Thanksgiving In Napa

I do not think that I wrote about this here before, but D’s dad passed away in July of this year.  So, this was our first year celebrating Thanksgiving without him.


This picture from 2008 is one of my favorite Thanksgiving pictures with k and her grandpa.


We met up in Napa with D’s mom, sister and brother and his family after our camping trip.  We visited grandpa’s site and placed flowers on it (still waiting for the headstone).


It might seem strange to take a family picture in a cemetery.  However, it is a beautiful place, especially with the fall foliage and it seemed appropriate.





There was a beautiful sunset that night.

We ate dinner at the Marriott.


Isn’t this a pretty fall salad?


Mahi Mahi


Porkchop was an A+!

The kids shared an adult salmon entree and a kids’ grilled cheese.  It might not have been traditional Thanksgiving food, but it was a nice dinner!


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Golfing on the Fifth of July in Napa

Since the kids did not sleep a wink in the car on the way to Napa, we did not try to stay up for the fireworks at the nearby Vintner’s Golf Club.  However, on Saturday morning, we went to the golf course for k and n’s first try at golfing.  Grandpa and Grandma bought them kid-sized golf clubs and they were ready to hit the driving range.

They also practiced putting.  Both of the kids enjoyed themselves, but I think n liked it more overall.  D was also able to brush up on some of his skills since he may be playing for a work function in a couple of months.  They even returned to the golf course on Sunday when D’s brother and sister came over. 

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Fourth of July in Napa

We just returned from visiting D’s family in Napa.  The kids had so much fun that they did not want to leave.  We left early on Friday morning.  In the late afternoon we took a short stroll through Yountville.

The French Laundry garden had new additions since the last time we visited—animals!  Goats, chickens, and bees, to be exact.

These goats are fed “farm to grass”—carrot tops and red potatoes. Winking smile

Bee hive

Next was a return stop to the park, which has a lot of cool, different features.

Dinner was at Pacific Blues Café.  Even though we have been to Napa so many times, there are always new-to-us places to try.

It is a relatively casual spot, so it is good for families with kids.  It was nice to eat out on the patio under the shade of the umbrellas.  D and I split the hamburger and cobb salad, both of which were solid choices.  k and n split the kids’ chicken tenders (and shared some of the other dishes as well).

Afterward we made a stop at nearby Kollar Chocolates for gelato.

The service was not the friendliest, but the kids enjoyed the gelato.  n was being particularly possessive over it.

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Ad Hoc + Redd

As mentioned yesterday, the final day of our vacation was spent in Napa to visit D’s parents.  D’s brother and sister were also there, so it was a family reunion of sorts.

After church on Sunday morning we stopped in a park in Yountville before going to Ad Hoc for brunch. 


Last time we really enjoyed Addendum, so we were looking forward to this adjacent restaurant.



The menu is pre fixe and the menu changes all of the time.  I was hoping that day wasn’t the fried chicken and waffles since we already had tried the fried chicken.  Luckily, it was hangar steak and eggs.


Too bad I didn’t take a picture of the menu, because I can’t remember most of the detailed description of all of the courses.  The food is served family-style and everything tasted so fresh and delicious.  This was a garlic bread-crostini type of thing with charred scallion butter.


I believe this was an endive salad with some sort of smoked fish.


The hangar steak and eggs.  There was also a side of crispy potatoes.


For dessert: plums with crème fraiche and coconut rochers (macaroons). 

The kids were able to order a kid’s meal of pancakes and bacon for $5, so they shared one meal and had a little of our food as well.


The pancakes were served with more of the crème fraiche.  The bacon seemed dry and overcooked, which is strange considering the restaurant’s mascot is a pig. 

Yountville was really crowded and parking was difficult.  While waiting for D to get the car, we waited in the little wooded area behind Ad Hoc.


The kids had lots of fun at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  Then it was time for dinner at Redd Wood.



Interesting décor.  It is an upscale Italian restaurant, so we had pasta and pizza.  Our waiter was quite chatty and jealous that n was sleeping during the beginning of dinner because his two year old son doesn’t take naps.


It was nice to get away one last time before summer ends.  Can’t believe tomorrow is September and school is starting next week!

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Napa or Bust

I’m behind in recapping our Nor Cal trip.  Friday night we ate dinner with my second cousin, her mom and her daughter, which was a treat since we do not see them too often. 

third cousins1

third cousins

Third cousins!

We stayed overnight at D’s brother’s place, who graciously let us crash.  Saturday morning we went to see our friends (who are expecting twins!) and had brunch at their house.  After brunch we drove to Napa.  The traffic was pretty bad.  k was just starting to feel queasy when we pulled up to Addendum, where D’s parents were waiting for us. 


