Sunday, June 28, 2009

Give that Girl a Cigar -- she had 18 wines today!

Girls' Trip to Napa

Day 2: June 20, 2009

The nice thing about a leisurely vacation is that you can sleep in as long as you haven't made any appointments. Lo & I pretty much made breakfast out of our yummy sweets from last night's dinner at Sante, along with the coffee from the room. Lo was unhappy that there wasn't any cream, but the sweets pretty much made up for that. We got ready for our day and met Mo & K in the lobby, and decided to also make our spa appointments for Sunday. The spa lobby was quite interesting acoustically, as the ceiling was domed, and we could hear people's conversations from the other side of the room, almost like they were wearing microphones. At first, we thought that there was some talk going on in a conference room, but it turned out to just be a guy talking to his companions across the room.

We took a winding road in to Napa due to a NASCAR race taking place in Sonoma this weekend. On our way, I called our friend Charlie from high school to try to set an appointment with him on our way back to San Jose on Monday. Happily, he was available!

Our only set appointment for the weekend was at the Culinary Institute of America / Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant in Napa. Jenn had taken me here for my birthday a few years ago, and I really wanted to return last February, but wasn't able to do so because I was ill. So this was my chance!

The Gals in front of CIA

On our way up the steps to CIA, Mona said that she heard that there were bats there, then pointed to something flying around, claiming that it was a bat. I thought bats were nocturnal. The other gals were kinda skeptic, too, and we realized as we got closer to the building that it was actually one of the swallows that made their nests on the building. Had it been a bat, I would have been way more excited about it.

We decided to sit outside so that we could take advantage of the beautiful weather. We agreed to have the Today's Temptations for hors d'oeuvres – Beer Battered Smelt, Carnitas Tostadas, Scallions wrapped with Rib Eye, Foie Gras on Crostino, and Vichysois w/potato chip garnish

Krina with the Tasting Tray

I enjoyed everything on the tray, but I was the only one that enjoyed the foie gras, so I pretty much ate at least half of everyone else's portion along with my own. The smelt was too fishy for the other two gals, but just right for Mo and me. We all enjoyed the other dishes, especially the vicchysois.

I wasn't quite ready to drink yet, due to the winding drive, so I had a non-alcoholic Navarro Gewurztraminer Grape Juice, which was quite yummy.

I had the Crab Lump Salad on Paprika reduction sauce for my entree, with a Side of Haricorts Verts in Browned Butter w/Hazelnuts. It was quite delicious, and everyone shared in my enjoyment of the haricorts verts. Lori had the Lamb Kefta platter, which had lamb kebabs on baba ghanoush, falafel w/ tzatziki, & toasted pita bread. Mo & K shared the Free Form Ravioli w/cheese & greens. Everything was wonderful.

Lori with her Lamb Kefta platter

After rolling ourselves out of our seats, we walked to the gift shop for some souvenirs. The gals busied themselves by looking at little button pins w/cute rebus sayings for the kids. I bought a CIA cheese board, a real zester, and a metal plaque with an Apache blessing:

"May the sun bring you new energy by day.

May the moon softly restore you by night.

May the rain wash away your worries.

May you walk gently through the world and know its beauty all the days of your life."

I thought that this was a nice commemoration of our trip, since our high school mascot was the Apaches. :)

We made a quick stop at Ehlers winery because Mo had a question about her wine club, but the lady kicked us out because she was busy preparing for a private tasting.

We then went to our first official winery for the trip: Castello di Amorosa

Mo & K at the Castello

I opted for the Reserve Holiday Tasting with Chocolate Tasting (8 wines including Reserves plus chocolate). Mo & Lo opted for the regular tasting. We enjoyed yummy thin breadsticks between wines, and Lo conversed with Paolo, our server, in Italian. I didn't get to taste chocolate until getting to the red wine, and I was happy. Mo & Lo got a free taste of dessert wine, thanks to Lo's knowledge of Italian and the fact that they had to wait for me to finish 3 more wines than them.

