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Another novice's Napa itinerary cry for help

Gotcha. Dial back the tastings on Sunday.

Sunday
10:00 Schramsberg
12:30 Solbar
02:30 Pride OR Montelena
If we find ourselves with time afterwards, we'll find someplace that doesn't require a reservation for tasting.

Monday, we'll find somewhere instead of Gott's. Would just doing breakfast + French Laundry be a better idea?

Jul 05, 2013
jsa056 in San Francisco Bay Area

Another novice's Napa itinerary cry for help

Get what you're saying about Schramsberg to Montelena. I was just going by Schramsberg's guide of 1 hour 15 minutes for the visit. 11:30 I think is more of a guideline, since no reservations are required for their tasting. But I have read I should give Montelena 1-1.5 hours just because I'll want to look around the estate.

If I pushed everything else back a half hour do you think that would work?

As far as sleeping in goes, normally I'm with you. Heh, I wrote "sleep in" right before I fell asleep last night, so I think that's all my brain could think of at that moment. I think what I might suggest is we'll do a morning tasting at Dolce, have lunch somewhere, then play it by ear. Maybe go to Chandon, Grgich or Mondavi. Anywhere we won't stuck on a set timeline.

Any suggestions of where to go instead of Gott's? When I mentioned them, I was thinking "light" as in their ahi burger. But seeing as I've never had it, maybe it isn't so light afterall... that's good to know.

Jul 04, 2013
jsa056 in San Francisco Bay Area

Another novice's Napa itinerary cry for help

Thanks Maria, Just what I was looking for. I actually read through the dessert wine thread a while back, but I thought it might've been a bit dated. It's good to know a lot of it still holds true.

Maybe I'm being too ambitious, but now I'm thinking if I make sure everyone gets an early start Sunday, we could possibly do:

10:00 am tour time @ Schramsberg
11:30 am Tasting & sightseeing @ Chateau Montelena
1:00pm Lunch @ Solbar
2:30pm Tasting @ Pride
Time permitting stopping by Prager on the way back down to Napa.

Then Monday
10:00am Sleep in?
12:00pm Light lunch (Gott's?)
2:00-3:00pm Hopefully I can get a tasting at Dolce.
Rest
7:30pm Dinner @ French Laundry

Om second thought, after seeing the rest of your post, maybe I'll just do Dolce and save Hendry for next time. I've been to Per Se in New York, so I know how the experience should play out... haha just trying to be stubborn and fit in as much as I can into a day.

I'll be checking out my shipping option on the way into the Valley on Sunday, hopefully they'll be open.

Thanks again

Jul 04, 2013
jsa056 in San Francisco Bay Area

Another novice's Napa itinerary cry for help

@BAnders - Thanks for the rec, Robert Sinskey was one of the places I wanted to get to the last time I was in Napa (about 5 years ago?) but we weren't able to fit it in then. It'll probably happen again this trip. Hopefully I'll get to Napa for a longer vacation soon.

@CarrieWas218 - Thanks for the shipping tips. I was hoping to save a bit by bringing the wines home with me as a checked bag, but I get what you're saying about not trusting the airline. I'll probably take your advice and make sure I get them packed and shipped before my dinner.

If you and Ruth are both suggesting Prager, that's where I'll go.

Jul 03, 2013
jsa056 in San Francisco Bay Area

Another novice's Napa itinerary cry for help

Thanks for the guidance. I was leaning towards Hendry as the first place we stopped at. I've read that their tours are pretty good.

If you don't mind me asking, about how long should I plan on the Hendry tour & tasting taking?

I'll be putting Robert Keenan on my list of vineyards to go to on a future trip... I'm very intrigued, unfortunately I just don't have enough time on this trip to go everywhere I'd like to.

Jul 03, 2013
jsa056 in San Francisco Bay Area

Another novice's Napa itinerary cry for help

Thanks Ruth,

Looks great. I'll check to see which one she'd rather go to but Prager seems like they'll more/better options.

Jul 03, 2013
jsa056 in San Francisco Bay Area

Another novice's Napa itinerary cry for help

Thanks, I'll definitely check that out. Depending on how big the case sized box is, that might be better for me, since I'll only have one free check-in bag left to take on the plane.

Jul 03, 2013
jsa056 in San Francisco Bay Area

Another novice's Napa itinerary cry for help

LONG POST

Sorry, I know it's about the billionth post on the topic, but I have a couple unique twists and I didn't want to hi-jack anyone elses thread. I've done a bit of research (My head hurts a little) But I'm having trouble narrowing down my final selections.

Some quick background, we all like wine, but no one is anywhere near being a wine expert. We're open to anything, tastes and styles between the 4-5 of us vary greatly. One person LOVES late-harvest/fortified/sweeter wines, so I'll need a winery that produces dessert wines. I personally would like to find some good sparkling wine and maybe a Merlot on this trip. And as much as we'd like to find GREAT wines, we'd probably be happier with very good middle of the road cost-wise wine at places that give informative, fun tours.

