Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sonoma trip 2011 #1 Bucket List

Michael and I with our friends Trish and Sean Smith and have always talked about taking trip to wine country once our kids were out of college. So due to the credit card reward points, we were able to do this trip sooner. This was my #1 bucket list item!

We arrived in San Francisco via Chicago yesterday and drove to Sonoma through Saucilito. We stopped at a great restaurant there called Harborview Restaurant.  I decided to try to the special which was gnocchi with venison tomato sauce. So I thought that might be dangerous because how many deer do you know are indigenous to california?  Well anyway it was delicious regardless of what kind of meat it really was. Trish had ravioli w sausage, spinach and mushrooms which was delicious as well

After lunch we drove to our resort which was the Lodge at Sonoma. We were upgraded to a cottage. The cottage was a large living/bedroom area w fireplace and huge bathroom. Unfortunately the door had a huge (1/2 inch) gap between the bottom seal and door frame so "anything" could slink in. The lodge could not fix it while we were there so I decided to
place a large towel between the gap on the outside. So as you walk by our cottage you see a large towel on the bottom of the door frame.   I think it looked suspicious like we are doing something in the cottage. Remember this from college?

First night dinner was at a Thomas Keller restaurant called Ad Hoc.    You don't know what that nights meal will be until the afternoon of the day so it's a surprise. We had endive, pear and Argula salad, hanger steak, gorgonzola dolce and carrot cake trifle w pineapple. We rated it a 4.5. Best: unknown menu, Trish fav dessert, colleen salad, mike salad, sean salad
Worst but not bad: flavor of steak, noise, wine pairings too sweet

2nd day breakfast at Sunflower Cafe. We had omelets, sandwiches, goat cheese bagel. Really good breakfast. Trish whose new blog will be named ZinDigger wants me to say that the water in the lobby is the best she has ever tasted.  Add that along w the ten million cups of french press she has had so you know how sedate she is: NOT!

Onto the vineyards! We visited the following vineyards: Alexander valley famous for zins purchased Temptation and a reserve Chardonnay, SodaRock purchased a Sauvignon Blanc that tasted like a new Zealand sauvignon, Sausalito also famous for zins purchased a reserve Zin, Pepolito which was famous for noirs (pic w sunflower) and finally, the best winery was Dutcher crossing where we purchased a Cab. We loved this winery because the wine pourers were very knowledgeable, friendly, venue was comfortable and their gardens were beautiful. We saw at least six wineries in and had a great lunch at dry creek general store in 4hrs.(see pic) Our driver, Steve said it was a record. He actually told us to slow down. I think he thought we would get drunk too fast but that never happened.
We paced ourselves very well and drank plenty of water and ate plenty of bread. 

Trifethen Vineyard

We ended the evening with a savory meal at which is a Thomas Keller restaurant called Boushons. We had trout w brown butter, roasted chicken (best I ever had) lamb (not a fav) and veal chop. The butternut soup was out of this world and the sorbet was very fresh. That is the best part of this place is the fresh produce. We rated this experience a 4.5 out of 5.

Third day: Onto the spa for facials! And more wineries. Well I had a grape seed scrub done and forgot to request a female for it. My attendant was a man that looked like Cato who lived behind Oj Simpson. That experience was worth a blog page in itself and I will save for a
girl night. We visited the Imagery vineyards where the create different labels for each bottle. We had a great picnic in this winery and drank a bottle of white burgundy. Very summery. Next we visited Arrowwood winery which had a huge wraparound porch with wicker chairs overlooking a huge vista of vineyards. I had a little spat with a few drunk women over chairs but other than that, an extraordinary experience. Our driver then picked us up so that we could visit a few more wineries and a restaurant that was one hour away. We went to chateau st jean where the pourer was absolutely rude but the grounds were beautiful.  The grounds that was the memory I will always remember is St Francis. See pic below  

St. Francis Vineyard

and you will understand. After a long third day, we decided to eat at Dry Creek kitchen restaurant. We can't tell you how many great and fresh dishes we've had here however this place didn't meet those expectations. The service was poor, portions were very small and bland. We couldnt believe it because of it's reputation so maybe it was a bad night. we rated it a 2.

Fourth day: more spa--facial which was refreshing. Lunch was at Centre da vin. We had ham w gruyere cheese, eggs w cheese and chicken pail lard (pressed chic). Great lunch. Went shopping at sunny vine store in Sonoma and bought a pic and "rooster melamine plates". Boo hoo, we had to drive to San fran to get Sean back for a conference. Michael and I finished our California trip meals at First Crush I had pepper linguini carbonara w cAesar salad and michael had sea bass. (not cooked enough for him but sauces on it were good). rating: 4

BEST parts of the trip, scenery, lobby in hotel w fireplace, spa, chicken at boushons, steve the driver, and the gardens at st Francis and being with our good friends.

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