Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Happy Anniversary Baby

9 years ago... these 2 cuties got married.
9 years later... We celebrated by going to Kemah. At 3:30pm, Daniel texted me asking me what we were doing for dinner because he was not scheduled to work. I said, I don't know, we could take the kids somewhere or maybe go somewhere for our anniversary. He then replied... if we were gonna celebrate it, that was the night to do it... the rest of his week was booked. Ok, we were going on a date!!! He said, find a sitter. She arrived at 5:30pm and off we went to Kemah, an hour and a half away, with traffic. I have to say, even though it was last minute for us, and really, we don't go nuts and plan for weeks how we are gonna celebrate (maybe we should.) But, it definitely was made special. Daniel and I like to celebrate our anniversary, but in Daniel's words, "Not that we MADE it another year. But that we are just celebrating those years and the years to come."

Us at the sushi restaurant, Red. I have no clue why the picture turned out like it did, but oh well... it's the only one we have of us.
After dinner we went on a walk. Daniel took me on a Ferris Wheel ride. It really was fun and it reminded us of the time we rode the huge Ferris Wheel in Chicago at Navy Pier. But riding the Ferris Wheel still freaks me out a bit. We then fed some fish. I had to take a picture of it... the fish all clumped together looked weird to me. Daniel also requested that I not drop my phone in the water.
After our wonderful, spur of the moment date that my husband wonderfully put together for us. We made it home from Kemah by 10pm, "because we are just that old." - Daniel

I love my husband and look forward to the many more years we get to spend together. I'm a lucky woman.

Napa - An Anniversary Celebration (Part 6)

Sunday morning, our last full day to enjoy California. Our plan was for Tracy and I to go get a facial together, but unfortunately they only had one facial specialist which for both of us to have a facial, we would have had to take ALL morning long which would take way too long. So we decided to just have one of us get the facial and my sweet friend, Tracy gave me the slot... even though I truly believe that she should have had the facial. Here is just one picture that I took of the spa before the facialist came and got me.
After my facial, off we went to enjoy the day.
Pictures of course had to be taken at the beautiful vineyard, Poetry, a Cliff Lede Vineyard.
Because we loved Bottega so much, we decided to have lunch there. Gnocchi... yummy. Maybe it was so delicious because we were so hungry. We had not made a reservation for this restaurant like we had with all the others. We just showed up for this one because it sounded good. When we walked into the restaurant, the hostess told us the wait was going to be about 1 hour and 15 minutes. We thought, sure, we can wait... people are getting up and leaving. Surly they will call our name soon. The wait really wasn't bad. We were able to sit outside on their patio and enjoy the weather and great company. But, apparently when the hostess says 1 hour and 15 minutes... that is what she means... even if there were tables available. Exactly 1 hour and 15 minutes later, we were seated. It was weird, but we learned our lesson. Always make a reservation. Opus One Winery - Owned by Robert Mondavi & Baroness Philippine de Rothschild
What a beautiful entrance into this place. We would drive by many times and just admire the beautiful view.
This was our last trip to a vineyard in Napa and while we were walking to our car, Daniel noticed by our car that some grapes had fallen off the fine and were laying on the ground. Well, you cant waste them, so he went and picked them up. We tasted them... they are nothing like the grapes you eat at the grocery store. As we were driving home, we noticed that if the grapes had fallen off the vine, then the stem would look like it. Ours didn't look like it. OOPS Apparently, or so we think... the farmers CUT some of the grapes and let them lay on the ground to alter the flavor of their wine. Sounds like a great assumption to me.
After being out and about... this is what we came home to in our sitting room. Cheese spreads, delicious breads, grapes and wine. Delish.
For our last night, we ate at Auberge du Soleil, the best view in Napa Valley.
We arrived just as the sun was going down and so the view was amazing. We were able to sit on the deck... See were the first "cone" shaped roof is from the left... we sat there on the second story balcony.
Here is the view... only imagine it as the sun is setting, it was very beautiful.

Prime New York Beef, Wild Mushrooms, Yukon Gold Potatoes and Caramelized Shallot Sauce.

Toasted Vanilla Angelfood Cake, Trailside Strawberries, Soft Strawberry Cream. This was simple, but very delicious.

While we were traveling around Napa, we passed this sign many times and kept telling ourselves that we HAD to stop and get a picture of Daniel and I under it. We kept telling ourselves... next time. Tonight was the last night we were going to be able to take the picture if we ever were going to do it. So on our way home from dinner, Jason pulled over, we ran to get under the sign to take a quick photo... we were on a fairly busy street. Unfortunately you don't see us very well, but you do see the sign.
This trip was AMAZING and a true Once In A Lifetime experience for Daniel and I. The vineyards were all wonderful, the food was great and my added weight from the trip is proof that it is true, the ranch was beautiful and completely serene and to top it off, the company was the best. The memories we made will last forever.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Napa - An Anniversary Celebration (Part 5)

Well, we finally made it back home, safely and with no more "excitement" from me or my stomach. Daniel, Jason and Tracy went and hung out on the patio by the pool and I went and rested for a little while in my room. I didn't have to rest long, bout an hour and I was pretty much back to normal. I had to hurry and get back to normal, we had a special dinner to go to that night... Bottega. Being a "Food Network" watcher like I am, I was very eager to go to Bottega because that was Michael Chiarello's restaurant.