So we'll be staying in Napa for two days (Sunday-Monday, flight out Tues morn.) We will be driving in from San Mateo Sunday morning which could cut into our time. Monday night we have a room reserved at The French Laundry @ 7:30PM

I'd like to get in 3 wineries on Sunday, unless everyone feels that would be too tough to do in one day. I've read the response saying Domaine Chandon before lunch at TFL isn't a bad idea. My question is if we start around 10 at Smith-Madrone, have a light picnic lunch somewhere, then go to Domaine Chandon, would that be too taxing for a meal at TFL? I'd rather not be tipsy or full before walking in.

Sunday (pick 2-3) or suggest another one of your favorites. I tried to keep the list focused on places between Napa and Calistoga.

Schramsberg (probably going, since it's what I'd like to drink)
Pride
Rombauer
Hendry
Chateau Montelena
Frog's Leap
Paraduxx
Dolce (Far Niente?) This is for the dessert wine lover, any places recommended over Dolce?

I also had Jarvis and Kenzo as possibilities, but I fear they may be too advanced for a beginner like me.

Also any food suggestions would be happily welcomed at this point, Solbar seems to get good reviews, but I'd be happy to entertain all possiblities.

Monday

10:00 Smith-Madrone (Not open Sundays)
12:30 Light lunch/Picnic... don't know where. Help!
04:00 Domaine Chandon - Tasting ($20)
07:30 Dinner @ The French Laundry

Any changes I should make?

One last thing... does anyone have some tips on the best way to get wine home safely when traveling on an airplane? My flight is about 5-6 hours long, I'd probably buy close to a case of different wines... I'd really like them to be safe when I pick them up.

Thanks for all the help in advance
~J

Jul 03, 2013
jsa056 in San Francisco Bay Area

wheres the best/cheapest place to taste out some of this jamon iberico pork

Your best deal is to go out and buy it yourself. Ideally they will slice it in front of you off the whole leg. Whole Foods typically stocks more in prosciutto, but they may have some Iberico. You won't get anything good at regular chains, even if the pre-sliced packages say "Iberico" I'd probably pass.

I think your best bet in Vegas is here:

Artisanal Foods
2275 E SUNSET RD, LAS VEGAS, NV 89119
OPEN MONDAY - SATURDAY 9 AM - 5 PM
702 436 4252

They have Iberico De Bellota by Fermin, which is probably the best you're going to get outside of Spain and NYC. I know Jose Andres (e/Jaleo/China Poblano) uses Fermin as their supplier, can't speak for Robuchon.

http://www.artisanalfoods.com/shop/in...

If you go to a restaurant looking to try it, I would suggest Jaleo (where e is) They have a flight of three types, ranging from Serrano < Iberico < Iberico de Bellota. Cost: $38 It won't be much food, but you'll get to try all a decent range of them, and its definitely authentic.

Jaleo @ The Cosmopolitan
http://www.jaleo.com/

BTW
Off-topic, but If you happen to be in NYC for whatever reason, they hand slice this good stuff at:

Despana
408 Broome Street
NY, NY 10013
212.219.5060

When I went about a year ago, they were the first one to bring a different brand than Fermin. Cinco Jotas (5J) Super expensive, but they'll let you order just a few slices. And both the Fermin and the 5J from there was delicious.

http://www.despanabrandfoods.com/food...

Oct 20, 2012
jsa056 in Las Vegas

Li Hing Mui and Crack Seed

It's a staple for many in Hawaii.

Besides the uses already mentioned (Popcorn/kettle corn, shave ice) -

Slice up some fresh fruit and sprinkle some on top. My favorites are pineapple and apples.
Put it on Gummi Bears (Or anything other gummies you may have around. Sour patch kids w/ li hing is delicious)
Dried fruit works well (Someone mentioned mango already, but almost anything works)

Some of the more crazy and delicious things I've seen/eaten in Hawaii -

Li hing cupcakes
Li hing soda
Li hing FOIE GRAS (so so good btw.)

Nov 09, 2011
jsa056 in San Francisco Bay Area

Only in Vegas?

Ellenost,

My most recent dinner there (June 23rd) did not include the foie gras. But hopefully it'll be back on soon. When I asked Anthony about why they took it off the menu he said it a seasonal thing and it would be back come winter time. IMHO, I thought the food was even better the second time around, even without that wonderful foie.

Back to the original question, for a $200 limit I would also recommend e over any other place in Vegas. If you want to splurge a little, get the wine or non-alcoholic pairings. I chose to go non-alcoholic last time and for $55 I thought the drinks were wonderful. The wine/drink pairings have improved as well, and I was quite jealous of the people having drinks that night.

