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First trip to Sonoma County- help!

Correction: In addition to our stay in Healdsburg, we will be in SOUTHERN Napa for three additional nights- actually the far southern end, just past the town of Napa. So Sonoma Valley will be reachable at that point as well (I'm assuming more easily than the upward reaches of Napa Valley).

First trip to Sonoma County- help!

Thanks, MRich. I'm going to look through your great list from above and get back to you! I appreciate the help.

First trip to Sonoma County- help!

Thanks, David. I have looked through many of these, and was wondering if anyone had specific recommendations for small places (though, in my *very limited* knowledge of the area, Sonoma County already tends to go smaller than some of the mega producers in Napa, correct?). I will definitely keep looking through those threads and the other things people have posted here and narrow down a small list to ask further opinions on.

First trip to Sonoma County- help!

Thank you. I will also review maria lorriane's posts.

First trip to Sonoma County- help!

Thanks, Robert.

First trip to Sonoma County- help!

My husband and I will be traveling to Sonoma in mid-October, and have three full days available for winery visits (we are then staying in northern Napa for a conference for 3 additional nights). When we were in Napa a few years ago (for this same conference, lucky us), we really enjoyed visiting smaller vineyards up on Spring Mountain and around St. Helena (Smith Madrone, Spring Mountain Vineyard, Corison, etc).

We would love to visit similar places in Sonoma County (we are staying in Healdsburg). We are planning one day centered around a visit to Merry Edwards, but are otherwise open to suggestions. We would be happy to do one day in Anderson Valley, one day in RRV. And yes, I know we won't have near enough time to see all that we'll want to. We will also be able to visit one winery in the afternoon while we are in Napa, and could head into Sonoma for that as well, maybe hitting a place a little further south that when we're in Healdsburg.

Any suggestions? I have read previous threads, but haven't found one that specifically addresses smaller productions, preferably wineries that don't buy their grapes from elsewhere.

Thanks in advance!

Paris 5 nights, St. Emilion 2 nights, Bordeaux ville 2 nights- opinions and recommendations?

Hah! Let's enlighten the Chowhounder, but perhaps stay mum for dear Rick?

Jun 03, 2014
mandafire in France

Paris 5 nights, St. Emilion 2 nights, Bordeaux ville 2 nights- opinions and recommendations?

:) The Saint-Pierre

Jun 02, 2014
mandafire in France

Paris 5 nights, St. Emilion 2 nights, Bordeaux ville 2 nights- opinions and recommendations?

She liked it very much, but is just as enamored with the city as a place to live once she's "grown up." We are happy about that; it seems not only a great place to hang out, but a wonderful home base from which to explore the region. I really can't overstate how pleasant it was.

Jun 02, 2014
mandafire in France
1

Paris 5 nights, St. Emilion 2 nights, Bordeaux ville 2 nights- opinions and recommendations?

Yes! That's it.

Jun 02, 2014
mandafire in France

Paris 5 nights, St. Emilion 2 nights, Bordeaux ville 2 nights- opinions and recommendations?

Report:
PARIS: We ended up only eating out twice, due to plans with family and friends.

*Le Bon Georges: 166 E for three people: 1 bottle of good wine, three glasses of champagne, entree, plat and dessert.
Service was very friendly and helpful, atmosphere was nice, and location was very convenient to metro.
entrees: chicken terrine, green and white asparagus with mignonette and dried beef, shallot tart tatin
plats: petit canard, filet mignon, and white fish with herbs and carrots
desserts: creme brûlée and strawberry tart
Entrees were the standout- the asparagus and shallot dishes were, for me, two of the standouts of our entire trip. Simple, yet just right. The plats were also good, and, had we not been so blown over by the amazing entrees, we might have been more impressed with the plats! Meats were well seasoned, fish was cooked nicely. Just not quite as special as the entrees. Desserts were also very nice, but not memorable. All in all, a nice evening with very solid food throughout with a couple of swoon-inducers. Recommended.

*Goust: about 600 E for three, champagne to start, 6 course tasting menu with premiere wines paired, high-end cognac to end.
Our blow-out meal. For me, the combination of everything was worth it. The restaurant was in a lovely location, and plush without being ostentatious. Service was well-balanced: friendly and helpful without being in-your-face. Our amuse bouche had the most "modern" touch: an oyster that was enveloped in some kind of gelatin and placed on top of a stylized shell. Lovely to look at, but the taste was amazing- the brininess of the oyster contained in this little package that popped open in your mouth. Fish courses included a salmon tartare with a mango cream, langoustines in a lovely seafood broth, and a white fish (my memory escapes me here). Followed by a lamb dish that was very tasty but almost too much for us by this point, cheese and dessert courses (full, full), and finally the cognac and a few little bits of chocolate (somehow we had room for this last bit). As I stated before, service was great. The wine parings were excellent, and the taste of both the food and wine opened up under the influence of the other.
It was a great first very-special-meal for our daughter to remember, and we all had a grand time. Recommended.

