Monday, August 5, 2013

Microbrews and Muir Woods

Ok, last post on Cali before we return to regular New Jersey life. :)

On our second day in Napa, we woke up pretty early (guess that's what happens when you go to bed at 9:30 ;) so decided to go have breakfast at the resort's restaurant and then relax poolside for a while.

The morning after tasting over 30 wines calls for very large cups of coffee. And Eggs Benedict of course. The addiction continues! I was so excited when I spotted the Napa Style Eggs Benedict, with lox, avocado and toasted brioche. Yes, yes, yes.

It was so, so good. Our bellies full, I filled up another coffee cup and we went to the adults-only pool to relax in one of the comfy couch lounges. Matt with his Zymurgy Magazine and me with my Kindle.

Spa music, blue water, fluffy pillows and a vineyard to look at - what more could you want?

I admit this is a terrible picture of me, but I had to share the beauty of this lounge. The pool was surrounded by them and they were probably the most comfortable thing I have ever laid on.

Eventually we got ourselves moving and took showers to head out for the day. We did one more wine tasting at Stag's Leap Wine Cellars (famous for its Cabernet that won a blind taste test against the French, as shown in Bottle Shock) before switching gears to beer - northern California has some really great breweries.

Russian River in Santa Rosa just won best brew of the year for their Pliny the Elder, so Matt was beside himself that we could go to the source and taste every one of their creations. Taste, we did!

Not only beer, but also "Pliny Bites" which are basically chunks of pizza dough covered in mozzarella and jalapenos.

Matt loved the "lacing" on Russian River's beers.

We left with a few bottles to bring home since we can't get it here, then stopped for a quick lunch down the street. Santa Rosa is famous for one other place I've been dying to go to - Tex Wasabi's by Guy Fieri. Actually both his restaurants are in Santa Rosa, but "rock & roll sushi BBQ" sounded really good so we stopped for some. It didn't disappoint. I went with fish of course, but Matt loved his unique pulled pork sushi. The atmosphere was pretty fun too.

Finally it was time to make our way to Petaluma to meet up with Amanda, Justyn and Riker at Lagunitas, the other great area brewery. I love Lagunitas, especially their IPA, and we had a lot of fun going on the brewery tour and hearing all the crazy stories about the brewmaster and owner.

The atmosphere was great here too. The tasting room was kitschy and unique, and the outdoor eating area was relaxed and featured live music, picnic tables and drinks in Mason jars - you know how I feel about Mason jars.

We hung with Amanda and Justyn for a while before saying our goodbyes, packing up Riker and heading back down to Napa. Riker didn't seem much in the mood for sitting at a restaurant for dinner, so instead we hit up the Napa Street Fair for gourmet street eats, live music and all kinds of other fun stuff.

We ended the evening back at the hotel with a fire and a movie after Riker went to bed. Such a great day.


The next day started with a simple breakfast at the resort's coffee shop, a little pool time for Riker and then a final drive through beautiful Napa.

It continued with lunch at Sunflower Caffe in Sonoma, which I found on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and really wanted to try. Ohmygodsogood.

I had a salmon and brie salad with capers which was pretty good, but the goat cheese filled piquillo peppers with honey, orange and pistachios was seriously to die for. I need to try to make these at home.

Next up was Muir Woods for a gorgeous cliffside drive and redwood trees! I couldn't believe how much the weather changed from Sonoma to Muir Woods. It went from 80 degrees and sunny to 60 degrees and foggy in a matter of miles - miles spent climbing up and up into the forest.

Though it was chilly, the beauty was breathtaking. It reminded me a lot of our trip to Ireland a few years ago.

We drove around for a while letting Riker nap, and eventually made it to the groves of giant trees with a few hours to hike around.

The trees really are so majestic.

And that pretty much concludes our week of fun in California. I loved this trip because we had so many different activities packed into the week - we got to experience the city, the country, some history, the finest wine and beer the country has to offer, good eats, and nature. All in 7 days. That's one heck of a week if you ask me.

Time to power down and settle in for the evening. It's Shark Week, so guess where we'll be for the next four nights? ;)

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