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visiting Point Reyes, Carmel and Napa


sarashrugs
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My friend and I are driving from Portland,Oregon down to Point Reyes then to Carmel and then back up to the Indian Springs Spa. We like to drink wine and eat good food she wishes we were going to French Laundry but I say thats too expensive plus we don't have reservations. So anybody got any suggestions for places we should try? Any particular vineyards we might visit. We like to drive around alot so out of the way is o.k.

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In Point Reyes, I heartily recommend The Station House - amazing oyster, mushroom, and leek stew.

In Carmel, I only eat at Casanova - from appetizeres to desserts I have yet to be dissapointed. Save room for dessert, the crepes are killer.

In Napa, my current favorite restaurant is Restaurant Budo - Japanese/French fusion haute cuisine. The 16-course taster will put you back several hundred each and I think is well worth it.

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My only experience at the Station House was awful - I much prefer Cafe Reyes around the corner.

Budo is at the same price point as La Toque in Rutherford; the latter will be serving their excellent black truffle tasting menu for the next few months. In the valley itself, I'd put the Martini House on the list of places not to be missed during the winter months. During the summer I prefer Terra, but with wild mushrooms at their peak the Martini House is head and shoulders above the other restaurants at a similar price. Bouchon has improved tremendously in the past couple of years - I used to like Bistro Jeanty better but at this point they are both serving excellent bistro food at reasonable prices (for the area).

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sara when is your trip scheduled?

We're leaving Portland this Saturday Dec 17, spending a night in Ashland where I hope we'll be able to go to New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro in nearby Talent , then Sunday it's on to Point Reyes for Sunday night. Carmel for Monday night ,then Tuesday and Wednesday at Indian Springs and around Napa and elsewhere perhaps. We'll begin our return to Portland on Thursday and I fly out on Friday at 11 pm.

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In Carmel, you can't go wrong with either of David Fink's restaurants, the informal Bouchee or the pricier and more elegant and intimate L'Auberge Carmel. I second Carrie's Casanova rec...never been disappointed there. Also very nice, Grasing's Costal Cuisine. What sort of experience are you looking for in your vineyard visits...cave tours, off the beaten path, breathtaking views, the finest wine? If you list your interests, I and other prople here will make some recs.

Edited by samgiovese (log)

"A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti."

- Dr. Hannibal Lecter

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You should check out cowgirl creamery and point reyes ble at point reyes station they both do tours, good for some free cheese, dont miss the oysters at tomalas bay. In Carmel David Finks places are great, The chef Walter Manskey was the chef de cuisine at Patina in Los Angeles for years. For a little more traditional ultra luxe wine country food check out Marinus at Bernardus lodge. I was the pastry chef there for several years for me its the best restaurant on the peninsula hands down bernarduslodge.com. If you have the means i would really suggest requesting the chefs table, if you get the table check out the signatures oon the wall , julia childs eric rippert, hiro, the list goes on and on, this is a great place for truffle lovers!!!!!!!

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In Carmel, you can't go wrong with either of David Fink's restaurants, the informal Bouchee or the pricier and more elegant and intimate L'Auberge Carmel.  I second Carrie's Casanova rec...never been disappointed there.  Also very nice, Grasing's Costal Cuisine.  What sort of experience are you looking for in your vineyard visits...cave tours, off the beaten path, breathtaking views, the finest wine?  If you list your interests, I and other prople here will make some recs.

We're mostly interested in finding some fine wine that we can afford. My friend is much more knowledgeable on the subject of wine than I am. We are not wealthy but enjoying good food and wine are an important part of our idea of how to have a good time. A friend of hers in Portland suggested we visit the Coppola vineyards and also Beringer any thoughts on those suggestions? To me they sound too middle of the road but like I said I don't know much at all about wine I go to my local shop and they recommend something between $10 and $20 and I buy it. So for me a breathtaking view would be a really nice aspect of a vineyard. I like the idea of finding an obscure and underrated wine that I could afford to buy a few bottles of to give as gifts. She plans on getting alot more than I do.

