Sunday, October 16, 2011

San Francisco Food : Day 3

After the epic blowout at Chez Panisse on Day 2 of our trip, naturally we woke up absolutely starving!  Why is it that the more you eat, the hungrier you are the next day?  But there was no time to create a gourmet breakfast because we had to get up extra early for an 8am coach trip to Napa Valley with 30 strangers & a great tour guide called Dennis.

The Golden Gate Bridge from the Sausalito side

Bolstered by another speedy breakfast from Peets Coffee and Tea, we boarded the coach at the Ferry Building and all had to introduce ourselves which had myself and The Hubs in knots as we are big fans of Coach Trip and kept imagining Dennis in the role of "Brendan, the International Tour Guide".  I know, we're easily amused. Anyway, no sooner were we on the bus than we were off for a "comfort break" as we had a 2 hour trip ahead and there was no other place to go, so to speak.  So we managed to get a great photo of the Golden Gate from the rest stop (see Dennis, I told you there was time for comfort and photos...) before reboarding the bus for the trip to Napa.

Best phrase ever

From grape to glass...

Our first stop was not Chandon but a very sneaky last minute substitution to Andretti Winery i.e. we were only told on the bus.  It was nice enough but to be honest, we really wanted to visit a sparkling winery and to replace it with a bog-standard offering was sharp practice.  It's owned by racing driver Mario Andretti which attracts a certain type of customer but to be quite honest, I didn't rate their reds at all, but their rose was gorgeous... mind you at $18 a bottle, it certainly should be.

The Wine Train

Some of the wines we tasted

Next up was a two in one : V. Sattui Winery where we were both tasting and having a picnic lunch.  This is a big busy winery with the most fabulous deli shop I've ever seen.  We spent most of our time oohing and aahing at the food before realising that we had 25 minutes to cram in the tasting and eat our lunch!  The wines at V. Sattui were a world away from the first winery - after many tastings, we discovered that The Hubs doesn't like red but has a bit of a penchant for whites and rose wines, and a particular love of dessert wines!

   From the top : Lemon & Blackberry cake, Roast Beef & Rocket Foccacia, German Potato Salad, Eggplant Croquette and The Whole Table of Yumminess

Probably the best picnic lunch ever

Our picnic lunch was eaten outside in the shade (it was in the high 90's that day and we were roasting!) - we shared a feast of Eggplant Croquette which I'm certain was phenomenal straight from the fryer : mixed with cheese and bechamel sauce and coated in breadcrumbs, it was the nicest fried thing I had eaten in ages.  There was also a tub of German potato salad with lots of onion and bacon, a huge roast beef & rocket focaccia, and then we decided to share what we thought was a very pretty Lemon and Blackberry Cake for dessert.  This was a major letdown as it was all about the look and nothing to do with the flavour - it was tooth-rottingly sweet, the buttercream was claggy and the sponge was barely edible.  I'd much rather have something ugly and delicious myself...

This is where they hid the good stuff

Cabernet Sauvignon St. Helena 2010

Duly stuffed to the gills, it was time for more wine - this time at Whitehall Lane which was small but perfectly formed.  We tasted their Cabernets and Sauvignon Blancs which were excellent and had a great first hand view of the crushing process. Himself also managed to sample yet more dessert wine, this time a Belmuscato which made him rather happy.

Nothing to do with wine, but I stole this from the lime tree in the courtyard...

Cabernet Sauvignon grapes on the vine

Last on the list was Franciscan Winery.  This was just beautiful : a large winery with tranquil private tasting rooms and we were brought into a large banqueting room to taste their range of wines.  Franciscan would be considered a boutique winery because they make in small lots and only really sell direct.  If you ever see their wine, try it because it is wonderful - we sampled the Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and the limited release Magnificat which was very special indeed.  Franciscan also allowed us to enter part of the vineyard and sample the grapes directly from the vine which is a rarity.

The evil coriander...

We came back to San Francisco on the Baylink Ferry from Vallejo which brought us right back to the Ferry Building.  At this stage we were rather tired - a day of sipping fine wines will do that to you... So we decided to get a takeaway and sit out on our deck with a few drinks to enjoy the beautiful sunny evening.  After wandering up and down past all of the restaurants like aimless fools, we eventually decided on Vietnamese from the Out The Door.  After looking at the menu for ages, I made an executive decision and ordered the  Saigon Roast Pork Sandwich, a Pork Bun, a Chicken Bun & Hoi-An Meatball with Rice.

Now I know that Vietnamese food uses coriander, which I completely and utterly loathe.  But they leave it intact so it's relatively easy to remove, which I did.  Oddly enough, I didn't think to warn The Hubs because my food hates aren't necessarily his. WRONG.  I was in the middle of eating my lovely pork sandwich when I heard a gasp, a gag and then a roar from across the deck.  Somebody just got a gobful of coriander and did not like it.  Not one little bit.  So being a supportive and loving wife, I did the only thing I could... I laughed my head off.  He was spitting and coughing like a cat bringing up a furball and I was in absolute contortions at his antics.  All I could make out was a "what the hell was that rotten stuff" yelp of horror.  So, it's safe to say that The Hubs is also not a coriander fan.  He refused to eat the rest of his dinner on the grounds that it might be contaminated and stuck to beer.  Sensible man.

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