Thursday, August 16, 2012

Napa and Sonoma on Four Wheels

“Sort-of-Sabbatical” Day Twelve, Thursday June 14

It’s an Eating on Two Wheels dream of mine to ride to (and eat at) the French Laundry in Napa Valley.  And although I’m darn close to attaining it, today I’m going to Napa in a car and roaming around the French Laundry produce gardens instead.  I want to spend some time with my friend and perhaps taste a bit of wine (both of which require a car), plus it seems one needs to reserve a table at Thomas Keller’s three star restaurant months in advance. Shrug.  C'est la vie.

Not surprisingly, the vistas are rolling and vine covered.

Napa View

The French Laundry gardens are full of produce (and chickens!) of all sorts.  Artichokes plants, related to thistles, seem an improbable food source.  I'm glad someone thought otherwise.

French Laundry Gardens

Bouchon Bakery, another Thomas Keller venture, doesn’t require any advance planning.  Time for our first culinary tasting!  For the second day in a row, I find myself at an extraordinary bakery, and have a difficult decision to make.   Likely I can’t go wrong.
 Bouchon Bakery Display Case

The Ham and Cheese on Baguette (not shown) and a lemon tart both score well.
 Bouchon Bakery Lemon Tart

We’re thirsty, and Etude Winery calls us, if for no other reason than its musical name.  The enormous black and white photographs of the property displayed in the tasting room are simply spectacular - much more so than the palatable but not amazing wine, although I admit we didn't spring for the reserve tasting.   The real point of interest is the property's history.  It was once a brandy distillery connected to the Remy Martin name, and when it was purchased by the Etude folks, a number of fine barrels of aged liquid gold were included in the transaction.  So if the wine doesn't please, you can bring home a bottle of pinot noir or blended brandy instead.

Tasting at Etude Winery
Helmet hair sans helmet.  Hmmph.  I'm going to have to start going through the strenuous routine of actually combing my hair if I'm going to include photos of myself.

The surprise hit of the day: A fried oyster Po’ Boy at the funky retro Fremont Diner in Sonoma.  Fantabulous.

Oyster Po' Boy Fremont Diner Sonoma CA

Evidently one can eat well in wine country, even without a table at the French Laundry.  But happy taste buds aside, two days out of the saddle is plenty.  Tomorrow it’s time to get back on the bike.


Claudia from Idiot's Kitchen said...

I also have yet to eat at the French Laundry. I've heard it is an amazing experience. Chez Panisse is also on my California wish list. I'm impressed that you only bought one pastry at Bouchon! I'm pretty sure I would have left with a (large) box.

Paula said...

Have been lucky enough to check out Panisse once a few years ago. Recommended!