Wednesday, February 27, 2013

part three (ii): napa

DAY SIX: thursday 07 february

sean went for a run in the morning, and i hung around the hotel. i opened up the balcony doors to let in some fresh air and more sunshine; it absolutely felt like spring. love. after sean got back from his run, we had another balcony picnic with food from la luna market right across the street from the hotel. it's a tiny mexican convenient store with a kitchen off to the side. we split the steak super burrito and two tacos (lengua and chicken). the lengua reminded me of the oxtail soup that my grandma makes, so i was a fan--total comfort food.

i'm glad we filled up on food because next on our agenda were wine tastings. we decided to revisit two of the wineries we went to on our first napa trip: kelham vineyards and casa nuestra winery. i'm always self-conscious at wine tastings since 1) i can't drink much and get the asian glow immediately (even after taking pepcid) and 2) i don't know how to discuss wine since i don't drink it often (see #1). well, both tastings put us to the test. first up was kelham. we were greeted by three of their dogs (all rescues) who kept (friendly) barking at and circling the car. the vineyard is owned and run by two brothers and their mom. she met us at the main house and showed us to the back room where her son ron would conduct the tasting. ron was super intense and sat with us in a stately armchair while we tasted. talk about intimidating! he was super nice, but all my insecurities were bubbling at the surface, though i'd like to think i remained outwardly cool ;P we spent some time chatting with him about wine making and napa, and he even showed us his distiller (he was working on distilling some brandy). here's what we tasted:
  * sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, rose, merlot (2), cabernet sauvignon (2), "sons" blend, port

next up was casa nuestra, the winery with two goats :) the tasting room is pretty small with a counter up front and standing room only. it looked quite different from when we were last there. the walls were painted white, and the framed artwork was cleanly displayed; it all felt much more open. we tasted about 4 or 5 wines, but i don't remember which ones--i think he might have changed it up from the usual list since they weren't very busy. [edit: sean said we had a riesling  merlot, cabernet, one or two blends, chardonnay, and a cabernet franc.] the tasting was pretty quick, and we were done in maybe 15 minutes? i guess wine tasting isn't really about dilly-dallying. get in, get out. haha.

at this point i was already tipsy (things were starting to feel diagonal), so luckily the rest of the afternoon was free. the only thing we had lined up was AD HOC!!! i took advantage of the free time and slept off the wine. hm, not sure what sean did while i napped... by the time i woke up, lots had developed: a major blizzard was headed towards the tri-state area, and flights were being canceled, in particular OUR flight for the next day was canceled. a bit of panic, followed immediately by major disappointment that we might have to skip ad hoc and head straight to the airport (irrational tears were shed), then realizing trying to fly out tonight was futile, so we might as well enjoy a nice dinner. an excellent decision.
we arrived at the restaurant right on time and were promptly seated. i didn't have a chance to take pictures of the space because i was still feeling a little off from the whole flight/blizzard situation. it felt very open and casual with farmhouse/rustic wood tables and chairs and striped booths. our menu was presented in an office file folder, which i was so tempted to take (hoarder alert). here's what we had:
  * meyer sour cocktail (me), wine (sean)
  * smoked trout salad
   (little gems lettuce, caraway creme fraiche, pickled red onion, cucumber guafrettes, granny smith 
    apples, golden beets)
  * pan seared muscovy duck breast
   (anson mills farro verder, blood orange aigre doux, navel orange supremes, braised radish, wilted 
    escarole, saffron cauliflower, roasted parsnips)
  * laura chenel chevre's melodie
   (palladin toast, pear butter, sunflower seeds)
  * pineapple galette
   (salted caramel sauce, cinnamon ice cream)

i am so incredibly happy we got to come here. thomas keller, you are too cool <3 

(oh, and on our drive to dinner, we were able to rebook a flight home for monday, which meant a couple more days in california!)

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