restaurants · Trips

Spring Break in California: Napa Valley

One of the many benefits to working in a school is the fact that I still get Spring Break as a 23 year old. Serendipitously, my mom had the same spring break at the college where she teaches so we planned a rendezvous in San Francisco for the week. Night one we stayed in Napa – the ideal foodie vacation destination, and ate at Celadon.


I was blown away with the cocktails alone. I had an upscale salty dog: grapefruit infused vodka, grapefruit juice and some other mystery ingredient. Mom had an elderflower cocktail mixed with fresh kiwi.


We split the macadamia crusted goat cheese with port-soaked figs and pear slices. It was as good as it sounds.


I caved. I had to. I gave up eating farm animals for lent, and have stuck to it thus far. But when Sergio read off the special: a homemade pappardelle with slow roasted, pulled pork shoulder with tomatoes and mushrooms cooked in the meat’s own juices… I was done for. It was oh, so worth it.


How can you say no to cinnamon raisin bread pudding with grand marnier crème anglaise? You shouldn’t, and we didn’t.

The mini-breakdown I had the next morning when I tried to button my pants was even worth it. To help our waistline, we walked to breakfast at Alexis Baking Company for oatmeal.

photo (17)photo (18)

From there, a day of wine tasting ensued…


First stop was Peju Province Winery, based solely on the strange, skinny trees lining the entrance.




The tasting room was more church than vineyard with a huge stained glass window. Odd. But not quite as odd as the ABSURD wine tasting attendant who was not a day younger than 70- he rapped, cussed, made inappropriate racial jokes and generally made the entire group of us wine tasters feel severe second-hand embarrassment. The wine was great, but that was way over-shadowed by the extreme discomfort of the tasting process.


A little further up highway 29, we stopped in St. Helena for lunch. My Google search suggested we go to Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen.


To start, more incredible crusty brown bread.


We split the papaya, avocado, hazelnut salad with spicy cilantro dressing and the stuffed poblano peppers with avocado salsa. We’re still talking about that salad.


Finally, we stopped in at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. In another life I will come back as a CIA student. The building is as cool on the inside as it is on the outside.


We stopped in their bookstore which happened to be doing a wine and chocolate tasting. We carpe diem’ed on that and had a glass of their Cabernet with two amazing chocolates. One, a dark chocolate filled with a flowery caramel, the second was a white chocolate filled with bananas foster filling. I kid you not, it was like biting into a caramelized banana. The flavors were on point… not that I expected anything less from this place. 


After all of this, plus another vineyard on the way back, I had reached my quota of wine, so we head to Lafayette, CA for the next leg of our trip.


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