Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Cali Love

Flew into Los Angeles as the starting point for our road trip to Napa.

While in LA, my friend Thuy and I squeezed in a hike at Runyon Canyon Park.

This picture I took looked like it came out of some encyclopedia entry about the prehistoric era. Couldn't you see a dinosaur popping out of here? (ignoring the skyline)

A nice hearty breakfast after the hike.  Sometimes you just gotta eat off of fun paper plates. 

I believe bathrooms reveal people's true selves.

Gal pal Judy, who lives in Redondo Beach, has an adorable garden space behind her apartment.  She nurtures gorgeous succulents.

Long drive. We made it to Napa!

We like wine tastings where you fill up your own glass. Naked Wines had a casual, fun vibe.  When we went, it was open-mic night.  Also, the tasting was like $15, and you could use that money toward buying wine.  The neat thing was that the wine here is customer-funded; the company uses money pledged by customers to invest in independent wine makers.

We kicked off the next morning with a Robert Mondavi tour.  The cost is $30, but this was seriously the most informative tour I've ever encountered.

Swirl, swirl....I haven't yet witnessed anyone spitting out wine during a tasting.  Am I always with lushes?  You get an hors d'oeuvre to see how it brings out the "flavor" of the wine. Flavor? That doesn't sound like the right term.  Whatever, cheers.

Taryn had this awesome, updated Polaroid camera that had us bonding with everyone we met on this trip.  You'd be surprised by how nice people are to you when you let them keep a Polaroid photo of themselves.

Someone from a drunken bachelorette party took this photo.  I don't know if we are supposed to be in the center of the pic or not.  Either way, I like it.

We also did a tour at Silver Oak Cellars. It was $20.  As opposed to drinking wine only at the very end, the tour guide carried a bottle of wine and kept refilling our glasses during the whole thing.  And not just one bottle.  The wine just kept flowing. I was into it.

Can't you tell?

This is the owner's private stash. The tour guide let us pose with gigantic bottles and marvel at the ridiculously expensive wines.

Outside Silver Oak Cellar. I also include this photo because I like the way my right leg looks here. The left one, not so much.  I want legs like Britney Spears.

Drunk swimming alert.
We stayed at the Best Western Premier Ivy Hotel Napa.  Cause that's how we roll!  Actually, it was pretty nice and clean for the price. Although I suspect the scrambled eggs at breakfast come from a carton. Go for the boiled ones. 

Or you can stay at Bardessono Hotel and Spa. Oh, and Restaurant. 

Seems swanky.  We used it for photo opps.

These two girls made me laugh so hard. And also made me realize I'm turning into a high strung New Yorker.  Whenever I asked about the schedule, they'd always reply: "We'll figure it ouuuuut." I've lost my West Coast chill, guys.  Seriously, what time is it?

Oh, but if you are ever looking for a nice B&B in the Calistoga area, check out Chateau de Vie. I mention it in this previous post.

Dinner at Ad Hoc: The menu changes every night.  I bet it's a pain in the ass for the staff.

Some asparagus salad

Pork loin.  I recently discovered that I don't like pork loin so that was a disappointment. I was scooping out loads of the polenta underneath though, and we kept asking for more sourdough bread.  I didn't think the meal was all that great. The bread was the highlight.

I'm thinking, "More bread, please."

We unintentionally made it a Thomas Keller extravaganza when we went to Bouchon the next day.  I had the Croque Madame.  But the best parts of brunch were the fries and the bread.  I applaud the carbs at Keller establishments.

It was such a delight to experience hot, sunny days. 

And then there was San Francisco.  Bloody cold and windy San Francisco.

The views made up for it. 

And Judy's mom's homemade pho.

Also, let's give it up for SFO. What a fine airport.

 I have a weird appreciation for nice public bathrooms.  I embarrass friends by complaining to managers when their restrooms are disgusting. But I honestly feel that I'm only helping them prevent other patrons from being grossed out.  Right?
Look at all that space.  It's inviting you to bring your luggage inside.

Recycling/compost separation.
And the restaurants offering fresh and organic local foods were impressive, too.

I hope to see you soon, SFO! 
xo,  Erica

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