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If you come down the coast, passing Gualala and Sea Ranch, the Sea Ranch lodge is a nice place to stay, and they do a nice wine paired tasting dinner. Just was there this past weekend and it was excellent.

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Visit Frank Family Vineyards on Larkmead Ln just north of St Helena. http://www.frankfamilyvineyards.com/index.jsp

Edited by winesonoma (log)

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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for napa:

come to the model bakery in st. helena. the pain au levain baguette will set you back $2.50 but it's worth it.

view from artesa winery is good and wine won't break the bank

picnic lunch at oakville grocery (voir crab cake)

dinner at zuzu napa

or something like that...

Edited by artisanbaker (log)
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Here are some wineries you might enjoy:

Rutherford Hill offeres a great view of the valley, a cave tour, and decent affordable wine. For something a bit more off the beaten path, I recommend Chateau Potelle up on Mt. Veeder. For a real personal tour & tasting, try Chappellet Winery on Pritchard Hill. The cave tours at Rutherford Hill are by appointment, but you can taste without one. Chateau Potelle is also no appt. Chappellet requires one, but they are very easy to get. We went to one of the valley's newest wineries a couple of weeks ago and really enjoyed it. That would be Paraduxx on the Silverado Trail, just north of Yountville Cross. It's owned by the Duckhorn family, and is dedicated to making their proprietary Zinfandel blend.

"A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti."

- Dr. Hannibal Lecter

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Coppola and Beringer are middle of the road AND almost Disney-like in their atmosphere. I actually like the reserve wines at both places, but the atmosphere is too touristy and overwhelming. They are great for first-timers who want the FULL winery experience and the memorabilia at Coppola can be very cool to look at, but if you want small, intimate wine tastings, than there are definitely better places.

My current favorites include Peju which includes food pairings, Shramsberg for the caves and good sparkling (reservation required), Haven for syrah, and Zahtila in Calistoga for a great, affordable Beckstoffer cab.

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You will love Indian Springs Resort. A meal at the Wappo Bar & Bistro would be nice in this area.

We just returned from four days in the Carmel area. The Carmel Mission Ranch Jazz Brunch was great, we sat outside and took in the gorgeous views of the green pastures and ocean.

We enjoyed dinner in Carmel the first night at Little Napoli, a small restaurant right in the heart of Carmel. Very good and I highly recommend a meal here if you like Italian food.

Lunch at Casanova was great, they have really good salads here and serve Georis wines which are very good. Save room for dessert here.

For a casual meal, the Fishwife at the entrance of 17 Mile Drive was really good. We had an appetizer of crab tostaditos here and would love to return for dinner. We had an amazing dinner at Pacific's Edge at the Highland's Inn where we stayed. Very comprable to Sierra Mar at the Post Ranch Inn, we had three courses for $66/person excluding dessert. Everything was wonderful and the service is first class here.

We have also enjoyed Bouchee for fine dining, right across from the Plaza in Carmel. The California Market at the Highland's Inn is also good for a casual meal, the fish tacos are great here. Sit outside and take in the beautiful views of the coastline from the outside patio. Hope this helps and enjoy Carmel! :)

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for napa:

...

view from artesa winery is good and wine won't break the bank

...

These are some of the same recs I've made in other threads for initial visits to Napa, but...

Artesa is absolutely beautifully situated as artisanbaker mentions and the wines are interesting and reasonably priced. This would be a fun place to visit; I've brought lots of people there. It's located at the bottom of Napa Valley off the main route, in the Carneros Section. (wines to look out for: Merlot)

I think Hess Collection Winery is also a fun one to visit as well with their nice modern art collection and beautiful building. Wines are nice (cabernets, especially); especially their reserve collection which can still be reasonably priced.

