Saturday, August 31, 2013

Day 7 Winchester House & Napa Valley

So it was time to say goodbye to the city of San Francisco.
 It wasn't so hard saying goodbye to Oakland and our "neighborhood"
 and heading down to San Jose wasn't much of a treat for the eyes either!
 So this was our destination for the day: Winchester House. This is the place that the crazy lady owned that was under construction for years and years, well constantly actually. She was hoping the construction would keep all the spirits away who had been killed by Winchester guns. Well that's one theory anyway. So after doing some research online I decided we needed to take both the regular tour and the behind the scenes Tour. That was our first mistake. The regular tour would have been enough. It was interesting and I recommend it once but once will do it for you.
Here you can see the door to no where. It's open and on the 2nd floor.

 Our problem was the tours together took almost an hour longer than they were supposed to. They figure if you want the behind the scenes tour you are in no hurry...wrong. We didn't get out until 3 and we knew then we were in trouble. You see I have made reservations weeks before for the Napa Valley Restaurant Bottega that is Michael Chiarello's signature restaurant.

When we checked the gps it said it would take 75 minutes to get there from the Winchester House...ha! Our reservation was at 5:15. It was obvious in about an hour of sitting on the freeway we weren't going to make it so we were in the pit of despair. I called them and they said we could come at 5:45. Yeah still couldn't make that. So they said just get here when we could and they would get us a high table if it was after 6:30. So we got there at 6:50. We were a wreck from the traffic and frustration of it all but very grateful they could accommodate us at all. The staff was amazing. They told us no worries everything was alright and our fine dining experience began a few minutes later. We were so excited ...

The bread and spread was incredible. It was garlic, butter and olive oil with cheese & herbs.

My salad...Insalata del Uve organic greens, verjus vinaigrette, oven-dried grapes, candied hazelnuts, pecorino

Christina's "Green Eggs and Ham" caramelized prosciutto wrapped asparagus, crispy soft cooked egg, asparagus green garlic sauce and Cambazola cheese

Mendis' appetizer was razor clams

My main course was fabulous!! Potato Dough Raviolo filled with spinach and ricotta, black truffles, farm fresh egg yolk, sage brown butte. It was incredible.

Christina's Pasta - can't remember what it was exactly. I know it had crispy meat, asparagus and homemade fettichini. And I know it was great.

Preserved Meyer lemon spinach & Creamy ancient grain polenta

Mendis' Smoked & Braised Short Ribs

 Yeah we ate it all! Don't judge.
We couldn't decide on dessert so we got four. Again don't judge it was the right thing to do. My berries were delightful.

Mendis got the ricotta cream filled doughnuts

Christina got the cherry espuma and honey rosemary gelato and we also got the cookie and biscotti plate

It was a two hour dinner but it seemed like we weren't even there for an hour. The wait staff was incredible just whisking food back and forth. We asked the waiter about Michael Chiarello and how often he was even there. He said he just got back from Italy and had been there the other day. When he shows up he usually just works in the prep kitchen inventing new dishes or sometimes he comes out and expedites things on the line. We were fascinated since we were familiar with him from the Food Network. After dinner I went to the bathroom leaving my phone (camera) on the table. When I was on the way back to the table walking through the lobby, Mendis and Christina were standing and gesturing to the lobby ... and sure enough Michael Chiarello was right there in his chef whites greeting some people. I was too chicken to interrupt and just stared and ran back to our table. That was really fun. He is super high energy which doesn't surprise me at all. We wandered around a bit outside after dinner and saw a big private dinner party on the terrace so we think that's where he sprinted off to after he left. 
It was an evening we will never forget. We had so much fun eating so many wonderful things. We felt like grownups. If we are anywhere near Napa Valley again we have got to go back. It makes us really sad we couldn't get into his new restaurant Coquetta in San Francisco. I bet it also would be incredible.

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