more great eats + saying goodbye

I had to save these last two mouth-watering meals for their own post because Chris and I enjoyed them that much.  It's so neat to visit a restaurant and really taste the quality and care in the food.  Yes, there is amazing food in front of you, but it somehow transforms into an overall experience that is so much more than just the food.  That is what I truly love! But before we get to the good eats, we first had to make one last stop at another one of our favorite wineries called Pride.  They not only have a great tour, but some pretty spectacular views as well.   Pride is kind of off the beaten path from a little side street in St. Helena, but it's well worth the windy drive through the gorgeous trees.

Dang those are some big bottles!

We actually really enjoyed the chardonnay which had a nice balance to it.  It wasn't too oaky, but still had a nice buttery mouthfeel with bright fruit.  We also tried the '07 Cab, but weren't that impressed and thought it wasn't as bold in character as we remembered their cabs to be.  It was an '07 though and probably needs a bit of aging.  The tour guide also explained that they are using less 'new' oak and more 'used' oak which can impart a subtler, less bold flavor to the wine.

Pride is also unique in that it sits right on the border of Napa and Sonoma counties.  So if you hop over to the left of that line below you are in Sonoma and to the right you are in Napa.  Pretty neat!  It is also mandated that whatever is produced in Sonoma or Napa has to be bottled there too, so they have two production facilities to make sure that is accomplished.

Here's one of my favorites of us here about 4 years ago . . .

The grounds are absolutely gorgeous!

Here are some viognier grapes, which are pretty hard to grow since they like being spread out and can risk shattering if the weather doesn't cooperate.

You can even picnic here if you like :)

After our tour Chris and I were definitely getting hungry and the guide recommended a new restaurant to us.  We always like trying new places, especially if the locals recommend it.  So we decided to give it a shot and boy oh boy we were so glad we did!

Farmstead Restaurant recently opened in February and is situated right in downtown St. Helena.  What is great about this restaurant is all there menu items are local, sustainable and organic.  Picked at the peak of freshness, everything tasted spectacular with a down-home country feel.  We could really sense the quality in their finished product and felt right at home.  They also make their own extra virgin olive oil and various wines.

I absolutely loved the decor and ambiance.

I love when restaurants expose the kitchen because I enjoy watching all the action :)

This is a great quote on their menu.

Now on to our wonderful food!  I wanted to try everything on the menu because it all looked amazing.  Chris and I were a bit worried that it was going to be expensive, but it wasn't too bad.  It wasn't your usual cheap eats, but the quality and experience was well worth it.  It was about $12-$20 a plate for lunch.

We started out with the fava bean soup drizzled with a bit of their lemon olive oil.

And these buttermilk rolls and cheesy biscuits were compliments of the chef.  omg I could have eaten 100 more of these, dipped into that yummy soup!

I would have been perfectly content with just the soup and rolls for lunch, but we already ordered entrees and of course I wanted to try them too :)

I ordered the gnocchi with lamb shoulder, peas, carrots and mint.  The  flavor combinations in this were perfect and oh so comforting.  A bit heavy for lunch, but I saved more than half for later.

Chris got some more comfort in a bowl with the chicken and dumplings. mmm

And dessert was sweet California strawberries topped with ricotta cream.  Simple, perfect and refreshing.

We walked around outside a little bit to check out the outdoor dining, which would be wonderful if the weather was warmer.

And sadly after lunch we had to say goodbye to good ol' Napa, but headed towards Sacramento with a smile to visit some family :)

For dinner we had already made reservations at a place called Bidwell Street Bistro, when a family friend and chef said we had to go there for their duck confit.  Boy, two amazing meals in one day? Yes, please!

Bidwell Street is located in Folsom, CA in a fairly small and simple venue.

I started out with probably one of the best salads I have ever had.  It may look simple, but the flavors going on in there were music to my taste buds.

Chris got some more green with the pea soup which was outstanding as well.

For dinner I ordered the halibut with sweet corn and roasted potatoes, topped with a walnut pesto and micro greens. Everything worked perfectly and I was pretty much in pure heaven.

Chris went with their duck confit specialty which was out of this world, stupid good.  I think we were moaning ooohs and awwwhs of goodness throughout the whole meal, and I hope no one next to us was weirded out! lol

aaaand dessert, yes more dessert was their carrot cake.  It didn't have as much cream cheese twang as I like, but it was chock full of carrots and some kind of liquor soaked raisins.  mmm

Boy, I am drooling just posting about these meals again!  It was very special to have such nice meals, but now my stomach and wallet need a little break!

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Much of the rest of our trip was spent hanging out with family and enjoying some relaxation.

Chris had to eat a gigante burrito the size of his entire forearm.  Don't ask me why.  I think I would have hurled, but he managed to finish it.

Yep, it was 18 inches long and probably at least 2,000 + kcals.  Man, he can sure put it away.

All to get his name up on the wall lol

I had the lunch special which was actually pretty good.

We had to make a stop at Chick-fil-A of course!  So sad we don't have these in Vegas :(

And how could we resist fro yo?  This place had a million topping combinations.

One day we also went on a little bike ride with Chris' nephew around the block before we headed out on a little 15-miler.  Had to get in some exercise with all this good food!

He was such a good little cyclist, and proclaimed to have 'left me in the dust!'

We made a stop at the Sac Jazz Festival which was a lot of fun!  Even though we didn't get to spend too much time, we got to see a great blues set.

And now I am back in good ol' and HOT Vegas again, ready to get back to reality, work, and summer school *sigh*

It was really nice to visit and take a little break from it all.  I think I'm falling in love with California to be honest.  I could really see myself living here if we could somehow afford it in the future.  We'll have to see how the markets pan out in 5 years or so?

Until then, we are left with wonderful memories, lots of vino, and our own tasting party in the future.  Oh yes and some quality gym time :)

What's the best meal you've ever had?