CarrieWas218's Profile

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Carneros (Napa) Tasting and Snacking Tips

Honestly, go for the 2-hour tour option if you are an art fan. It takes you out to some of the areas where only outside, large sculptural pieces can be seen.

If you want more wine time, stick to the 1.5-hour tour.

Carneros (Napa) Tasting and Snacking Tips

I'm a huge fan of DiRosa and if you want to go there and experience the art, you need to make reservation SOON. Personally, I prefer Boon Fly for breakfast than for dinner. Carneros is more known for Pinot than for Cabs so you are best to stick to that varietal.

If you don't want to go to far into downtown Sonoma for lunch/snack, you might want to consider Gundlach Bundschu as they have lovely picnic tables, some purchasable snacks, and very nice wine as well.

Caveat: I worked there over a decade ago and haven't personally been back in five or six years. Like anything in the F&W industry, I'm sure it has gone through a number of changes so my recommendation is more in line with the OP wanting a quick spot for a snack. I have no idea what the quality (or lack thereof) of the product is these days...

Mazzetti's Bakery / Pacifica

I now live here on the coast side and have stopped here two or three times but have yet to be really blown away by anything.

I have found the cookies to be mostly stale, the pastries are all sort of sickly-sweet, and the doughnuts are just meh.

Yes, they have a huge selection, but I see it as more of a hang-out for locals and place to pick up last-minute gifts, but the quality is about the same as what one would find at Safeway.

Private Dining for marriage proposal

If it is any consolation, my now-husband proposed on New Year's Eve at Top of the Mark. They have SO MANY PROPOSALS that it is commonplace for them at there was no reaction from the staff or anyone around us.

And they have a nice view!

From NYC: Itinerary for Napa + SF

I don't think you will be disappointed with your new itinerary! Of the two, I'd lean towards Cindy's if you want a little more originality. But, again, if you are craving protein, Mustards will provide a really nice offering of meats.

From NYC: Itinerary for Napa + SF

"Italian" in California is WAY different than Italian in New York. We term it Cal-Italian.

But I get your drift and would recommend at least a dozen other restaurants in the Napa Valley for a true California Cuisine experience over Mustards. Now if you like BIG protein-heavy meals, it is fine, but just look at the menu: It is $25+ dollar entrees for a pork chop, or ribs or lamb...

-Farmstead is a great suggestion that beetlebug made.
-Bistro Jeanty is very authentic Country French with the elegance of fresh California ingredients.
-Terra is more elegant with a touch of Asian (chef is Japanese)
-Zuzu is Spanish tapas - but way better than what you get in Spain
-TORC is cutting-edge
-Goose & Gander is one of my favorite spots when I'm dining alone, but wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.
-JoLe is a favorite in Calistoga and worth the drive.
-Grace's Table is more low-key but a local's favorite.
-Cindy's Backstreet has more Mexican influences so it isn't one of my top choices, but I have many friends who adore it.
-Angele in downtown Napa is subtle and understated; I've always enjoyed it.

From NYC: Itinerary for Napa + SF

BTW, there is nothing to eat "along" the Silverado Trail. It is a LONG road with no restaurants and only one deli, the Soda Canyon Store, which is about 10 miles from downtown Napa. Unless you are hearty bicyclists... It is longer than it seems, usually due to wind drag.

Also, I think Mustards is really over-rated; just big platters of roasted meats. There are a lot more interesting restaurants in Napa than that if you are only there a few days and visiting from NYC.

What others have said about Girl & The Fig; not worth the drive from Napa and will make a *really* long day.

napa lunch

Meh - I'd go to Bistro Don Giovanni over those two...

To me, Mustards is just big platters of grilled meat. Cindy's is okay, but I've never been wowed there.

1.5 days in Napa - Please Narrow this Down

I think Mustards is hugely over-rated but okay if you like big hunks for roasted meats.

My favorite dinner spots are Zuzu for tapas, Grace's Table (a local's favorite), and Bistro Don Giovanni. Meadowood would be an over-the-top splurge, but I'm down for more comfort food.

