Napa, California: Another day went by without a column from Yours Truly. So lazy. We exercised yesterday, did a little shopping, errands, and then I had a manicure and pedicure. No fine dining. No wine tasting.
But we made up for yesterday's slothfulness with a lot of fun today - both involving food and wine.
Didn't think so.
We had a late start - DT had a 2+ hour conference call and we both ran - but for our planned endeavor it was actually best to be late: we were trying to get into Bouchon for lunch (on a sunny Friday afternoon) without a reservation.
We arrived to Bouchon just after 2p. There were many people waiting and the dining room was packed. We asked for a table and a few moments later we were seated! A beautiful dining room, Bouchon probably has as many workers as patrons. Everything is perfect. Bread crumbs are whisked away. China sparkles. The menu is classic French bistro, with a fabulous selection of fine shellfish - oysters, lobster, mussels, clams - served on elaborate iced platters.
We ordered sparkling wine (from Domaine Chandon across the highway) and started with Rillettes aux Deux Saumons - fresh & smoked salmon rillettes served with toasted croutons - to share. I will translate: this dish is basically a pate made with poached salmon and smoked salmon. It was served in a small (very cute!) canning jar and "sealed" with a layer of (cold, hard) clarified butter. The "toasted croutons" were toasted slices of French baguette. It was delicious, as you can imagine. And you will have to imagine, because even I will not drag my camera out at Bouchon.
And even though we told each other that we were NOT going to order the Steak Frites - we both ordered the Steak Frites. It was good - what can be bad about steak and French fries - but, honestly, we thought the Steak Frites we had the other night at Bistro Jeanty (just down the street from Bouchon) were better and was actually less expensive.
So now, I can say: Bouchon? Yes, of course, I have eaten at Bouchon.
Okay, enough of France... how about a little swing through Italy?
In 2007, we visited Castello di Amorosa just a few days after the facility had opened and we have been wanting to go back to see the castle with complete landscaping, etc. As I wrote in 2007: Daryl Sattui, a man with a passion for medieval Italian architecture (doesn't everyone?) spent $35 million to build the 121,000 square foot Castello di Amoroso (Castle of Loving) in the California wine country. Castello di Amoroso looks exactly like a castle you would find in Tuscany. And it should - almost everything in the castle came from Italy, including the craftsmen who constructed the joint.
Ours has 8 wheels.
We do not, however, have moat. If you have a moat, you definitely are going to need a draw bridge. Do you need a place to tie your horse at the Castello? Because you never really know what marauding creatures may show up. Because for just a few bucks anyone can enter the fortress. If guests show-up, you are going to need a place to feed them. Every castle should have a lovely courtyard... and a chapel. Every doorway should be inviting.
If you have a large castle, it is going to require a lot of maintenance. You are going to need a huge maintenance crew. Castello di Amorosa employs several groundskeepers. The lawn must be cut constantly. The "groundskeepers" produce their own crew! Pest control is also an important chore at a castle. (Side note: is this the most gorgeous bird you have ever seen? Does anyone know the breed? The feathers look like lace.) If you think I am going to make a "bucket of chicken" joke here, you are wrong. The castle is impressive. Marvelous even. A must-see. Castello di Amorosa is also the tasting room for the wines produced on the estate. Yes, we tasted, as a tasting is included in the admission price - we paid $16 each to wander around the facility and sample five wines. Castello di Amorosa produces only Italian-style wines - which we prefer - but we did not purchase any wine today.
We arrived back to the moat-less Magna Peregrinus well after 6p. We are tired. We do not require another meal. It was a lovely, lovely day.
Tomorrow we have a fun day planned. What would make us perfectly happy? Yep - you are right - we are going to Cal Berkeley to the Pac-10 Track & Field Championships. Shabbat Shalom. Until my next update, I remain, your GO DUCKS correspondent.
RV Park: - Skyline Wilderness Park. This campground is operated by county. The 39 sites are cozy and on gravel. Some full hook-up 30/50-amp sites, but most sites are water and electric only. Bathhouse on-site, and a laundromat just a few blocks down the road. The park has miles of hiking and equestrian trails and actually has a path that leads one mile to the river where it joins the trails at Kennedy Park. Though very rural, this campground is just minutes to downtown Napa and would be a good choice if you are camping with kids. Dogs are allowed in the campground, but are not allowed on the trails. Strictly enforced!