California Road Trip 2010: Random sips and bites

I am sad to say this marks the end of my California Road Trip posts.  Of course there are many other things I could blog about but I have tried to choose places of interest to more than just me!  To wrap up, I thought it might be nice to showcase some other noteworthy sips and bites we enjoyed along the way.

I love a nice glass of bubbly (a drink I find you can enjoy at almost any time of the day) and so Domaine Chandon in Napa was definitely on our my list in wine country.  It’s a lovely setting…

To enjoy some equally lovely bubbles…

And of course, some nibbles to go avec

Our mums were happy 🙂

For some more serious stuff (read: tasting wines, not just drinking them), Neil, dad and I headed to St Supéry

Gotta love one of their mottos:

Drink, dance and be good (rough translation). A good motto for life, really!

Dad and Neil enjoyed the “Smell-a-vision” exhibit…

An exhibit teaching you about the aromas in wine – you could either smell blind and try to guess the aromas you were smelling or smell them and learn as you went. I got them all wrong. Neil and dad were pretty good

We also had to head to Château Montelena, having just seen the movie Bottle Shock, quite by chance a couple of weeks before we left…  If you’ve seen the movie, you will recognise this:

For those of you who haven’t seen the film, the website give a nice little synopsis – In 1976 Chateau Montelena helped put California at the forefront of the wine world. That year a who’s-who of the French wine and food establishment gathered for a grand tasting at the Inter-Continental Hotel in Paris.  Four white Burgundies were tasted against six California Chardonnays. When the scores were tallied, the French Judges were convinced that the top-ranking white wine was one of their own. In fact, it was Chateau Montelena’s 1973 Chardonnay, rated above all other wines. The results proved that Chateau Montelena could produce some of the world’s finest wines, and that California’s wine industry had come of age.

It was fun to see the places we saw in the film!

In Napa, in addition to eating at Bouchon Bistro, we also headed out to Bouchon Bakery to check out the pastries.

Disappointingly, these were just ok.  The pains au chocolat, in particular, could have used heating up – they tasted almost stale… 🙁

When Neil was doing some even more serious wine tasting, mum and I convinced Dad to drive us down to Napa to check out the tiny but worthwhile Oxbow Public Market.

It’s a do-able market, meaning it’s small and contained, but there are a lot of really interesting shops and vendors to check out. From top left, clockwise: Oxbow Produce, Hog Island Oyster Co., The Olive Press, Kara’s Cupcakes.

And the Whole Spice Company. Ahem. I purchased a few jars for our already overflowing spice cabinet(s).

Back in San Francisco where the city decided to show us what a summer’s day is like when it’s 10C, we were chilled to the bone after taking a cable-car tour around the city.  Having been dropped off at Fisherman’s Wharf, we spotted this, nearly immediately…

Ah, yes, Bistro Boudin. You can tell by what we ordered that it was definitely not a warm midsummer’s day…

The famous clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl…

And French Onion Soup, oozing with cheesy goodness!

If you’re looking to get away from the fray of people at Fisherman’s Wharf, head on upstairs to the more refined atmosphere of the bistro.

Of course no trip to San Francisco is complete with out a trip to the Ferry Building and the Farmers’ Market…

We introduced Neil’s mum to the famous “meat cone” from Boccalone

(she loved it!)

We also happened upon a cooking demonstration in the basement of Macy’s (part of SF Chefs 2010). Not just any cooking demo, Chef Thomas McNaughton from flour+water) was preparing a rabbit terrine with rabbit confit and stone fruit compote.

Here he is on the left holding up the caul fat (used to encase the terrine so it holds together), whilst his assistant worked on the compote.  After the fact, I came across this blog post with a great interview of Chef by Joel, aka Mr Rosewater who I have been following on Foodbuzz and Twitter for a while now and who I am sad not to have met!

The food was phenomenal.

And I don’t even like rabbit. If it was always prepared like this, I might be convinced though…

Finally, what’s a road trip without some good snacks?  When we’re travelling around, we love to seek out new potato and corn chip flavours and this trip did not disappoint!

Of these, we really loved the Limón (we’ve had them in South America before) and the Balsamic Sweet Onion Lay’s. Luckily they aren’t available here…

Thanks for tagging along on our summer vacation. I know other people’s “What I did on my Summer Vacation” can sometimes be tedious so I hope you’ve enjoyed these little glimpses of our trip 🙂

38 thoughts on “California Road Trip 2010: Random sips and bites”

  1. Wow, what a trip! We went to St. Supery last summer and loved it. The smell-a-vision device was pretty fascinating, and their wines remain some of my favorites. Oh, and I loved Kara’s Cupcakes. Now I can hardly wait for my October trip out there, even though it’s a brief one.
    Great post, Mardi!

  2. Fun photos!! Makes me wish I had another trip scheduled to the Bay Area. We loved the Ferry Building and Chateau Montelena. Just watched that movie for the 3rd time about a month ago. Next time, we’ll do St. Supery for sure. Thank you so much for the wonderful journey!! Kate

  3. I have thoroughly enjoyed these posts!! San Francisco/Napa is one of my favorite trips!! Loved the movie “Bottle Shock” – a definite “must see” for foodies!!! Chandon is truly beautiful – last time I was there though it was pouring rain (but it was still fun!!)

    Looks like you had a fabulous trip!!

  4. Wow, you’ve done a lot, lady! Can I tag along next time? Haha. I really love your travelogues, it’s almost as if I’m there, except that I’m left hungry at the end. 🙂

    Hope you’re hand’s feeling better, btw!

  5. Hi there, nice blog. I love your ethos of “eat, live, travel and write.” Looks like you’ve certainly been following it; and having a great time along the way.

  6. Another great post 🙂 Loved the picture of the mum’s having a lovely glass of bubbly & the clam chowder in the sourdough bread roll.

  7. A great re-cap of our trip last August to Napa and San Fran…love the Ferry Market Building – and Napa. Wish I had time for Ad Hoc and Bouchon… but, The French Laundry will be a life long highlight. Your trip sounds like the dream ours was. So nice to see such gorgeous pics and relive my memories through your post.

  8. My Mum and I would definitely be getting stuck into the bubbles too. I’m sure jokes would be made about lollywater and we’d warn Mum not to get too carried away and then we’d all eat our weight in food until we were bursting and then make lame jokes about not being so hungry any more and then eat dessert too and then my parents would order tea and when faced with multiple tea options Dad would say “just tea”. I don’t think your stories have been tedious at all 😀

    Thanks for taking us on this trip with you! Can we come next time? I could make you feel clever by being lame at the sniffing game..?

  9. I really enjoyed all your posts about your California trip – when we finally do a US-based vacation, we would love to do something similar. So much fun!

  10. Mardi, I have been reading or should I say trailing on your skirt tails through out your entire trip through California. I love seeing the state through a strangers eyes, makes me appreciate it even more! Your photos have been wonderful and delicious.

    ps…. we always take the same snacks on our road-trips, so bad!


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