If you want to go to one mega winery, Coppola might be fun as Carolyn described. To be frank, I've sometimes brought people there to look but haven't tasted or purchased wines. There may be some good ones but I may not have tasted enough of their wines.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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sara when is your trip scheduled?

We're leaving Portland this Saturday Dec 17, spending a night in Ashland where I hope we'll be able to go to New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro in nearby Talent , then Sunday it's on to Point Reyes for Sunday night. Carmel for Monday night ,then Tuesday and Wednesday at Indian Springs and around Napa and elsewhere perhaps. We'll begin our return to Portland on Thursday and I fly out on Friday at 11 pm.

Do you know what route you plan to take from Point Reyes to Carmel? It's a long, but can be scenic trip. If you don't eat at the Station House in Point Reyes for dinner, they serve rather elaborate breakfasts that could fuel you for awhile.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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We had a memorable meal once on a similar trip at Vladimir's Czech Restaurant in Inverness. It was a very cold night. The hearth was warm, and the food quite hearty.

There's a really good bakery in Point Reyes, which I can't remember the name of.

There are some big radio (?) antennas near Point Reyes for ship-to-shore phone calls and stuff that are neat to pull over and have a look at. We also had fun at Old Faithful in Calistoga. It's kind of a tourist trap, but cool. I didn't get the fainting goats there to faint.

My favourite things to do in the Napa area are checking out Copia, the gift shop at the CIA (and the corkscrew collection), shopping at Dean and Deluca after drinking wine at Sattui (I know, I know, it's a favorite stop of a friend's so we end up there a bit), and burgers and malts at Taylor's Refresher. I'm not really one of the cognoscenti though.

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Antennas are at RCA Beach on Point Reyes. Light House is a better destination, but doesn't sound like there is any time for anything but driving. If it was me I'd blow off anything south of the Golden Gate and relax a bit.

Edited by winesonoma (log)

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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Antennas are at RCA Beach on Point Reyes. Light House is a better destination, but doesn't sound like there is any time for anything but driving. If it was me I'd blow off anything south of the Golden Gate and relax a bit.

We're stopping in Carmel to see her sister and her mom so we 've got to go there .I visited it in the early 70's but I was 11. I was 17&18 when I lived in San Francisco during 1977-78 but didn't go farther south than Santa Cruz, except to go to Cal Jam II in Ontario. I don't think I ate any food there...I was really poor then. Does anyone happen to remember a restaurant in the Castro area called The Neon Chicken? They served a cream of pea soup that I will always remember. There was another place called Kent's Chicken Turnover on Polk Street, their chicken turnovers and chicken croquettes are among my fondest food memories. I was working next door in the Roots shoe store and so I ate there alot. Well I've certainly gotten off the topic. Thanks for the suggestions and I'll report on the places we go. Edited by sarashrugs (log)
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Indian Springs in Calistoga is great, go to the Wappo Bar & Bistro for a great meal in this area. We just returned from four days of dining in the Carmel area. Bouchee is very good, for food on the same level with gorgeous views, check out Pacific's Edge, located at the Highland's Inn. We had an amazing dinner there, I'll post a full report later.

Also in Carmel, Casanova and Little Napoli are both excellent places with lots of charm and great service. If you go to Pebble Beach, Roy's is really good and there's a casual little place upon the entrance to 17 Mile Drive called the Fishwife were we had some excellent crab tostadito appetizers.

Carmel Mission Ranch was great. We did the Jazz Brunch there on our trip which had gorgeous views of the pastures and ocean with a very nice varied menu selection for Sunday Brunch. Highly recommend.

In Monterey, we enjoyed a nice anniversary dinner at the Sardine Factory in the Captain's Room. Very cozy, intimate and the fixed price deal for three courses was only $29/pp. They waived our corkage fee (18) for our anniversary since we brought in a local Bernardus wine. Have fun and bon appetit! :)

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