Possibly one of the best days of my life in recent history was the day that we spent in Napa Valley. We left our hotel bright and early and picked up our Zip Car nearby, free coffee in hand. Our convertible Mini Cooper was the best car ever. I can not even describe how much I loved riding in it. We had some time, so hubs put the top down, and we drove down San Francisco’s famous Lombard Street.
We had 11:30 reservations in Yountville at Michael Chiarello’s Bottega. Not knowing how much traffic there would be on the way up, we allowed a lot of extra time and arrived quite early to the V Marketplace where Bottega is located, along with Chef Chiarello’s store, Napa Style.
We browsed through the store and got to sample some amazing olive oils, goat cheese, and strawberry rosemary jam. After awhile we went for a walk through Yountville and happened upon its gorgeous rose garden.
Then we wandered into the Yountville Tasting Station, an absolutely beautiful, spacious gallery-like tasting room on the main road through Yountville, just down from Bottega. We decided to share a tasting while we waited for our lunch reservation, and we got talking to the lovely gentleman who was pouring. It turns out the store just opened in July, and they will be expanding this year to include an event space and cheesemonger in addition to their tasting area and wine sales. The wines were from Page Wine Cellars, a small winery in Napa, and they were all extremely high quality and delicious. The tasting pours were generous, and when fresh bread arrived from the baker, we were treated to two local olive oils with bread. My favorite wine of the tasting was definitely the 2005 Proprietary Red. While tasting and chatting we learned that Napa is beautiful in fall, and that even early November would be a good time to visit. Definitely got us thinking. . . and if we do return we will race back to Yountville Tasting Station to see the transformation that is taking place there. What a great idea! We could have talked and tasted for much longer, but lunch called.
In addition to our glasses of Domaine Carneros bubbly, we received free sparkling water throughout the meal! To start we were served bread with an incredible dipping oil that contained fresh chunks of parmesan cheese.
The view from my seat I ordered the ricotta gnocchi with pomodoro sauce.
I liked it a lot Sorry about the lighting; we were outside under a big awning, and the red of the awning gave everything a pinkish glow. The gnocchi were little pillows of potato and ricotta cheese with a completely fresh, chunky tomato ragu. I ate every single one and also tried some of the hub’s risotto, but not the quail that came with it. Somehow we found room for dessert.
The caramel chocolate tart tasted like a Twix bar that was 100 times higher in quality and completely addictive, sweet with chewy caramel and rich chocolate. We sat and enjoyed the sunny afternoon after this lovely and long meal, and talked about the afternoon ahead. I leave off here for now but will be back tomorrow with wine tastings and dinner in Napa.