napa, day one

In honor of our long weekend in Napa–you know, the trip that you won for us–I have done the unthinkable and brought the laptop in hopes to share snippets throughout our trip. Should we ever leave California, we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled cooking next week. But I’m not making any promises.

Day one, we splurged on the Mustang convertible and aside from the whole sunburn issue (duh), it is indeed awesome, and we don’t care if it screams tourist in every single way. I use the term ‘splurged’ loosely, as the full price of this (on special) is still half of one day of a cheapo car in NYC. California, I love you already.

convertible self-portrait

Up since 4 a.m. Eastern, by 2 p.m. Pacific we were so famished, the In-n-Out Burger seemed the only sane solution. I had my first hamburger since I was 12 years old. It was so worth the wait.

in-n-out burger, sodain-n-out burger, burgerin-n-out burger, friesin-n-out burger, ketchup

From there we stopped at a couple wineries, Robert Sinskey and Clos du Val, the first of which was awesome. Although we had high hopes to hit a few more before dinnertime, our eensy sips of wine got the better of us and we had to come back to the hotel to take a disco nap, and yes I realize that putting the word ‘disco’ before ‘nap’ makes us sounds even more geriatric than the need for a nap alone. Damn you, time change.

napa valleynapa valleynapa valleynapa valleynapa valleynapa valley

Fortunately, a little rest was just enough to allow us to rally enough energy to finally meet the inimitable Helen Jane, her husband James and some of their friends with cute kids at Taylor’s Refresher for dinner. If you’re counting, that makes two burgers in one day, two more than I have had in more than 20 years, and what with 12 hours of grilling time ahead, I’m think I might be a caveman by the end of the weekend, and it will be all Napa’s fault.

mm, wine

But you see that above? Napa, you’re forgiven already.

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41 comments on napa, day one

  1. carol in vt

    You rock on, girl – and be sure to take a picture for your wallet, of Alex in the convertible, looking all, like, C.K. Dexter Haven-y, because, well. Babe-alicious man in rag-top, and he’s yours. Enjoy! (My winery vote: Rombauer… for obvious reasons).

  2. SLO

    Please Please Please don’t miss Jarvis. How can you possibly pass up a vineyard whose caves are parabolic arches?
    The underlying principle behind the Jarvis cave construction is that a parabolic shaped tunnel is inherently stable, so the cave tunnels and chambers are in the shape of a true parabola.

    Call for an appointment: 1-800-255-5280 x 150

  3. Cris

    In-N-Out! In-N-Out! Oh, how I miss you! Fantastic burgers (you have to get them with the grilled onions. slurp!) and terrible fries. But great shakes! So skip the fries and use your dieting points from that to indulge in a chocolate shake.

    I am so jealous! We have such great grill food in Chicago, but no In-N-Out.

    Grab a fish taco while you are Cali. Have a great time!

  4. Paula

    You mean you’ve never had a Shake Shack burger? Egads! And your day job is just a skip and a hop away…

    Thanks for all your posts. I’ve made several recipes–the roasted tomatoes, white beans and cippolini onions yesterday–wonderful. Sean (your former co-worker) thanks you, too.

    Maybe we can come visit you for a dining out sometime soon? Enjoy Napa, I envy you!

  5. Sharon

    I wish I’d commented earlier to tell you that the ahi burger at Taylor’s is amazing. If, by some chance, you have an opportunity to go back there this trip, say yes and get ready for the most yummy ahi burger you’ve ever had! And if you eat at the Martini House (which wasn’t great anyway), DON’T get the scallops. They tasted amazing but 3 out of 5 of us on our first girls weekend away from the kids in 4 years got food poisoning from them.

  6. RA

    Oh, so jealous. Your plans make my weekend high point (so far) of reorganizing our laundry room seem so domestic and mundane, in spite of my great love of storage solutions. But, I’m glad you brought along your computer to keep us all abreast!

  7. Sue

    Welcome to Cali! Careful though – the car rentals are cheaper, but we have some mighty high gas prices (highest in the nation – ewwwww) That’s how they get ya.

    If you happen to hit In-and-Out again make sure to order your burger animal style :) It’s kind of hard to find a bad place to eat out here. Have a wonderful time, don’t spend too much time in front of the laptop, we will wait.

  8. Larry

    Nice images, especially the grapes. Which hamburger was better – you supposedly had the best two choices in California?
    Have fun and watch out for that sun………….
    And ditto about lugging the laptop so we could join you. Thanks

  9. It’s funny – even with all the gorgeousness of roses and wine and Napa I’m still stuck here daydreaming about In-N-Out. Wow. It’s been years since I was near one, and I can still taste the monster burger. Yeah, if there’s one place to go to have your first burger in 20 years, it would definitely be In-N-Out.

    A friend and I made your Pasta Primavera Salad on Wednesday. Everyone loved it – even the guy with Food Issues had seconds. :-)

  10. DC Sarah

    Those drool-inducing photos inspired me to email my 2 dearest girlfriends to start planning a trip to Napa next summer. I hope that your trip is absolutely wonderful!

  11. oh my god, i lived on in n out burgers when i was a kid. now, i couldn’t eat them because of the damned bun. (and they aren’t the same without the bun.) thanks for eating them for me. let the meat ensue!

    have a fabulous time. oh, that’s right. you already are.

