breakfast at the Spoonbar restaurant located in the hotel lobby, the food was interesting and delicious. It is a top nighttime destination in town, the bar is happening and all the tables are full, so, reservations are recommended. A fantastic breakfast buffet which includes hot dishes cooked to order is free for hotel guests every morning.

h2hotel- A highly recommended hotel; good food, hip ambience, clean, comfortable rooms and a great location!
Spoonbar- A highly recommended restaurant and bar; innovative local cuisine with a good wine list and a cool vibe!

Napa Valley Harvest Trip 2015

After dropping our daughter off at grad school in California, my husband and I headed north to Napa Valley. As a wine writer from Houston, Texas, it seemed illogical for me to leave America's biggest wine producing state without first taking the opportunity to taste the new releases, get some information gathering done and see how the 2015 harvest was progressing up in California's premier wine region.

While I've been writing about our adventures in Napa Valley dining here, I have been putting my thoughts on the individual wineries at www.Wine-Thoughts.com.

We only had two and a half days to tour in Napa and a quick 24 hours in Sonoma County before heading back to San Francisco and home.

Follow along at Napa Harvest Trip 2015 or for the individual stories, click on the links below: 
Beaulieu VineyardsOpus OneMumm NapaZD WinesCorison WineryFranciscan, Matthiasson, Chateau Montelena and Sterling Vineyards

In Sonoma County, we toured and tasted at Quivira Vineyards in …

Hotel Yountville

Hotel Yountvilleis a highly recommended hotel in Napa Valley, in addition to its convenient central location, it features large, beautifully furnished rooms with private patios. There are numerous comfortable outdoor lounge areas for the guests to share as well. 

I enjoyed a fantastic breakfast at the restaurant, a nice massage at their spa, and a few glasses of the local sparkling at the well stocked bar in the lobby. The pool area looked inviting though it was too chilly during my stay to consider. I also found the on-site staff to be friendly and helpful with my Napa questions throughout my stay.

Old Faithful Geyser of California

This was a perfect spot for us to picnic in Calistoga. While touring wine country, we ate amazing meals out every night but we ate very casually by day. This park had covered picnic areas like pool cabanas set up around the geyser. We were able to relax in the shade in lawn chairs and eat our lunch while waiting for Old Faithful Geyser of California to blow again. 

We had purchased fried chicken sandwiches, potato salad, a gingersnap and two big bottles of water at Oakville Grocery before heading up north. We ate breakfast there, as well, while we waited on our lunch order. You can always count on them for good quality, fast, casual food. We generally like to splurge on dinner on vacations and be more frugal with our breakfast and lunch choices.

We were rehydrating from all the spitting and we were heading towards Healdsburg next, so, we didn't indulge, but beer and wine are allowed in the park as well. The park is set up to accommodate families; amenities include bathrooms, a littl…

Schramsberg Dinner at the Meritage Resort

After spontaneously booking our trip to Napa Valley during Harvest and then seeing the difficulty in getting hotel rooms, I started making dinner reservations as quickly as I could. I also started checking for events. I had been disappointed that I couldn't fit a trip to Schramsberg into our tasting schedule so I was excited to see this paired Schramsberg dinner with winemaker, Hugh Davies at the Meritage Resort. I immediately booked a place at the table.

We arrived promptly at 6:30 to enjoy our first glass of Blanc de Blancs and passed hors d'oeuvre out overlooking the vineyard. We met a nice couple from Chicago before moving down into the Estate Cave for dinner. Mystical mood lighting set the stage for the next glass of sparkling. It created a beautiful ambience but it was not the best lighting for food pictures. I ended up sitting directly across from second generation winemaker, Hugh Davies. 
I was impressed with the quality of food and the service for such a large group.…

Dinner at Bouchon Bistro in Yountville

After a phenomenal first day of wine tasting in the Napa Valley, along with an array of some excellent local cheese in the late afternoon, we found ourselves in the unfortunate position of not being as hungry as we would have liked when it was time to "get our Bouchon on." 

It was an early reservation and, in spite of the plush surroundings, the restaurant had a bit of a happy hour feel. We decided on the "build your own" cold seafood platter and some of the area's famous sparkling wine to get our evening started. A local couple at the next table struck up a conversation as soon as our order arrived. We had a great time discussing the Napa restaurant scene with them while enjoying our dinner.


Bouchon: Highly recommended- beautiful dining room, excellent service, fresh seafood, a great wine list and friendly locals!
Side Note: We, of course, also enjoyed Thomas Keller's famous boxed fried chicken at Addendum for lunch one day and Bouchon Bakery for coffee and p…

Dinner at Auberge du Soleil

On a recent trip to Napa Valley, my husband and I decided to check out the Michelin-starred restaurant,Auberge du Soleil. In addition to the amazing views that summertime dining on the terrace provides, themenu showcases local ingredients prepared with Mediterranean flair by Chef Robert Curry. It was our first night in town and we had big plans for touring and tasting on the following day. We arrived for an early alfresco dinner at 6:15pm on the covered terrace overlooking the lush resort grounds with the expectation that our multi-course meal would keep us there until sunset.

The dinner options at Auberge feature a choice of either a three course meal for $110 or four courses for $130. You can also add an extra gourmet touch to your dinner with extravagant add-ons like caviar with all the traditional garnishes, fresh truffles to top your entrees or an extra course of cheese for an extra fee. There is a Chef's selection menu with optional wine pairings as well. I ordered the self-c…