Jul 06, 2011
jsa056 in Las Vegas

é...it really is THE best!!!

$250 per person, including alcohol and gratuity. As far as I know, that's the price point whether or not you drink. It seems they're willing to make non-alcoholic beverages for you, but I don't think it affects price.

Apr 14, 2011
jsa056 in Las Vegas

é...it really is THE best!!!

Thanks for the report!

Gonna hit up Robuchon in mid-May with a few friends. Any stand out dishes you'd recommend?

And how was the amuse bouche? I'm a little sad that the online menu shows they replaced the crab/caviar amuse. I was looking forward to that.

Apr 14, 2011
jsa056 in Las Vegas

é or....?

I like the choice. I definitely think Alinea is a better place to celebrate something like Christmas.

Knowing that you value the experience at a restaurant leads me to believe you made the right choice. I've been to my fair share of chef's table's, but this was special. Let us know how it went! Enjoy!

Apr 06, 2011
jsa056 in Las Vegas

Cheap Eats ON the strip

If she is talking about Du-Pars (and I hear they do have fantastic pancakes), they're located in the old Golden Gate Diner space in Golden Gate casino if I'm not mistaken.

Apr 04, 2011
jsa056 in Las Vegas

First time in Atlanta

Wasn't on my list, and now I know to just say no if someone suggests it. Thanks!

Apr 01, 2011
jsa056 in Atlanta

First time in Atlanta

I'll check it out, thanks!

Apr 01, 2011
jsa056 in Atlanta

First time in Atlanta

Not that delayed, I won't be going until late May-early June. Thanks for the report on McKendrick's. Atmosphere doesn't matter as much as food for us, but it does matter somewhat.

Seems like we'll eat well no matter which one we choose. All the extra info will help us make a better decision, so thanks again.

Apr 01, 2011
jsa056 in Atlanta

é or....?

Been to both, loved both. It's a tough call. Purely on food, é is great, but IMHO Alinea wins. Some people will disagree but I think é is a better experience. It's more fun and there's more interaction. So which do you value more? You won't go wrong with whichever choice you make. If you forced me to choose, I'd probably pick Alinea.

The wine pairings at é aren't anything special. Solid, but by no means should you go in expecting amazing things. Try as they might, it's tough to find 6 wines to pair against 20 courses. And you shouldn't leave sloshed unless you ask for extra wine. They do several decent pours, but not enough to really give you much more than a buzz.

May I suggest something? The only way Alinea is $200 more expensive than é is if you get the wine pairings. So maybe you could do both if you skip the wine pairings at Alinea? I know it would be a little more but if it's at all possible that's what I would truly recommend.

Mar 31, 2011
jsa056 in Las Vegas

First time in Atlanta

Thanks for the update! Woodfire has slowly slipped off my list of options for this trip...

Turns out I'll only have a couple nights to eat pricier dinners in Atl, so I'm pretty set on Bacchanalia and Holeman & Finch. The other two nights I think we're going for BBQ (Community Q or Fox Bros.) and hopefully some traditional Southern food.

I'm hoping I get to Star, and I'll definitely be putting JCT on my list of places to try and check out.

Mar 28, 2011
jsa056 in Atlanta

21st Birthday Dinner in Vegas... Recs?

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon. Some of the best french food I've had, and the price tag isn't too high (esp. if Twist is under consideration). I highly recommend the Menu Decouverte de Saison, and they'll allow you to order different tasting menu's so you and your party can end up trying about 15 dishes or so if half of you order that and half order the club menu.

And I've said it in other threads, but if you can get a reservation, my highest recommendation still goes to e by Jose Andres. The price is a little high ($250) but includes tax, tip AND wine (or apparently cocktails if you prefer.) It's about 20 small, extremely inventive courses. It's a really fun experience. So fun I'll be trying to grab another reservation there in June.

Mar 14, 2011
jsa056 in Las Vegas

Photography in restaurants [moved from Las Vegas board]

Agreed. Once you hit a certain level/price point for your food, it's more than just sustenance for your body. Personally, I take photos of food to help me remember what I ate, and to describe what I've eaten to friends.

I also agree that electronics in restaurants have gone too far, but I think banning them is a step too far in the other direction. Without electronics, how would we get Uhockey's great reviews w/ pics? I use blogs like his all the time to determine if I think a restaurant is worth a visit. I'd be lost without them.

For me, I try to use my own set of imposed rules to not upset any other diners.

Cameras -
Ask the restaurant if it's okay.
Ask the people you're with if it's okay.
No flash.
Stay in your seat. No constant moving around the table to find the best camera angle.

Phones-
If you gotta text, do it fast, tell them where you are and that you're busy.
Have to take that call? Go outside or to the restroom area.