  12. Cheers, and happy sipping. Appreciate the toting of the laptop for our benefit.Thanks! A few more photos like the bunch of grapes and you will have us all hopping down to Napa and stalking you. J/K!

  13. It looks like you guys are having a lot of fun! I’ve never been to Napa but my boyfriend Brent was there a few months ago with his family and when he and I were traveling Tuscany, Italy this summer, he kept telling me that it looked JUST like Napa. Seeing your pictures now, it’s definitely true. I feel like I have nearly identical photos from the other side of the world! Have a great trip!

  14. Lola

    It’s true, Lauren! I used to live in Napa and just returned from two weeks in Tuscany. So many times during my visit I was reminded of Napa!

    Enjoy your trip, and thanks for the photos!

  15. Cris

    Oh, I forgot to say – you can ask for a grilled cheese with grilled onions at In-N-Out burger. Sometimes I did this when I wanted a snack but not something heavy. They leave out the burger but give you the same fluffy, grilled bun, lettuce, tomato, melted cheese over grilled onions and sauce. All toasty warm and dripping with goodness and so much taste, but no meat. Sigh. I miss it.

  16. Molly

    Hey hey hey, “disco nap” is not a geriatric expression! It’s just a generic Chelsea Queen/club kid term. Maybe people in their early 20s haven’t started dropping it, but what do they even know about partying? They just sit around popping prescription drugs like a bunch of 1970s Connecticut housewives. And in my humble opinion, Adderall is no replacement for the old-fashioned disco nap, especially if it’s going to be a serious night out and not just an extended amateur hour.

    Plus, even if you were really into the specific musical genre known as disco, it wouldn’t make you geriatric, especially since all the Gen-Y hipster DJs in Brooklyn now play nothing BUT disco. (I’m like, um, dude, you were born in 1985. Don’t even try your back-in-the-day shit on me.)

    That said, I don’t think you are going to any discos in Napa, so “disco nap” is kind of a misnomer. Debbie, I have to drag you by the ear to get you to go out dancing, and it happens about once every two years.

  17. I’m thrilled you made it to Robert Sinskey… the grow organically and ferment fantastically. I love their Carneros Pinot Noir. I almost bought an RSVPinot baseball hat, that’s how happy the wine made me.

  18. Ang

    After all our talk about In-N-Out at dinner last night, I tried to make Nate stop there on the way home so I could get a grilled cheese, animal-style, but he refused to exit the freeway because I wasn’t going to order “a REAL burger.” Lame.

    Hope day two of grilling is as fun as day one. See you tomorrow for the Slanted Door!

  19. Love the photos, especially the grapes!! I’m still guessing that this is a new lens that you are using – the colors and bokeh are all beautiful.

    Keep us updated on CA… we’ve got a cold spot here on the east coast, and although it is a nice reprieve from the summer heat, it does make me a little sad that winter is coming. Soak up the west coast sun rays!

  20. e.

    I second Sharon, and probably others, I regret not saying this before you went… the tuna at the Refresher is AMAZING. Definitely get it if you go back, and don’t be surprised if at least 8 locals point you to it, either.

    The duckburger at Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen in St Helena is also great. Mmm, so much good food, enjoy!

  21. Anne

    I’m so happy for you…heck for anyone lucky enough to be on vacation somewhere so beautiful. I enjoyed a weekend in Napa years ago and it was one of my favorite getaways. Enjoy!

  22. Caroline in DC

    I’d recommend getting yourself to a bookstore and picking up a copy of A Very Good Year, which goes through the whole winemaking process at a Napa Valley vineyard. I’m reading it now and it’s really educational.

  23. Jim

    This is me staring in a mixture of utter envy AND abject horror.

    Decades without a burger?! How is that…how is that even CLOSE to possible? And of course you went to In-N-Out, the chain that I tried valiantly–and unsuccessfully, thanks to my snickering family–to visit while in north Cali.

    Glad you’re having a good time, but…good lord, woman. first burger since you were TWELVE…

  24. Look at all of us giving you these fancy tips, and we forgot to mention the one place we all take for granted: In N Out! I’m glad you had a taste of the wonderous thing that is In N Out!

  25. ann

    I can’t believe we were in Napa at exactly the same time and didn’t run into each other! I also can’t believe I didn’t get to eat an In’n’Out burger. Oh well, next time! Looks like you had as much fun as we did :-)

  26. This reminds me so much of my last trip to the West Coast four years ago! How sad. I too enjoyed wine country and In and Out Burger. I’ve been longing to revisit both. Thanks for the post!

  27. I’m wondering if you got a tummy ache from the burger? I’ve heard that if you dont eat red meat and then eat it, your body can’t handle it. Sometimes I think ” Oh, I’d love a burger”, but then I thing again and can’t eat it.

  28. .myke

    I remember (re)opening Taylor’s with Joel a number of years back. I was a prep cook then and loved it. I really miss that place. Fish Taco’s and Rainbow Ice Cream Shakes . . . mmmm. I can’t wait to get back out there.

  29. .myke

    Sorry for the second post but if you have time (and you probably don’t), check out Praeger Port Works. They have some fun stuff.