Napa, California: The title of today's column pretty-much describes our day. I have taken too many photos, so will post them with short descriptions. Enjoy!Our day began at Kennedy Park where we jogged along the path following the Napa River. Again, it was a beautiful day - sunny and warm. Don't let that canoe in the photo fool you. The paddlers were not exercising - they were birders, using their boat to get close to the fabulous bird life along the Napa River. Today I saw red winged black birds, geese, ducks, finch and a white tailed kite. Wonderful birding in Kennedy Park. We saw several geese parents, but their babies remained hidden this morning. Isn't this just a lovely view? We just loved running on the trails in Kennedy Park. I even loved all the wildflowers, even though they make me sneeze like mad. I even found a little wildlife... if a snail can be considered wildlife. Why did the goose cross the road? Because he thought the driver of the Honda CRV may have bread crumbs to share?
After showering, we headed out again in search of the bubbly and lunch. First stop was to Domaine Chandon in Yountville.The property is simply outstanding. So pretty. Luciously landscaped with ponds, paths, flowering plants, trees and - of course - a vineyard with fruit budding. The little grapes are referred to as "berries" at this stage. Domaine Chandon also has an extensive art collection and the only restaurant in California wine country to receive a Michelin star - étoile. (Curiously enough, étoile is French for "star".) The tasting room is quite inviting - with mod hipster music playing and a wrap-around bar with diffused lighting. Friendly servers help you make your selection. We had Mark - he was quite a jokester. We felt the étoile brut was the best of the sparkling wines we sampled this afternoon. Now, let's take our flutes of sparkling wine out to patio... where we could relax under the canopy of a huge oak tree. We ordered the smoked salmon platter - smoked Scottish salmon and smoked salmon mousse with créme fraiche, capers and fennel slaw served with a sliced baguette - only $12. This was our perfect little lunch to share.
Actually, it was our breakfast, but RVGoddess.com does not condone drinking at breakfast, so let's just call it lunch, shall we? Because drinking at lunch is so much more socially acceptable. Here is a close-up of our yummy smoked salmon platter. What a lovely way to spend a Friday afternoon!
As I said yesterday, we planned to tour two French vineyards producing sparkling wine in Napa today, so next we headed over to Mumm Napa. We arrived to a very busy and crowded tasting room at Mumm Napa. Mumm Napa has gorgeous gardens around their visitor center. To taste, you are seated at tables (like in a restaurant) and a server brings you a flute of your choosing. There is no restaurant - just little nibbles, like crackers, dried fruits and nuts. Mumm Napa has a very nice gift shop! We found a few gifts here.
I am sorry to report, the facility at Mumm is was just not very exciting after visiting marvelous Domaine Chandon (and Domaine Carneros in 2005). But the California sparkling wines just can't win my heart away from my favorite Champagne -Veuve Clicquot.
I've said it before and I will say it again: since the Widow Clicquot Ponsardin developed the actual méthode champenoise in Champagne, France in 1772, maybe there is a reason her stuff is so good? Also, since so many of the American sparkling wines are more expensive than the real stuff... why not just drink the real stuff?
Of course... unless you are in Napa... and the sun is shining.
At nine o'clock this evening, we found ourselves back in Yountville at one of our favorite restaurants - Bistro Jeanty (if you are at your office, turn your sound off/down before entering the Bistro Jeanty website. Otherwise, prepare yourself for a Paris flashback). Another delicious meal. For our main course, we both ordered steak frites (ribeye with French fries). We always order steak frites, don't we? But our appetizers were quite lovely. We tried French radishes with butter and kosher salt. Then we shared the crispy smelt with spicy aioli. The smelt were pencil-thin and less than three-inches long! We really enjoyed the smelt!
We are in a holding pattern for tomorrow. We want to remain in Napa, but this campground is full. We are awaiting a cancellation. If not - Plan B will be put into motion. Until my next update, I remain, your bubbly correspondent.
RV Park: Napa Valley Expo RV Park - Best choice in the area. Full service, paved sites. Free wifi. Bathhouse and laundry. Sites are massive and most are pull-through. Some traffic noise. Safe, friendly, one mile to downtown Napa. This is one RV park where I would recommend making a reservation - the park is small and popular. Don't take chances.