Monday, October 10, 2005

my beautiful weekend.

This was not my beautiful life -- but it was my beautiful weekend.

We left Friday night after dinner. We joked that the scenery was beautiful -- what a shame that we couldn't, you know, see it, in the dark.

Our hotel in Calistoga was very 60s and retro. The room was clean and a strange mishmash -- cinder block wall, wooden beam ceiling, wallpaper with a watermark imprint over a stripe pattern. But look -- a double bed just for me with eight pillows!

I woke up at 8am. While this may sound early, keep in mind that I'm usually up by 5.30 or 6am and have to jump right in fixing breakfast. I had a shower all. by. myself. We had a nice breakfast at a little cafe and then programmed the GPS in the BMW (it's nice to have a friend with a fabu DINK lifestyle -- and is everyone else loving all the acronyms? I love the acronyms!) and proceeded to a few Napa wineries. Hey -- everyone should ocassionally start drinking at 10am! Cuvaison had a very adorable twentysomething redhead boy pouring and I had to bite my tongue to not ask him to wait a couple decades and then marry MY redhead. So I could guarantee ginger grandchildren. Heh. Very nice, huge cabarnet. On to Twomey. ("How did you find us?" "Your sign. We wondered if it was 'Too-me' or 'Twu-may'?" "It's 'Too-me' and that was some money well-spent!") A superfine pinot which I had to buy -- $40 be damned. I'm thinking of inviting my friend and her lovely husband for a meal of duck and jasmine rice and drinking that. So good.

Back to Calistoga to get ready for spa experience. Amy said we only could arrange a 30 minute massage at our hotel's spa, so before we went down, she called another hotel down the street and got us both in for an hour massage there. No, you can't have her. At our first place, we had a mineral bath, a steam, a blanket wrap, and massages. The treatment room with the mineral and mud baths was very stinky. And the mud was scary and we congratulated ourselves on not going that route. While the steam room was very ultilitarian it was still a steam room and we had a great time sweating and chatting. More of life should be spent naked and sweating, I think. The blanket wrap bed was very uncomfortable and made the massage a must. Heh. I was non-commital about the native American chanting music, but my masseuse was quite good and she worked out some heavy-duty stress from my shoulders and my ass. (Who knew my ass was full of stress? But it was!) Then we had to walk back through the smelly treatment room to shower. Not a great layout. But overall, I was pleased.

We had a light lunch at another cafe -- I had a mixed green salad with plum vinagrette, delicious tiny tomatoes, plum pieces, and lightly toasted brioche croutons with a smidge of goat cheese. Amy had a lobster bisque that she said was quite tasty. On to the second round of massage!

This spa had a very fancypants atmosphere -- all beige and white and candles and classical music. (More spas should have soothing classical music -- I have decreed it.) It was very resort-y in feel. We compared notes afterwards and I was just OK about that massage -- the masseuse bent my legs in a weird, semi-painful way and I think she ruptured my kidney at one point. Amy said her masseur had gigantic hands and kept telling her she should pretend to be dead but not stiff on the table. And that he made her ass hurt. So, our conclusions were that the first place had no atmosphere but better, although short, massages while we loved the resort feel of the second place but disliked the massages. It was stinky vs painful. Can we complain about anything? Apparently, yes.

Totals? Two meals, two wine tastings, two massages, three showers. We were very clean and mostly relaxed and pampered. Then we went to Sterling Winery, rode a tram up a mountain, and had a breathtaking view of the Valley. And bonus -- the wines were quite nice. I'd had a Sterling pinot at an anniversary dinner a lifetime ago and they had a special -- 3 bottles for $45. Very smooth and drinkable and not super-expensive. Give me the 3 pack, please.

We went to get ready for dinner. On the way, I picked up presents for the girls. I almost went too crazy and got them music boxes which were very sweet but very expensive. Then I saw the necklaces. Little resin insects on pretty cords. (Not realistic insects. Although that could have been very cool.) Bebe got a bee, Lulu got a ladybug, and ChaCha got a butterfly. And they loved them when I handed them out. I hit the gift jackpot with those.

Dinner was the highlight. The restaurant was amber lighting, had a ginormous bar, with lots of wood and leather. The place was hopping -- lots and lots of people. The reason became apparent -- the food is absolutely divine. We split an appetizer -- a baked polenta cake with cheese, herbs, and mushrooms with a reduced burgundy sauce. The cake was light and fluffy without any grain-y-ness and we both confessed that we could have happily licked the plate. (We were only semi-barbaric and sopped up the remaining sauce with some bread.) Amy had a hanger steak with more of the polenta as a side and I had rabbit (all off the bone and like a thick stew with mushrooms) with a risotto cake. It was crispy on the outside and smooth and creamy inside and was fabulous with the rabbit.

As we were finishing our main courses, Amy said, "You know what the perfect dessert would be? Warm chocolate cake!" Oh, yes please. We were hoping something like that was available. Our French waiter asked us if we wanted dessert? Um, hell yeah. He said they had ice cream, sorbet, poached pears. Oh, and if we could wait about 15 minutes, the kitchen could make up a warm (check), chocolate (oh pleasepleaseplease) souffle (dingdingDING!). Amy and I both started touching our noses. This confused our waiter. "Why are you touching your noses? What does that mean? Would you ladies care to share one?" "Oh, NO! Two, please!" "Of course, very, very good."

About 15 minutes later, two warm, chocolate souffles (with coffee ice cream) were placed before us. "Are you going to touch your noses again?" Heh. No, we are going to stuff our faces. Angels sang, Jesus wept, and we moaned. Perfection.

Stuffed, we rolled back to our room, read a little, and were asleep before nine. We were exhausted and full and I needed every one of those pillows!

Sunday morning we were on the road by about 10. We stopped at my favorite winery -- V Sattui. I needed a gamay rouge and their amazing champagne. (They now have a gamay rouge champagne and I may have to order some online later.) Seriously, I highly recommend both of these wines. We're going to drink our champagne for New Year's and the gamay is already gone. Heh. It's like summer in a bottle -- light and smooth and just a hint of sweetness. It's perfect with a light summer meal. And a glass after when you bathe the kids you haven't seen in two days.

I haven't been to Napa since right before the twins were born. So, imagine my surprise to see a Dean & DeLuca right across the street! It's good that there isn't one too close. I could easily bankrupt us. Pretty packages.

We hit Freakmont a little after noon. My 40th birthday was six months ago, but this weekend was fantastic. And I was reminded how close and fun wine country can be. I think Archie and I may go for an overnight stay when my brother comes out for the holidays. We'll need some more wine by then, for sure.

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