To continue a month filled with traveling in May, I spent a weekend in Napa after an extended work trip. Instead of a romantic weekend with my hubby, this time I traveled to Napa with my gal pal and work colleague, Holly. Upon arrival, I got aphone call from Martin who, referencing The Hangover, hilariously accused us of checking into Cesar's Palace in Vegas.
I guess men just don't get it. Napa is the female version of Vegas: drinking, shopping and eating in the sunshine - minus the gambling and strippers.
Our first stop after finding our rented bungalow, was Oxbow Market where we quickly ordered a cheese plate and sipped pink bubbly on their patio. Later, we sampled the fine burgers at Gott's Roadside and found ourselves happy to be on a girls trip after devouring their garlic fries.
Committed to a full day, we were greeted early the next morning by our superb driver, Steve, as we headed to our first tasting at Chimney Rock. We hit Steltzner and Robert Sinskey before making our way to Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen in St. Helena for lunch.
A chilled bottle of Rosé and complimentary pork tacos set us off for an amazing lunch in their garden.
The slightly blurry afternoon consisted of a tour through Nickel & Nickel, photograph after photograph of my obsession with barns, a purchase of their liquid gold, Dolce, and a rather sloppy shopping trip through St. Helena. I do not recommend drunken shopping, although I came away with a fantastic pair of navy and gold sandals and some truffle mustard from Olivier. Once we sobered up, we were promptly dropped off in Yountville to begin our restaurant crawl.
Let's pause here:
One ingenious day at work, Holly and I logged onto our respective open table accounts to book three reservations- one course at Hurley's, another at Bistro Jeanty, and finally, Bouchon. I'm not sure what made us believe we could actually accomplish this restaurant crawl, but we pushed through.
Bistro Jeanty was the stuff of dreams- we only ordered their famous Cream of Tomato Soup in Puff Pastry and a side of peas with thick chunks of bacon and pearl onions. I'm sure our waiter hated us as we ordered water and nothing else.
By the time we pushed through the red doors of Bouchon and collapsed at the bar, I wasn't sure I was going to make it. I gingerly ordered a cocktail, some of their enticing oysters and seriously discussed the chances of having gout as a result of the day's extravagance.
The truffle mustard and the recipe below almost never came to be. As I boarded the flight back to Chicago, I forgot that I had slipped the ceramic tub of mustard in the bottom of my carry-on. As I attempted to shove it through security, the stern TSA agent pulled it swiftly from my bag and started the tiresome threats of throwing it away. They asked if it was a paste. "It's not a paste, it's mustard!" I pleaded. "It's not just mustard, it's truffle mustard!"
My charm and consistent argument around the fact that truffles were involved seemed to melt their hearts and I was allowed to carry it on after filling out a very flattering comment card.
The following weekend, I made Ina Garten's steak sandwich, adapted by Smitten Kitchen, mainly because the sauce featured more mustard than mayo. I made them open-top, because when a sandwich is this good, you don't need extra bread. Basically, you need a couple of New York strip steaks (grilled to perfection), some peasant bread (which we grilled), some baby arugula, and this sauce which you should slather on the toasted bread:
Truffle Mustard Mayo
1/3 cup of good mayo
3 tbsp truffle mustard
2 tbsp sour cream
1/8 tsp kosher salt
I know I spend a lot of time moving from one plan to the next- I'm always busy. I love living my life that way, but a good girl's weekend with a wonderful friend is something that I definitely need to make more time for. Apart from coming home with great sandals and delicious mustard, this was a weekend I'll never forget.