Love Farmstead and Terra as well and think Addendum is fine if you are there for more than a day-and-a-half, but is somewhat of a waste of a meal with such a tight schedule.

Consider a stop at the Oxbow Market.

Sprouts Opened Today, Serramonte/Gellert [Daly City]

I went in today and the only reason I can see to go back is the availability for their bulk items; the vegetables didn't look any better than what I can get at Safeway and I have New Leaf in HMB closer to me for specialty meats.

I'm in Serramonte often enough so there may be occasions to stop there, but I won't make a special trip.

Oyster Rookie

If they are shucked at Cook's you run the risk of having the oysters losing their precious and much-desired liquor. Do you know what kind you are getting? That will also determine what you should do with them; those big, Pacific oysters are better cooked (stew, broiled, fried) while the more delicate, smaller oysters (Miyagi, Kumamoto) are better raw, "on the half-shell" with a bit of lemon or Mignonette.

As others have said, find out if any of your guests have experience shucking. That will be your first determination...

Truffle Dinners at Quince [San Francisco]

My husband was intrigued and actually considering it until I called for the price...

Five courses for $350 or nine courses for $550.

Anyone going?

Pennsylvania Dutch Egg Nog

Orange Juice - like in a 'fridge? I was looking where the specialty liquor (that crappy pumpkin-flavored Fulton's Harvest Cream Liqueur) was sitting...

Pennsylvania Dutch Egg Nog

I went to the Safeways in Half Moon Bay (1) and Pacifica (2) and it doesn't seem to exist at any of the Coastside Safeway stores...

:-(

One Day in SF

Benu has many detractors from those of us that have dined there. Read this thread:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/726791

Personally, I would walk around the Mission for an all-day nosh (Craftsman & Wolves, a Mission burrito) during the day.

For your dinner, I would suggest Atelier Crenn or Aquarello.

Molecular Gastronomy 11/8/14 at Chabot Space & Science Center, Oakland, $55-$65

Darn. There are too many balls in the air to be able to determine our availability for next Saturday...

Pity; would have been great fun!

Molecular Gastronomy 11/8/14 at Chabot Space & Science Center, Oakland, $55-$65

We aren't members, but should be (own several telescopes and have gone on astronomical vacations).

But I will be curious about the molecular influences they are planning...

Molecular Gastronomy 11/8/14 at Chabot Space & Science Center, Oakland, $55-$65

My interest was piqued but the menu doesn't really expand upon what is being served that is molecular: Lamb Tagine and brownies!?!?!

Yet another conventioneer...

Nsxtasy, I saw your post just was we were heading out and it was perfect timing, so thanks for letting me know about the French Market! As it happened, breakfast at Nightwood was more than adequate to keep us sated for the day so we were fine not having dinner before arriving at The Aviary.

At Nightwood, we shared a scrumptious doughnut topped with bacon and two of the bigger offerings; my husband had version of Benedict with eggs on excellent toast, some prosciutto, grilled tomatoes and Bernaise sauce and I had what was essentially breakfast cassoulet. My breakfast was served in a cast-iron skillet with Borlotti beans, duck confit, wheat berries and two poached eggs. It was very, very rich and hard to finish. We both enjoyed the versions of salads that came with our dishes as well. Mine had thinly sliced potatoes which could have been mistaken for Asian pears. I didn't get to taste my husband's salad.

The brunch was so filling we had no need for a dinner at all and the few appetizers we had at The Aviary was more than sufficient. The amuse was a small offering of an Amari with cherry flavor. I have no idea, but it was an excellent beginning while we perused the menu. We decided on a three-course prix fixe tasting as well as an additional order to accompany what little food we decided on.

From the a là carte, we had the IFL Science (honey, blueberry, ginger, scotch) to have a "full molecular" experience. It was all that and then some. From the prix fixe, the Zombie Panda (lemon, raspberry liquor, lychee, pisco), Turista (coconut, rhum, sanbitter, china china), and the Thai Iced Coffee (cardamom, anise, milk, black strap). Because of our exuberance, we were comped a Heart of Stone (pistachio, fresno, peach, lapsang, whiskey).

