Monday, February 24, 2014

San Francisco, California - Chantal Guillon Macarons

If you follow my blog at all, you know that I just LOVE macarons. So you can imagine my delight when I accidentally stumbled upon Chantal Guillon in San Francisco. From the absolutely beautiful packaging to the adorable store, and of course, the fabulously delicious macarons, I felt like I had stepped into a macaron shop in Paris.

Flavors include both the classics like coffee, salted caramel, and pistachio, as well as some new seasonal twists like champagne, pumpkin and cherry chocolate.

Not only are the macarons delicious and the flavors inventive, they also stock my absolute favorite Parisian tea, Mariage Freres. (If you haven't tried their Marco Polo blend, you must!).

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Yountville, California - Il Villagio Inn and Spa

On my recent birthday trip to Napa Valley, I stayed at the Il Villagio Spa and Resort in Yountville. The hotel is perfectly situated to the most popular restaurants and wineries in the area, as well as providing all of the amenities you would expect of a luxury property.

The heated pool is surrounded by beautiful cyprus trees and is a relaxing place to lounge.

These beautiful walkways lead to the individual hotel rooms:

We had a lovely room with a terrace and a working fireplace. The room was spacious and the beds were very comfortable.

Some of my favorite perks, included in your room rate, is the complementary daily afternoon tea in the hotel's lobby ...

... as well as the decadent breakfast, which included omelet and waffle stations in addition to an entire buffet table set with fruit, pastries, hot items, juices, teas and coffees:

We were lucky enough that the weather was so beautiful we could enjoy breakfast outside on the patio next to the pool:

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

St. Helena, Napa Valley - Goose & Gander

After a long day of wine tasting in Napa Valley, there comes a point where you just need to sink your teeth into some good old rustic American fare. We headed for dinner to Goose & Gander, which describes itself as a wine country public house. The dining room is dark, moody and pub like, complete with a basement bar and an outdoor patio.

We dove into:

Grilled California Sturgeon:

Shaved Artichokes, Green Garlic, Piccolo Farro, Oyster Mushrooms, and Roasted Lemon:

The G&G Burger:

Grass Fed Beef, Gruyere Cheese, Applewood Smoked Bacon, and Duck Fat Fries:

Root vegetable medley:

And some chocolate cake for my last birthday wish of the day:

I can imagine the patio in summer is a lovely place to dine al fresco, and its certainly cozy in the dining room in the winter months. I'm still dreaming about that burger ... 

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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Napa Valley, California - A Day of Wine Tasting

Our first stop early in the morning was to Chateau Montelena in St. Helen. We didn't necessarily want to drink in the morning, but had heard that their stone castle built into a hill overlooking a lake and Chinese garden would be lovely. With the sun shining, we were not disappointed. 

The black swan with red beak was beautiful:

Our next stop was to Swanson Vineyards. You may recognize the name as the family who was responsible for the frozen TV dinners. Their wine tasting room, decorated by socialite and creative director Alexis Swanson, was like being in a circus tent, and was by far my favorite from an interior design standpoint. 

Our last stop of the day was the famous Stag's Leap Wine Cellars. I was excited to go here as Stag's Leap is one of my favorite wineries. I was particularly impressed when we were offered a taste of their Cask 23 Cabernet Sauvignon.

We saw some wild turkeys on the road out:

The scenery of the entire Napa Valley region is just stunning, and I definitely recommend a trip here if you are a wine lover or just want to relax in a beautiful setting. Only an hour's drive from San Francisco, the region is very easily accessible and could even be a day trip destination ... just bring a designated driver!

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