Thomas Keller, who runs the ridiculously expensive French Laundry ($270 per person, food only), opened up a more reasonably priced restaurant just down the street called Ad Hoc.  Now reasonable is relative of course, being that Ad Hoc’s dinner menu is around $52 per person.  However, TK is a smart business man and is now making his famous fried chicken available to the masses for $16 per person at Addendum.    


It also came with corn salad and potatoes.  We also tried the barbecue combo (brisket and ribs) but we liked the fried chicken the best.  Crispy and juicy!

For dinner we ate at Bui Café, but I did not take pictures. 

For Sunday breakfast we went to our favorite TK establishment, Bouchon Bakery.


D is serious about his pastries.


Chocolate donut (with Valrhona chocolate pearls, cherry chocolate scone, blueberry danish, pistachio and espresso macaron).  The macarons were for D’s parents, and we only finished half of the scone lest you think we over-ate.  Hehe.


The kids actually declared the donut “too sweet” but I loved the semi-sweet chocolate pudding filling inside. The blueberry danish was an all-around winner, though.


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Redd (& more)

For lunch we went to Redd. I was a bit apprehensive since they don’t have a reputation for being very kid-friendly. When D’s dad called for reservations, they told him that they don’t have high chairs. That was fine, because n doesn’t really use high chairs anymore, anyway. However, our waiter could not have been friendlier. He told us that there was no children’s menu, but that the kitchen could make a simple pasta, or chicken wings, etc. I asked for a pasta with red sauce for k. When the waiter presented our table with the calamari appetizer we ordered, k exclaimed, “onion rings”! The waiter smiled, and said that the kitchen could do onion rings for her, if she liked. I said, “maybe just a few” but he came back with a full order, which we all ended up sharing. I can see why they wouldn’t want to necessarily encourage kids to come to their restaurant, but I found them very accommodating nonetheless.

Redd’s fancy rendition of pork buns. Not being a fan of pork belly fat, I had to take some fat off. However, I really like this dish…very flavorful.

D ordered the short ribs. In fact, D made a category of “best short ribs” on his List, in anticipation of our visit.

Loved the modern interior. Clean lines, lots of light.


We walked a bit in Yountville. There were lots of people out and about. Unfortunately, the line for Bouchon Bakery was out the door, so we skipped it. We did come across this public art installation that I thought was cute:

D’s brother’s family joined us for dinner. We ate at Bistro Don Giovanni, one of D’s family’s favorites in Napa. Funnily, D noticed that there was a group of four that we had seen earlier at Redd during lunch. I guess they have a similar good taste in food!

Really good pizza.

Silk handkerchiefs–housemade pasta with pesto.

Unfortunately, they only serve their famed hamburger on Fridays and Saturdays at lunch. Maybe next time.

Waiting with the restless kids at the fountain outside.

We went back to D’s parents house for dessert.
Tiramisu cake.

Playtime with their cousin.

Reading time with their auntie.

It was a quick trip, but it was nice to see everyone.

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A Morning in Napa

After the wedding, it took us two hours (with traffic) to drive to Napa to visit D’s parents house. In the morning, we went to Oxbow Market for breakfast. More specifically, we went to The Model Bakery. D remembered that we had seen this place featured on The Best Thing I Ever Ate, where Michael Chiarello recommended their english muffins. We tried one, and I can definitely say it was the best english muffin I have ever had. (Ask for it toasted, along with jam and butter).
(It was so good, we almost finished it before I could take a picture!)
Also, the prices were a little more reasonable than Bouchon Bakery, making it a solid breakfast choice. We also checked out the smallish farmer’s market which is held on Saturday mornings.

Afterward, D’s parents babysat the kids while D and I did a mini-hike at Bothe-Napa state park. I don’t think we mentioned this on our blog yet, but we bought a CA state park annual pass. D is determined to get his money’s worth, so we figured we should check it out.

We walked until we came upon this cemetary, and then turned back.

There was a small group of houses for the groundskeepers. This was one of the more “lived in” homes.


On the way back we decided to stop at another CA state park site, the Grist Mill.
Can you see the mill? We weren’t sure if our pass was good for the mill itself, so we just walked around.


It was nice to have a little time to ourselves, so that was our “date night” of the month.

When we came back, we met up with the kids/grandparents at the park.


k and n really liked the climbing wall.

n surprised us by climbing all the way up by himself (with D close behind, just in case).

The big kid had fun too.

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Avoiding a Two Hour Wait

Our last night in Napa we were going to try to go to Mustard Grill (we had been for lunch before, but never for dinner). However, they don’t take reservations, and when we arrived at 4:40(!) they said there was just no way because they were booked, and the wait would be two hours! Craziness. So, we drove back towards D’s parents house to a cute neighborhood restaurant called Fume(accent on the ‘e’), which we had also been to before. I’m not sure why this restaurant isn’t more popular, except that it is kind of hidden off the highway. The service was excellent, and it is kid-friendly, even though it is still upscale. They have a kid’s menu, and the kitchen kindly split both the entree and dessert for k and n (it was plenty of food for each of them). The highlight for k and was definitely the ice cream sundae.

