Monday was Presidents’ Day and my cousin had a day off from work, so we made a day trip up to Napa for some food, wine, and shopping!
In the morning, we had breakfast with my aunt in El Cerrito before making the drive to Napa. Our first stop was the Domaine Chandon winery where we enjoyed some oysters and cocktails on the beautiful grounds.
We then headed into Yountville to get a head start on the queue for baked goodies at the famous Bouchon Bakery. We came out with a huge pastry haul – bread pudding, giant macarons, nutter butters, chocolate almond croissants… I’d never tried bread pudding before, but now that I have, I think the bar has been set unbelievably high. Their bread pudding was very moist, not too sweet, and full of raisins and nuts. Absolutely scrumptious!
Bouchon Bakery was opened by Thomas Keller, the chef and restaurateur who also opened The French Laundry – one of the most famous and consistently highest rated restaurants in the world. So, of course, we had to drop by for a photo.
After our snack, we then headed to the outlets for some extensive shopping. I have to admit, I went a little crazy and ended up having to return some things to justify the purchase of others. I’m still so glad I went back for that clutch though. : )
Initially, we had tried to get reservations at various restaurants in Yountville – namely Ad Hoc – but since we had called relatively late for a long weekend, most of them were booked up. The hostess at Ad Hoc told us we could try to walk in and see if they could seat us at the bar. Luckily enough, we were able to be seated within half an hour. Ad Hoc is another one of Thomas Keller’s restaurants in Napa that serves a fixed price menu of American comfort food. Adding on to our lucky streak, they happened to be serving their famous buttermilk fried chicken that day. This notoriously famous dish only appears on their menu every other Monday!
We started off with a (rather skimpily portioned) arugula and butter lettuce salad with blue cheese crumbles, smithfield ham, cucumber, radish, pixie tangerines, candied peanuts, and celery root dressing.
To go with our fried chicken, we had cornbread, kale sprouts, and a mix of red pearl onions, sweet carrots, spring peas, and butter beans. The cornbread was absolutely amazing – buttery, moist, and sweet. I’ve never actually tried kale other than in green smoothies, so I was surprised to find that it tastes exactly like gai lan choy or “Chinese broccoli”. Again, we thought they were seriously skimping on the portions of the veggies, so we had to ask for seconds and thirds of the kale.
… and here is the famous Buttermilk Fried Chicken. Definitely beats any KFC or Popeye’s. Arriving in front of us piping hot, the beautiful aroma had our mouths watering before we could even get a piece on our plate. The meat was well-flavoured, moist, and tender, and the batter was fried to perfection, making the crust shatteringly crisp. I was only able to finish 3 pieces because of the sheer amount of food I’d already consumed that day, but I desperately wanted to keep eating.
Finally, we finished off with a cheese plate and panna cotta. The Carmody cheese was served with red and yellow endives, slices of granny smith apple, and curried pine nuts. The cheese had a very comforting flavour that was buttery but slightly sharp, and was well-balanced with the endives and apples on the side. The vanilla panna cotta was served with macerated strawberries and an oat tuile cookie. We all agreed that this was probably one of the best panna cottas we’d ever tried and absolutely demolished them even though our stomachs were already bursting at the seams.
After a greatly satisfying meal, O drove us to Hotel Carlton where J and I stayed for the remainder of our trip. It was pretty sad to part from my cousin even though I see her once a year, but I think that we were able to bond during my visit despite our 12 year age gap. I was so surprised to find that we have similar taste in clothes, jewelry, and even TV shows! Also, it’s pretty awesome that she has over 3 million followers on Pinterest. Check it out!
Thanks for sacrificing your long weekend to house, entertain, and show us around! Love you!