Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Napa Birthday Weekend

Well, it is official.  I have finally entered my 30's, and what better way to celebrate than to eat delicious food, drink good wine, and laugh with friends in Napa Valley?  

Our friends, Dom and Kym, came up from Santa Barbara to join in on the festivities.  While at Grgich Hills Winery (yeah, try to say that 5 times fast after wine tasting at 2 other wineries!), Lily got in on the fun and found the wine bottle to be a great teething toy.  Never mind that it
 was a $135 bottle of wine.  It's basically grape juice, right?  Oh, yeah, plus a little fermentation...

After enjoying wine together, we met my childhood friend, Sarah, and her boyfriend, Jay, for a wonderful meal at Bottega, Michael Chiarello's restaurant in Yountville.  We were seated in the wine cellar at a large table with copper water goblets, a chandelier made of spoons, and plenty of room for Lily to roam.

We ended up sharing all of our dishes with one another and were therefore able to enjoy a wide variety of flavors.  During the pasta course, one of the dishes that we enjoyed was:  Crispy Potato Gnocchi with english pea & tallegio fonduta, early spring vegetables, and a prosciutto crisp.  Yum!

For the entree course, we enjoyed the most amazing flavors from the Garlic & Calabrian Chili Roasted Dungeness Crab with saffron aioli and bruschetta that Dom and Kym ordered to the Lamb with Strawberry sauce and creamy polenta that Jason and I ordered.  We all were in heaven!

With a little research, Jason found the most perfect Inn for us to stay that was located right across the street from Bottega and literally in the backyard of Bouchon Bakery (Chef Thomas Keller's bakery).  We were able to enjoy relaxing in the room with the fireplace keeping us all cozy during the rain spells.  Meanwhile, Lily kept us entertained, as she crawled around the room and pulled herself into standing while holding onto various surfaces.  Here she is striking a pose that looks quite graceful...perhaps a future dancer?

On our last night in Napa Valley, Jason took me to one of our favorite restaurants that was also opened by Chef Thomas Keller, ad hoc, a family-style home cooked meal to the next level.  That evening, Lily had the meal of her life: veal chop with creamy polenta, broccoli rabe, and Tokyo turnips.  For dessert, she had some apple compote, which went with our cheese course.  I couldn't get the spoon to her mouth fast enough.  While I was determined to take a picture of each course, I neglected to get a picture of our main course due to being occupied with Lily (excuses, excuses, right?).  So, I kindly asked the waitress if she would take my camera in the kitchen and take a picture of someone else's dish before it went out to the table.  After asking the chef, she invited me to come back into the kitchen to take it myself.  So, here it is:

After taking the picture of the simple, but elegant meal, I gushed to the chef about how much I loved the restaurant and how I even have the cookbook.  So, then what did I do?  I walked out of the kitchen without any evidence that I took the above picture in the actual ad hoc kitchen.  I was kicking myself that I had no proof!   So, I did what any food-lover would do, and asked the waitress if I could go back in for another picture with the chef.  The following picture is what came of that request:

We had such an incredible weekend.  This was a 30th birthday to remember!


  1. Oh, Heather! That sounds awesome! I was salivating and love that your take pictures of your food. A girl after my own heart... I'm so glad that you enjoyed your 30th birthday weekend adventure. Welcome to the 30s - it's a great decade. =), mel

  2. Lily, Auntie wants to know if you are walking yet...everytime I get on here you are cruising at a new speed. I just wanted to see if that included walking. love you cutie pie. Auntie Jennifer

  3. Heather! What a wonderful & delicious birthday weekend! I'm just so sorry I missed congratulating you on time. Happy Belated 30th Birthday in May!?! :) You are beautiful and loved & such an appreciated friend. oh and by the way, I too am looking forward to some good wine after Baby Girl Hill arrives. :) You are so fun- I love your picture & story with the chef! I miss you and love you & your family- have a great day! xo Slarsey