August 10, 2008

Napa Valley has more than just wine

We started here. Bouchon Bakery,owned by Thomas Keller who of course also owns French Laundry and the small Bistro pictured below.
Plum tarts. Very good and light on the pallet.Not overly sweet or butter laden.
Caitlin got an eclair.
Bouchon Bistro, our next destination on another day!
We must have driven by this a dozen times vowing we would go in, we finally did.
How would you like to go to culinary school here?! This use to be Christian Brothers winery.
Inside the CIA,going into their store.
Our next stop was this east coast institution.
Tempting cupcakes
Their spice tins filled with candy.
Food store eye candy
One of our favorite restaurants in San Francsico, but this is the original in St. Helena
Neat retro look from the 1940's
Nice outdoor seating. It was a nice summer evening.
Duck confit tacos.
Heirloom tomato mozzarella sandwich.

We decided on a whim Saturday after lunch, to go to Napa Valley. It was such a beautiful day, that we just had to. It is 45 min away,and sometimes I forget how lucky we are that it is so close. Most times we end up in Sonoma Valley,but this time we had an agenda. You see, instead of doing a wine tour, we did a culinary one instead. We started at Bouchon Bakery in Yountville, next to the bistro Bouchon and down the street from The French Laundry. As explained above, these three places are owned by Thomas Keller. We had been wanting to go to the bakery for a while,and my friend Christine,who has said that she loves a certain cookie there, said we must go in and get something. We bought a treat and a few things for later,like three croissants for Sunday morning and a multi grained loaf of bread. Did we stop there? No! We also wanted to try their macaroons, to compare them to Laduree in Paris. Here is the verdict: All of it was fantastic, and the closest to French pastries that I have tasted since I moved back. The macaroons were right up there with Laduree!!
After pigging out at the bakery, we went for a drive to see a winery that David wanted to visit,but when we got there is was closed. On our way back, we drove by the CIA (Culinary Institute of America). Like I said above, in the past we have driven by this building many times. I saw it when it was Christian Brothers winery,and CIA. I decided to just make us park and go snoop inside. I would love to take some classes there! We looked around the store for a bit,and left empty handed. My kitchen is so fully stocked that I couldn't possibly add another thing.
Another place I have been wanting to visit, was Dean and DeLuca. They are an upscale grocery chain from the east coast. In this one of course, many things were local. Very pretty store, but once again, I left empty handed. Most of the items sold there are at our local Whole Foods, so there was no point in buying anything. Just plain eye candy is all.
It was about 6:00 when we decided that it was time for dinner,and we saw that Taylor's Refresher was just down the road. We always go to the one in the city in the Ferry building,and knew about the original,but had never been to it. I just got my new issue of Bon Appetite and there was an article on them, along with Thomas Keller. So, we had our dinner there. This place is no ordinary burger joint. Sure it sells them, but they are upscale and amazing quality. The buns alone are a thing of beauty. They have a great wine selection and also sell other items that would not belong in a regular burger joint. David and I had both ordered duck confit tacos with mango jicama salsa, while Caitlin had an heirloom tomato mozzarella sandwich on sourdough bread. If you ever go to St Helena in Napa Valley, you must go there,or their sister location in San Francisco.
So folks, that was our culinary tour through the Napa Valley on a beautiful California sunshiny day!


  1. it looks so beautiful thanks to your great photos. i want to go to cali, but until then, i can see and read about what you guys do - yay!

  2. I loved coming along for the road trip! Dean and Deluca looks amazing...ALL of your stops look amazing! The idea of "duck tacos" gives me the giggles though. Not exactly an item on the Taco Bell menu;) LOL! Glad you all had a fun time.

    Did you like Betty's cobalt blue coat?

  3. Well, Elizabeth, I'm just gonna have to plan a west coast trip sometime soon! You make everything look so great & appetizing. You do a great job.

  4. very interesting post ! I enjoyed reading everything.
    I'd have loved to visit that "retro style restaurant" I went to one near Seattle and it was pure delight and exotism for me ;)
    ps : now, you're hot with the CIA in your keywords :p

  5. Wow :o)!!! You ate like a queen. This post was just gorgeous. I want to go to the Napa valley!!! The closest I've ever been is Petaluma... one day I'll make it over there, you've convinced me!