Category Archives: napa

The Corner Restaurant: upscale American food

Twice within a month friends came into town and both times they chose The Corner as the restaurant of destination.  Only a fifteen minute walk from The Inn On First, a Napa Valley luxury bed and breakfast. The Corner provides a hip, casual atmosphere with an uptick in scale on the food.  They take great American classics and make them into something wonderfully delicious and fun.

Garden Beets with Candied Pecans, oh my.  Pork Belly with Peach Mostarde, mm-mm good.  Foie Gras with Pistachio Butter on Brioche, a slice of heaven.  For main courses, they provide enough choices for meat and fish eaters to find something to please the palate: Squid Ink Tagliatelle with Mussels (yes, your teeth will turn black as you sop up every morsel), Sturgeon with Eggplant Raviolo, and Duck Breast with Pinot Lacquer and Cherry Juice.

When you want American basics with a high touch of class and distinction, this is the place to eat.

1313 Main: Knocked my socks off with food flavor and presentation

Only a 15 minute walk from The Inn On First, a romantic Napa bed and breakfast inn, 1313 Main opened initially as a wine bar and later morphed into a restaurant.  Elements of the wine bar still exist as you enter the space, but really the restaurant is the shining star.

The menu is broad (such as frog legs, wagyu beef) and yet the basics are there as well (beef rib, roasted chicken, fresh fish).   The chef accommodates all food issues and easily presents great flavor and stylish presentation even for vegans.  You will find delicacies such as Peach Gaspacho, to Trout Tandoori, and Porcini Mushroom Raviolo.  For larger plates, tender Lamb Saddle with Chimichurri Sauce, stuffed Squash Blossoms, or the Hakaido Scallop with Spring Onion Perogi.

The service was great and the ambience casual with a touch of elegance.  Overall a real hit in my book and one of new favorite restaurants in downtown historic Napa.

#naparestaurants, #1313main

I’m a Vegan-Cheater

As a chef it is a funny thing to state you are eating vegan.  People look at me strangely, wonder if I am okay, and when invited over to their homes are wondering if I will be satisfied without a piece of meat on my plate.  That’s okay.  This was my reaction to most vegans who came into my life.

Over the course of the past ten years I have worked with many vegans here at the inn, all of whom have given me ideas and assistance on what could and would make a nourishing breakfast without eggs or meat or cheese (some of the mainstay building blocks of breakfast).  Their education has opened my eyes and palate to try new things that are all plant-based, and I have fallen in love with most if not all of what I have made.  Many have shared recipes, tips and tricks with cooking and keeping things in balance, and over that time I have come to appreciate the challenge of vegan cuisine at breakfast.  Generally I can say I have been fairly successful and am still growing in presenting new and exciting breakfast items for vegans.

Then, as some of you know,  five years ago I had a fight with a bad piece of cheese and, Hi-Ho the dairy-oh, the cheese stands alone- I lost the battle.  Since then I have been unable to eat pork, beef, or dairy.  Did you know that beef and pork share the same protein structure?  There is something in that protein structure that doesn’t agree with my body today.  It is never immediate but takes hours for the pain to become uncomfortable

Okay, so I made adjustments, found a great source of Vegan Cheese called “Follow Your Heart” and even Jamie loves it (it melts, cooks well into product, and goes well with crackers).  I am a cheese-a-holic, need a piece every day to feel whole and satisfied as a human being.  Chocolate?  Could leave it behind.  I know, I know.  For some of you those words are anathema.  Yet for me it is everything.  Leave cheese behind?  Never!

Recently a guest, William Brown, came through the house, a doctor who had recently moved to vegan and shared a bit of his story with me, how going vegan has been proven to reverse heart disease.  What?  Reverse it?  Oh my, yes.  I did my research, read some more and decided to give it a try.  Oh, I’m not perfect by any means.  I still eat eggs.  I simply cannot give up that deliciousness. Also, they call for a reduction or elimination of refined flour products (ugh, what, no bread?) and sugar (give up sugar?  have you tasted my chocolate chunk cookies?).  I suppose you could call me a Vegan-Cheater.

I tell people that I am 99% vegan.  The one percent is for when I don’t want to be vegan as something so delicious is sitting in front of me I must take a bite, or ten.  Like homemade flour tortillas.  I will let you know how I progress.  Yes, I will still incorporate eggs, dairy, and meat into breakfast as I want to play with a full deck of ingredients as I continue to work toward my goal of 250 breakfast recipes.  150 down.  100 to go!

Christmas at The Inn On First

The holidays are magical here at The Inn On First in Napa, California, a luxury bed and breakfast inn.  Our own innkeeper, Jamie Cherry, pays attention to every little detail in decorating for the holidays.  I’m responsible for the lights on the tree, help decorate the trees, but he is pretty much responsible for everything else.  Attached is a video that shows you a bit of what Christmas is like here for us.  Wishing you and your families/friends a  happy holiday.

 

 

The Inn On First Remote Organic Garden…TFL’s got nothing on us!

Okay, so maybe The French Laundry Garden is a bit more spacious and they have incredible chefs creating magnificent food for all 3 restaurants, but we are really proud of our own Napa Garden, compliments of Toni’s backyard with Rick’s assistance (our own Mr. Home Improvement/Contractor/WineMaker/now Gardener), who are graciously permitting us to grow so many things remotely and to come and pick what we need once a week.  From green onions, to tomatoes, peppers, melons, and so much more.

