Well, this trip was one for the books! If you haven’t been following – Mama took on a real challenge this week and extended her Food Fridays, Sharing Saturdays, Mom Mondays and took a little rehab Tuesday for a four-day trip to Napa.
In a word. Amazing.
For a woman obsessed with food, wine and beautiful scenery, it was a dream come true. That and a friend with a hotel discount to share plus a free airline ticket from years of accumulated miles.
So I took a few days off the blog to get up close with the one and only Napa Valley…And while it was hard to eat at some of the most delicious restaurants in the region and sample the area’s biggest cash crop (that would be vino, people), I took one for the team so I can report my lessons to you. (I know it’s hard, but someone has to do it, right?)
Understand – I had no reservations for anything before we went to Napa other than a plane ticket. So we totally winged it. Completely. And we did it pretty cheap. (Well as cheap as Napa can be.)
I will tell you that while every restaurant I wanted to eat at in Napa Valley said it was full and no reservations, I did manage to eat at 10 different restaurants in three days. (Again, another reason for everything in January to be focused on being healthy!) But since the food and the wine was the only thing anyone cares about, I’ll give you the list of my rundown. However, to answer the most asked question, I did not eat at The French Laundry. (But lucky for you I did take a photo of it to share with you and did a little Facebook “Check-in” for fun.)
As for wineries visited, we didn’t do as many of these, but we had a great time where we did and what we did. With a limited budget, no reservations and a short weekend, we had to be smart. That’s why Tasting Rooms within most of the towns we visit we the right idea for this trip. And most of these, we ate there, too!
What did I learn from my fantastic trip? That it was possible to go many places just on a whim. Almost everywhere we went, we called prior to coming and told “we’re fully committed tonight.” Then we showed up and almost without any wait AT ALL, we got a table. Now it may have not be the best table in the house (sometimes we were seated at the bar, but at LaSalette the bar is the best place in the house since you can watch the chef staff create food masterpieces.)
Also, what did I learn? That there’s lots of amazing food to be enjoyed in Napa Valley and it doesn’t have to be a $250 nine-course, three-hour tasting. (Unfortunately, my curiosity is still peaked and I still would like someone to sponsor my trip to The French Laundry to dispel all my thoughts about it…) It’s small, simple and enjoyable if you like food and wine. IF you are looking for other activities, seek refuge in San Francisco. The only “kid” thing I found in Napa Valley was Sonoma’s TrainTown and I bet it was way more than my tastings.
As my learning lesson comes to a close, I’ll share my advice. The next trip I would probably have a few ideas of what I wanted to and perhaps spend a little more time in Northern Napa Valley (Calistoga, St. Helena and Yountville) and skip Napa and Sonoma all together. And I totally would love to enjoy more sparkling wine experiences that I didn’t have time to visit this go around like my cousin’s favorite, Shramsberg, Mumm and Domaine Chandon. And certainly a trip to the recently awarded Michelin star in Calistoga, Solbar.
So, I conquered this field trip…But what’s next for another food adventure? HOLIDAY!