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Living Large in Yountville

Napa, California:  Beautiful weather has greeted us in the Napa Valley. We are so happy to be away from the heat of Sacramento. The weather is just perfect here this week.

We started our morning with a nice walk.

The bike path along the Napa River, downtown Napa. (My Driver in blue.)

Low Tide the Napa River flowing through Napa on the way to San Francisco Bay -
about fifteen miles downstream.

Bike path extension underway

Every visit to Napa, we find new shops, new restaurants, and more and more miles of bike and jogging paths! This is a very active town and such a small town, most venues can be reached on foot or bicycle. The city is now in the middle of extending the bike paths flanking both sides of the Napa River.

I used the Map My Walk app on my iPhone during our walk this morning. It was only 3 miles, but it made a funny-looking route due to the construction of the bike paths along both sides of the Napa River. A few blocks of our walk near the Napa Fairgrounds (where the RV park is located) was through a neighborhood with very old Victorian homes. Many are not in good repair, but the flowers were spectacular.

It was a nice walk, and it was good we exercised this morning. We had big lunch plans.

It had been seven years since we had dined at Thomas Keller's Bouchon in Yountville (though we did visit his Las Vegas restaurant a few years ago), so we made a reservation for lunch today. Bouchon is very much a fine-dining experience, one to savor, and one should not expect to need dinner after lunch. The dining room is quite lovely and so representative of a French bistro, it is like taking a trip to Paris... sans a long flight, transit lines and passport hassles.

Dave ordered a rosé for us from the restaurant's "Summer of Rosé" special offerings and then I ordered Chef Keller's famed Salmon Rillettes - a lovely spread made with poached salmon and smoked salmon, served with a layer of butter to "seal" the crock - to share as an appetizer. Chef Keller shared his Salmon Rillettes recipe a few years ago with Food & Wine magazine and I have now made the rillettes twice - both times for Thanksgiving. It is a difficult, time-consuming task, but worth all the trouble... and worth buying a bottle of anise liquor to only use one tablespoon in the recipe. Here is a photo of my attempt... because I forgot to photograph the appetizer today. Too anxious to dive in? The restaurant serves the rillettes in a crock, so I do as well. (A much smaller portion is served at Bouchon, of course. The recipe makes two cups.)

My first Salmon Rillettes, 2012. This recipe is for a crowd;
a much smaller crock is offered at the restaurant.

The little crock was gobbled-up and we began to look through the menu for our luncheon choices. Dave chose a salad for his lunch - a gorgeous thing too - sliced heirloom tomatoes, basil pesto, haricot vert, radish, onions, olives and white anchovy.

I, being not as delicate as My Driver, ordered the lunch special - Duck Confit. Half of the reason I ordered the dish was because it was only $18, and after preparing this dish many times, realized $18 was a steal. So much time involved.

The duck leg was served over a bed of green, wax and cannellini beans. Super delicious.

So we would have been fine if we had stopped eating, but we spied a slice of chocolate cake delivered to a nearby table and we caved. I do not feel guilty because we rarely order/eat dessert... and if you are going to eat dessert, it may as well be at Bouchon.

The cake is a masterpiece. Three different single-source chocolates are used in the cake, filling and ganache, served with a spoon of Chantilly cream. We ate it all... went for an hour stroll around town, then came back to the motorhome and took a nap.

We did not have dinner.

Until my next update, I remain, your indulgent correspondent.

RV PARK: Napa Valley Expo RV Park - The perfect spot for a visit to Napa wine country. Long pull-throughs and a few back-in sites. Full hookups. Bathhouse, wifi, laundry room, dumpsite. 15 minute walk to downtown Napa. Reservations are basically required as this small park is nearly always full. With our Good Sam discount we are paying $45 per night. They also accept AAA membership discount.