Monday, January 4, 2010

San Fran - Day 4

Today it's time for a road trip.
Judy and Maciek pick me up at 9am and we go across town to get our buddy Jennifer (who is at the OTHER Ritz in town - silly girl.  We then drive over the bridge (yes, the big red one) and head North.

The drive is beautiful - fog covering the ground, leaves of every color on the vine, and a sleepy feeling to the entire scene.  Our first stop is Domaine Carneros.  What says breakfast more than a champagne flight?  Yum...

Next we zig-zag our way through what very well may be the entire county of Napa.  We proceeded to stop at Stags Leap, St. Supery, Hall, and at least three other wineries during the next five hours.  I won't go too deep into every wine and tasting room.  If you've never experienced wine country, then words will do it no justice.  And if you're a seasoned traveler here, then nothing I can say about a one-day tour will say anything more than this:  the best way to experience Napa is to drink it while standing in it.  The wines are arguably among the best in the world.  The winemakers here are world class and are as serious about their jobs as hear surgeons.  The landscape is breathtaking.  Go... now!

We slowly and reluctantly get back in the car once the last of the tasting rooms have gone dark.  The drive is more quiet and reflective.  Everyone is deciding which wine of the day was their favorite.  Hard to say.

We are also reflecting on the people, the lifestyle and the culture of this place. Who wouldn't want to quit their job, move to wine country, and live among the vines and the fog for the rest of their days?  Once I make my first 10 million, I'm headed here to start a winery/farm/restaurant/inn.  Count on it...
Back in the city, we decide to get some grub.  Bar Crudo is the spot.  The place is small, simple and packed.  We wait our turn for a table along the wall and order.  First is a cup of chowder for each of us.  It's perfect:  chunky, creamy, full of fish, and salty enough to let you know what you're eating.  The beer list is extensive and we decide to pair our meal with a selection of Belgian Trappist Ales and American small batch micro brews.  We sample a large selection of the menu.  The highlight is definitely the raw fish dishes.  Simple in presentation, but bold in freshness and flavor.  I'm not sure what the decorations are on the wall, but the food makes me feel OK with most of the decisions of the proprietors.
Not content to end the day yet, we make our way to Spruce for dessert.  This place looks the opposite of Bar Crudo.  It's dark - dark wood, dark lighting, and a cavernous feel.  The patrons are more quite and serious and the service is very very serious.  I want to sample some of the menu, but just have enough room for dessert.  And a drink.  The Madeira menu is wonderful.  I've searched many drink lists for more than one or two selection.  Spruce has an entire page.  I finally decide on a 1968 Blandy's.  I savor it like it's the last thing I'll ever consume.  The glass is all I need, but the doughnuts are a very nice accompaniment to the nectar in my glass.
Now it's time to go to bed.  Goodnight.

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