I have always loved writing, and now that I am retired I thought I would be able to find time to write, but it seems that I still manage to fill my days with activities. I have however found that while I travel, I enjoy writing about some of the interesting things we do. I hope you enjoy reading of our adventures as much as I like writing about them.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Lunch in a Barn
With a day to wait for new springs to get the trailer bouncing back down the road, we decided to take a trip up the coast through the Sonoma Valley, across and back down the Napa Valley. We decided to try to find a couple of wineries to visit for tasting, and find someplace to have a nice lunch.
The first thing we discovered was that the biggest problem in finding a winery to visit was not in finding one it was in choosing which one to visit. There are literally hundreds of wineries along the way. They are one after the other all along the route, and they all seem to have tasting rooms. Purely by chance, we picked two to stop at. They ended up being a good contrast, and gave us a good taste of the region.
Kendall Jackson Winery
The first was the Kendall Jackson Winery. This is a brand I know from home, and I can buy their wine in Canada. It is a very high end winery, and was situated on a huge estate with an amazing garden. There was a “Garden” tour starting just as we arrived, so I bought a glass of one of their reds, and went out into a beautiful “Not a cloud in the sky” California summer day to casually tour their gardens with a guide. It was very pleasant to stroll through the beautiful estate from garden to garden with the guide explaining about the various plants and garden designs while sipping on a glass of delicious Californian wine. It certainly made me forget all about having to fix the trailer tomorrow.
Our next stop was a smaller winery called Foppiano Vineyards. It was considerable smaller, and much more casual. In fact as I was tasting and purchasing a bottle of wine we discovered that the owner was there in the room and quite impressed that these folk from Nova Scotia were all the way out here tasting his wine. Again, the wine was excellent. I liked all the samples, but chose a “Petit Sarrah” which I discovered was a good choice since it is their speciality.
You know, this wine tasting is a fun activity – it might be worth another visit to California . . .
BarnDiva for Lunch
Then came the real treat of the day. Everyone was getting a bit hungry, so we stopped at a little town called Healdsburg, where we were told we would find a good choice of eating places. We drove into town and parked in a nice 3 hour limit (Free) parking spot right on the town square – gives you an indication of the size of the town. Sure enough, there were a number of interesting places to have lunch. I scouted on ahead to look around , and after seeing all that the streets on the square had to offer, I headed down a side street where I saw an interesting looking little pub. After rejecting the “Pub”, I noticed a large red building with umbrellas in front, and an old funky truck parked out front. It was called “Barndiva”, and proved to be a real “find”.
There was a menu posted out front, and I immediately liked the look of it. I thought this was a place Ryan (Our Son) would approve of. It boasted a “Sustainable” menu of local food, and the items on the menu all seemed very interesting. Well, they did to me . . . . dad grumbled about not seeing anything he would want. Sharon & Regis agreed, so poor dad was once again outvoted (We got him through Death Valley on a “majority” vote as well), and we went in.
This really was a top class restaurant. The food was amazing, the service was exemplary, and the atmosphere was very nice. In fact it was so good, you sort of forgot that it was a ethical eating establishment.
Two examples of the service were; our water glasses were refilled the entire time we were there, including after we finished and were waiting to leave; and when Regis got up to go to the washroom, the waitress came over and refolded her napkin – I've never seen that before. All the wait staff were attendant, but never pushy.
A delicious menu!
The food was the real treat. Everything was amazing! I ordered a salad of Heirloom beets, Apple, Endive, Avocado, Watercress, Walnut, and Warm Chevre. I asked the waitress if I could substitute Goat cheese for the Chevre cheese, explaining my difficulty with cows milk. She said she thought that it was a goats cheese anyway , but would check with the kitchen. She did however suggest that it was a “Light” meal and wondered if I'd like an appetizer. I said “No, I thought I'd be fine.” but she then mentioned the “Goat Cheese Croquettes with House-made Tomato jam and Lavender Honey” OMG how did she know that was my second choice? I ordered it to share with everyone.
The goat cheese croquettes were delicious little deep fried balls of goat cheese mixed with Tomato jam and lightly coated in a crumb crust sitting in lavender honey. I'm sorry Linda Saunders, but I have to steal your expression – it was “To Die For!”.
My main course was an amazing mixture of roasted red and white beets mixed with apple, walnuts, avocado, and orange, with just enough “greens” to call it a salad. I do not know what the dressing was, and I don't care, because what ever it was it worked to perfection. I was pleased to note that the chef decided not to chance the possibility of cows milk in the cheese, and instead gave me two more of the Goat cheese croquettes – yum!
Oops, forgot the picture . . . .
Everyone's meal was equally delicious. Regis and Sharon had the Crab Club sandwiches, and Dad had the Quiche. By the time he started his meal, even he was raving about the taste. I have included a photo of the menu so you can see the other amazing choices. Sorry Alisha, the food was so good all I got for a photo was empty plates!
We even decided to have dessert, since there was a fabulous sounding strawberry shortcake, and the waitress had the cook make me a special “milk free” sorbet to go with the French Press coffee.
This really was an amazing find and a wonderful addition to an interesting day in California. In fact we took so long enjoying the delicious lunch, we had very little time to tour the rest of the Napa valley.