We cooked a good deal in the apartment. We made it over the Marché des Enfants Rouges as well as the rue Montorgueil shopping street a couple of times (along with random shops during our walks), and purchased some lovely produce, cheese, charcuterie and breads that we ate throughout our time in the city.

SAINT-EMILION:
*Le clos Mirande: went upon the recommendation of our B&B. 45 E/pp for entree, plat and dessert, added two glasses of wine each for about 25 E total addition. Food was good, but nothing terribly special. The monkfish plat was very tasty, but not worth a return visit.
*L'Envers du Decor: okay, I'm going to come clean here. I was in a bit of a wine-induced haze before even entering this restaurant, so I can't remember how much we spent or even, um, everything that we ate. But what little I do remember was very good. Mystery entrees: good. Plats: I had a stellar monkfish. Husband and daughter shared a entrecôte with amazing potatoes roasted in lard and swimming in beef juices (thank goodness my hand-eye coordination was holding up well enough to poach some of those potatoes). Desserts were comfy- chocolate mousse, another creme brûlée, and a rhubarb something for me. Service was friendly and helpful, vibe was very relaxed. Recommended.
*Premiere Boulangerie- little bakery with adequate salads and sandwiches. Did not try their sweets. Good for a quick light lunch.

BORDEAUX:
I'm going to join in the Bordeaux fan club. We loved this city. Grand city views and architecture coupled with a small city feel, great public transportation, nice people and good food.
*La Plana- on the Place de la Victoire. Solid bistro fare. 100 E total for 3. Entree, plat and dessert, 1/2 bottle of wine and 2 glasses of wine. Three different set price menus to choose from. Recommended. Husband and daughter returned for a second meal on the day of our departure and liked it just as much a second time.
*Le Petit Commerce- 80 E total for three, 4 tapa plates, 1 dozen oysters, 4 glasses of wine. Plates were simple but well presented. Shrimp were sweet, sweet, and oysters were fabulous (three different kinds). Husband got a very large and well-varied cheese and charcuterie plate. Size of tapas were quite large. Recommended.
*Bistrot Edouard- about 70 E total for three- entree, plat, dessert and bottle of wine. We came upon this place when we were hungry, wet, and just wanted to sit down. Just adequate. Move on up the street and you'll easily find something better.
*Le Bouchon Bordelais- about 120 E total, 2 entrees, 3 plats and 3 desserts, 4 glasses of wine. Amuse bouche was a tasty gazpacho, I had a lovely langoustine entree with couscous and a slight hint of curry, and husband had an adequate asparagus entree (nothing special). For plats, daughter and I had the St. James fish (?) special with favas and artichokes- very nice- and husband has what he said was his best piece of beef in France. Desserts were a death by chocolate (which we agreed was a tad too rich, so I guess it was truth in advertising, eh?) and rhubarb in Chantilly creme. Overall, food was simple with a little twist. We enjoyed it. Service was very friendly and helpful. Restaurant was bustling when we arrived a little after 9PM, and had only started to slow when we left around 11PM. Recommended.

Thanks to all of you for your wonderful recommendations. Your knowledge enriched our trip, and we are very grateful.

Jun 01, 2014
mandafire in France

Paris 5 nights, St. Emilion 2 nights, Bordeaux ville 2 nights- opinions and recommendations?

Thanks!

May 01, 2014
mandafire in France

Paris 5 nights, St. Emilion 2 nights, Bordeaux ville 2 nights- opinions and recommendations?

Hello All:

Just wanted to give you the updated itinerary for our mid-May trip. We have dinner reservations at Le Bon Georges and Goust, and have been calling Dans les Landes for a Sunday dinner (they have been too busy to take our information thus far. We'll keep trying). We decided on Goust for the overall experience of it. Along with these meals, we plan on doing some marketing over our five days in Paris. Have yet to firm up plans for Bordeaux.

Many thanks to all of you for your insights and recommendations. I will report back upon our return to the States.

May 01, 2014
mandafire in France

Paris 5 nights, St. Emilion 2 nights, Bordeaux ville 2 nights- opinions and recommendations?

