06 July 2010

Napa recap: Food!

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Food, travel

Yes, I promise this will be the last post going into extreme detail on my trip but this one is important. It’s about food!

This is rated XXX for the food porn you’re about to see, so let’s get to it!

Along with a lot of great wine, I had some amazing food in Napa and while I got odd looks for taking photos of my food, I could not wait to share it with everyone!

Here’s a closer look:

Chez Panisse

Back when I was a non-learning foodie, I read about Alice Waters and Chez Panisse in a magazine and said, wow, one I day I want to go there. Well, fast forward several years and I finally got to go after looking up Berkeley on a map and seeing how convenient it was on my drive. And I’ll say this. It was really amazing food. Imagine the freshest ingredients you’ve ever purchased and consumed…now dial it up to 11. That’s how good this stuff was. Service, could have been better, but for the experience, it was worth it.

Peach and frise salad

Casarecci pasta with pork and lamb ragu

Fresh raspberry sorbet with strawberries

Rutherford Grill

Great patio and great food. It specializes in rotisserie chicken (which is like crack for me) so I had a lovely rotisserie chicken enchilada and this coconut lime rice which was beyond delicious. Two thumbs up!

Rotisserie chicken enchilada

Norman Rose Tavern

Post wine tasting and pre-Eclipse stop with Amy and my wine tour group. Sadly, no pictures, but this tavern was clean, had great food and a good atmosphere. Plus, they have Parmesan truffle fries, yeah, they’re delicious.


When I die, I want beignets from Cafe du Monde and food from here as my final meal. This place reminds me so much of Piccolo Sogno in Chicago and while the food was just as delicious as Piccolo’s, something pushed this over the edge. This was, my favorite, most decadent meal of the trip. The pasta melts in your mouth, service was top notch and everything just complimented each other so well. Plus, I got to say hi and shake Michael Chiraello’s hand after. Seriously, it was a Top Chef geek out moment.

Green-egg and ham appetizer

Hand-cut Taglerini with mushrooms

Ad Hoc

This was my second favorite meal of the trip. Thomas Keller may have made French Laundry my pipe dream but Ad Hoc’s food is just as fresh and creative and changes daily. Food wise, I was very happy here, service wise, I was not. The waiter and I had a disagreement over some bone marrow (making me feel fat in the process) but it was resolved and my joy over the food was not diminished.

Romaine lettuce with bacon bits, hard boiled egg and red onion

Bone marrow!!!

Beef steak, onion rings, potatoes and beets

Homemade meringue with peaches and sorbet


Gourmet truck stop? Um, sign me up! The place is adorable and it has great daily specials in meat, fish, pasta and burgers. All of the food looks amazing and I had to fight to narrow it down.

Penne with truffle butter, asparagus and zucchini

Chicken and biscuits with mushrooms and prosciutto

What kind of places do you like to go to when you travel?


  1. E.P. says:

    Gah. Looks SO GOOD. I could pretty much happily eat any of that right now.

    I’m glad you got such good food while you were in California!

  2. mandy says:

    All of it looks amazing! I just got home from a concert and seriously now want to go make some food.

  3. Kate says:

    Sounds like you ate a lot of amazing stuff! And I love that Michael Chiarello … I used to watch him often on Food Network.

    How I eat when traveling varies based on who I’m with and where we are. My two favorites, though, are cooking at a campsite (my husband is an amazing campfire chef) and driving around off the beaten path to find fun little places to eat.

  4. Lil Woman says:

    You and the damn food….Jess your killing any type of waistline I;m trying to achieve..lol

  5. Kyla Roma says:

    Oh my gosh, you’re showing me all of this amazing food and all I have is a special K bar to gnaw on!!! lol

    I’m a total closet foodie, and I love these posts :)

  6. Robyn says:

    OMG this food looks to die for! I’ve always wanted to go to Napa. All those sorbets, yum!

  7. Grace says:

    Oh wow. That food looks phenomenal! I’m glad you had such a wonderful trip. Next time I am in North Cali I’ll have to check out some of those places. yummy, yummy, yummy!

  8. Wow! All that food looks SO FANCY and divine!!! Food is such a large part of traveling, I was amazed by the food that we ate when we were traveling around Europe and then I returned to discover that over half the photos I’d taken were food pictures!

  9. nic says:

    Great action shots! :)

    Also, the cereal box currently sitting in my lap and serving as “dinner” is getting a bit jealous. Performance anxiety.

  10. AshleyD says:

    Wow, it all looks so amazing! Whenever I make it back out to the West coast, I’m definitely following your recommendations and stopping at a few of these places!

  11. katelin says:

    holy hell woman all of that looks amazing. seriously delicious, glad you had such tasty meals, yum!

  12. I think I gained ten pounds just reading this post!

  13. Erin says:

    Oh yum! Now I am starving. How cool that you got to go to Bottega!

  14. Nora says:

    YUM. The sorbets look scrumptious.

    I like to go to a local place, something that is totally off the beaten path. It’s served me well in the past, finding an amazing little Mexican place in Houston and a yummy seafood (well, I can’t eat seafood but they had over 400 kinds of beer and chicken for me to enjoy) in NOLA last year. I don’t care if it’s a hole in the wall or something more fancy, so long as it’s local, not a chain and recommended by the people who live there. Hopefully I can find a few great places in DC later this week/next week!

  15. Ray says:

    OK, now I’m hungry! I have always wanted to go to Chez Panisse, that salad looks amazing!

  16. Allison says:

    this is insane how incredible each of those dishes look. my mouth is watering and you had me at the first meal.

  17. YUM! I just ate bfast but now ready for lunch haha. That tagliatelle dish sounds amazing! that’s one of my fave pastas.

    Glad you had a fabulous and delish time!

  18. You were not kidding- you really did it up right! Bottega is officially on my list..not much I won’t do for fresh pasta.

  19. My mom is a huge foodie and has raved about Alice Waters for years. I’m quite certain my mom has her Chez Panisse cookbook (and it’s well-used!). But, errr, dare I comment on the phallic nature of her desserts? Just saying… heheh

  20. Kay says:

    seriously, this all looks absolutely delicious….oh my gosh

  21. maybe it’s just me and my dirty little mind, but that picture of the raspberry sorbet looks a little…phallic? but still looks delicious! lol

    like I’ve said before, you seem like you would be one the best dinner companions because you seem to be pretty fearless and open-minded to all types of cuisine and food. Dining out is my favorite part of traveling and I try to plan my activities around their convenience to restaurants that I want to try :)

  22. Maki says:

    Oooohhhhh I’m droooooling over here! Every dish looks so delicious, Jess! I think one of the things I enjoy the most while traveling is to visit all kinds of restaurant and explore the possiblity of my taste buds..

    I love this post!!

  23. Caz says:

    Dude, way to make me hungry right after I ate lunch. Not fair!

    You should make Melbourne (well Australia in general) a stop on your foodie vacation list. Seriously, the food here is UNREAL.

    Also, that Alice Waters pasta dish looks AMAZING.

  24. Erin says:

    Mmmm, Bottega. I had the best polenta of my life there. Super yum. And I love how Michael Chiraello is still there all the time. Nothing better than knowing the man stands behind his restaurant 100%.

    All your food choices look amazing. Obviously you choose awesome restaurants when you travel!

  25. Amazing! Eating is often my favorite part of traveling, so I really enjoy your food posts. I feel like I’m on a culinary adventure!