Monday, September 18, 2017

Virtual Office- Napa

Trip date: May 2016

One of the perks of working from home is that home can really be anywhere. I've been trying to take advantage of this more over the last couple of years by working from various locations.

Last May friends of mine who own a lovely vacation home in St. Helena, CA offered to let me use it for a week. I've been lucky enough to have been invited to visit them here multiple times and I was very excited to get a chance to be a local for a week on my own in this charming town.

While waiting for my flight out of SeaTac I got a pedicure only to realize that my flip flops were in my checked bag. I boarded my flight with the cheapo ones that the salons provide, klassy!

I landed in Santa Rosa, picked up my rental car, and headed to the Bottle Barn to do some beverage shopping. Then I drove to St. Helena and stopped at the Sunshine Market for groceries. Once I got to their house I heated up the hot tub and relaxed!

Each weekday morning started with a walk or run through town, past cute homes, vineyards, and little shops. Most of the time I ended up at The Model Bakery for a pastry or English muffin and coffee, and then returned home to enjoy it while working. Some days I visited Napa Valley Roasting Co just to switch it up.

One night I took myself to the stunning 3 star Michelin, The Restaurant at Meadowood for dinner. I had chosen to do the 3-course menu in The Bar and when I arrived (via Uber) there was a pretty place setting and the bar manager Sam welcomed me by name. Sam and bartender Colby and I got along just fine as we started discussing Japanese Whisky, Brandy, and wine.
The Bar is beautiful with a gorgeous fireplace, 3 intimate tables where you can have snacks and drinks, and the 5 seat bar where 3-courses are served for $90. I started with a cocktail and was sent out an amuse of "chips & dip" which were sourdough chips and a delicious thick cream infused with nasturtium oil.

The Somm came out and spoke with me about what I might want to drink with my dinner,  I just told her that I generally love white Burgundies and red Rhones. When they served me a chilled avocado puree topped with a big spoonful of caviar and poured a premier cru Meursault-Charmes in my glass I was over the top happy!

At this point, one of the servers came out and asked me if I would be ok getting 5 courses instead of 3, on the house. Seems everyone loved that I was so enthusiastic over my meal! Obviously I said yes!

My next dish was an amazing abalone (which I have never had!) with Rancho Gordo bean puree and broth. I think I verbally swooned!

When the somm opened a 375ml bottle of Vieux Telegraphe, my favorite Chateauneuf du Pape, and told me that if I decided after my glass I wanted the rest of the bottle she had a good price for me, I was officially in love with this restaurant and this team.

The wine was paired with a lamb tartare under a coat of lamb's lettuce, making it look like a hedgehog. GUYS! It looked like a hedgehog!

My main of "grilled duck, fudge" was perfectly cooked and also went beautifully with the wine. Next cheese arrived; a huge wedge of Brillat that had been stuffed with slices of black truffle. When the waitress asked me to let her know how much of the wedge I wanted I'm sure she didn't miss the grin on my face.

I was then invited into the kitchen for a tour with the chef du cuisine Katianna Hong, which I thought was really a wonderful gesture. I have asked for kitchen tours in the past but for them to add additional courses to my meal and offer a tour was very generous. And the kitchen table is absolutely a place I would like to enjoy with some like-minded friends!

As I finished my wine the bartender presented me with a mignardise of "black walnuts" encapsulated with house-made nocino. Then there was a decadent chocolate babka served under a glass cloche. Lovely.

My bill was presented in a gorgeous card where Sam had written a very thoughtful personal note to me. The whole experience was OTT and one you shouldn't miss if you have a chance to reserve.

So that was a special night! But mainly I worked out of my friend's beautiful home until late afternoon, then got in a bit of sun and pool time, followed by happy hour in the hot tub, and dinner with a rental movie. Bliss.

When I did finally leave town 7 days later, it wasn't before an obligatory bacon burger and rosé lunch at Gott's (psst, go right before noon or just after 12:30 on a weekday for minimal lines).

Next up: Vineyard Business
All Napa photos here.

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