For my trip reports from the weekend, I will list all the wines that I tasted, and have placed an asterisk beside those that I enjoyed. The items after the wine name are part of the description from the winery menu.

*2007 Anderson Valley Pinot Grigio: citrus & green apple, honeydew & lemony taste, goes good w/mild cheeses and seafood

2008 Gioia Rosato Di Sangiovese: berries

2007 Dolicino Anderson Valley Gewurztraminer: lychee

2005 Napa Valley Cabernet: black cherry (Mo liked)

2005 Reserve La Castellana Napa Valley “Super Tuscan” blend: Cab, Sangiovese & Merlot (tasted with milk chocolate)

*2004 Reserve Il Barone Napa Valley Cab: 100% Cabernet (dark chocolate)

*2006 Reserve Il Passito: Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc (had with sea salt dark chocolate)

Il Raggio Del Sole (Ray of Sunshine) Muscato Cavalli

I really liked the Il Passito, so I bought a bottle of that, along with some sea salt dark chocolate. The chocolate is just the perfect balance of salty and sweet tastes. Yummmy.

Mo, Sher & Lo at Castello

K then drove us to Franciscan. Our server, Roxanne was serving up the flights pretty quickly, since they would be closing in an hour. I got tipsy there because of that, thank goodness I didn't drive for any of this trip!

*2008 Sauvignon Blanc: Lychee & Citrus (bought)

*2007 Fountain Court: Lychee (bought 1 for me, 1 for Lo’s b-day)

Cuvee Sauvage 2006 Chardonnay Reserve (As with most Chardonnays, I did not enjoy this one)

Clos Vineyard Reserve 2005: 78% Cab, 22% Malbec

Free taste of Magnificat (signature wine): Cab & Merlot

OK, so now I've bought 3 wines, and knew that I'd buy at least one more. Perhaps I should have bought the Airline Shipper carton back at Castello.

Then we went to Rubicon. The place looked familiar to me because I’d been there when it was called "Coppola." It is still owned by Francis Ford Coppola, but they changed the name to its flagship vintage. On the way into the estate building, I tried the chocolate wine sauce with a cookie: YUM. You know, I have some of this stuff at home. I should really make something with it. Or just dip everything into it. Our server, Harla, was very friendly, and didn't rush us. I decided to have the Flight of Reds.

*2006 Pinot Noir

2005 Zinfandel

2006 Merlot

*2005 CASK Cab (bought) Mo & Karina’s fave & the reason we were there

*2005 Rubicon: “Point of No Return” per Julius Caesar

By the end of this tasting period, I was way drunk, and couldn't even drink a cup of water without spilling it. I decided I wanted a cigar, which they had on sale, Coppola's brand, in their shop. I went outside for some fresh air and watched people playing Bocci & didn’t know what was going on. I also called Cindy so that she could enjoy my drunken state, but she wasn't available, so I left her a drunk message that she later stated she would keep forever & play for everyone. After the gals were done making all of our purchases (I couldn't even stand in there anymore without searching for a chair), we sat outside for a spell, so that we could rest and enjoy the nice breeze. A lady wanted to put away the table & chairs where we were sitting because they were closing. However, when Mo went inside to have my cigar clipped, she noted that the guys inside had no qualms about leaving the furniture outside for awhile. So we sat until we got our acts together and left. You just can't rush these things, lady. Sorry.

We then went back to Sonoma and drove around Sonoma Square before returning to the hotel. After Lo and I changed our clothes, we met back up with the cousins and went back for our second night at Sante. Mo hadn't asked for Morgan when she initially made the reservation, but we asked for him at the host podium anyway, and they politely obliged. We were seated in a different section, but Morgan still served us. Adam, the actual server for the section, was a little offended at first, but we didn't care much because we wanted to talk to Morgan again. Besides, he wouldn't be offended for very long. We're very nice people who sometimes deserve to be shoved in the corner for our behavior. Anyway, Morgan saw us, and told me my room number when I said hello. Oh, he DOES remember us. Quite a bit, thank you. Josh, our runner from last night, welcomed us back. We must be memorable people. Yeah, it was yesterday, but sometimes people have really short term memories.

