I had the most amazing, semi-impromptu weekend in San Francisco and wine country last week. My good friend (and senior year roommate) K was in town for work, and I managed to find last-minute flights for $69 each way on Southwest, and my trial that was supposed to go most of Friday vacated, so I figured I’d take advantage of the free room and reunion. All of the flights to San Francisco were delayed due to fog, but I still got in around 5:00, and, in a fit of embracing the eco-friendly vibe of the city, I took the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) to Union Square, where our hotel was.
[Photo processing via Instagram]
I *love* Instagram. I fancy myself a photographer, but am very aware (as I’m sure you all are by now) that the only camera I currently own is integrated into my iPhone. Thankfully, the Instagram app makes it easy to make your photos look super artsy, and best of all, it’s free! It lets you take a photo, crop it, adjust the focus, and then you can apply one of fifteen filters to it. Voila instant hipster credibility! (Or not )
After a harrowing attempt at navigating my way to the hotel (you’d think in-phone gps would make it easier for me, but sadly, you’d be wrong) I arrived at the Taj Campton in Union Square, a cute little boutique hotel to meet my friend K and her current roommate (also K, but I’ll call her K2 for clarity’s sake) It was also 59 degrees outside, and my cardigan just wasn’t keeping me warm enough, but thankfully there was a Zara nearby! When the going gets tough, I go shopping…
After a lackluster dinner at Betlenut (think slightly trendier P.F Chang’s), we braved the city bus back to the hotel (again, in the spirit of eco-friendliness) and got plenty of rest in preparation for the main event: Napa Valley!
…but not before some caffeine, and the first of many attempts of the corner Starbucks baristas to spell my name, which reminds me of this hilarious tumblr blog: Starbucks Spelling. I used to tell them my name was “Eva” (instead of Evangelina) but that yielded worse spelling attempts (Avo, Ava, Eve) and even worse pronunciations (“umm…EV-uh?”). But that’s another post for another day (maybe).
Now, I love me some wine, but our first stop was actually Domaine Chandon for some champagne tasting. The grounds were absolutely beautiful, and the guy pouring the champagne wasn’t too bad either! Sadly, champagne always gives me a bad headache, so I played it safe and had just one cocktail, thus forgoing the 4-champagne tasting menu and commemorative flute. I still maintain I made the right choice, though.
Jacket: J.Crew; Dress: Mimi & Red; Bag: Target
Please note I would normally not wear my hair in braids (unless it’s Halloween and I’m dressed up as Pocahontas) but we left while my hair was still wet, and I figured “Disney’s version of a Native American princess” was a better look than “wet rat,” so you’ll have to excuse me this once.
Our next stop was the Robert Mondavi winery, where we saw/heard Babyface warming up for some afternoon concert, thus fulfilling one of my seventh-grade self’s life goals (remaining unfinished goals from seventh grade: (1) be presented with a giant novelty check, (2) win Olympic gold medal in ladies’ figure skating, (3) meet the Backstreet Boys) and took an extremely informative (but LONG) tour where I learned things like (1) Malbec grapes were originally grown in France as “mixing grapes” but were first bottled on their own by South American vineyards, (2) the type of wood the wine is stored in is super-important, and (3) there are something called “appellations” (not to be confused with “Appalachians”) and that has something to do with why Napa Valley is so good for growing wine grapes. K’s roommate K2 also befriended a German guy.
Later we met K’s cousins, M/T, at Oakville Grocery to pick up supplies for an impromptu picnic (my favorite kind of picnic!) and head to our next destination, Rutherford Hill. We had cheese, bread, and an amazing view of Napa Valley, along with a tour of their wine caves (and some more jokes about the quality of the wood that wine is aged in, which my inner 12 year-old appreciated).
One thing about wine country: most of the vineyards close around 5:00, and they’re all closed by 6:00. We managed to squeeze in one more tasting at Rubicon after we left Rutherford Hill. By the time we got to Rubicon, we were all pretty exhausted. Exhibit A:
The washed-out colors are supposed to symbolize our level of fatigue. Just kidding. Running around and drinking wine all day really takes it out of a person. I have a tough life, I know .
We had dinner reservations at Bottega, but not until 9:45, so to kill time, we drove back to the city of Napa (not to be confused with the rest of Napa Valley) where things similarly were all closed early, and managed to walk two full miles in the name of finding the only open business there (a Starbucks!). I’m so sad I didn’t get photos of our dinner at Bottega (or a candid of chef/owner/Food Network personality Michael Chiarello, who we all openly gawked at when he made a cameo in the dining room towards the end of service) but my phone had died by then. We ordered the polenta under glass, the succotash, the ricotta gnocchi, veal bolognese, short ribs, more wine, and the tiramisu profiteroles, and I can verify that it was all extremely delicious.
Coming up: San Francisco day 3. Here’s a preview: it involves Beaver Mustard, a Canadian tuxedo, the Golden Gate Bridge (surprisingly, none of those are euphemisms).
In vino veritas!