On a crystal clear Saturday, we ventured north to the Point Bonita Lighthouse and Marin Headlands. These two locations provide some of the best views of The City, which allowed Anna to reprise one of her early food photography triumphs from our trip to Brooklyn. The food itself in the above photo was courtesy of Falafel Stop, a small roadside restaurant in my Sunnyvale neighborhood that sells slightly smokey falafel and delicious eggplant nugget pitas for a mere $5.50 a piece.
|Ramen Shalala and Tea Era in Downtown Mountain View|
After stopping to hike San Francisco's Twin Peaks at sunset, we headed south to return to Sunnyvale. Along the way, we paid a visit to Mountain View's charming downtown and ate at Ramen Shalala. The restaurant has a relatively small menu limited to a few types of gourmet ramen (apparently not an oxymoron!) and a handful of related appetizers. We enjoyed our bowls of Shoyu (soy sauce) vegetarian ramen and an appetizer of vegetable croquettes, which were very similar to hash browns.
|Ca'Momi: Funghi pizza with sautéed Wine Forest mushrooms|
Our next adventure took us even further north to the heart of wine country: Sonoma and Napa Valley. Because it's never a good idea to go wine-tasting on an empty stomach, we first stopped in downtown Napa for a bit of lunch. Our destination, Ca' Momi, was an anomaly — an upscale restaurant housed within a food court that used a combination of local, organic, and Italian-sourced ingredients. When I noticed an IKEA logo on the bottom of my water glass, however, I should have known the restaurant might have been making a pretense of its quality. Although the pizza tasted fine, it was barely enough to feed two people. Moreover, the sparkling water we were casually offered at the meal's beginning somehow ended up on our bill.
|Kara's Cupcakes: Fleur de Sel and Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate Ganache|
Fortunately, we found Kara's Cupcakes right across from Ca' Momi in the Oxbow Foodcourt. As you might guess, Anna got the Fleur de Sel (dark chocolate with sea salt) and I got the Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate Ganache.
|Clos du Val: 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon|
While burning off the cupcakes with a bike ride along the Stags Leap trail, we stopped at one of Napa's most beautiful wineries: Clos du Val. The building's exterior is covered in ivy, and there are manicured gardens and fountains throughout the grounds. The real selling point, however, was the opportunity to try a sample from an $80 bottle of wine during our tasting (verdict: not worth the price).
|Domaine Carneros: 2010 Brut Rose, 2011 Estate Pinot Noir, and Sparkling Cheese Plate|
On our return trip south, we made our final stop at Domaine Carneros, which is known for its elegant chateau on a hill that overlooks hundreds of rows of grape vines. We arrived in the late afternoon and were craving a snack after our 14-mile bike ride, so we paired a Sparkling Cheese Plate with glasses of 2010 Brut Rose and 2011 Estate Pinot Noir. The Rose was smooth and the slightest bit sweet, while the Pinot Noir was rich with berry notes. As for the cheeses: The Mt Tam Brie and Carmody were succulent as expected, but the show-stopper was the Midnight Moon Chevre. It was pleasantly dry and paired nicely with the accompanying apricots, providing a luxurious finish to a weekend of fine dining.