During our talk with Morgan, we learned that he was born in Hay Fork, CA (is that enough of a hick town name for ya?), but grew up in Sonoma, so he was used to the non-city life. Adam, however, is a San Francisco boy and loves the city life. So already we had a difference in server personalities. Lo was talking about a guy named Andrew that she used to date, which was not the same guy she dated that had fuzzy dice hanging on his mirror. K didn't know what we were talking about, and interpreted it as "Lo had a crush on Andrew Dice Clay." So then Adam approached our table, and we told him about Lo's crush. Lo was mortified, and she didn't even know who Dice Clay was. She then talked about needing creamer in the room, and Adam playfully misinterpreted it as "You want me to rub creamer on you?" We just wanted creamer to go, but they didn't have that available.

We ordered our food finally, and Sommelier Eric came by, saw that we had a bottle of CASK from Rubicon, and approved of our choice.

Complimentary Amuse Bouche: Mushroom soup with crème fraiche, and sautéed mushrooms in sauce au fis on crostini

Mona had been talking about having cheese since we arrived, so she, Lo and K shared the Cheese plate with 7 different cheeses, blanched almonds, apricots, and prunes

Krina ordered the halibut again because she liked it so much last night. I wanted a lighter dinner so that I could have dessert. I had Mache Lettuces with beets and sautéed strawberries in champagne vinaigrette.

Sher's salad

Krina noticed that a couple sitting nearby was unhappy with everything that Adam served. It was never the right temperature, and they kept sending stuff back. Now, I'm all for people having their food done the right way, but I can't imagine that ALL of their dishes were not prepared properly. Especially in this restaurant. Anyway, so Adam asked us how we were doing, and Krina teased him that everything was just not the right temperature. He picked up on the sarcasm and enjoyed our table more than he did the others, of course. Especially with us single gals flirting with him and Morgan the whole time. Hey, it got K a free glass of wine so that she could catch up with the drunk people at her table, as well as a friendly good night greeting at the end of the evening.

Sher, Morgan and Krina

For dessert, I ordered the Chocolate Soufflé with chocolate sauce, which was nice and warm and gooey on the inside. Mo ordered the Raspberry soufflé with Pistachio sauce. We actually renamed it Shrek sauce because it was green.

Raspberry Souffle with Shrek Sauce

This time, we all got our OWN boxes of chocolates. They love us. We said our goodbyes to Morgan, and he had Adam escort Krina out, so that she could take her glass of wine with her.

Krina and Adam

It was too smoky at the fire pit, so we brought our cigars to Mo & K’s balcony to enjoy. Since it was my first cigar, Mo had to tell me, "Suck it Hard" while trying to light it. Lo mentioned later on that she didn't think I ever needed anyone to tell me that. Lo cracks me up.

Some Drunk Girl

After getting my fill of cigar smoking, I went inside to join the gals and we watched "CSI Miami" to understand why Mo likes the colors of the set. We eventually turned it to "Get Smart" and watched before we decided to go back to our own room.

I just kept thinking that I had cigar smoke in my hair. Thank goodness we'd be going to the spa tomorrow, so that I could have nice things for my olfactory senses to enjoy.

Next Up: Spa & Sonoma Day


  1. Sounds like you all had a blast.

    When I was living in the Berkeley, I became very fond of day trips up to Napa and Sonoma. I did enjoy visiting the wineries, however, I can't stand the taste of wine! Over time, I started preferring spending time at the regional parks (Jack London and Mt. St. Helena are especially beautiful) and the little towns like Calistoga.

    I'm jumping ahead, but did you guys make it to the Silverado Vineyards? It's owned by Walt Disney's daughter Diane and her husband Ron.

  2. We did not go to Silverado Vineyards, but I'll look into it next time!