Part of the reason is the weather; hot (even unusually hot) weather seems to be following us around (I guess we must be following it, huh?). The past few days have been considerably warmer than forecast, and considerably warmer than usual in this area. Mornings: cool and pleasant. Afternoons: let’s get INDOORS!
Another reason we haven’t strayed far: we are in such a nice spot. :) We arrived on Monday, and did our Calistoga sight-seeing excursion on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Odel played golf at Kennedy Park golf course. I walked the Napa River Trail, adjacent to the Napa Elks RV parking (photo above), then explored Napa.
A big draw for most visitors to the Napa Valley is the unlimited opportunity for wine tasting. Though I love the beauty of the vineyards and wineries of the Napa Valley, wine tasting in this wealthy valley doesn’t appeal to our limited wine budget, so we save that activity for the wineries of the Sierra foothills.
What DOES appeal to me is the food scene, the local ingredients, purveyors, and restaurants. I was semi-surprised to learn that one of the big names in Napa, Copia, has declared bankruptcy and closed its doors. Although I had often checked on the events planned at Copia (tastings, classes) when we were in the area, I had never actually attended any of them as they seemed either too costly or too precious/highbrow – or both. Apparently other people felt the same way, and its owners/patrons weren’t willing to keep pouring in the money necessary to keep the venture afloat. Hummmpf… I guess there is an upper limit even here in the Napa Valley. :)
I found an interesting and slightly more affordable new addition to the food scene since our last visit: the Oxbow Public Market. A huge, rehabbed building (a warehouse? mill? factory?) is now home to about a dozen vendors – again, very upscale – and anchors the renovation of the surrounding Oxbow neighborhood. While Odel played golf, I browsed the possibilities for dining out. We stopped for late lunch at Taylor’s Automatic Refresher after golf (second photo), followed by dessert at Three Twins Organic Ice Cream. Do I know how to make my husband happy, or what? :)
The wonderful produce available at the farmers’ market on Tuesday and Saturday – and the general “foodie” ambiance – has inspired me to try out some new recipes. A recent issue of Real Simple Magazine had a handful of interesting, simple menus (an entree and a side dish) suitable for preparation in hot weather. We tried the first one last week with my parents: Seared Lamb with White Bean and Mint Salad. The recipes were easy (we grilled the lamb chops outdoors rather than browning/roasting them inside) and the results excellent.
Thus inspired, I’m going to experiment with several of the remaining recipes during the upcoming week, beginning today with Shrimp with Carrot Slaw (photo from the Real Simple website). Even though I have my own ideas on what changes might make the recipe better (like, sauté the shrimp in oil and garlic, instead of boiling them), I’m trying to stick with the original to introduce some new flavors into our meals. I already reduced the amount of grated carrots in the slaw, though, and used a chile/salt/lime seasoning that I like instead of the specified cayenne and salt seasoning… I couldn’t help myself! But I’m committed to boiling the shrimp.
That’s our agenda these days: walk the riverside trail in the morning when it is cool, research/plan our upcoming travels in the afternoon when we are indoors under the A/C, and try out new recipes. Once the heat wave breaks (in a couple of days, please, please, please), we’ll be out exploring again.