After our recent trip to Tres Sabores and Buehler, we couldn’t wait to follow it up with another trip to Napa. Alex happened to be working in the area (and staying in a nearby hotel), so it was almost by accident that we ended up spending a full day in Napa. Unlike other weekends in wine country, we had no plans, didn’t really feel like drinking much wine and felt great about taking it easy.
We woke up and rolled into town to grab coffee and
cupcakes breakfast at Oxbow Public Market. Ritual Coffee Roasters has a storefront there (the same Ritual Coffee that I tried out in the Mission) and Alex wanted to give their coffee a go. He ordered a pour over coffee, begrudgingly paid ~$4, but loved the coffee. I focused my efforts on a latte and a carrot cake cupcake from Kara’s.
After Ritual, we got sidetracked by Whole Spice. I’m pretty sure they aren’t affiliated with Whole Foods, but I think that is the association they might be going for.
I loved pawing through their dozens of salts. I picked up four different types: Himalaya pink crystals (a big hunk! Still not sure how to eat it); Alea Hawaiian salt, fine (also pink — I’m thinking of rimming cocktails with this and sprinkling it on cookies); Cyprus Mediterranean black flake sea salt (no idea how to use this); and hickory-smoked sea salt (brownish — and very smoky smelling! We had to double bag it when we got home).
We ended up sharing some tacos at C Casa. The one in the front is white bean and the one in the back is potato. I was totally inspired to go pick some up some white beans for home ASAP.
Feeling stuffed with coffee, cupcakes and tacos, we walked around downtown Napa for a little while before heading up to Fleury Winery in Rutherford. A friend, Eric, is the head of the tasting room and son of the owner.
From the outside, Fleury’s winery looks like a large, plain warehouse. On the inside, though, they have a totally different wine tasting set up than I’ve ever seen. In lieu of a bar, or even a traditional seated tasting, Fleury has a series of small, intimate rooms that were styled by Eric’s step-mother.
We sat in deep red leather chairs around a dark wood table. Our room was tented and filled with candles, mirrors, photos and art made by Eric (the property is packed with Eric’s fantastic paintings and sculptures).
Fleury’s arty vibe is especially evident in their wine bottles. This one’s for a blend called F in Red that’s rich, velvety and delicious.
Some more of the product line.
As is the norm at Fleury, Eric spent over an hour tasting with us and kept us laughing the whole time. He also grinned and tolerated us playing grape guessing games, as Alex and I tasted the red blends and tried to figure out which grapes were used. As it turns out, we are NOT good at this game.
We ended up leaving with a bottle of port fortified with an eau-de-vie Fleury makes in house. I should have asked more questions about how the the eau-de-vie was made, since they didn’t seem to have any stills (like we saw at St. George). I was impressed, though!
Naturally, we followed up the tasting with a little rollerblading. Alex hadn’t rollerbladed since the early 90’s, so he proceeded with caution.
Eric threw caution to the wind. He was the roller blade winner, impressing us with his general rad-ness. Despite being skilled on the blades, Eric is a really cool guy!
Before we left, we made a quick pit stop at quite possibly the coolest outhouse (with plumbing) in the world.
Alex and I left Eric to do his job-related things and we went to check out Callistoga, a sleepy, small town North of St. Helena that’s primarily known for its mud baths and bottled water. We probably should have found a way to take a mud bath, but instead we picnicked in a park and then drove down the Silverado Trail back to Napa.
As though we hadn’t already eaten enough, later in the evening we headed out to dinner at Morimoto, a Japanese restaurant, with a crew of friends. We ordered up a round of cocktails. Mine contained yuzu juice — a new love. I was reinvigorated to buy yuzu next time I’m at the grocery store. I know absolutely nothing about yuzu, though. Do I buy it as a fruit? A juice?
While the cocktails were a blast, the real show stopper of the dinner was a tofu appetizer. Get this — they bring a pot of hot soy milk to the table, pour in a concentrated salt water called nigari, stir it around, leave it resting for about 10 minutes (no touching!) and then there’s tofu. MAGIC.
The tofu was served up with a bunch of sides, including a beautiful mushroom gravy. We were all lapping our bowls. The non-vegetarians at the table were even stunned.
So, now we have lots of things to look into: Can I make tofu at home? What’s the deal with yuzu? What do we do with a big salt crystal? Really looking forward to spending some time in the kitchen and the markets this weekend. And looking forward to drinking some port!