Jul 22

Marvelous Memorable Meals in Napa

Food is a significant part of any trip for me.


Sometimes it’s the whole reason for the trip…

This past week’s trip to California was no exception.  There was plenty of wine in wine-country, but the food was equally important.

After a looooong day of travel, all Lisa and I could think of when we hit the valley was wine food.  We’d already scoped out our dinner destination: Farmstead.  Farmstead is a farm (named Long Meadow Ranch) and a restaurant.  They have their own vineyards, gardens, and chicken.  Quite literally, it is a farm-to-table restaurant.

Our sights were set on a runny farm-fresh egg atop a steak tartar with capers, cornichons, tabasco, and toast.  It was fantastic.  The meat was also directly from the farm – the freshness of it made all the difference in the world.  It’s amazing neither of us licked the plate.

Farmstead steak tartare


We split a couple of other dishes as well.

The first was a grilled peach salad with speck (a cured meat similar to prosciutto), arugula, and house made ricotta.  It was good… but the peach to salty stuff was a bit off (the peaches were in too big of pieces).  That purple basil made the dish.  Wil be remebering that in the future!

Farmstead grilled peaches


The second was a grilled artichoke with gribiche (like an aioli) and lemon.  Simple and yet so good.  This preparation always makes me wish I had a grill!

Grilled artichokes
As fabulous as all of that was, the crowning jewel was dessert.  My first birthday cake of the trip was a Scharffenberger chocolate cream pie with graham cracker crust.  It was so fantastically fresh and delicious!

The crust actually tasted like it may have had some coconut, but we were assured it was just a good, old-fashioned homemade graham crust.  We talked about it lovingly for the rest of the trip.

Farmstead birthday


The other food we went on a mission for was a burger from Goose & Gander.  From the moment we walked in I knew we couldn’t have made a better choice.  The outdoor seating area alone was worth the trip.  There were lights strung across the courtyard, quaint iron tables, and tall fence “walls” covered with vines and gorgeous colorful flowers.

First thing’s first though.  A craft cocktail.  Apparently the mixologist is something of a cocktail rockstar, so we were excited to try some creative concoctions.  I went with the “Scarlet Gander.”   It was Hanger One Buddha’s Hand Citron Vodka, ginger, shiso, galangal, lemon, and rhubarb.  Not like anything  I would typically order, but the flavors were so unique I couldn’t pass it up.  It did not disappoint – these flavors were strange but good. ;)

Scarlet Gander


We begin the meal with a salad.  Our waiter recommended we try the watermelon and Rock Shrimp salad.  The melons they used were the traditional pink AND a yellow melon.  It made for a gorgeous plating!

It was served roasted peanuts and a Thai chili dressing that he swore would be a 9 on the heat scale.  It wasn’t even close to a 9, but the salad was still delicious.

Goose & Gander melon and shrimp salad


Now for the reason we came: the burger.  Multiple people told us that the burger here was the best burger around, and that it shouldn’t be missed.  It isn’t the #1 burger I’ve ever eaten, but it’s certainly top 3.  I was really glad we decided to split it… it was massive and that much indulgence would be a stomach ache waiting to happen.

The bun (from Model Bakery) was perfection  It kind of looks soggy in the pic, but it really wasn’t.  It held up to the fantastically juicy grass-fed beef burger, which was topped with bone marrow (meat butter), Gruyere cheese, house smoked bacon, and pickles.  Served with a side of duck fat fries (duck fat = crispier fries).

Goose and Gander burger


Between the craft cocktails, “famous” burger, and duck fat fries, Goose & Gander reminded me a lot of Atlanta’s Holeman & Finch (highly recommended if you are ever here).

We ate a lot more than this, but memories of these meals in particular (and the amazing company) are making my Monday Marvelous.

Marvelous Monday


Moral of the story: always ask the locals what they eat.  You’ll find the coolest places and the must-try dishes.

Have you ever been to the Napa area?  

Are you adamant about researching the must-try restaurants when you travel?



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  1. Lisa

    Oh wow. All the food and drinks looks super duper amazing. Totally agree on asking locals for restaurant ideas – they’ll always know best for the most part:)
    I’ve never been to the Napa area, but would love love to go! It seems like a great time.

  2. Tara @ Sweat like a Pig

    There’s nothing Rob and I enjoy more than a good burger! A few months ago I discovered a list of London’s best burgers, and we’ve been making our way through them. The good thing about burgers is that even the bad ones still taste good! haha

    1. Laura

      I’ve done the same in Atlanta! And yes, once you hit the “best of” list, they are all good.

  3. Khushboo

    A good burger almost always hits the spot…I got my fix yesterday and it did NOT disappoint! Hope plenty of wine was consumed alongside all this yum food…only way to do it in Napa ;)

    1. Laura

      Oh yes… the wine post is coming. ;)

  4. Arman @ thebigmansworld

    Duck fat fries = the only way to eat fries! I love how some of your selections were strange but good (although hold nothing to some of your creations ha!).

