If you guys follow illistyle on the social medias then you were an unwilling subject to my barrage of posts about my trip to Napa. But I gotta say, it was awesome! If you missed it, here’s the best of the best (also, I feel like a big ego-centirc jerk that most of these are of my face. I usually am behind the camera and post photos of others and of things, but you guys were all liking and commenting and my girls kept snapping good photos, so I was like, “sure post another OF MY FACE”:)
Here’s what we did in Napa Valley: Relaxed, talked shop, and ate. Oh did we eat! Napa is foodie heaven! I made a huge dietary-shift in Summer 2015 when I was diagnosed with my auto-immune disease which requires I no longer eat grains. When planning our trip I was concerned that staying Grain-Free would be difficult, but it was actually pretty easy. So for anyone interested, here’s my guide on how to eat grain-free in Napa Valley through a detailed list of my culinary adventures at the restaurants where we ate and more importantly: what I ate!
Dinner – Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch
I loved our meal at Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch. This is a beautiful place! And, they were so understanding of my grain-free diet (as my fellow food allergy and auto-immune community can attest, sometimes people just don’t get it.) Farmstead likes to grow it’s own produce and meat or buy locally and sustainably. My little hippy heart skipped a beat when I heard that. The chef and the wait staff are intune with what is in their dishes and they are all about making sure your experience with their food is thoughtful and tasty. We started with a fresh heirloom tomato soup from ingredients grown right there on the farm. Hands-down, best tomato soup of my life, I seriously considered just getting a whole bowl of soup and skipping everything else, but I thought if the soup was that good, then I should give other items on the menu a fair try too. The deviled eggs appetizer had a secret ingredient: pimento cheese. Game changer guys, I will never make deviled eggs the same way again. For my main course I had the Sole with vegetables and it was delicious. But, the lamb was were it was at. Rebecca ordered the lamb and each of us tried to steal it from her. No wonder they are in the Trip Advisor Hall of Fame for excellence for the past 5 years!
Breakfast – Cafe Sarafornia
This cute little coffee shop in Calistoga was great! The service was fast, the food was good, and the coffee was strong. Win win win. As far as grain-free this restaurant was pretty traditional, but they were cool about substituations and even checked a label for me when I inquired about an ingredient. I got the Huevos Racheros with hashbrowns instead of tortillas at no upcharge (that’s good customer service.) It was delicious and REALLY filling. Like too filling, haha. Perfect little diner.
Lunch – The Grill at Meadowood
I was really looking forward to this lunch – the Grill received the honor of being named one of Travel + Leisure’s Best Restaurants in 2015. Unfortunately, after all the travel and excitement of the previous day I was left with a migraine that came on quickly. I was in pain and beginning to feel sick to my stomach. Not what I had in mind. But ya know what? The “Elixir” shown above kicked my migraine. I drank this and felt so much better: Ginger, Orange, Meadowood Honey, Cider Vinegar, Cayenne. So much Cayenne, as you can see, but it did the trick. By the end of lunch I was able to eat some of our appetizer of local cheeses as well as the scallops on Meadowood greens. Meadowood was understanding when it came to Grain-Free and they were very accommodating. Also, a little behind the scenes – if you wonder about the photos bloggers post to social media or on our blogs… it’s serious business. Below is a shot of Rebecca (Sugar + Soul) and I staging some photos of the bread basket. Yes guys, I touched bread for her. That’s love.
Lunch – Napa Valley Wine Train
Guys – Napa Valley Wine Train is so fun! They are a good grain-free choice as they were very accommodating! But beware: dining on a train is interesting. The tables are narrow (see above) and close together. It is quite the intimate experience. Heidi (Happiness is Homemade) and I sampled some of the wines from the Napa region while on the train. Needless to say: delicious. I had the Roasted Beef Tenderloin with bok choy, roasted root vegetables. I skipped the mushroom toast, but asked for additional pomegranate Cabernet reduction. Guys, I could have seriously drank the reduction straight from the gravy boat it was served in. I was slam dunking my roast beef in there. Gah. They suggested pairing it with the Jamieson Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon. Who am I to disagree? So I tried it. The answer was yes! I am pretty sure the question was: Is this your new favorite wine? This was one of my favorite parts of the trip because it was an activity and a meal. As the train slowly rolled through wine country I experienced great food, amazing wine, and beautiful scenery. I want to go back with my husband!
Dinner – Gott’s Roadside Grill
Grain-free at some burger places is difficult, but Gott’s was super chill, they have grain-free options printed on the menu, thats a good sign right there. We ordered all the fries – potatoes are the reason I can’t lose weight, guys… but giant burgers topped with cheese and egg may not be helping me either. haha. The lettuce wrap is like a grain-free dream. Gott’s was a greasy spoon delight and the shakes were delicious, made with Three Twins Ice Cream.
Brunch – Auberge du Soleil
This was by far my favorite luxury meal in Napa Valley. Auberge du Soleil won my heart when they listed “Kir Royale” on their brunch menu. If you have never had a Kir Royale – now’s the time, seriously, Carpe Diem guys. The french cocktail is my new favorite. Black currant liqueur and champagne – cheers! Auberge du Soleil was so very accommodating to my grain-free requests. They accidentally included a panko-breaded item on my first plate and promptly replaced my dish, no fuss. I felt very well care for here. I loved their Duck Confit Hash, with eggs, mâche, and a lovely little red wine sauce (wait, are we seeing a pattern here? Apparently red wine sauce is my jam.) Even though all the desserts had some form of grain, the chef prepared a special variation of a chocolate dish for me. Talk about feeling cared for! Plus, the view CANNOT be beat.
Ice Cream – Three Twins in Oxbow Public Market
Calm down all my grain-free foodies, I did not eat the cone! After our big brunch we skipped lunch and just had some ice cream. Our sweet server at Three Twins Ice Cream looked up every ingredient for me to ensure my ice cream was 100% grain-free. All the ingredient are natural (and pronounceable, so ya know that’s super solid.) My girl Rebecca takes this awesome lil ice cream photo on all her travels, she says it is her souvenir. I was so honored that she let Cori (Hey, Let’s Make Stuff) and I in on her tradition.
Dinner – Heritage Eats
Guys, this is the restaurant you should go to like 5 times. I have officially requested that the owners: Ben and Chef Jason, expand to Southern California. This is how fast food should taste! Fresh, locally-sourced, and globally-inspired. I cannot say enough good things about Heritage Eats. This family-owned operation was all about knowing what was in their food and creating an awesome community. I had the chance to literally quiz Chef Jason on the grain-free options, he knew them right off the top of his head. I had Chicken Tikka Masala with a side of roasted veggies and the Jamaica (Hibiscus) juice. Did I take photos? Um no, I stuffed my face instead! That may be a super blogger fail on my part, but really it should speak to how delicious their food was!
Overall, eating Grain-Free in Napa Valley was really easy. The culture of the area is very food aware, many restaurants were focused on farm-to-table and sustainable models. That concentration on responsible food made my experience positive.
Thank you to all the restaurants in Napa Valley who are providing wholesome real food for people <3
Did I miss something on my adventure? Know of a great grain-free restaurant in Napa Valley? Let us know about it by leaving a comment below!