I'm in agreement with the budget balance, thus my thought of one or the other. I'll discuss with my family and see if they have a strong preference.

Apr 09, 2014
mandafire in France

Paris 5 nights, St. Emilion 2 nights, Bordeaux ville 2 nights- opinions and recommendations?

I do love cranky men, though, JT.

Apr 09, 2014
mandafire in France

Paris 5 nights, St. Emilion 2 nights, Bordeaux ville 2 nights- opinions and recommendations?

Thanks to both of you. I think we'll do a combo: stroll on Thursday, and book dinner on Friday and late lunch on Saturday (we depart that evening).

Either of you have an opinion re: Spring vs. Goust? Or should we do Spring and Goust and ditch Circonstances? Or change it up altogether?

Apr 09, 2014
mandafire in France

Paris 5 nights, St. Emilion 2 nights, Bordeaux ville 2 nights- opinions and recommendations?

Just heard from Spring re: another date. So if I am left to choose between Goust (reservation is available) and Spring, which do you recommend, given our other dinner plans? I know it's apples and oranges...

Apr 09, 2014
mandafire in France

Paris 5 nights, St. Emilion 2 nights, Bordeaux ville 2 nights- opinions and recommendations?

Like Parnassien, I tend to not plan so far in advance. Thus, not surprisingly, Spring and David Toutain are already booked on our available nights. For the three dinners we will be eating out, the current plan is (pending availability)

Circonstances
Goust
Dans Les Landes on Sunday (thanks, John)

What are your thoughts? I put in Goust as we all love wine and their pairing concept sounds interesting. Also, I think our daughter would enjoy the experience. It looks to be around 150E/pp with wine for dinner, and would thus constitute a very big splurge for us. Is it worth it? Do any of you have another (better) fine dining rec in the same price range? Or should we stick with the list in my original post?

Continued thanks for all of your valuable input.

Apr 08, 2014
mandafire in France

Paris 5 nights, St. Emilion 2 nights, Bordeaux ville 2 nights- opinions and recommendations?

Thank you so much for all the information and recommendations. Regarding our rental near Pompidou, I was just thinking yesterday how I messed up on that one. Next time I'll do better.

And with regards to tourist traps, can any of you give me feedback on Breizh Cafe for lunch? It is really well-regarded in the English-speaking press, but I don't know if we'd be better off skipping in favor of whatever little place we happen to walk by.

And thank you for the preparation re: the Univ. de Bordeaux! Her main goal is to get a feel for the city, so I'm betting that any suburban campus visits should be pretty short. Also, in Bordeaux, do we need to plan on reservations as far in advance as one does in Paris, or can we get away with being a little bit more flexible?

Apr 08, 2014
mandafire in France

Paris 5 nights, St. Emilion 2 nights, Bordeaux ville 2 nights- opinions and recommendations?

Thank you for the info, John. I think we may put dans Les Landes on for Sunday.

Apr 06, 2014
mandafire in France

Paris 5 nights, St. Emilion 2 nights, Bordeaux ville 2 nights- opinions and recommendations?

Thanks to both of you for the info. I will happily slurp away.

Apr 06, 2014
mandafire in France

Paris 5 nights, St. Emilion 2 nights, Bordeaux ville 2 nights- opinions and recommendations?

Thank you, John. These were all culled in large part from the generous and informative posts from you and other Paris CHs. Of that list, do you feel there are any do-not-misses (I realize that is extremely subjective)?
I will keep a short list of possible add-on lunch reservations, but would like to maintain some flexibility for when we get there (market-based meals, falafel or crepe stand, etc).

Apr 05, 2014
mandafire in France

Paris 5 nights, St. Emilion 2 nights, Bordeaux ville 2 nights- opinions and recommendations?

Bonjour, CHs français!

First, let me thank you for all of the wonderful and energetic comments on the French board. I have been both informed and *highly* entertained, and am left daydreaming of a little party amongst the Paris CHs. But I digress...

