1. Eating Napa
2. Calistoga Ranch, An Auberge Resort Part I – Check-In, Our Lodge
3. Calistoga Ranch, An Auberge Resort Part II – Resort Facilities, Activities, and Food
4. The Restaurant at Meadowood + Meeting Chef Christopher Kostow
5. Eating Sonoma
They say that the 1st year of marriage is the hardest, and boy, they weren’t joking! I’m just messing around (dear wife, please don’t kill me). Our 1st year of marriage is officially a wrap, and celebrating our paper wedding anniversary seemed like the perfect excuse to travel. We thought about going overseas, but with work schedules being tight during this time of year, our time frame was whittled down to just a weekend which would be too hectic to fly internationally. There are plenty of good domestic options for a weekend getaway from San Francisco, and we considered Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and even Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
But in the end, we decided that it would be fun to try something that we’d never done before together…road trip! It just made more sense logistically, and would allow us to re-allocate the money we would have spent on flights toward the hotel. We looked into driving north up the California coast to Mendocino, which is on the NY Times’ 52 places to go in 2014, or southbound down the coast toward Big Sur and potentially staying at the iconic Post Ranch Inn.
After much deliberation, the ultimate choice was a dark horse from the beginning, Napa Valley. There were a couple reasons why Napa Valley wasn’t initially top of mind. First, neither of us are big wine drinkers so we wondered if there would be enough to keep us occupied for an entire weekend. We’d done day trips to go wine tasting, and never felt like it was worth it to stay for the night, let alone the entire weekend. Second, Napa Valley is only about 1.5 hours from our home, so we were skeptical if it would feel like a true vacation getaway, since in terms of proximity it was so close to home.
But once the decision was made, we split up the trip planning duties as usual – my wife took care of all of the food planning, and since there were no flights to book, my only job was to book the hotel. Napa Valley has many different options when it comes to lodging, with everything from Bed and Breakfasts, to chain hotels such as the Andaz by Hyatt, DoubleTree by Hilton, and Westin from Starwood, as well as luxury boutique options which include the Inn at Meadowood, Carneros Inn, and the Auberge Resorts, Calistoga Ranch and Auberge du Soleil. We wanted to stay at a place that reminded us of our honeymoon, and since there aren’t any beach resorts in Napa Valley, Calistoga Ranch fit the bill since it had a similar look and feel to the Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort in Australia.
We did a lap inside the main building, but none of the food options called out to us. We decided to head outside which was a good choice, since we stumbled into Fatted Calf Charcuterie. This place is straight out of a vegetarian’s nightmares, filled with a variety of meats in different forms – salumi, sausage, smoked, jerky, they have it all. In addition to the raw meats, they have a ready-to-eat stuff including sandwiches and a daily special, which on that day was stewed pork shoulder. We settled on a plate of pork shoulder with summer corn and bean salad, and a BBQ pulled pork sandwich. The pork shoulder was ridiculously good and literally melted in our mouths.
After eating, we headed back inside for dessert, and while there were a couple enticing bakeries, we couldn’t pass on the Three Twins Ice Cream shop. We’ve only tried their store-bought ice cream and really enjoy the flavors, so it was exciting to get it straight from the source. Afterwards, we also checked out the Olive Press store to restock on olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
We really enjoyed our stop at Oxbow Public Market , which was a great place to grab lunch and stretch our legs before continuing on to Calistoga. We would highly recommend Oxbow to anyone looking for good, quick eats in downtown Napa, and especially as a meeting place for large groups.