For food, we had BBQ (crispy pork skin) which we initially found a bit over-seasoned but paired delightfully with the Zombie Panda. Trying to be a little frugal, my husband only ordered one Black Truffle explosion (apparently from the current Next menu). When he saw the look of rapture on my face - because it is a single bite that explodes in the mouth - he went ahead and ordered another one for himself. The Short Rib with root beer flavors was shared and a nice concoction of pulled pork under a creamy custard. We finished up with the Foie Gras described as (foie, peanut, caramel, satisfaction) and was more like an orgasmic Snickers bar. It was a perfect day and my husband was surprised (as an avowed lightweight!) that we had *NO* hangover the next day!

It was a great food weekend and thanks everyone for the help and guidance!

Oct 21, 2014
CarrieWas218 in Chicago Area

Yet another conventioneer...

I'm in the middle of my trip now and having a lovely time. We arrived on a red-eye Friday morning and after a little nap, while hubby went straight to his convention, I headed towards Blackbird. Their prix fixe lunch was amazing, starting with the revelatory steak tartare - on an eggplant purée, mixed with mustard seeds, sesame seeds and toasted poppy seeds and topped with slivered mushrooms - easily one of the best tartars I have ever tasted. That segued into duck confit with turnips, pumpkin bread with sage butter, and Few aged gin with a single rock. There was a large disk of turnip which topped the duck that was a tad over-powering and I believe the confit to have been minimally cooked (meaning, it did not have the true tenderness of a long-confit'd piece of duck), but was still tasty. I finished up with chocolate mousse with fig leaf ice cream and crispy apples and because of the OUTSTANDING pumpkin bread with whipped sage butter, was too full to finish dessert.

I was happy to have been able to fit in the Architectural Boat Tour that afternoon since the weather definitely has got colder since Friday afternoon! Dinner that evening was oyster happy hour at Chicago Oyster House. Honestly, their menu and service seems a lot to be desired, but since all I wanted was oysters (three or four dozen in total), it was adequate and I was thrilled to be able to taste east coast varieties like Old 1871, Effingham, and Deep Cove. I also tried their Rockefeller which was a bit too cheesy for my tastes.

Saturday was spent at the library doing oyster research and I was thrilled to stumble on the Open House festivities. Around the corner from some of the buildings I toured was Pastoral Artisan Cheese and that was just the ticket for a nice a light lunch (French cheese plate) before dinner at Acadia.

Preferring to make our own tasting, we opted to sit in the bar and order from the bar menu and a la carte appetizers instead of their tasting menu. First up were a half-dozen Belon oysters (yeah!) before sharing an exquisite lobster roll and mussels. I loved that the mussels were steamed in beer (and butter!) instead of wine and the only complaint was that the focaccia served with it was a bit on the salty side. I adored my gin-and-tonic with cucumber & Kaffir lime ice cubes as one of the finest gin drinks I've experienced. Even my husband - who really doesn't care for gin at all - was impressed. We then shared sweetbreads and a burger. The sweetbreads had a nice, crunchy exterior but I thought the compressed shallot was a bit overwhelming. Really kick-ass burger! We finished up with two desserts, Caramel Apple bay leaf bavarois, pumpkin seed crumble, olive oil ice cream and Gooey Butter Cake with pear, toasted hazelnuts, triple crème sherbet. My husband was all over the olive oil ice cream and despite his love of triple crème as a cheese, preferred the rest of the butter cake and pears to the dairy offering that accompanied that dish.

We have two more days to go and I think he is going to play hooky from the convention today. We have Publican reservations for dinner, but as we have been there before, I think we are going to head to Nightwood for a big brunch instead, possibly stopping at the French Market for a lighter (and cheaper) dinner before cocktails at Aviary.

Oct 19, 2014
CarrieWas218 in Chicago Area

Preparing for French Laundry! Napa Winery advice!