My husband and I are traveling to France to visit his daughter in mid-May. She lives outside of Paris (studying in Versailles), and is at the tail-end of her McDonalds/doner kabob phase. Thus, I am (thankfully) responsible for all plans food-related. My plans thus far are as follows

Paris (Thursday-Tuesday morning):
We have three evenings in Paris free (Thursday, Friday and Sunday), and might be open to making advance reservations for one lunch as well. We are all adventurous eaters- I am fairly fish-centric, but open to bits of anything, and my family are avowed red meat lovers. Current places in the running for the three dinners and/or 1 lunch:
6 Paul Bert
Pirouette
Circonstances
Franck Enée
Bistrot Flaubert
Premices
Le Bon Georges
Spring or David Toutain

Market and wine/food shop recommendations in Paris:
We are renting a fairly large apartment with a full kitchen near the Pompidou, and are hoping to eat in for at least a few meals (and probably most breakfasts), as we enjoy cooking and want to take full advantage of the amazing produce, cheeses, charcuterie, etc, that will be available to us. We will of course stop by the Marche des Enfants Rouges, but I wanted to see if any of you had other recommendations for food and wine shops/bakeries within a reasonable walking distance (I would also be willing to cab or metro to a do-not-miss place).

St. Emilion (Tuesday and Wednesday):
I am still researching this area. Auberge St. Jean is unfortunately a no-go, as it is closed the two days we will be in St. Emilion.
*Current list: Lard et Buchon and Le Clos Mirande, though I do not have strong feeling about either of them.
*We have a private wine tour booked for Wednesday, centered around small organic vineyards in the area.
*We will be making our way into Bordeaux ville on Thursday, but would happily schedule a wine tasting on our way in if anyone has a don't-miss suggestion (I wish we had time to get out to Medoc to try the wines Ptipois mentioned in her amazingly informative post, but we'll have to save it for next time).

Bordeaux ville (Thursday and Friday night, whole day Saturday):
Our main goal in Bordeaux is to stroll around and explore the city, as our daughter is considering continuing her studies here. I'm wondering if we should make reservations for just one night and wing the other?
*Current considerations for lunch and/or dinner:
Le Pavillon des Boulevards
Restaurant La Cave de Bigoudy
l'Estacade
Cochon Volant
or perhaps La Tupina (?).
Also, we will be there in late-May. Do I need to avoid the oysters since it is so late, or should I feel free to indulge?

Merci, merci in advance for reading this lengthy post. Please feel free to give your unvarnished opinions, and, if you think I'm missing something or am planning poorly, please do speak up!

Apr 04, 2014
mandafire in France

Need Bordeaux & Burgundy Recs....please...getting down to the wire...

I am planning a trip to Bordeaux for this coming May. Thank you so much for taking the time to write these wonderful recommendations!

Mar 03, 2014
mandafire in France

Big Island eats report

Sorry- yes! Re: the service, I am glad to hear that. It felt "off" to me, and not in keeping with the stellar food. Glad to hear that that has not been your experience. I am definitely willing to give it another try.

Jan 29, 2014
mandafire in Hawaii

Big Island eats report

Hello All-
Just wanted to report back on my recent trip to the Big Island.
*Kohala Burgers and Tacos- little hole in the wall. My husband had a burger, I had the fish tacos. Both were very good, and prices were fair. Very busy around lunch time- looked to be a local crowd.
*Brown's Beach House (in the Fairmont Orchid resort)- I had the ahi poke (great- perfect combo of sesame oil and ginger) and mahi with crab. The mahi was not that special. My husband had the tenderloin and enjoyed it. We shared two desserts- the chocolate mousse and the creme brûlée duo (coconut and passion fruit). The creme brûlée was the standout of the two. Prices were high, but not more than we expected for the location. Service was excellent.
*Lava Java- we went to the Waikoloa village location (there is also one in Kona). Nice breakfast and very good Kona coffee.
*Puka Puka in Hilo- another great hole in the wall, near the farmers market in Hilo. My husband had the lamb pita and I had the fried ahi with curried rice. Both came with a nice salad. Very reasonable- around $25 for the whole meal.
*Cafe Pesto in Hilo- we ended up here because of timing of getting back across the island. We did not enjoy it; food pairings were odd (ex: shrimp with mashed potatoes) and the food was not special. We don't recommend.
*Sushi Shiono in Kona- a nice combination of offerings for those who love sushi (me) and those who are just humoring their traveling companions (my husband). Prices were fair, and fish was fresh. They're also open a bit later than some other sushi places in the area, which is why we ended up here. Not a destination meal, but was good.
*Manta (in Mauna Lani Resort)- food was excellent- for me, the best we had on the island- but service was not great, and we were rushed through our meal. No space in-between courses- the main course was brought out while we were still finishing our salads. I had ordered the soufflé for dessert, but our waitress didn't ask my husband what he wanted until just a few minutes before my soufflé was brought out- his came out 10 minutes later. His dessert was an ice cream mud pie- the one dish worth skipping that meal. It was too bad that the service didn't measure up to the excellent food (and the high prices they charged). I hope that ours was a singular experience, and I still do recommend Manta while on the Big Island.

