Sunday, April 26

napa continued: cakebread

horse outside nickel & nickel
after lunch we stop by luna (there's a good sangiovese there), and then we continue up the silverado trail for our last stop before french laundry: cakebread. the tasting here is by appointment only, and we had a few extra minutes to spare so we stopped at the winery next door (nickel & nickel). we didn't go in for a quick tasting; we got distracted by the horses playing outside so we all hopped out of the car for a photo op. they were obviously used to this kind of attention, because they thoroughly enjoyed taking pictures with us and being petted and fed (random grass nearby).
flowers and white picket fences
white picket fences outside nickel & nickel, sitting on gorgeous flowers.
cakebread vineyards
finally at cakebread. the tasting is $10 i believe...there is also a reds only for $25 or something like that, which i wasn't aware of (but would have chosen if i knew). but on our way out we wanted to buy some pinot noir which wasn't part of the tasting but asked them nicely if we could taste it - we got a small pour =] (and yes! it was delicious and we bought some)

cakebread vineyards
we also walked around the property for awhile, just relaxing in the sun before heading over to french laundry.

cakebread vineyards
flowers @ cakebread

Wednesday, April 8

napa light lunch: ubuntu

ubuntu butter
so after wine tasting we wanted to eat a super light lunch. i had received an email from open table a few weeks ago promoting various restaurants, and ubuntu was on the list. typically, i don't like to go by these types of emails, but the place looked really great and had good reviews. plus, it was vegetarian, and i wanted to ensure that none of us would somehow overeat before going to french laundry!

chickpea fries
let me just preface everything with: this restaurant is amazing!! i love it. we were all so pleasantly surprised. the food was fresh, creative, and soooo delicious. the waiter explained to us that they food is "biodynamic" - which we had not heard of. we stared at him blankly and then he explained it nicely to us. we started with chickpea fries (above). sad that there were so few - this was gone within minutes. i would say these are more chickpea-ish than fry-ish, which i like.

corn grits close up
what can i say about this dish?? only that it was so amazing and tasty, i just recently tried to re-create it. this is the "bowl of local yellow corn grits infused with goat’s milk whey (lots of parmesan, agretti, slow egg, trumpet chips with savory)" it was creamy but you couldn't really taste the goat milk. i think we all ate this one the second-fastest. this also comes in an awesome UFO shaped bowl (see it here).

cauliflower in cast iron pot
this is the cauliflower in a cast iron pot - roast-puree-raw, vadouvan, cilantro, brown butter toast. yes that is my good friend cilantro sitting at the top, but i managed to avoid it when i tasted this little creation. YUM. (and extremely cute)

bean stew with egg
bean stew: "rustic rancho gordo ‘yellow eye’ bean stew w/ torn bread, rosemary, chili & braised swiss chard." we added an egg because eggs are awesome. the menu states that you can add a "domaine de la chance" egg to any dish. (can someone please explain this "domaine de la chance" thing?)

domaine de la chance egg
here is the delicious egg up close.

sauerkraut and emmental pizza
sauerkraut and emmental pizza. absolutely delicious and destructor - who hates sauerkraut - stuffed his face with this. the way it's prepared takes the emphasis off that sauerkraut-y taste.

the rest of the photos are here.

Wednesday, April 1

napa: journey to french laundry

blue sky + clouds
ok, i have to take a break from my beijing posts. it is obvious to me at this point that it will take me forever, so i need to move on with my life.

in march, destructor and i went with some friends to napa to achieve our ultimate life goal: EAT AT THE FRENCH LAUNDRY. we lucked out with reservations (more on that later) and snagged a table for 4 on a sunday at 5:30pm, right when their dinner service opens.

so, what to do with the rest of the day? go wine tasting in napa of course! (saturday was spent in san francisco at a hotel with horrible customer service but we did eat a burma superstar which will be posted later)

our first stop sunday morning was artesa winery. it was a beautiful sunny day, even though the weather forecast had said it was going to be cloudy and rainy. lies! we arrived right before 10am, when the winery opens. on the side of the road by the entrance, there was a flock of sheep just hanging out. i squealed and we stopped the car. they were so adorable. we all got out of the car for the photo op.

we are all grazing
we are eating grass
my friend kept saying, "this is what i want to eat for dinner. mmm." how?? look at them!

once we all finally left the sheep and made it inside the artesa property, we were stunned by the gorgeous landscape.

beautiful water at artesa
artesa view
the artesa property is truly amazing. not only that, but the views were breathtaking. of course, drinking wine at 11 in the morning is always nice. the tasting was pretty good and the people were great, but my favorite part is definitely the landscape.

gorgeous views from artesa
sky + bird

we found lots of fresh herb plants around the property too. mainly, a lot of rosemary which we wished we could have taken.

see the rest of the artesa photos here.