The Inn On First, a romantic Napa bed and breakfast inn, is happy to say that ballooning is absolutely worth the money. Jamie is afraid of heights, was still willing to go, and would do it all over again. Granted he won’t look over the edge of the basket and down to the ground, and yet admitted the views are stunning and incredible. On a clear day you can see all the way to San Francisco to the south and to Mt. St. Helena to the north. The vineyards dotted below you are just magnificent in the morning sun.
Our preferred vendor is Balloons Above The Valley. You can be picked up for a fee, or meet at a nearby location. They ride you out to the site (Yountvile was our starting point) and you ride for a full hour. It is so much fun! The largest basket holds 24 people, and even though it is tight quarters, you are not overcrowded. It is gentle on the way up and you just float, float, float- why, just like a balloon!
They follow up their ride with a lovely champagne brunch with scrambled eggs, potatoes, bagels, sausage, bacon, cold cuts, rolls, waffles, and so much more. Know that it requires an early morning rise (anywhere from 5:30 am to 7:00 am depending on the season) as the morning is the only opportunity they have to fly.
To contact the company visit http://www.balloonrides.com
For those who want more, watch a 4-minute Flip Video on YouTube we created: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phgUfF9S-wI&feature=g-upl
It looks like a small Parisian cafe with candlelight throughout the restaurant and outside the small windows can be seen the lights mirroring off the Napa River. It is a small, intimate restaurant that has an inviting, romantic appeal. We began with cocktails (it is only one of 3 or 4 restaurants in historic Napa that serve cocktails)and they brought a lovely white bean dip with crositini as an appetizer. A nice touch to get the meal started. I ordered the leek and potato soup and was not disappointed by the creamy and velvety texture, and I followed it up with the sweetbreads that came with a fragrant, rich sauce on the plate that coated every piece. On my first bite I was a little overwhelmed by the sauce that I scooped up with my first piece, and quickly learned to leave more of the sauce on the plate and let the sweetbreads with a light drizzle of sauce inform my palate. Afterward it left plenty of sauce on the plate to sop up with the bread they served with the meal. Jamie ordered the mixed green salad and followed it up with the sea bass. The fish was cooked perfectly and came with a light sauce and some veggies on the plate that gave it a nice balance.
Our friends ordered the french onion soup (always a treat at Angele with the stringy cheese pulling at the spoon as you lift that first slurp to your mouth), the winter salad with apples and pears and nuts drizzled with a light vinaigrette, the creme fraiche gnocchi (light and airy pillow puffs that melted in your mouth) and the blackened cod (a nice white fish served in a broth). We paired everything with a Saintsbury Pinot that was delightful (Pinot seems to be the one wine that will go with just about everything). My only regret was that we had to run out at the end to get to our show at Silo’s (night club) so we could not fully enjoy the ambience of sipping coffee over dessert at the end. Alas, another time.