Revisiting Grace’s Table: well worth a second look.

A five minute walk from The Inn On First, a romantic Napa Valley Bed and Breakfast Inn, is a restaurant called Grace’s Table.  A local’s hangout that is open for both lunch and dinner.  I must admit that the first I went I wasn’t terrible impressed, and then Jamie went with some friends and came home raving about the food- how much it improved since we were there last.

So off we went for an afternoon brunch in the middle of the week, and I was really impressed.  I ordered fish tacos and they were superb.  Homemade tortillas filled with white fish and a spicy remoulade-type sauce that knocked my socks off.  I was going to take some home but I couldn’t stop eating them.  Jamie ordered the Tamale with pork in red sauce and that, too, was delicious.  Now I can’t wait to go back to try their cassoulet, or their lamb meatballs with pasta, or the quiche of the day.  Salads and first courses run $6 to $9, and entrees from $12 to $24.  The restaurant is a little short on ambience, so I wouldn’t expect to have a romantic evening here; rather, some great food with some good conversation over a bottle of wine.  It would be perfect.

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The Fremont Diner: a hidden lunch gem in the Carneros region

About a 15-minute ride from The Inn On First, a luxury Napa Bed and Breakfast Inn, is a small restaurant called The Fremont Diner.  Don’t expect cloth tablecloths or napkins.  Look for wooden tables, picnic tables outdoors in the afternoons, and a small counter that overlooks the kitchen (my favorite spot).  It has its own ambience of being homey and very, very down to earth.  Ribs, chicken, steak, homemade biscuits, grits, pecan pie, pumpkin pie.  This is diner food with upscale southern roots: chicken and waffles, mac and cheese, baked beans, collard greens, sweet potato fries, fried brussel sprouts.  And expect it to be crowded.  The word has been out on this place for awhile.

We sat at the counter as we wanted to watch all the action. While there we watch the pastry chef put together a pecan pie, and then chocolate chip cookies, and a bourbon-glazed pound cake.  It’s a wide open kitchen and gives you access to what they are doing.    This is a great lunch spot and we would recommend it to anyone who is spending time in the Carneros region that crosses both Napa and Sonoma borders.  It’s open from 8 am to 3 pm every day, and is open for dinner Thu-Sat, until 9 pm.  Visit their website for more information:  http://thefremontdiner.com.

Porter Family Vineyards: part of the new Coombsville AVA

Porter Family Coombsville AVA Porter Family VineyardsOnly ten minutes from The Inn On First, a premier lodging Bed and Breakfast Inn in Napa, is the Coombsville AVA (American Viticultural Area), the newest appellation to be brought into the Napa Valley fold.  We have had guests visit wineries there and one that stood out was Porter Family Vineyards.  Set into the hillside, you walk along the vines, tour the property, and do the tasting in the cave.  With such beautiful views of Napa Valley, it is hard to leave once you’ve been there, especially when you have a glass of their Atlas Peak Cabernet in hand!

From the hillside vineyards and underground winery, the Family makes small amounts of beautifully hand-crafted wines—each one carrying the unique signature of this place. They retain the fossilized footprints of the sandpiper found on the property as a reminder of the incredible history of the winegrowing site, as they turn their heads to the future and the latest in winemaking arts to craft our special wines.

We had an opportunity to try their Syrah with light cherry notes and light pepper.  It brought to mind a juicy grilled pork chop that I would love to pair with this wine.  The 1st Cabernet we tried had cinnamon-spice notes with a bit of smokiness.  I liked it a lot.  We moved onto their signature Sandpiper Red, a Cabernet-Merlot blend that had lovely black licorice flavors and notes of spice.  It was their Atlas Peak Cabernet that we loved most of all.  It was like having a cherry cough drop in your mouth- I loved it!  Wines range from $40 to $70 dollars.

Tudal: a lovely setting with some really nice wines

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Just a 20-minute drive from The Inn On First, a romantic Bed and Breakfast inn in Napa, lies Tudal Vineyards.  Now into their 5th decade operating the iconic Tudal Winery in St. Helena, Napa Valley, they proudly grow and produce a Signature (and world-class) wine “Tudal Estate Cabernet Sauvignon” on site from the estate vineyard that was planted in 1972.  Visitors of any age can find something to explore, whether it is the array of Napa Valley wines; our bocce court, the enticing flower and produce gardens or the collection of historic farm tractors, tools and bygone novelties that make up a fascinating agricultural retrospective.  And if they ask if you want to take any produce home during the Summer, just remember that your innkeeper-chef would love it if you wanted to drop something off in his kitchen!

Here we learned a bit more about maloactic fermentation.  We always associated it with “buttery” Chardonnays, but came to find out that it also adds a fullness or roundness to their Chardonnay.  It wasn’t buttery at all but felt fuller on our tongues, and had an aftertaste of warm buttered toast that I really enjoyed.  Their Zinfandel was bright with cherry flavor and a hint of pepper.  They also produce a Super Tuscan blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet that had hints of caramel and dark red berries.  Of course we fell in love with their 100% estate Cabernet that is celebrating its 30 anniversary this year.  This is a lovely spot to do a tasting and to have a picnic afterward surrounded by their vineyards.

Final note: I am not a Rose fan.  They run either too dry or too sweet.  Suddenly I felt like Goldilocks and found that theirs was “just right” for me.  I bought 3 bottles for summer sipping.  Can’t wait for that warm weather to hit!  Prices range from $25 to $75.

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Fodor’s Travel Site finds us to be a great straight-friendly destination spot

Okay, so the article is about gay travel, but really we are the most straight-friendly gay-owned romantic Bed and Breakfast Inn in Napa.  With whirlpool tubs in every room, gas fireplaces, too. And, yes, thankfully, the author understood how much work we put into breakfast!  Now with 114 recipes (Arepas just made it on the menu with an Ancho Chili Cream- yummy!).

Here’s a link to the article:

http://www.fodors.com/news/gayfriendly-guide-to-napa-valley-6522.html#.UTEZPy7qJQg.gmail