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Yountville: Culinary Delights

With so much to offer: eats and drink within a four block area, Yountville is one of my favorite places in NorCal wine country. No designated driver? No worries; park and walk the whole town in a leisurely day. Better yet, stay the night in one of its many hotels and inns. Yountville runs high on luxury, indulgence and beauty, but maintains a quaint charm and sense of ease. It is also accessible to both Napa and Sonoma, and only about an hour from the city.

{Note: I am sad to say that Maisonry has been purchased and revamped by a retail chain. It has lost its magic and unless you love outdoor chandeliers (over 50 of them to be exact) with your wine, it may not be your cup of tea.)

Before you head to Yountville, call and make a tasting reservation at Ma{i}sonry (Now Restoration Hardware Wine Vault)- my new favorite place. It is an art gallery cum boutique tasting room where you can sit in the sculpture garden under olive trees, or curl up by the fire for an introduction to small batch wines that are hard to find anywhere else. Other tasting rooms in the span of the town are: Jessup (go for the artwork, and stay for the wine), Girard, Somerston and Grace. Otherwise, park yourself on one of the patios below and taste from their wine lists while you nibble.

Travel planning to california wine country for food and wine lovers by viewfinder travel
Yountville, California

Restaurants: Bistro Jeanty is fab, for French food lovers and novices alike. The setting is a bit rickety-bistro, very French feeling, very casual. If you are there for lunch on a nice day, the vine covered patio is a lovely option for lingering over foie gras, escargot, tomato soup en croute and wine. Prices are nice enough that a steak frites for lunch is not out of the question. website 6510 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599 (707) 944-0103 Bouchon is the third of Thomas Keller’s Yountville restaurants, and 1/3 of the price of French Laundry (see below), where you can eat unpretentious, French fare with a Keller twist. From Croque Madame to steak and roasted chicken, the kitchen puts out classical French bistro fare. I love sitting at the marble topped bar, Pastis in one hand, a spoon for my mussels in the other. Not only is it quite affordable, but if you are lucky enough to snag an outdoor seat, feel free to sit, Paris-style, all afternoon chatting with friends (and I dare you to resist walking into the Bouchon bakery two steps away to complete your meal- or grab a foie treat for your dog!). 6534 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599 (707) 944-8037

Ad Hoc- Another Thomas Keller offshoot, originally planned as pop-up, “ad hoc” casual burger kind of place. Happily, it has been transformed- permanently- into a “what’s fresh and local”, a-little-more-than-comfort food (it IS a Keller, after all) restaurant. A sample menu might include greens with dates and nectarines, ribeye with artichoke relish and mushroom ragu or fish and chips, local cheese with peach ham and pana cotta with berry sauce. I love the diagram of meat cuts hanging over the front. Check the menu before you go, as it changes daily, and schedule your visit, if you can, to make it up there for fried chicken night! 6476 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599 (707) 944-248

Addendum- One of my favorite picnic stops in all of Wine Country, maybe all of California. Keller gives his fried chicken a lead role on this stage, a small area in the back of Ad Hoc with picnic tables. Other bbq style sandwiches available in a lovely little setting- or take out. La Bottega is housed in an old, brick winery, set back from the main strip, and snuggled up next to Michael Chiarello’s Napa Style cooking store (which, I hate to admit, I do like). This vine-covered Italian eatery is almost always full, it seems…And for good reason. The food is good, the patio inviting. I would recommend sitting next to the stone fireplace on the patio for drinks and small plates from the bar. The interior is a rustic, warm, deeply hued dining room which is comfortable, but the noise and size take away from the overall experience. But the wine list is fun, indoors or out, and has some interesting discoveries. Marketplace 6525 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

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French Laundry Restaurant and garden

French Laundry- This is a once in a lifetime kind of dining experience. And I do mean, “experience”. The multi-course meal (9, I think), takes several hours to get through, and while you will relish every bite, I found myself calculating the price of every chew. Yes, the food is all that it is purported to be: genuine, elegant, beautiful, exciting, and intriguing, and served with precision. {The pictures on their website beautifully represent the simple elegance of the dishes, with no one ingredient repeated throughout). It’s funny, then, that what I remember most about my meal were the non-alcoholic drinks my neighbors were served with each of their courses- concoctions (I know of no better word), made to enhance each course; they were incredible. If you have the time, the patience to get a reservation 6 months out, and the money (I am not exaggerating when I forewarn that an evening here will put you back close to $750 for 2), then go early- sit in the garden and sip on something cool and lovely, or take a stroll through their vegetable garden across the street first. Take in every corner and piece of artwork in this rather dim, old laundry building. And savor every bite, because it may be the only time you get to! {Jacket and tie required- no jeans, shorts, tennis shoes or t-shirts}.


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