Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Once again, Louie had us up before 6 a.m. Today it was a good thing because the skies were clear, meaning that the hot air balloons could launch.

So, by 6:30 a.m., the sky was filled with hot air balloons. No matter how many times I see them in the sky, I am always thrilled. I never got further than the lawn behind our room, but did get my balloon fix. I am sure I was not the only one outdoors in her bathrobe and bare feet with her eyes toward the sky.

After breakfast and a swim and some sunbathing, we headed south to check out the new developments on the city of Napa's Waterfront project. Napa has been working on a Riverfront pathway that, when finished, will cover 7 miles.

This new parking garage is part of the Riverfront project and possibly the prettiest garage I've ever seen.

We walked the portion from Angèle restaurant all the way to First Street, where it seems to end for now. With temperatures at about 100 degrees, we didn't care to walk any further, even if there was more to the pathway.

Back at the Hatt Building complex where our favorite bakery and café, Sweetie Pies, is located, we decided on lunch on the Napa General Store's patio dining area, choosing it over Angèle (will go there on the way home on Friday) for French fare or Sweetie Pies for sandwiches.

My Reuben Sandwich was the perfect lunch.

After lunch we did some shopping in the Napa General Store (great gift items, cards, and such; got an unusual microfiber scarf), and then drove to the Jessel Gallery to see what new work artist/owner Jessel Miller had created; Jessel's art work is frequently chosen for the annual Napa Valley Mustard Festival poster.

Jessel was there to greet us and chat while we browsed. She has a new home and garden shop in the building above the gallery also. We had the honor of meeting singer Terry Bradford who was visiting with Jessel; I had not heard of him but learned that he toured with Celine Dion for several years. We watched and listened to him singing "Beauty & the Beast" with Celine on a YouTube video.

On our way back up the Silverado Trail, we spotted Darioush winery and could not resist stopping to view its amazing architecture.

The owner Darioush Khaledi, grew up in Iran's Shiraz region, a wine-growing region until the Islamic revolution. His father made wine as a hobby. When Khaledi grew up, he started buying and collecting premium wines. He came to the United States in the 1970s. His passion for wine evolved into his winery which specializes in Bordeaux-style red wines. Visitors can simply taste wines on a drop-in basis or can reserve ahead for special wine and cheese pairings or private tastings of Khaledi's wine collection and his own offerings.

The winery's architecture is inspired by the ancient Persian city of Persepolis. The interior of the winery, which opened in 2004, is as striking as the exterior.

The outdoor seating where Louie and I rested awhile shows some of the beauty and details of the exterior areas.

Back at the Vintage Inn, we had our afternoon tea and pastries. I went over to the V Marketplace to do a bit of shopping and then came back to relax before dinner.

Dinner was across the road at Hurley's. One of the reasons I so love Yountville is that there are some many restaurants and shops within walking distance. From our hotel to dinner was a five-minute walk, door to door.

On this balmy evening, it was warm enough to dine on the outdoor patio. Jim started with the Fritto Misto of Calamari, Rock Shrimp and Cauliflower and followed it with Gnocchi.

My choice was the Grilled Asparagus Salad with Prosciutto, Toasted Pine Nuts, and an Anchovy Vinaigrette.

My main course was the Grilled Atlantic Mussels in a red wine broth. While Jim was taking this picture of me, he kept telling me to raise my plate higher. The higher I raised it, the more I tilted it, thinking I was showcasing the mussels. What I was really doing was letting the red wine broth run out of the bowl onto the table cloth. How embarrassing! This photo by Jim captures the flowing broth.

This one showcases the mussels as they should be seen.

Our server very graciously covered my mess with a napkin, pretending she did not notice it!

We ended this lovely dinner with Strawberry Shortcake...Chef/owner Bob Hurley's mother's recipe!

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