If you have a Sunday FL lunch, you may not be finished with the meal until 4:00ish so I'm not sure what "stops after" would still be open. You may be happier, as Maria Lorraine said, to just stretch your legs and wander around Yountville.

Most winery tasting rooms start closing up at 5:00 and 5:30 (Merryvale) and you will be too full to want to do any tastings and pretty rushed as well. Across the highway is Domaine Chandon and they have lovely gardens as well; you could have a closing glass of bubbly.

The exodus traffic on Sundays can be horrendous so it is nice to have a driver. I'm sorry you have to dash back to Carmel so quickly; an evening stay in Yountville this time of year can be lovely with the fall colors descending upon the vineyards.

Napa birthday dinner, group of 13

Grace's Table got listed in Michelin's Bib Gourmand this afternoon. A first time for them, I believe...

Napa birthday dinner, group of 13

You are thinking of Oenetri which has declined since the two owners split...

What size is your group? I would also recommend Grace's Table; walking distance and I have often seen larger groups there.

Chris Cosentino Deeply Regrets Television Appearances

So many f-bombs detracts from whatever he is trying to convey.

Haggis / Burns Night in San Francisco

I've had them... They can be purchased at The Whisky Shop on Sutter. Not very haggis-tasting, I have to say...

Yet another conventioneer...

Oh man.... My trip isn't for another three weeks - sorry to have missed it!

Right now, I am leaning towards the Blackbird lunch prix fixe for just me. A good friend who was just visiting thinks I should spend the money to eat at Aviary and I'm just not sure it is a good fit for my husband who really doesn't enjoy hard alcohol (although I think he'll like the rest of it!)

Fat Rice and Girl & Goat are high on my list for dinners for him.

Sep 27, 2014
CarrieWas218 in Chicago Area

Yet another conventioneer...

Hubby and I will be staying at the Hyatt near the McCormick center for three nights and four days next month. We did this two years ago and were able to enjoy Publican, Mercat a la Planxa, and Purple Pig during our stay. I did hit the Russian Tea Room for lunch by myself and remember a fun breakfast at The Bongo Room, but don't recall my other lunches.

The rub this time is that we are on a tighter budget and DH doesn't want to spend more than $150 for the two of us, total with tip, for dinner. The cheaper the better... He will be in meetings all day so he only has dinner availability while I'll have the days to myself, so lunch recs would be appreciated.

I would really like to explore Chicago's Polish (or other ethnic?) offerings, but if it involves a $40 cab ride, then it might not be worth it. I'm considering BlackBird for one, blow-out meal and Fat Rice looks interesting. Chef Luciano doesn't seem far from the hotel and gets decent ratings on Google. And Chicago Oyster House is intriguing as I'm working on an oyster book (but I could make that a lunch stop for me).

We are much happier ordering lots of appetizers and small plates and tend to avoid big entrees, if that helps. Lastly, we have no interest in deep-dish pizza or any of Rick Bayless' offerings (flavor profiles I just don't appreciate).

Thanks for your help!

Sep 18, 2014
CarrieWas218 in Chicago Area

Three nights' dinners in Napa Valley

Great reports - thanks for reminding me how much Press costs... I just can't justify those kinds of prices for MEAT.

San Jose, Half Moon Bay and Sausalito

Note that Barbara's is cash only and actually at Pillar Point Harbor (technically, El Granada) and not in the downtown Half Moon Bay area that most people think of. If you are actually *in* downtown Half Moon Bay, I would recommend Pasta Moon. There is a Sushi on Main in HMB, and their $10.95 bento box isn't bad.

One nice dinner at a classic San Francisco restaurant on a thursday night

Concur with others; Boulevard and Zuni will cover the bases with both nice and classic for dinners.

If you are here on a Saturday, make sure to hit the Farmers Market at the Ferry Plaza in the morning for breakfast. Otherwise, breakfast and lunches could easily be filled with dim sum at Yank Sing or Ton Kiang, a Mission crawl for burritos or tacos, and whatever you do, avoid Fisherman's Wharf at all costs (food wise) = tourist trap.