Burrata Caprese creamy whipped mozzarella burrata, golden bear ranch heirloom tomatoes, toasted bruschetta, basil oil & balsamic caviar
Truffle-parmigiano fries
We had heard rumor that Michael is at his restaurant pretty much every night and that he walks around and greets his guests. The rumor is true and Tracy and I were able to get our picture taken with him.
Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo!
Saturday was a day that would involve shopping, food, wine tasting and driving in a convertible. Yes, we decided to drive and a "perk" of staying at Calistoga Ranch, we had a menu of cars that we could borrow for the day. We "settled" on a Mercedes E Series convertible. Ours was the 2nd car from the left.
Breakfast: Dean & Deluca... I have never been to one before and it reminds me of Hubble & Hudson that we have here in The Woodlands.
After an afternoon of walking around some beautiful stores and shopping... I couldn't find anything that I wanted to buy for myself specifically... but we did buy some olive oil and some "thank you for watching our children" gifts. We then went to the Joseph Phelps Vineyard for some Insignia wine. Claude was our host for the afternoon and I really enjoyed hearing him tell us about wine, how to drink it, how to get the best smell when you first smell it... and so on. I learned a lot from him.
September 3, 2011
September 2004 - 7 years ago in Virginia!!! (Just thought I would throw this picture in for fun)
Dinner was at Press Restaurant in St. Helena, California. Look at that chocolatty yummy goodness.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Napa - An Anniversary Celebration (Part 4)

We had 4 vineyards to visit on Friday and so we needed to hurry and move on from our first visit from Staglin Vineyard and move on to Fisher Vineyard. I am going to emphasize the word "hurry." Unfortunately our driver was late when he first picked us up from our Lodge, late enough to where it "encouraged" him to drive speedy... which is where he earned the name, Ricky Bobby from Teladega Nights... sometimes we called him Scotty Bobby. While we were at Staglin Vineyards, I over heard the conversation that "the Fisher Vineyards view is beautiful up there, but the road to get there is a bit curvy." What??? How curvy??? Oh goodness... it was nauseating curvy. No joke. Scott had a way about his driving, he liked to accelerate fast and break fast for the curves. 20 minutes later and arriving at our destination... I felt horrible. I felt horrible because I actually "felt" sick and also felt bad that the beautiful lunch we were to share with Cameron Fisher, I had absolutely no appetite for. After hearing how horrible I felt, Jason asked Scott if he could go back down the hill and get me a sprite or something that can ease my stomach... cause for some reason... they only had wine at a vineyard. :O) Scott returned with a bottle of Sprite and some Dramamine. THANK YOU!!! On a side note... one of the portions served for our lunch was a tomato salad... that Daniel ate and loved!!!
After lunch, we then went on a tour. Below is a picture of us going downstairs into their mountain where they stored their wine. It amazes me how cool it is in a mountain... they don't need to air condition it at all.
Well, it was time to pack up and move on... we were running about 30 minutes late... again. I was nervous because I have not yet gotten back to feeling 100% well again and we had to go back down the mountain. This time around I sat in the front seat (I felt so horrible that 2 grown men and Tracy had to sit in the back, while I sat in the front) just so that I could concentrate on the road and not get as motion sick as I would if I were to sit in the backseat. It did not work. We ALMOST made it to our destination. We entered into Francesca Vineyard and hit a speedbump... oops. Speedbump 1... I'm ok, kinda. Speedbump 2... "Pull Over, Scott!!!" Yes, I threw up at the entrance to that beautiful vineyard. So, remember that yummy breakfast that I had, the Huevos Rancheros that I said I wanted to have again and again... I changed my mind. Karen, I believe her name was, our hostess completely was sympathetic to us and molded our visit to our needs. We had a wonderful time.
While we were enjoying our wine tasting, we noticed that on the wine corks, that each one had a different "fortune cookie" saying on it. We asked about it and she told us a story that I cant really recall except that this cute little girl came up with the idea and nick named it "fortune corkies." Clever.

This one was probably my favorite "fortune corkie." A good sermon should be like a womans skirt; short enough to rouse the interest, but long enough to cover the essentials. - Ronald Knox

Monday, September 19, 2011

Napa - An Anniversary Celebration (Part 3)

Friday Morning, up early... or so it felt. We woke up at about 6 or 6:30am Napa time... cause really that was 8 or 8:30am our time. So we woke up and got ready for the day. Yes, we had to stop and get a picture. I love this one of me and my love.

Dinner the night before was so yummy, we decided to go back to The Lakehouse and have breakfast. Delicious again. The breakfast pictured below was really yummy, Huevos Rancheros. A crispy taco shell with a fried egg on top and covered with sauce, cheese, black beans and yummy goodness. I really enjoyed this breakfast and told Daniel that I would order it every time if the opportunity presented itself.
So our first day to go tour wine country, we settled for touring in... a Bentley. Ummm, wow. Those cars are REALLY nice and so roomy inside... I guess they really are worth their asking price. That is our driver, Scott aka Ricky Bobby... more on that later.
Just before getting into the car I saw this beautiful plant, so of course being a tourist, I had to take a picture of it.
Our first stop, Staglin Vineyards.
I was walking through their entryway and noticed hanging on a wall was a "Parent Trap" poster with signatures on it. I thought that was odd to notice hanging at a vineyard. I soon found out that The Parent Trap was filmed at this location.
The lady in purple is Sherry Staglin, the owner of the vineyard and we got to tour it with her for a little while.
Inside their wine cave.
A picture of Daniel and I ready for a wine tasting inside their Wine Cave. Notice me taking a picture with my cell...
This is the picture I was taking. :)
After the tasting, hosted by Kaia we were able to enter their "vault" of some special wines and of course I notice this huge pinecone they had in a decor basket. Kaia was sweet and told me I could have it, unfortunately I didn't see myself being able to bring it home safely, so I settled for a picture with it.