Here is Part II of the San Fran/Napa trip. All guidance courtesy of KK Carothers, my college freshman roommate who actually lives in Napa making wine. CAN YOU IMAGINE??? I very nearly uprooted myself and moved into her house on the spot.
Bottega - 6525 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599 - 707-945-1050
Holy hell. This was the first and best meal I had in Napa Valley. Bottega is located in Yountville, home base for arguably the best restaurant in the country, Thomas Keller's legendary The French Laundry. But what am I, made of money? No. This more casual spot from chef Michael Chiarello was perfect for a leisurely, decadent, and not obscenely expensive meal.
At the top: Italian Gin and Tonic with Frozen Grape, Juniper Berries, and a Sprig of Rosemary. Look at it. Have you ever seen a G&T look so classy?
2nd Pic: Black Pepper Bucatini alla Carbonara. That egg in the middle exploded when we cut into it. Perfect.
3rd Pic: Potato Dough Raviolo filled with Spinach and Ricotta, Black Truffles, Farm Fresh Egg Yolk, Sage Brown Butter. THIS WAS THE BEST THING I HAD IN NAPA VALLEY. The photo doesn't do it justice. So decadent. So truffley. So a;alkj;aldkjfsa;dkf.
Bottom: Duck Three Ways: Roasted Breast, Confit Leg, Duck Liver Mousse. The strawberry stuff on the side was delicious. KK and I both tried to like the duck liver mousse (isn't foie gras illegal in CA?) but we just couldn't. Embarrassing.
Model Bakery - Oxbow Public Market, 644 1st St, Bldg B, Napa, CA 94599 - 707-259-1128
At Oxbow Public Market in Napa, you can get oysters, pizza, tacos, ice cream, etc. Most importantly, you can get one of Model Bakery's epic english muffins that look and taste like fluffy donuts. The breakfast sandwich above had egg, provolone, avocado, tomato, hash brown, and ketchup. It's a perfect hangover remedy after you've had too much Napa Valley grape juice.
Here's a bonus shot of KK trying some bitters at Oxbow Market. Hahahaha sorry KK.
Tra Vigne - 1050 Charter Oak Ave, St. Helena, CA 94574 - 707-963-4444
This place is in a mini castle at the end of the main drag in St. Helena. They have a gorgeous outdoor patio with string lights that looks like a fairytale. Although I previously decided I want to get married in the cheese section of the flagship Wegman's Supermarket in Rochester, NY, this patio is a close second. Most importantly:
Top: Mozzarella Cheese "Al Minuto" - Tra Vigne claims on their menu that they make the mozzarella for this dish the moment you order it. Personally, I don't care when the stuff was made - it's fucking delicious. Our waiter cut up the warm ball tableside and plated it as you see above on crunchy bruschetta with Napa olive oil, salt, and pepper. A can't miss for any cheese lover.
Bottom: Cocoa Marinated Grilled Venison Loin - Honestly I was too full of mozzarella to really eat a lot of this. It was just okay. Get the pasta instead. Or just eat four pieces of mozzarella.
Fremont Diner - 2698 Fremont Drive, Sonoma, CA 95476 - 707-938-7370
This roadside diner can be found on the scenic drive from Napa Valley to San Francisco. If I had been hungrier, and hadn't eaten a block of mozzarella the night before, I would have gotten the chicken & waffles or biscuits & gravy, but these ricotta pancakes with blood oranges were perfectly light and satisfying.