It’s hard to believe I started a blog to share all my fun (mostly food and drink) adventures with you all and haven’t bothered to blog in 4 months. There are some half written blogs hiding somewhere on my computer including an entry about my Restaurant Week adventures from May and one about a great wine dinner I went to as well… Maybe one day they will get posted!
In the mean time earlier this month I went on what I’d like to consider my first ever adult road trip with my friend Maureen. I went on a road trip to Yellowstone when I was a kid that included stops in Yellowstone, Denver, Reno and a night in Utah but other than that and what used to be pretty frequent trips to Portland and two drives alone down to LA I’ve never been on a road trip with friends.
We started our trip with a stop in Portland. We stayed the night with my good friend Jessica! We went to Teardrop and saw Daniel and Art ( a new face to me). I hate when I forget to take notes about what I have to eat or drink at a place. I picked an awesome drink of the menu and totally don’t remember what it was called L.
The next morning we were off to East Bay to stay with my family in Walnut Creek for a couple nights so we could A) not drive 15 plus hours and B) so we could go to Napa!
I was very fortunate to have seen my friend Chris Nishiwaki and spoke with him and his good friend Bryan Otis about some places I needed to visit in Napa. I narrowed it down to three wineries (and let me tell you we barely even had time for lunch with these three!). First we went to Pride which not only had a fantastic Merlot but also has a great Cab Franc that we were just in time to sample as they typically sell out of it a few weeks after it is released! This winery sits up on a crazy hill that is both in Napa and Sonoma Counties. The road is so crazy they sell shirts that say I survived the ride to Pride! We then quickly moved on to our appointment at Cakebread. This was my least favorite of the three wineries we visited. I don’t know if I felt the experience was to rushed, that we tasted all six wines at the same time and didn’t really walk around or the fact that I didn’t really love any of the wine but all in all I’d rate it last out of the three. Out of the wines we tried I think I liked the Chardonnay Reserve the best.
Maureen and I at Pride
After Cakebread we needed to squeeze in some lunch. Our guide at Cakebread suggested going to Oxbow Market which reminded me of the Ferry Building San Francisco. Now I won’t remember who to me but it makes perfect sense that they seem so similar as I learned they were built by the same developer. We did a quick jaunt through the building and decided on a
Peruvian pardon me Venezuelan place called Pica Pica. It was awesome! I had a Cachapas and my friend had a Maize’Wich. We each had a side. I had half globes of fried plantain filled with chicken, guacamole and ham and Maureen ordered Yuca fries. After we got our lunch we stopped by Kara's Cupcakes which I knew from the Marina area of San Francisco. I had a yummy chocolate cupcake filled with caramel and was topped with some sea salt. Maureen who isn’t a cupcake lover even agreed that Kara's was pretty yummy!
Cachapas (corn pancake) with Pabellon (shredded beef, sweet plantains, black beans and queso fresco from Pica Pica
After our super quick lunch we headed over to Hendry in Napa, our last winery of the day. This was the longest of our tours at two and a half hours. We were going to walk the vineyards, learn about the wine making process and then taste all 11 of their wines that they produce with grapes from their site.
What was Unique about this winery was the tight knit group of people that ran it from George Hendry ( who’s lived on the property since he was two I believe) to the 12 or so year round staff they have. The least tenured has been there somewhere around 15 years I believe. The staff does everything from grafting to pulling leaves on the plants to helping out inside when they are producing.
It was really interesting to learn about the different types of grapes, how they graft all their plants (most wineries don’t and this gives them a large advantage when they have plants with problems) and the process of making the wine. We learned how many of the more sugary white wines often get diluted with water to lower their sugar content. Hendry has a process of separating the sugars out and they use it in their rose. Shortly after this I tuned out as I was hot, tired and ready for some wine. I’m sure Maureen could tell us all even more interesting wine production information.
So both of us decided Hendry was our favorite winery. Not only was our guide Jeff great we really enjoyed the wines. We even bought a case of their Pinot Gris which we really enjoyed. The unoaked chardonnay and Block 28 Zinfandel were also great.
My friend Tom had mentioned to me that The Culinary Institute of America had a campus near Napa so we went to check it out. The grounds used to be a winery and they were gorgeous. It was the end of the day so we poked our heads in looked around the store, saw some students making some chocolates and headed over to The Wine Spectator to grab a bite to eat. The view was beautiful and the food was good. We had lamb keftka with garbanzo beans and a chef’s assortment of appetizers.
All in all the first few days of our trip were great!