Napa

Swing
Napa valley is one of the most beautiful places in the world.  I was saying today that when Fred and I drove across country after graduating college for 6 weeks that driving up the California coastline was hands down our favorite part.  Napa, Big Sur and Carmel are just jaw dropping. 

We are staying at the Carneros Inn.  We should have tried and stayed her a few more days, its wonderful.  The property sits on numerous vineyards.  Small bungalows with old school style porches and rocking chairs, outdoor showers (indoor too), your own personal backyards, fireplaces, and each room has a different colored door.  Fred and I have our own room and Jessica, Emily have one and Josh is solo and loving every minute.  The is a big communal area in the front where you can have a drink that has an outdoor fire place.  Very California and just so gorgeous. 

Our plane was screwed up.  Won't even go there as I am sick of travel issues.  We were so hungry by the time we got here that once we got to the Carneros Inn we immediately went to The Boon Fly Cafe which is one of the restaurants on the property.  Serving breakfast through dinner.  We had a variety of things from salads to sandwiches and everyone was happy.  Good basic organic food with a bit of a twist.  Yum. 

Some of the kids hit the pool.  It is unseasonably warm here today and a few others hit the spa.  I was one of the spa goers.  Nice facility.  There is a pool in that area too if you have no interest in hearing noise which is always a good feature.

We drove into Sonoma for dinner.  Such a cute town that basically hasn't changed at all since I had been for the first time 25 years ago.  Old architecture and of course some new that has definitely taken into account the integrity of the town.  We had dinner at El Dorado Kitchen.

The restaurant is part of the El Dorado hotel.  I loved that when we walked in they were having a wine tasting and there was a small trio playing Wilco.  They played all night in the bar area. 

The restaurant is big and airy.  Large open kitchen and the menu was a tad heavy.  Even though they arePizza
slowly moving out of winter, the weather to me seems like spring so the menu was more a reflection of the winter months which I understand.  There were a few highs and a few whatevers. 

To split, we began with a warm olive plate which was fine but we also split a fried egg pizza which stole the show.  Thin but not too thin crusted pizza so there was a bread feeling to it that was browned and covered in mozzarella and thin slices of house made ham and a few sunny side up eggs.  Absolutely genius and delicious. 

The other high notes were some of the salads.  I bunch of us got the maiche beet salad which was a hit.  Deconstructed with a bunch of sliced red and yellow beets, a handful of maiche, some sections of blood oranges and grapefruits and a thin wedge of goat cheese and a very very light citrus vinaigrette.  Simple yet delicious.  For dinner, there were some fish eaters who seemed to be happy.  Fred had the bouillabaisse which he said was just okay.  I went with the steak but the bio dynamic organic stuff, I think, sometimes leaves the meat flavorless and that is exactly what I'd call this.  Accompanied with a sliced celery root made into a gratin.  Nothing wowed me about the main course.  My niece on the other hand had the macaroni and cheese which was so decadent and I finally asked our waiter to take the bowl away as I seemed to be eating more of it than her.

Desserts were amazing.  The pastry chef is supposedly one of the best in the country.  We went with 3 to split.  Chocolate mousse with espresso anglaise, chocolate ganache and vanilla ice cream.  I admit that I was late to this plate and only had a tiny taste as I begged for the last bite.  Tasty.  Ice cream sandwiches were really good.  Large pieces of rectangular short bread that is about an inch thick, 2 pieces, with ice cream in between.  One is coffee shortbread with vanilla ice cream and the other is vanilla shortbread with caramel ice cream. Each has been dipped in dark chocolate which has hardened to seal up the end of the stick.  Next to this is a pot of caramel for dipping.  Really clever take on a classic dessert.  Yet, hands down on being the best was the warm granny smith apple tart.  It was more of an egg strudel that was rich and eggy with apples as the afterthought.  Out of this world. 

Dinner was really fun, loved the vibe of the place.  Didn't love the menu.  The menu does have options to order charcuterie and cheeses.  I might go back, drink some wine, order a few tastings of that along side the fried egg pizza and most definitely order the dessert.

Although the best part of the entire day is that Jessica got into one of her colleges of choice.  Since there are only 2 she really wants to go to, this was huge.  We are all so excited for her and you can just see the relief drain from her body.  She finds out about the other one on Tuesday.  An incredible moment for her and I must admit, for Fred and me too.