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Napa Valley

Yountville, California: Happy Mother's Day! After spending three days in San Francisco with DT and Lisa, celebrating Mother's Day - today I joined a small group (6 people) for a culinary tour of Napa Valley. The tour is operated by Classic Journeys - they specialize in walking tours.

We met in the lobby of the Hyatt Fisherman's Wharf at 10:15 am. I met my tour group - Ellen & Scott, from Maryland, Deb & Peter from Connecticut and Lillian from Maryland (she is not with the couple from Maryland). Our guide is a nice lady from Santa Rosa, Marty. We did a short drive through San Francisco in our tour van and then headed over the Golden Gate Bridge to Napa.

Our first stop was the just-opened Oxbow Public Market. Inside vendors sell food and kitchen implements of all sorts and fresh produce is sold outside under a covered walkway. There are several restaurants inside and a just-opened Taylor's Automatic Refresher next door.

Oxbow Public Market in Napa, California

Since this was also our lunch stop, I went right over to Taylor's and ordered a cheeseburger and milk shake. Because I knew our dinner stop was going to be a fabulous French Bistro, I only ate half... which was still too much.

Taylor's Automatic Oxbow opened in February 2008


After lunch we walked next door to COPIA: The American Center for Food, Wine & the Arts where they were holding the Artisan Wine, Food & Art Festival. COPIA is a learning center, museum, restaurant, shop and promotion center for the California agricultural industry. Packaging, nutrition, sustainability, distribution and grocery shopping choices are covered in the "Forks in the Road" exhibition - all about how America eats. Because of the festival many (many!) vineyards had tastings and many local artists and craftspeople had booths. We were given a wine glass and sent on our way to enjoy ourselves for 90 minutes. I didn't sample any wine, but had a great time touring through the exhibits, talking with the artists and listening to the live music at the outdoor amphitheater.


The rear patio and amphitheater area - and inside COPIA today

On display in front of the COPIA building were two vintage Rolls Royce Touring Cars. Originally built for the National Parks Department, the cars have recently been restored by the Ford Motor Company. The 16 passenger tour car is luxuriously appointed with velvet seats and a full bar! The cars are now used by a limo company. Very cool.

Touring in style

Inside the touring car

Six foodies on a mission

My traveling companions are all quite fun and interesting. Every person is a seasoned traveler. Our guide, Marty, goes on cycling tours all over the world and has some great tales to tell. I look forward to getting to know my new posse this week.

Our next stop was to the beautiful Yountville Inn, where we will be for two nights. I feel a bit guilty having all this quiet elegant luxury for just myself. Fireplace! Mini-bar! Free wifi! Huge bathroom! Private patio with only the sounds of birds! Sorry, Dave.

Happy Mother's Day to ME!

Room 405: All this for lil' ol' me?

Our group met at the very early hour of 6:30 for dinner at Bistro Jeanty (turn your speakers down unless you want a Parisian flashback). This popular Yountville restaurant is just down the street from our hotel. I started with their signature dish - Tomato Soup with a puff pastry top. Very good and the recipe is available on their website. For my main course I ordered Daube de Boeuf (aka, beef stew). (I guess because we were with a group and tonight's meal was included in the price of the tour, we were not offered the entire menu and the Daube was the only item without pork!) I have made this dish several times myself and it is always delicious and it was tonight too. So tender. I could barely touch it though after that delicious soup. Then came the cheese course! Bistro Jeanty is a definite thumbs-up and service was excellent.

Creme de Tomate en Croute

Daube de Boeuf

Humboldt Fog

Bistro Jeanty in Yountville, California

Pedometer: Only 7,607 steps. I do that at home on a normal day. Only 3.23 miles.

And so, Dear Readers, that concludes Day One of my gastronomic tour. Until my next update, I remain, your Strawberry Hill correspondent.