Monday, April 27, 2009


Jim & Louie invited me and Amy to lunch in the Napa Valley. Since Louie was with us, we would be dining outdoors. Their lunch choice was the patio at Bouchon in Yountville, where Louie recalled a lovely lunch on a sunny day this January.

The weather cooperated with us completely, with sun and summery temperatures.

We started our day with a visit to Cliff Lede winery.

About a month ago I saw Cliff Lede featured on TV on a show called "In Wine Country." The name did not ring a bell, but seeing its outdoor sculpture garden and hearing about its owner, Cliff Lede, who owns a construction company which is currently building a lot of the new structures in the town of Napa, I was interested.

Turns out that Cliff Lede is located in the winery which previously was S. Anderson, one of our longtime favorites. A few years back, the winery was sold and I never paid much attention to the location, despite it being on the Yountville Crossroad, a road we frequently travel when we stay in Yountville every summer.

As always, visiting a Napa Valley winery on a weekday, any time of year, is special because the crowds are not there. For awhile we had the tasting room to ourselves.

A tasting costs $20, a bit pricey, but, since none of us was wanting to drink too much, we shared sips of one tasting. Tom in the tasting room was very accommodating, assuring that we all had glasses.

He told us to that it was fine to carry our glasses out onto the patio, into the gardens, and even into their indoor art gallery.

And so we did.

I love the Jim Dine Red Hearts in the back garden.

The indoor gallery features changing exhibits.

The front garden was an array of colorful flowers. We could have sat outdoors all day, and did for quite awhile, until it was time to go to lunch.

Bouchon is chef Thomas Keller's French Bistro restaurant. Keller's vision for Bouchon was that it would be a restaurant where chefs from neighboring restaurants would go at the end of the day for a bite to eat. Bouchon stays open late to accommodate those chefs and the many others who want to dine late. Open all day, it is a popular place for a meal any time of day.

I started my lunch with a Beet and Mache Lettuce Salad.

Amy and I ordered the Croque Madame, a French version of a grilled ham and cheese sandwich with a fried egg, surrounded by Mornay Sauce, on top.

Jim's choice were Steamed Mussels with French Fries.

The sandwiches come with Fries also, but it is possible to substitute another vegetable for the Fries. I decided to have the French Green Beans; Amy stayed with the Fries. Louie was served a bowl of water and he munched on the lunch we had packed for him. Lunch was delicious and relaxing.

After lunch, we walked across the street to the V Marketplace 1870 complex of shops and restaurants. We did a little shopping and then walked over to the new spa resort, Bardessono. Amy, Louie, and I sat awhile on Bardessono's patio...great furniture...before it was time for us to head back home at the end of a glorious day.

1 comment:

mary ann said...

Jim and Louie are sweet and generous. Bouchon is one of our favorite restaurants anywhere and we always have what you photographed and we always sit outside. Lovely post, thanks.