Boy are we happy campers tonight as we pulled away with all these luscious tomatoes!  What shall we do, what shall we do?

Breakfast awaits.Garden Abundance

Want to be part of a Napa Travel-log Series?

B & B and Me. Napa Valley: still need more participants for a Travel-log show.  Extending the show through the Fall.

This is NOT a reality show.  Some of you have said you would have applied had you known it was more of a Travel-log series where a production crew will follow couples as they enjoy their stay at this stylish B & B and as they explore the Napa Valley.   We are trying to showcase the inn and the greatness of Napa Valley.  The cameras are not with you all the time.  They meet you at breakfast to capture your thoughts about breakfast.  They will meet you at a winery where you talk about your experience of the wine.  They will meet you at your restaurant for dinner and showcase the food that is prepared.  The show is slated to be witty, informative, creative and fun!

WHO SHOULD APPLY?
Everyone, of course!  You all have stories to share about yourselves, your relationship, or even why you have chosen Napa Valley as your destination spot for that special occasion.  The production company would love to see diversity of every sort (race, culture, religion, sex, age, et al.).

HOW TO APPLY?
Simply make a reservation (or maybe you already have one!) at the Inn on First for a midweek stay (holidays excluded) in the Fall/Winter.  Then email the producers a half page of why you should be chosen, send it to info@bandbandme.com.

Careful what you ask for.

Jim here: I was walking the dogs at Fuller Park, a ten minute walk from The Inn On First, an historic Napa Bed and Breakfast Inn.  A group of young men (in their 30’s) approached dressed with Raiders shirts and wearing Raiders badges to identify them as part of the support staff.

“Cute dogs,” the one man said.  Blond hair, cute, and very hunky.  “Well, thanks,” I said.  “We wanted to know if you would be willing to help us with a video we are making for the Raiders training camp; if you can tell us what you know about the Raiders.”  I laughed.  “Really, I’m a baseball fan.  I follow the Yankees, the Giants, and occasionally the Angels and the A’s.”  “That’s okay,” he replied.  “Would you mind if we film you?”  “Not at all,” I told him.

I asked the boys to wait patiently.  First question: “If you are driving 120 mph, how far will you go?”  “Well, how long am I driving in the car?”  “One hour,” he said.  “Okay, then 120 miles.”  Next question: “If you are in the car for one hour and you are driving 80 mph, how far will you go?”  “80 miles,” I replied.  “Very good.”

Next question: “You walk into a bar and see a really beautiful woman.  What is your pick-up line?”  I smiled.  I moved in closer to hunky blond man and said: “Or maybe I see a really good looking man I want to meet.”  His eyes met mine.  His face went red.  His buddies chuckled behind the scenes.  “Uh, okay.”  “You are rather handsome,” I said.  “Really cute.”  “Thank you,” he said in response.

The interview ended.  I continued walking, laughing the whole time as my interviewer got ribbed by his companions as they walked away.

Napa Snow- a show of Spring’s glory

Napa Snow SpringIt begins in the middle of January and continues through the beginning of March.  Here at The Inn On First, a luxury Napa Bed and Breakfast Inn, we call it “Napa Snow”.  The trees bloom in spectacular glory with these white blossoms and when the wind comes the blossoms come flying off and there is “snow” everywhere.  It is stunning.  Admittedly our winters are mild compared to the East Coast and elsewhere in the world, and for this reason we live here.  Oh, we have our share of frosty mornings with an occasional powdered sugar dusting of hail or light snow on the hilltops, but nothing like the inches of white cold others experience.  It’s a great time to be in Napa, to see a different kind of beauty on the streets.

Mustard in the VinesIn the vineyards the mustard is growing up between the vineyards.  Pruning has begun which means you will see long lines of black stumps surrounded by bright green vegetation of yellow flowers.  It is our second favorite time of year here next to harvest.  Standing in the tasting rooms, looking out the windows onto the vineyards,with a large glass of luscious Cabernet Sauvignon in your hand- this is winter in Napa.

Fuller Park: even in winter it’s beautiful

Fuller Park WinterJust a short ten minute walk from The Inn On First, a romantic Napa Bed and Breakfast Inn, is Fuller Park. It is where I walk the dogs each morning after breakfast service.  Over the course of the year it changes with the seasons and every year I think one season is better than the next.  When actually they all have their merits.  In winter the leaves are gone, the air is crisp, the sky blue, and there is winter leaf-mulch all around.  There are fewer people in the park so it makes for a lovely walk in silence and solitude.  Until those squirrels decide to play naughty and run across the paths of the dogs.  Calvin is incredibly fierce in his determination to chase, but alas he is called back to formation with the pack.

Fuller Park Dog ShadowsFor me it is the long shadows with the sun hanging low in the sky that calls me to attention.  It is romantic in its own way, creating an ideal of shadow and light that equally play together into something beautiful.  It is serious, yet playful; simple, yet full of delight.  While visiting here in Napa, at any time of year, take a walk around Fuller Park and discover some of the beauty that other than grapevines and wineries.