It always falls on the first Saturday of December. With over 400 people visiting the inn, eating food from Bleaux Magnolia and Angele, pairing the food with wine from Baldacci Vineyards and Mumm Napa, it was a busy and exciting night for The Inn On First and the other 10 participating bed and breakfast inns in Napa. For $55 you are provided all the food and drink you desire, as well as a visit to every inn that is decorated for the holidays, and even transportation to and near the inns. Each inn typically holds open one room for participants to visit and this year we showed them Vintage Reserve, one of our two largest suites upstairs. I baked an extra 500 pieces of cookies and brownie bon-bons which were completely gone by the end of the night. It was magical and fun for all of us. Dressed in our Holiday Vests we showed off all of Jamie’s decorations as well as the enormous 9′ tree fully decked out for the night. Jamie’s sister, Roxanne, also donated a wreath for the front door that is the first thing you see walking up the front door. The glass logo sculpture has green and red lights that subtly light up the evening with The Inn On First ambience. The Napa Valley Register did come by and take a few photos (one of an ornament on the tree and the other of the front door) for you to view: http://www.napavalleyregister.com/articles/2008/12/12/business/doc49420ebda44d3571685261.txt
We went to the City for a meeting and while there tried out Soluna Cafe and Lounge near the Civic Center in San Francisco. A small restaurant with large, comfortable booths, and a great lunch menu for those looking for casual dining. For those visiting the Asian Art Museum, City Hall, or the City Library, this would make a nice stop at midday. With a nice selections of salads (Caeser, Nicoise, Green Salad with fresh fruit and vinaigrette to name a few), and a wonderful selection of appetizers and sandwiches to create an afternoon meal (garlic fries, macaroni and cheese, chicken sandwich, smoked mozzarella and Black Forest ham grilled sandwich to name the three that we enjoyed), we found it to be a simple eatery with a nice urban touch and a nice break from some of the fancier eateries available in San Francisco. Sandwiches ranged from $9-$12, appetizers in the $5 range, and salads ranging from $6-$12.
We have discovered many people who dine all over the Bay Area when they come to Napa, either visiting friends or choosing to see other sights apart from the wineries, and so we decided to take some of their recommendations and add them to our list. For those coming into or out of the Oakland Airport, this would be a great place for lunch or dinner. Italian in style with a wide selection of meats, fish, and vegetarian options. The fried olives appetizer were incredible, as was the fig salad with Arugula and Hazelnuts that Jamie enjoyed, while I dug heartily into the farro salad (a grain salad tossed with a vinaigrette with cucumbers, tomatoes, and toasted pistachios). I chose the duck tortelloni as my main course while Jamie ordered the Grilled pork chop with tomatoes and a balsamic sauce. Both were really tasty dishes. We want to go back as the short ribs with marsala sauce and the orecchiette with pork ragu and sweet onions was also tempting. It is a small restaurant and we were the first to arrive without reservations as soon as it opened. Within fifteen minutes the place was packed and there was a line out the door. My advice- make a reservation, or get there at opening and be seated right away. The food is just delicious and the prices within reach ($6 apps to $19 main courses).