Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Day Trip to Napa

Going to school in Davis, I always wanted to visit Napa for their high quality restaurant food and wine tasting. I was delightfully surprised to arrive at Bistro Don Giovanni, just moments off of their Howard Lane exit on Hwy 29. Their lush, green garden, inviting outdoor terrace and vineyards made me feel very relaxed and "away from it all," and their decor and alfresco dining truly embodied the Napa wine country feel.

Restaurant front entrance. The greenery just pulls you right in :)
Arriving at the restaurant early for lunch (literally the first customers for the day), we were served promptly with our beverages and freshly baked focaccia bread. The fresca strawberry lemonade was a great balance of sweet and tart, but I especially enjoyed their sport iced tea. The tea was a refreshing medley of sweet and herbal notes, and it tasted very crisp. It definitely prepared our palates for the delicious foods to come.

From left to right: Fresca strawberry lemonade, fresh focaccia, sport iced tea
I have never tasted as fresh of a foccacia bread until this day. The bread was very warm with a spongey texture and seasoned savory spices; I never knew that foccacia would ever taste this great. We dipped the bread in olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette while admiring their garden and fountain from our table. We ordered at least two extra plates during the meal, because it was that great! I felt like I could just snack on focaccia and drink the iced tea all day, so next time, I should just ask for three orders of focaccia and iced tea to go, to take on a picnic. ;)

The waiter offered to de-bone my fish; that's great service! :)
I ordered out of their seasonal menu specials, which was a Montery Bay sanddab in a lemon-caper sauce, and sauteed broccolini on the side.The fish flaked very easily and easily absorbed the citrus flavors, so its moist texture melted in my mouth at every bite. The crisp and savory broccolini were delicious to nibble on, so this dish was an overall good dish. I am surprised to not see this item on the current online menu for the restaurant, but we'll try something else next time. :) I heard through Yelp that they serve really great olives, so I'm looking forward to trying that!

Front entrance on the far left revealed a quaint wine shop
After leaving the restaurant, we commenced to do our wine tastings at Hagafen Cellars, where they offered free tastings for two through their website. As a white wine fan, I purchased the 2008 Napa Valley White Riesling. I loved the wine for its light-bodied texture and sweet fruity tastes from litchi, cherries and peaches. It would be great to serve this sweet wine to offset the flavors of pungent and spicy foods in a homemade meal, or to serve with chocolate, cheese and crackers and/or complementary fresh fruit.

After wine tasting, we strolled around Napa Premium Outlets to window shop. Having been to the outlets at Gilroy and Vacaville, the Napa outlet lot is much smaller in comparison. It was fun to window shop around the U shaped outlets, especially stores like Coach, The Cosmetics Company Store (love love discounted, clearance makeup/skincare items), CK, and Banana Republic, just to name a few.

Have you driven to Napa recently? What are your recommended restaurants and wine tasting cellars? :)

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