    I find it good to research some restaurants when travelling, but other times, sometimes you find hidden gems by going on a mindless search! Glad you enjoyed the napa area, hope you OD’d on some vino! ;)

    1. Laura

      I’m always drawn to the strange. :)

  5. Heather (Where's the Beach)

    I would love to go to Napa one of these days. I’m guess you had a spectacular trip all the way around. I tend to scout out restaurants I want to try before I go on any vacation. Mostly because of finding vegetarian eats, but also just having an idea so you don’t go through the whole what do you want to eat, I don’t know deal.

    1. Laura

      I definitly think its a must-do trip! And you know I always will research food – it’s half the fun of planning a trip. :)

  6. Lee

    Researching restaurants is my favorite thing to do on vacation. Well, after eating at the ones I pick out, that is!

  7. lucie@swissfitchick

    I am slightly obsessed with doing research for restaurants – namely BEFORE I leave, it seems to shorten the time until I get off :-)
    Was that restaurant connected with something German? Cause some of the food names seem to be German. ‘Speck’ is actually the german word for bacon. Funny.
    Besides that, the drinks and food look heavenly!! The burger reminds me of the best burger I ever had at Bareburger in New York City.
    PS. LOVE that pic of you with the birthday cake. Gorgeous.

    1. Laura

      It’s not German, but we are seeing a lot of cured meats in the States these days. I have speck in Atlanta too!

  8. Tiff @ Love Sweat & Beers

    The quail egg on steak tartar was the exact same appetizer I tried for the first time in Prague. I hadn’t seen it in the states before, but it was pretty tasty!

    1. Laura

      You have to come down to Atlanta! Many places serves it here with quail or duck eggs. Soooo good!

  9. RavieNomNoms

    WHOA! That is some amazing eats you got going on there!

    1. Laura

      Oh yes… and that wasn’t even the half of it! :)

  10. Parita

    Vishnu and I want to visit Napa ASAP! A trip centered around eating and drinking amazing food?! Count me in! And I agree that no matter where you go, you should ask the locals where they eat. We did that in Turks and Caicos, and it definitely paid off!

    1. Laura

      Oh, you would be in heaven! It would make a great anniversary trip. :)

  11. Miz

    oh see?
    and Ive not been motivated yet to WINECOUNTRY it as Im not so much into the wine!!!

    1. Laura

      There’s plenty of other deliciousness to get in to! But I’m willing to bet you could find a wine to love too. :)

  12. Jody - Fit at 55

    What a beautiful bday Laura!!! I loved the IG pics & so need to get to Napa – have not been in way too many years & not a wine person but the beauty!!!!

    1. Laura

      Thank you!!! It certainly one of the most beautiful areas of the States – wine drinking or no. :)

  13. Sam @ Better With Sprinkles

    That egg on steak tartare looks amazing! Although really, so does everything else. I’ve never been to Napa, but I really want to – Eric and I have talked about going there for an (eventual) honeymoon.

    1. Laura

      It would make a fantastic honeymoon destination! There were lots of couples ther ecelebrating marriages and anniversaries.

  14. Gretchen @ A Fit Fashionista

    OMG Napa has the best food! Glad you had some yummy eats!

    1. Laura

      Doesn’t it?! It’s a food lovers heaven. :)

  15. Alayna @ Thyme Bombe

    Everything looks fabulous! I just stared at that tartare and thought to myself, “I’m gonna eat you so hard after this baby is out!” That cocktail sounds incredible too. I normally hate shiso, but I’m sure I couldn’t pass up those unusual flavors either.

    1. Laura

      I didn’t even thinking that – no sushi or tartare?! You deserve a big celebration. :)

  16. Amelia

    I have never had a fresh artichoke, but that grilled one looks amazing! My birthday is this Friday and I have a grill on my wish list. We’ll see what happens….

    It looks like you had a blast on your trip and I enjoyed living vicariously through your twitter feeds, as always. :) I bet your trainer will be happy to see you get back to your ‘strange but good’ eats this week.

    1. Laura

      I hope you do get a grill! You can also do artichokes pretty easily in the microwave too though.

  17. Rachel @ Eat Learn Discover

    oh man – I went to Napa 2 years ago, and I still dream about the food (and wine) I had there. I was visiting a friend of mine in Marin, and we drove to Napa for the day. First destination? Lunch at Farmstead. One of the greatest meals of my life. (It’s on my blog somewhere) Also, St. Helena Olive Oil co – I have never tasted better olive oils, vinegars, sauces, etc. in my life. I even recreated their amazing butternut squash pasta sauce!

    Now I’m dying to go back, can’t you tell? ha.

    1. Laura

      That’s so neat you went there too! It’s such a fabulous place for fresh, local foods! Definitely bought some olive oils on this trip too. :)

  18. dixya| food, pleasure, and health

    I enjoyed your IGs and now this post is making me DROOL

    1. Laura

      I should have titled this post “Drool.” :)

  19. Shashi @ http://runninsrilankan.com

    That grilled artichoke with gribiche lemon sounds so fantastic! What a lovely birthday trip!