Jan 28, 2014
mandafire in Hawaii
2

Opinions on Napa itinerary for late October- restaurants and smaller wineries

I was in a bit of a rush when I wrote my update. I'll give more information so the review can be of more help to others.

Press: Cocktails were great, and, as mentioned above, the sommelier was very helpful. I had oysters to begin (both raw and Rockefeller), and both were good. My husband and I then both had a salad, and they were excellent. Very fresh, not overdressed, and quite large (but not heavy). I followed it with their soup of the day, which was a carrot and chestnut, I believe. It was very good, and not too heavy. My husband's mixed grill is detailed above. All in all, we were glad we went there once for the whole experience, but won't feel the need to return upon our next trip.

Goose and Gander: I think part of our experience was colored by being seated next to the entrance- constant cold air and loud people coming in. The cocktail list was interesting and extensive, but the food wasn't anything special by my memory (I actually don't remember what I had), but my husband did enjoy his bone marrow dish. We could stop by for drinks and/or desserts (we didn't try them when we went in), but won't have a full meal there.

Gotts: I had the turkey burger, and my husband had a cheeseburger. Really good and convenient location (we went to the St. Helena location)- and great to soak up the alcohol in-between tastings.

ZuZu- we had too many tapas to remember, but everything was great. Service was also very good, and they had some interesting wines by the glass. We'll be back.

Bouchon: I had a solo lunch here. Special soup and seafood of the day. Service was friendly, and food was great. Recommended white went beautifully with my meal. I'll be back with husband in tow.

C Casa in Oxbow- we really enjoyed the tacos and salads- but they were big! Fresh, simple and tasty. I also enjoyed their granola and Mexican coffee for breakfast. Will return.
We'd love to try more things in the market- just didn't have time this trip.

Thanks again for your help, Maria and Carrie!

Opinions on Napa itinerary for late October- restaurants and smaller wineries

Sorry to be so late to report back!
Restaurants we went to:
Press: My husband had the mixed grill where they did three different filets- american prime, wagu, and piedmont-style. While it was crazy expensive (and, in all honesty, overpriced), it was a unique opportunity to taste them back to back. My food was very good as well. Glad we went, but we don't feel the need to go back. The ambience was indeed swanky yet comfortable. Good service overall, including a very helpful sommelier.
Goose and Gander: good cocktails and food. Didn't "wow" us, but we enjoyed it. Wouldn't feel the need to go back.
ZuZu: we loved our meal here. Would return.
Gott's Roadside: tasty burgers, good in-between tastings in the St. Helena area. Would return
Oxbow Market: Ate lunch at C Casa. Tacos and salads were great. Would return. Model Bakery was good, but what I had was not particularly special.
Bouchon: had a nice light lunch here, and was really, really good. Would return.
I tried to go to Napa Valley Biscuits, but it was unfortunately closed. Argh!

For winery tastings, we ended up at
Casa Nuestra: great. Tasting was informative, enjoyable, and very relaxed.
Corison: did the library tasting. Very good wines and knowledgeable staff.
Terra Valentine: Beautiful grounds, but so-so wines and not terribly informative wine tasting.
Smith-Madrone: We really liked the wines and the overall experience with Stu- he was a hoot.
Spring Mountain Vineyard: hit all the notes- beautiful grounds, knowledgeable and friendly staff. Very fun tasting.

Thanks for the recommendations. We are eagerly awaiting our next trip to the valley- there were too many things to see during this short trip!

Opinions on Napa itinerary for late October- restaurants and smaller wineries

Thanks for the input, Maria. We'll stick with it then, and can glory in the beef for a night. Do y'all think I have any misses with the vineyards? I tried to get into Shafer, and they were already booked out. Any no-miss tasting rooms/salons in Napa? I realize we don't have much time for on-vineyard tastings.

Opinions on Napa itinerary for late October- restaurants and smaller wineries

Thanks, Carrie.

Sorry- I was editing and meant to question Trinitas winery- not ZuZu. We are big fans of tapas, and their menu looks great.
With regards to Press, I'm only set on it if it's a truly special experience for a meat eater. Ex: when we were in Italy a few years ago, one of my husband's most memorable meals was a florentine steak prepared perfectly at a locals trattoria. I realize that Press is far from that, but if it's of the same kind of quality, I'm willing to fork out the money. If, however, it's just a glorified Ruth's Chris, or something that we can easily create with a good steak on our grill at home, I'd pass.

Thank you for your other recommendations- I'll check them out!