This is the saying on a magnet that has been on my refrigerator since the 80’s; it is also the battle cry of a group of girlfriends – including yours truly – who love to live life to their fullest.
One of these dear friends is getting married soon. The rest of us are grateful to her because she provided the perfect excuse to gather in our old stomping grounds, food and wine heaven – the Napa Valley, for a “grown up” bachelorette party. The plan consisted of two of our favorite activities: eating too much and drinking too much of the best Napa has to offer (or at least our personal favorites).
The itinerary went roughly like this:
Thursday: Bride-To-Be (BTB) and I meet in Newark airport, proceed to Brooklyn Brewery kiosk and drink a pint of Pennant Ale while flirting with non-English speaking hotties. Drink bad bottled margaritas with really bad airline food. Arrive in San Francisco 2 hours late (always happens when leaving Newark). Find friend number 3 (KLM), proceed to her adorable abode and consume as much champagne as possible before passing out.
Friday: Wake very early, drink lots of good coffee and hit the road. En route to Napa, realize that drinking first thing in the morning on an empty stomach may impede the progress of the day, we stop for baked goods – BTB opts for a healthy banana, KLM and I make strange gagging noises in disgust.
Winery number 1: Quintessa. The staff, especially our guide Kelly, is gracious and charming, the 2002 vintage is ripe and velvety, and the nibbles that came with it (aged Gouda, “Humboldt Fog,” and Membrillo) were yummy, (just wish there was more wine in that glass!)
Lunch: The Wine Spectator at Greystone Restaurant – great patio with a fantastic view, lots of pink wines to choose from, a new lunch menu with a “world cuisine” flair – lots of popping flavors in small plate form and a burger stuffed with foie gras (decadent!), and hottie-chef Jimmy Corwell (a Fork Me, Spoon Me: the sensual cookbook contributor).
Winery number 2: Pine Ridge Winery – former employer of both BTB and myself… it remains a personal favorite, now even more so since they’ve added a PINK wine (LOVE pink wine). This is also a great place for a wine country cooking class with the winery chef, Eric, another hottie chef!
Day one continues with a couple of bottles of wine at the home of fabulous friends. Raided their personal citrus grove to smuggle some California gold (Meyer lemons) back to NYC.
Dinner: Foothill Café – Decided to slum with the “locals” for dinner… this little gem is hidden away in an old strip shopping center in a residential neighborhood, just the way we like it when we want to walk in with 5 people at 8:00 on a Friday with no reservations and cravings for really good food. Duck, prime rib, BBQ ribs, tuna – all excellent. And what do they do with the veggies to make them so perfect yet simple?
After this first day of excess, slept the whole way back to the adorable abode and proceeded to sleep through the late night bubbles enjoyed by friends (on the better side of 40 and can still party like rock stars!).
Saturday: Won’t miss breakfast today! Hostess made homemade pancakes with fresh berries and some of the pilfered citrus (berry sweet blood oranges)… we are so spoiled! Since it’s Saturday, we begin with a DVD of old Looney Toons cartoons.
Off to San Francisco for Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan Town. If you’re in this area, don’t miss Ichiban Kan (the Japanese dollar store) at 22 Peace Plaza… if for no other reason than to buy a little gadget that transforms a hot dog into a little octopus! Can’t wait to make beany-weenies with all beef baby octopi swimming on top!
Dinner: Kokkari – Greek food has typically been relegated to the realm of mom and pop-style diner/comfort food; here, it assumes its rightful place in the kingdom of “cuisine.” EVERYTHING (and we tried over 10 dishes) was to die for! Even Greek wine, particularly the whites, won my heart. Even better, restaurant has good taste in staff – all men are beautiful and restaurant employs KLM.
Sunday: Though still reeling from the past two days, the battle cry could still be heard on the last day of our adventure. Breakfast at home – challa French toast with more fresh fruit and Niman Ranch BACON (did I mention obsession with pork products?).
Winery 1: Joseph Phelps – make appointment well in advance (we recommend requesting the insanely fabulous princess N from New York). Good friends, a great view on a beautiful day, and Phelps Insignia… there is very little else one needs to prove that life is sweet.
To continue decadent afternoon, onward to the vineyard-side yard of old friends to enjoy their family’s (French!) wine – Domaine des Girasols, a rich smoky, spicy, Cotes du Rhone Villages – so good and so hard to find (let me know if you’re interested!).
Winery 2: Cardinale. OK, maybe there’s time for one more short visit, especially since the sweetest, most charming and adorable young man was rumored to be pouring (lucky us, he was!). Big, bold, high-scoring California cabs, luxurious surroundings and a stunning view of my former domicile.
Dinner: Bistro Jeanty. Visit to Napa would be incomplete without at meal here. The quintessential bistro menu – everything is great, especially the simple things like tomato soup (under a veil of buttery puff pastry). After our first few courses, we were still able to add on our second round of braised short ribs (hence, running them out of their special for the evening!). For this special occasion, we were joined by none other than my Mom. Thanks Mom!
This is where story ends. I, once again, passed out in the back seat of the car on the way home, and then was quickly shuttled to the airport to catch the redeye with only moments to spare. Took three days to fully recover and I’m still full!
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