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4/14/10

Surprise Birthday Trip to Napa, Ca

My birthday was such a treat this year.  It started Saturday morning, April 3rd.  I knew my boyfriend Aaron had something planned but I had no idea where we were going.  He told me to pack clothes for the night and mentioned that I would not be back home till Sunday evening.  We hopped in the car and started to head out.  We got on 680 going towards Sacramento.  I was really thrown for a loop..  I figured we would head to Monterey or Carmel.  So I sat and eagerly anticipated my arrival location.

We crossed the Benicia bridge and I was still confused and then I wondered if we were going to the Sonoma race track?  I asked and he laughed and said no we are not going to the race track.  Any way a few miles went by and then I saw the big sign for Napa.  I was like hrmm could this be happening.  Is he really taking me to Napa?  Finally he spoke, something like, did you figure it out yet?  I was like yes, I think it's, it's Napa.  He was like well all these signs did not help me keep my secret. 

The rest of a trip was still top secret.  My mind was racing with thoughts of wine, food, cheese, olives.. oh my where would we eat?  So many good places.

The first stop was at the Oakville Grocer.  Aaron thought it was best to get a little food in the belly before running off to wine tasting.  This is a wonderful little shop with lots of goodies.  We split a Black Forest Ham and Brie sandwich.  The sandwich came on wonderful hard crusted french bread with whole grain mustard.  Oh and of course I had to snatch up some of the house made kalamata olives to go with my sandwich.  With our belly's full we headed out to do some wine tasting.













We stopped at Robert Mondavi Winery.  We tasted three wines for $20.00 per person.  This is really not that good of a deal, but we decided to stay and try.  We had 2007 PNX Pinot Noir, 2006 Cab, and 2006 T Block.  We both ended up really liking the Pinot, and decided to purchase a bottle.  The wine taster did not have enough bottles to sell at his counter and directed us to the main shop to purchase the wine.  This is something I have never run into while wine tasting.  No biggie I guess, especially since he never charged us for the tasting.













The next stop was Turnbull Wine Cellars.  I have never visited this winery before, but it was across the street so we decided to hit it up.  We tasted about 4 wines and walked out with a bottle of 2007 Old Bull Merlot.













Finally, we ended up at Peju Province Winery.













This is one of my favorite winery's to visit, firstly it is a beautiful place, and secondly they make really good wine.  When we got there we waited in the main lobby shop for about five minutes then we were escorted up stairs to a tasting room above a wine barrel room.













We tasted about 5 different wines, and left with 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006 Cabernet Franc, and Provence.  The first time I had Cab Franc was at Peju and I always make a point to pick some up when I am in Napa.

A big thing also about Peju, is that most all of their sales are direct to customer, you cannot pick their stuff up at any stores - so if you want the good stuff, you gotta make the trip, or hit up their website.

Well, after all the yummy tastings I needed a break, so we headed to the hotel.  We stayed at the Marriott Napa Valley Hotel & Spa.  After checking in and resting a bit in the room I sent Aaron to get some ice.  He came back with ice, and booked me a facial in the spa for the following morning.  The surprises just kept coming!      

We got ready for dinner, and heading out.  I had no idea where we were heading.  We ended up in Yountville, home of Bottega, French Laundry, Adhoc, Bouchon, and many more.  Well, we stood in front of the Bouchon Bakery and he said we are eating at Bouchon.  I looked at the bakery, and was a little concerned.  Then he said over there, I did not even see the Bouchon Bistro.  I was so happy, I love my Bouchon cookbook and eating there for my birthday was a wonderful surprise.







































Before sitting down to our table we wondered next door to the famous Bouchon Bakery.  We picked up some Chocolate Bouchon's, and Caramel, and Chocolate Macaroon.






























Aaron went back to the car and stored the bakery goods.  I waited for him watching all the people come in and out of the bakery with goodies in hand.  The smell of the fresh bread could of kept be busy for some time.  Before I knew it Aaron was back and we heading into Bouchon.

The food at Bouchon was out of this world.  We ordered a bottle of wine and started with French Bread, Toasted Croutons, White Bean Spread, and Butter.  I am looking forward to making that bean spread, it was so tasty with the bread.  I almost liked it more than the butter and I am a butter girl.  I did not get a picture of the bread they bring to the table, it is in the shaped to resemble a wheat stock- so beautiful.













Then we had Pâté De Campagne, a country style pate that literally made my knees shake. So many wonderful flavors, absolutely delicious.  













For the main course Aaron ordered Bouillabaisse.  They bring this bowl filled of seafood and then they pour the stock over it, the smells for the proper made stock made me feel so proud.  Knowing that I learned how to make stock from the same method they use made me so giddy.













I ordered Gigot d'Agneau: roasted leg of lame with English peas, green garlic, rhubarb confit, young turnips & lamb jus.  Mouth watering lamb, very simple and cooked perfectly. I ordered it medium rare and loved every last bloody bite of it.













For dessert they made me Chocolate Bouchon with caramelized banana, and a banana ice cream with chocolate sauce.













We fished that off and headed back to the hotel.

The next morning we had a little bite to eat before my facial.  As you can see I look a little nervous.













After receiving my first facial I was so relaxed and ready to head back to Yountville.  Another winery we always hit up is Jessup Cellar's.













I'm not sure if they have a tasting fee, most of the people are there because they have been there before and they are going to buy wine.  I like tasting there because they let you taste so many of the wines they make, 6 total I believe.  We ended up leaving with the 2006 Zinfandel, 2006 Cab, and 2008 Chardonnay.  They finished off the tasting with some Cabernet Port.  I really enjoyed this port and dreamed of all the things I could cook with it.  Next time I will have to treat myself to a little bottle.

On our way out of town we hit up Bouchon Bakery one last time for a dozen brioche rolls, and a pistachio and raspberry macaroon.  We went back to the Oakville Grocery and picked up some meats and cheese and headed home.  Our Easter dinner was just perfect.  Wonderful meats and cheeses on those tasty Bouchon Bakery brioche rolls.  Perfect end to the perfect birthday.

Thanks you my Sweet for the wonderful weekend, and my new GLOBAL 10" Chef Knife!

4 comments:

JediAaron said...

Glad you had a great birthday! Loves ya :)

Lazaro Cooks! said...

Saw your profile on another page. Glad I read your informative and well-written blog. Look forward to following you here. Cheers! Happy belated birthday.

climbhighak said...

Excellent way to celebrate. After eyeballing both the Bouchon and FL cookbooks, I have to say I would rather eat the real food of Bouchon.

Amy Lucille said...

There was a lady that blogged her way the FL cookbook. Some crazy stuff going on there. I remember she had a pea sized Mellon baller. She was making tiny little carrot balls. Thomas Keller is so precise.

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