I visited San Francisco for the first time last month and left my heart as they say.  I knew that it would be a fabulous place to visit, but between the perfect weather with only sunshine days, incredible food and ease of getting around, I cannot wait to return in June.

Here are some food highlights from the city:

Gnochetti at SPQR in Pacific Heights, because baby-sized food is always better

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I always say that it is my due diligence to do a bakery tour in any city that I visit and San Francisco did not disappoint.  Sift Dessert Bar offered up the classics like cookies, macarons and cupcakes and one unique offering, the Cruffle.  The Cruffle  was not totally unlike a cake pop, I was told it was crushed up cupcake mixed with frosting and coated in chocolate, but even for this sweet tooth, one bite was more than I ever need of that sugar bomb.  My Samoa cupcake was perfection though and their glittery cakes made me want to have a party immediately.

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Once my husband joined me in San Francisco, we were on a coffee mission.  He is a huge fan of Blue Bottle Coffee and he had to sample their siphon-brewed coffee.  It was quite a process and fun to watch, but I am not a coffee connoisseur enough to know if the taste is truly superior.

We enjoyed a fantastic lunch at Kuleto’s which has been in Union Square for many years and offers lovely Northern Italian cuisine including this fig, burrata, balsamic onion and prosciutto bruschetta, roasted beet and arugula salad and rosemary flatbread with roasted garlic and triple cream blue brie.  Our entire lunch was delicious and our cheese cravings were surely satisfied.

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The highlight of our trip was the time we spent in Yountville in Napa Valley.  I am in love.  I was unaware that there were places so quaint, relaxing and beautiful so relatively close to home.  The trip was so lovely that I couldn’t wait to get back and share where and what we ate and the vineyards that we visited.

Our drive to Napa Valley began with a stop by the Golden Gate Bridge because after all, we were tourists.

We then stopped at the San Rafael Farmers’ Market for lunch and I was loving all of the fresh produce that is months ahead of our local farmers’ markets.

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We stayed in Yountville and I loved how many restaurants were within walking distance since Yountville is quite small and all of the shops and eateries on within a few blocks of each other.  I am not a person who likes to stay in hotels, but I guess I can’t claim that anymore because I never wanted to leave the Hotel Yountville where we stayed.   IMG_0060 IMG_0063 IMG_0065 IMG_0104

I especially loved being within walking distance of Bouchon Bakery.  I did a review of the insanely gorgeous Bouchon Bakery Cookbook awhile ago and visiting the bakery each morning we were there was definitely worth each ounce of butter that I consumed.  In fact, the visit made me love my favorite cookbook and Thomas Keller even more.  My favorite bakery splurge is an almond croissant and Bouchon Bakery’s almond croissant is the best croissant I have ever had.  Big surprise, Thomas Keller knows what’s up.

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Speaking of Thomas Keller, the most exciting surprise place that we had the pleasure of dining at was his pop-up restaurant Ad Lib.  I’m sure you know about Thomas Keller’s famous, fancy restaurant The French Laundry which basically gave such prestige to “the tasting menu” as we know it.  We would have loved to have eaten there during our trip, but the restaurant had been closed for renovation since January.  While the restaurant was closed for renovation, Chef Keller was looking out for his staff and elected to open Ad Lib in the Royal Oak at the Silverado Country Club so that they would have a place to work while the Laundry was closed.  So all of the chefs and servers migrated down the road for the brief 10 month lifespan of the restaurant (it will close in October).  It was such a treat to get to experience Chef Keller’s magic in such an intimate setting and everything they put before us was incredibly beautiful and undoubtedly delicious.  We started with the table side Caesar salad, I had the Salmon with dill beurre blanc and my husband had the Chicken Schnitzel (imagine the best chicken piccata you’ve ever tasted and yes that is a normally-sized dinner plate that it is on) and we shared the spring pea and mushroom gnocchi.

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Oh yeah, how could I forget the vineyards, aka the reason people visit wine country!   Enough about food for now.  We visited several vineyards including Domain Chandon, Hess (they have the most incredible art collection that is worth the trip alone not to mention how many wines I loved there), Pine Ridge (I already loved their Chenin Blanc Viognier blend that you can get anywhere) where we did a unique tasting in their wine cave,

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Rombauer (one of my family’s favorite winemakers:  we LOVE their zinfandel and chardonnay and they just came out with their first sauvignon blanc which was nice),

Duckhorn (my new absolute favorite white is their sauvignon blanc) wine labels are the wines that have been served more at White House events than any other American label.  They had menus hanging on the wall from various presidential events that the wines have been served at which I totally ate up.

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A couple of our other favorite stops were Frank Family vineyard

 And Mumm Napa, which is now one of my favorite bubbles to drink.

We fueled up during our big day of tasting at a place called Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch in St. Helena and I wish I would have known in advance about the experience that they offer that includes a walking tour of their garden with their chef followed by a tasting menu lunch at the chef’s table.  Next time.  I got their homemade cookies to go for dessert, I’m sure you’re shocked about that one.

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Last stop was a visit to The French Laundry gardens which were so perfect and lovely to walk through.  The chickens were plenty friendly too.  It was so amazing to see the actual garden right across the street from the restaurant.  It doesn’t get any more “farm to table” than that.

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I can hardly wait to return to Napa Valley someday and I would love to hear about any of your favorite places to visit when you’ve travelled to wine country.

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5 Comments ( Reply )

  1. Emily
    Apr 15, 2015 @ 8:42 pm

    I love this post and I’m so jealous of this trip!!!! It sounds like perfection, so glad you guys had an amazing time.

    Reply

  2. Lori R.
    Apr 16, 2015 @ 12:09 pm

    You went to so many great places! So many I have yet to try, too. How awesome that you got to go to Ad Lib! Friends of ours got reservations a few weeks after it opened and invited us. I was skeptical after seeing the menu, but was blown away. Everything was outstanding. So glad you had a good trip!

    Reply

    • Mercedes
      Apr 28, 2015 @ 7:26 pm

      Hi Lori! Yes it was a great trip and I will be returning in June and would love any recommendations that you have for food, drinks, shopping, things to do!

      Reply

  3. Marlene
    Apr 16, 2015 @ 4:01 pm

    What an amazing trip!

    Reply

  4. Luv What You Do
    Apr 17, 2015 @ 9:36 pm

    Love napa and can’t wait to go back adding your faves to our list. We wnat to stay somewhere new next time so I will definitely check out Yountvile…especially since you said there is a lot to walk to!

    Reply

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