At that point I sort of feel if the guy across the room takes offense to me taking pictures, so be it. You can't please everyone all the time... but you can try to be as polite about your electronics as possible :-)

Mar 10, 2011
jsa056 in Not About Food

FOOD POLL - EMP, DANIEL, LE BERNARDIN, JEAN GEORGES & PER SE

I can't offer too much in terms of comparison here. I haven't had a proper dinner at most of these places, but my extended tasting menu at Per Se was the best meal of my life. Worth every penny.

I will say that if you choose Per Se, and money is no object, you should ask for the extended tasting. 3 or 4 of the best dishes of the night came from the extended tasting. I would actually have to say that purely on food, my meal there trumped the one I had at Alinea.

-----
Per Se
10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

Mar 09, 2011
jsa056 in Manhattan

Fine Dining Quandary

Hmmm. That's a shame. They didn't have that in place when I went. They asked me not to use flash, but I try not to unless absolutely necessary anyway, so that wasn't a problem.

I agree with their cancellation policy... but I'm not a fan of this one.

Are you going to bring a camera anyway ellenost? I'm still hoping they won't be as strict as long as you promise not to use flash.... maybe it's just wishful thinking on my part.

Mar 09, 2011
jsa056 in Las Vegas

Fine Dining Quandary

I'll just throw in that the service/food at minibar and e is on a whole different level than his other restaurants. Think Ad Hoc vs Per Se.

While I thought The Bazaar was quite good, I can't say I felt the same way about Cafe Atlantico, Jaleo, or Zaytinya. All were okay, but I have no need to go back to any of them.

I agree that Robuchon (and Keller & Achatz) probably all top Andres on a pure food level. I haven't been to Sage or Savoy (yet... I'll try both by the end of the year) so I can't speak for those places.

But what separates e from other great dining experiences is that dining at e is FUN. It's unlike anything else you'll encounter. Yes, dining at Alinea and Per Se was fun (I always have fun eating ridiculously good food), I was treated very well. But dining at e is like eating great food among great friends. You're drinking, joking around, discussing dishes with other diners, Anthony and Stephanie (the two hosts) and even the 3 chefs.

Dining this way is not for everyone and Andres' "avant garde" Spanish food isn't for everyone, but I would implore you to give his top end stuff a shot. You might find you like it.

Mar 09, 2011
jsa056 in Las Vegas

Fine Dining Quandary

Thanks for the tip about Sage. I'm always a big fan of beer pairings.

I know I won't get the full Savoy experience at Bubbles and Bites, but I'm hoping to at least see what they have to offer if I ever get around to having the Prestige menu there.

Mar 08, 2011
jsa056 in Las Vegas

Fine Dining Quandary

Hmmm, yeah, I've read a couple of iffy reviews about Picasso. Unfortunately, that's one meal where it's not my choice. I'll have a few friends in town that day and they selected Picasso. Are there any dishes in particular you would recommend?

I totally understand wanting to have full meals at all of these restaurants. If I had the time, I'd rather sit down and have the signature menu at each as well.

I hope you enjoy e, I was very impressed by what they're offering and I'm hoping to go back for another meal before they get too popular with the masses.

Mar 08, 2011
jsa056 in Las Vegas

Fine Dining Quandary

I gotta say, your quandary sound eerily similar to a lot of mine for my extended vacation that's coming up. Not even getting started with my NY dining plans, I had a similar issue for my Vegas stay on the way to NY.

What I decided was I would just be a glutton. I decided I would keep Robuchon and Picasso, and instead of going to Guy Savoy OR Sage, I'm gonna start at Savoy's Bubbles and Bites Bar, and walk over to Sage to sit at the bar there and sample McClains food as well....

Maybe that sounds a little ridiculous, but as of right now it's the plan I'm going with to fit 4 great restaurants into 3 nights... and if I like Sage and Savoy a lot, I'll be back on a subsequent trip to Las Vegas.

Mar 08, 2011
jsa056 in Las Vegas

Oyster Bar

As far as I know, Palace Station's Oyster Bar only carries one type of oyster. Their pan roasts are amazing though. But if your plan is to try a variety of oysters, I would second the recommendation of Bouchon.

If you're determined to try one of the three places you mentioned, I think SeaBlue would be your best bet for variety.

-----
Bouchon
3355 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109

Mar 08, 2011
jsa056 in Las Vegas

Dinner with the folks

If it's anything like the NY-version, $24 spaghetti tastes delicious. So does the duck & foie gras ravioli. IMHO it was right up there with Marea and Babbo, two of my favorite Italian places.

My very non-foodie friend who hates spending money on food said "I'd pay $24 for that spaghetti everyday for the rest of my life and I'd be happy about it." I don't know if I'd go that far, but I know I'll be stopping by Scarpetta Las Vegas when I'm there again in May.

Mar 07, 2011
jsa056 in Las Vegas