Fume Ice Cream

n ice cream
Note n wearing much of his entree (pasta sauce) on his shirt.

I had the cajun prawn pasta and D had the roast chicken. D put the chicken on his list. My pasta was delicious, but VERY rich…had to share it around the table.

We left just after 7:30 the next morning. From D’s parents driveway we could see several hot air balloons taking off. That is something I would like to do. Someday.

hot air balloon

hot air balloon closer
Testing the zoom feature.

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A Castle in Napa

We had breakfast at one of my favorite Napa stops, Bouchon Bakery. This time D opted for the cranberry orange muffin, while I shared the cream cheese danish with k. I also could not resist getting one of their famous macarons, which I ate later. I chose the espresso, and it was soft and crisp and chewy all at the same time…divine.

After breakfast, both kids fell asleep on the way to our next stop.
sleepy kids

Our destination? A castle! Or, more precisely, the Castella di Amorosa. It is a winery located in an amazing castle that opened not too long ago. D’s dad said it took them ten years to build, and looking around, you can see why. (I also read that this was the castle used in the movie “Bedtime Stories”).
castle steps
castle view
castle window

The Knights’ Room
Knights' Room

The Dining Hall
Dining Hall
King & Queen

Of course, this is a winery, so D and his dad did some wine tasting.
Wine Bottles

wine tasting
Some people at the bar joked that we should put some wine on n’s gums since he is teething, like they do in Italy.

k and I settled for breadsticks and “moat water” (aka Capri Sun grape drink). On the website, it says kids get grape juice. I was expecting some specialized juice, since it is a winery, after all. However, I guess the Capri Sun is more kid-friendly in terms of packaging. k was kind of too young to be into the whole castle thing, and the tours are limited to kids over 5. It was fun looking around, though, and if you are looking for an interesting winery in Napa, (even if you’re not into wine) this is it.

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Eating Our Way Through Oxbow Market

D’s friend invited us to his wedding in Sacramento, so we decided to make it a 4 day vacation. On Thursday we left for Napa to visit D’s parents. k and n did OK during the 7.5 hour car trip. I would give k an “A” and n a “B”. (Of course, n receives special consideration since he isn’t even 6 months, plus he is teething!) For our late lunch we ate steaks prepared by D’s parents. For dinner, we went to the Oxbow Public Market. We’ve been wanting to eat at Taylor’s Automatic Refresher ever since D’s parents moved to Napa, and now there is a location at Oxbow!
Taylor's Refresher Menu
The place is casual and you order at the counter. We all ordered hamburgers and split sweet potato fries and garlic fries. k really enjoyed the sweet potato fries, along with the ranch dipping sauce (no surprise there!) The garlic fries were a bit much, however, since they are tossed in butter. This gave them a weird too-hard texture, although I liked how they were not shy with the garlic.
garlic fries
Grandpa & n

The one thing that really hits you in the face at Oxbow is how eco-friendly everyone tries to be and how much they want you to know it. At Taylor’s their plastic cups are made entirely of plants!
Their meat is from Niman Ranch. D did some internet research and found out that their cows “don’t consume human fecal matter”. Makes you wonder what all the other cows we eat consume.

Of course, we had to partake in some dessert. Since we couldn’t choose between cupcakes and ice cream, we had both! First we stopped Kara’s Cupcakes, which we had boxed up for later at home. D’s dad chose vanilla coconut, D’s mom chose passion fruit, and I chose Chocolate Velvet, so k could have a bite. D originally wanted vanilla chocolate, but I convinced him to go with the more adventurous Fleur De Sel (w/caramel filling!)
Kara's Cupcakes
Such a cute place, and the cupcakes were $3.25; expensive, but still cheaper than Sprinkles.

Next we went to Three Twins Ice Cream.
Three Twins Ice Cream
D, k and I shared a single in a waffle cup. You get to choose two flavors. D wanted to “go healthy” after all of our overindulgence so we had lemon sorbet (the healthy choice) along with lemon cookie ice cream (the not so healthy choice). The two lemon flavors contrasted nicely, tart and creamy. D’s dad had mocha and cardamom. I had a taste of the cardamom, and liked it a lot. If I didn’t have to share with D and k, I would probably get that one since its different. (When D and I were dating I used to balk at him choosing vanilla ice cream if we went to an ice cream parlor. I guess I still do that–see above re: vanilla chocolate cupcake).

It should be interesting to see how Oxbow does in the future. There were a lot more stores open than during our previous visit. It’s sad to see that Copia, which is next door, is shut down for now. Hopefully all of the Bay Area foodies (and tourists) can keep it going.

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