Winter Doldrums in March (but Spring is coming?)
Somehow I have been more nervous about writing the second edition of this blog, than I was launching the first one! The fear of the blank page is real, and there are plenty of distractions in Napa (shopping at the Vallergas Retirement sale!) and beyond. I have been traveling a lot. I am a frequent visitor to Ojai, where our daughter is at boarding school, we had a 48 hour touchdown in Marfa, TX and we finally did the Argentina trip for my husband's milestone birthday. All of these destinations will be featured in future blogs, I promise.
March in Napa is cool, quiet, and light on tourists, but still magical, so its a great time to visit wineries without the crowds, and to score reservations to the hottest Napa Valley restaurants! Sadly, we didn't have any friends visit this month, so I didn't make it to any wineries myself. I usually wait for visitors to provide me an "excuse" to go wine tasting. So this month's blog is about the "mundane" daily life of a Napanista.
Comfort Food in Napa
Cooler days and all this rain, has me hankering for comfort food. Miminashi, a Japanese Izakaya, hits the spot.
It has proven to be a reliable restaurant for our family, offering something that everyone likes. Having lived in Tokyo for over 10 years, we crave this kind of food and were thrilled when Miminashi opened a year ago, offering authentic Japanese comfort food. Sharing is encouraged at Miminashi! Start off with a delicious cocktail (the Bees Knees is incredible) and then continue with a smooth, ice cold Japanese beer. For the younger set they have "Ramune", the soda that is served in a glass bottle with the glass marble you press down into the bottle to open.
We always get the fresh butter lettuce salad, gyoza (fried dumplings), Okonomi Yaki (a Japanese omelette), yaki tori (roast chicken skewers), and the seasonal fried rice (yes, add bacon!). My family loves the ramen, which is decadent, but that just fills me up.
Save room for the amazing soft serve ice cream. The flavors change, so sometimes there are some odd flavors, but they are subtle, so don't let that stop you! I love the miso caramel and as many crunchy toppings as I can get away with. (Insider tip: You don't even have to eat a meal at Miminashi, just go straight to the outside window.
Brunch is excellent (breakfast flatbread, pancakes, eggs benedict, mimosas & bloody marys!) and its perfect for large groups or families due to the long communal table down the center of the restaurant-be sure to make a reservation for a large group. On nice days, the patio is open for outside dining with a view of the river. Lunch and dinner offers an eclectic menu of standard California farm to table fare, mixed in with Persian and Asian fare. The Pho and Banh Mi sandwich are popular, as are the beef short ribs with bacon fried rice (my favorite) and ramen...yes more ramen! If Oxbow market is still open (closes 8pm during the week, 9pm on weekends), finish off with an ice cream at Three Twins.
Party Like It's 1920!
We were so lucky to be at the first party held at the John Anthony Mansion, earlier this month, which is the latest amazing project of John and Michele Truchard. The York House was purchased by the Truchards as an event space for their wine club, but I think it will become a huge fixture on the Napa social scene. The occasion was a Great Gatsby party, a buy a spot event we had "won" at the Connolly Ranch auction in October, with delicious cocktails by "The Fink" and desserts by Model Bakery. The mansion has been impeccably decked out in a contemporary lounge style by Napa's own, Richard Von Saal of VonSaal Design Build, and its gorgeous, yet comfortable, complete with "secret" speakeasy doors and an old wooden bar in a billiards room. I'm looking forward to spending more time, exploring this historic Napa landmark, preferably with some John Anthony vino in hand!
I recently discovered a great place to get my nails done... finally at long last. Over the years since we moved here (away from the most incredible nail salons in the world, in Tokyo, Japan), I have tried many places in Napa, and really hated the attitude (the hustle, the up-sell , the sass). This one woman nail station is tucked into the Gloria Curry Day Spa, just across from Model Bakery. Her prices are excellent, she doesn't shy away from "fun" nails, even if they take a bit more time and
Stephanie is lovely. I'm really into the chrome powder effect at the moment. You can find her on the booking app, Booksy, or just call GC. I have heard great things about the massages and facials at GC Day Spa, and hope to sample those soon. I'll report back!
Keeping Fit and Healthy
I have to offset all the eating with some major calorie burning. My side gig as a Crossfit coach helps with that, combined with Peloton a few days a week. When ever soreness rears its ugly head, I have started to head to Cryo Aid for some cryotherapy. I was nervous, but my friend Angela, convinced me to give it a try. Just to be clear, jumping into cold swimming pools is not my thing, so I was not excited to enter a freezing tank. The cryo tank is different though...a different kind of cold, and I was able to get through the 90 seconds recommended for my first visit. I have now worked my way up to 3 minutes (the maximum) and its working its magic! They moved to Napa from Calistoga earlier this year, and business is picking up, especially with the Crossfit community. Jacob, the young owner, is so enthusiastic and passionate about his business. I wish him all the best! He just added an infrared sauna to his offerings, so after a 3 minute freeze, you can relax in there. I can't wait to give the sauna a try! I signed up for the monthly membership, because the more you go, the more benefits...so they say. (PS - I hear there is a float tank place coming to Napa!)
Rain, rain, and more rain...
As I write this, we are socked in with more rain, and no end in sight. I don't mind it...I get to wear my Hunter boots, the hills are gorgeous greens, and just maybe our reservoirs will fill up to get us officially out of the drought. I have a feeling the sun will re-appear very soon, and I solemnly pledge to have a few outdoor winery recommendations in the next blog!