postcard from the napa valley

After a wonderful three nights in Berkeley, during which we ate a note-perfect dinner at Rivoli, took the Bart into San Francisco for a day (the highlight being lunch at Greens where we last ate in 1984; it still has the black bean chili on the menu and the food is still fabulous), we drove to the Napa Valley with Brendan for two nights. The days are warm enough for wearing t-shirts though it cools off after sunset. Yesterday we took a picnic to an area north of Napa city — pate and salami we bought at the Fatted Calf Charcuterie in the Oxbow Public Market and some delicious cheeses from the Cowgirl Creamery (including Mt. Tam, a triple-creme one which I could happily eat every day for the rest of my life). And we saw this egret down by the water — at least I think it’s an egret. We didn’t bring field guides with us…

P1090311And these guys, familiars from this entire trip, were feeding by the shore.

P1090310And did we go to wineries to taste some of the famed Napa Valley wines? Well, no. We’ve enjoyed wine with our meals and today we thought we’d go to several wineries during the afternoon; we even planned to picnic at one of them. But unlike the Okanagan Valley where we go as often as we can to taste and buy wines, here one has to pay a tasting fee — 10-25 dollars a person. (There are three of us.) And we discovered we’d even have to pay a fee to use a picnic table — 35 dollars. So we went to the Oxbow Market and had a glass of wine in sunlight with some delicious sourdough bread from Model Bakery, more of the pate and sausage from Fatted Calf, cheese, and finished up with chocolate from the Market.

We drove over to Glen Ellen on the Dry Creek Road which rose higher and higher (and became narrower and narrower) until it felt like we were on the spine of California. Views were spectacular — hill after hill of oaks and pines, some kind of hawks floating over it all, a vast blue sky arching over us. This is where we walked this morning and the landscape we drove through was very like it, the air scented with resin and dry leaves.


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