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Three Days in Napa Valley part 2

jaweino | Dec 17, 200412:01 AM

On Day 2 (Monday}we went to Auberge de Soleil for lunch. We arrived a little bit after noon and were the only ones there for either the restaurant or the bar. We opted to eat out on the deck with the bar menu. It had rained during the night and some of the chairs were wet, but we were able to change them with ones that had been more protected. It was chilly and they turned on the heaters. We started out with a round of Mimosas. They were very good, almost all champagne with just a hint of orange. Bonni had a
burger with cheddar. It was a very thick, juicy, rare burger on an onion roll, served with house made pickles that we didn’t care for and fries. Larry had a Pasta Salad. It was a warm shell type pasta with a large piece of Ahi Tuna and a vinaigrette sauce. It was tasty and a little too much after the meal we had the day before. I just had a Caesar Salad, which was OK, but nothing special. The burger was easily the best choice. We had the deck to ourselves for most of the time and were enjoying the rather spectacular view of the valley, so we decided to linger a while and have dessert and coffee. About that time 4 people showed up to share the deck with us. We ordered a plate of cookies, which turned out to be an excellent choice. The cookies were baked to order and we were treated to a plate of Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal with dried cherries, and Peanut Butter cookies all hot out of the oven. They were scrumptious.

For dinner we went to Martini House in St. Helena. It was an interesting craftsman style house that was quite old. Since this was officially La Bonita’s birthday, we decided for more champagne, and ordered a bottle of Schramsberg Blanc de Noir and nursed it
throughout the entire meal. It was a very satisfactory bubbly. The menu at MH had three major options: a Prix Fixe, a Wild Mushroom Tasting Menu, and Ala Carte. It was possible to order any of the dishes from the other two menus if going ala carte. First, they brought us an Amuse Bouche of a Mussel in a bed of tasty froth. Bonni and Larry had that and they brought me a small cup of an excellent Butternut Squash soup, since I was avoiding shellfish this week. For appetizers, Bonni and Larry split an order of very excellent sweetbreads, and I had Braised Hen of the Woods Mushroom from the mushroom menu. We all agreed that the mushroom was the best choice. It seemed to be a large mushroom with a firm consistency and a wonderful oyster-like flavor. For entrees
Bonni and Larry both had John Dory and I had Rabbit. We were all happy with our choices. The fish was served with a brown butter sauce and the rabbit was a tiny rack of rabbit and several pieces of loin rolled up. For dessert we had something called Rocky
Road, which was a complex construction with a brownie base that was covered with a thick layer of chocolate mousse, topped by a thin chocolate wafer which in turn was topped with marshmallow ice cream. All of this was surrounded by a walnut cream sauce. I really liked the marshmallow ice cream. I think the others really enjoyed the whole concoction. It was a little too gooey for my tastes, but we didn’t leave any. All in all we really liked the Martini House very much and will definitely return.

On Tuesday we had lunch with Jack and Dolores Cakebread at the winery. The lunch was prepared by one of their staff chefs and the wines were Cakebread Private reserve Chardonnay and Benchland Select Cabernet Sauvignon. We had Sea Bass, Rack of
Lamb and Cheese and fruit. The food and wine were excellent, and if this was any indication of the winemakers dinners or Harvest festival dinners that Cakebread hosts, I would definitely recommend them.

By the evening we did not want too elaborate a meal after all the eating of the past few days and we went to Mustards Grill. We had Onion Rings as an appetizer followed by Parsnip and Pear Soup. The onion rings are a Mustards standby and are what we all think
onion rings should be. We are all from Boston and really don’t like the standard overly breaded onion rings that seem to be the rule here. The soup was tasty and good. The parsnip and pear flavors seemed to go together well. For main courses Bonni just had a
salad; I had the Mushroom Burger which was a burger roll filled with an assortment of sauteed wild mushrooms and was very tasty. Larrry had the snapper, which was a huge portion of very well sautéed snapper, that he could only eat half of.

The next morning we had a good standard breakfast at Gillwood’s in St. Helena and tried to stock up on chocolates at Woodhouse Chocolates, but they were closed trying to fill all their Christmas mail orders. So we just waddled back to the car and drove home.

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