A day off around here almost always gets me thinking about opportunities to enjoy the sun, the Valley, and all that it has to offer. A holiday off, even more so. So as 4th of July began to creep up on me, I started thinking about what might be fun. In the end, my dad gets the credit: he suggested I do a red, white & blue themed Tourist in My Own Town, and the day quickly began to take shape!
I really wanted to go to Redd for brunch, but unfortunately they don’t serve it on Mondays, even if said Monday is a holiday (that, ahem, warrants such exceptions to the rule, in my opinion). Instead, Cass, Mom & I took to our day a bit “backwards,” but celebratory nonetheless: our day began with a stop at Pacific BLUEs Cafe, where a misunderstanding forced us to order from the lunch menu instead of having brunch, as we’d anticipated. (Note: Pacific Blues doesn’t serve brunch. We had brunch on the brain & they do breakfast, then lunch – not the two overlapping, and not brunch. Our bad!)
We were hungry and two-thirds of us had never dined there before anyway, so of course we were happy to stay and have lunch after all. The menu has some interesting little variations of classics, like a Blues burger with blue cheese and house-made jalepeno jam which is available with a traditional beef patty or turkey burger instead, as well as the Reuben, made traditionally or with sliced turkey instead of pastrami. Those choices were too much for us to resist, so after a round of refreshments:
(Honig Sauvignon Blanc by the glass is delicious way to start the day!)While Mom stuck to her favorite guilty pleasure, the traditional Reuben (with a side of pickles):
I was itching to try the Turkey Blues burger:
(Which I will definitely go back for!) Cass wanted a turkey burger as well, but unfortunately somehow what she got was the turkey Reuben instead. The server didn’t offer to bring her the right thing at first, and Cass is never one to make waves. She just said it was okay and set about to eating it, but I will point this much out: she’s a light eater. And she ate at least half. It must’ve been just fine, just like she said!
After lunch, we were more than ready to head up the Valley to WHITEhall Lane Winery to do some tasting!
I’d called ahead of time to make arrangements for our tasting, but when we walked in, Daniel offered to let us join a tour that was about to begin, as well. First things first, though, it needs to be said: gorgeous vineyard and wines aside, the staff here are phenomenal. Every single person we came into contact with was absolutely gracious, and most of them funny, too. They know how to show a girl a good time, trust me. (And sue me if I think they deserve an unabashed shout-out!) Before we left to wander through the (indoor section of the) winery, Daniel let us taste a few of the wines that wouldn’t be offered during the tour.
Their Chardonnay was a delightful surprise, as I don’t typically like very many Chards (I’m not a big fan of the big oaky flavors).
Mercifully, the tour kept us out of the heat, and Englishman tour guide Douglas had the group laughing and learning, which is the best way to do things, if you ask me. We tried a Pinot Noir, a Merlot, a Sauvignon Blanc, and an Orange Muscato that we were dreaming of serving over coconut sorbet. It was out of this world! The facility here is pretty, too:
As the tour wrapped up, we wandered through the tiny gift shop and back into the tasting room to taste the fantastic Napa cab (essentially the only thing we hadn’t tasted already) and chat with the lovely Kelly. Finally, carrying bottles with us as we went, we headed back out into the heat and up to where I hoped to find the fireworks stand still open.
No such luck, so I had to let go of the idea of ending the day in my front courtyard, sipping something delicious in the Adirondack chairs with sparklers (which always remind me of my childhood). We weren’t ready for more alcohol of any kind, so on our way back toward Napa we decided to quickly pop into Dean & Deluca for something to cool us off.
I was hoping to find my favorite Caramel Balsamic gelato, but no such luck. While Cass opted for the Chocolate Chocolate Chip gelato, and Mom for the Meyer Lemon Sorbet, I wandered over to the chocolate counter instead (it’s hard not to, there are so many pretty colors and designs to look at). I left with a tiny box of five to share with the girls:
(Clockwise from green: tequila lime, an unbelievable lemon curd, fleur du sel, champagne dark chocolate, and best of all…lavender caramel!)
Somewhere in the course of our day we decided we might need an impromptu pedicure. On the Fourth of July, though, that turned out to be easier said than done. Finally, we discovered that two shops in Napa (proper) were still open, and one was willing to accomodate us. After a soak, complete with a heavenly massage chair with a fantastic foot and leg massage, a few coats of paint, we were relaxed and ready to continue our Independence Day fun. (Well, two of us anyway. Cass had to leave us at this point because she was having car trouble and had to have her parents give her a lift home. We knew she wasn’t going to be able to spend the entire day with us though, so we were prepared to let her go!)
The RED Hen Cantina is something of a Napa institution.
It’s survived a change of location, and is known for good Mexican food and better margaritas. It may sound funny that I wanted to include a stop for a margarita on my 4th of July tour through the Valley, but I thought there was no better way to celebrate our melting pot of a country than with a nod to my Mexico neighbors. (And let’s be fair: we celebrate Cinco de Mayo wholeheartedly, even though most of us don’t know what the holiday is actually about or why we think we as Americans ought to participate at all!) Margaritas on the 4th seemed highly appropriate to me, and like I said – they’re good! Mom had her old standby, a blended strawberry with no salt:
And I had a hard time passing up the chance to taste a banana margarita, but decided to have it next time and opted for a pomegranate on the rocks with salt instead:
Throw in a little guacamole:
Some chips & salsa:
And a side of their fantastic refried beans (trust me…they’re so yummy):
And we were feeling pretty fantastic! Our server was busy and we were ready to find a little sweet to satisfy our (nearly insatiable) craving.
Mom almost always suggests ice cream. I wanted to be creative and/or find something that would fit into our Red, White & Blue theme (or at least Americana, somehow), and an idea was born. Let me first say, in case you’re not already aware of this, that I try to avoid chains whenever possible. Most people don’t have much interest in reading about my visit to something that they, too, can just go run down the street to. I understand that. However…Coldstone made sense, in this particular instance: I knew that they had apple pie filling, cinnamon, caramel, and graham cracker crumbs. What better way to have dessert on the 4th of July than with a cool nod to all-American apple pie?
It was amazing.
We actually somehow had time to change into comfy shoes, rest a bit, and then head toward downtown (we parked about halfway from Mom’s house to downtown & walked the rest of the way to the river where the fireworks would be taking place). In addition to the fact that I love fireworks, celebrations, and all things that sparkle, I was really excited to play with my camera – I always try to take cool pics during events like this and they almost never come out. Thankfully, last night was an exception: by keeping my shutter open a bit longer than a usual snap, I was able to capture some really cool photos:
(That last one is during the finale – no matter how I played with it, I couldn’t get it quite perfectly visible, but I still thought, bright and all, that it was pretty cool!) I also realized that the NV is the place to play for a holiday like this one. I’m not a big fan of huge crowds of people I don’t know, but as long as I avoided those (downtown, for the fireworks), it was a fairly picturesque day! (And apparently the town has the money to do the fireworks right – there was no skimping of any kind! It was a long, great show!)
And there you have it! After that it was home to bed! Though our 4th was literally BLUEs, WHITEhall, and RED, (it’s a little backwards, but you get the idea) it turned out to be an absolutely perfect day! Hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to subscribe for future posts, and/or let me know what you think (I really appreciate comments of any kind except spam)! Next up for Tourist in My Own Town: a few weeks’ worth of wandering around Napa Chef’s Market Downtown!