  20. GiGi Eats Celebrities

    I would like to order the Tar Tar with 3 eggs and the grilled artichoke x5 please!

    THANKS! Ha Ha!

    1. GiGi Eats Celebrities

      AH WHOA! HOLD ME BACK>>>>> HOLD ME BACK>>>>> YOU WERE IN CALIFORNIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for the heads UP missy! lol

      1. Laura

        I would have given you the heads up but it’s still so far to LA. Next time!!!!

  21. Olivia @ Liv Lives Life

    Um, wow. That all sounds too good to be true. I just ate but I’m hungry again after looking at your pictures!
    Looks like some great birthday eats!

  22. Brittany @ GOtheXtraMile

    California has the best food! Food should always be a huge part of any trip in my opinion :) I’ve never been to Napa, but I’m dyyyying to go. This post just reminded me that I need to.

    1. Laura

      I’d say it’s a must-see area of the country – some of the best food and views (and wines) you can get in the US!

  23. lindsay

    sheesh, next year we are so combining forces. k? Love that you had a great trip. good food, good wine, good company! cheers to aging!

    1. Laura

      YES! We are already plotting a kickstarter campaign to buy a vineyard and restaurant. ;)

  24. Christine @ Love, Life, Surf

    I love Napa and Sonoma. Such a beautiful area and such.good.food. I haven’t been a while and want to go back! I usually do research must eat restaurants before traveling. I don’t want to miss out on the good stuff or spend hours and hours debating where we’re going to eat.

  25. Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl

    I have never had grilled artichoke, but after seeing that picture I REALLY want to try it!

    1. Laura

      You’d love it! They are really easy to do, too. :)

  26. Jess @ JessieBear

    *drool* all over everything. Glad you had fun!

  27. Kelly @ Cupcake Kelly's

    I am drooling. I need to book mark this for the next time I visit Napa. That steak tartare would be worth the trip alone ;)

  28. Maria @ Pappa Don't Preach

    Wow – what a way to celebrate! Everything looks/sounds fabulous! Makes me want to visit Napa, like… tomorrow. ;)

    1. Laura

      Birthday trip next year? ;)

  29. purelytwins

    now that is a great way to celebrate :) everything looks great!! never been to the Napa area, we need to!! looks like a lot of fun!

    1. Laura

      You guys would be in heaven! I think THAT should be the next Blend location. :)

  30. Heather @ Better With Veggies

    I am usually a big pre-planner for stuff like this, but recently I just haven’t had time. So glad that you & Lisa DID have time though!

    1. Laura

      Lisa really rocked this one out. I’m just grateful to have had such awesome company. :)

  31. Hannah

    YOU are what makes Mondays marvellous.

    P.S. Secret: I am enamoured with the steak tartare and have no interest in the chocolate pie.

    1. Laura

      Whaaaat?! Actually, you don’t need the chocolate part. Just the crust. Maybe the tatare IN the crust. Or not…

  32. Kait @ ChickadeeSays

    Oh my goodness, count me in for doggie bags from every one of your meals! Everything looks amazing!

    xx Kait

    1. Laura

      Haha – you say that like there were leftovers. ;)

  33. Sarah @ The Smart Kitchen

    I am supposed to go to Napa in October for a friend’s bachelorette weekened.

    I may have to give up any form of vegetarian or veganism before then.

    1. Laura

      I’m not saying you should stick to the veggie life… but OMG try the tartare!

  34. Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets

    I love the literal farm to table concept, and I’m so glad you had a great weekend in wine country. Well deserved!

  35. Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli

    Very nice!! Everything looks amazing! Though I have to say I’m a bit scared of the runny egg topped tartare. I had steak tartare for the first time when I was in Minneapolis and I wasn’t really a fan. Tuna tartare is where it’s at in my opinion…or ceviche…or maybe I just have a thing for raw sea creatures! Sushi anyone? Hmm, ADD much? ;) I’ve never had a fresh artichoke before…I kinda want to reach through the screen and grab yours…especially with that aioli! I’m sorry, I know aioli is just a fancy way of making a mayo-based spread, but it is SO damn good! Oh hell, now I’m thinking about the tomato aioli we had with those corn thingies at Push to Start! Gah, ADD AGAIN!! Lol

    I love researching places to eat when going on vacation but there is also something to be said about “accidentally” finding a gem when you’re just out and about OR getting waiting to get recommendations from the locals! :)

    1. Laura

      Come back to ATL. I know exactly where to take you for the most incredible steak tartare. I thought I didn’t like it until I had this. Life changing.

      You should get man-friend to fire up the grill and make you an artichoke. You’d love!!! They can be done in the microwave too, but that char is to-die-for.

      Push Start… remind me to tell yu about a 9 course dinner invite…

      1. Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli

        I’ll give it another try…but only for you!

        Do you just slice the artichoke in half? Must google this.

        NINE COURSES?! Omg, do they offer to roll you out to your car afterwards or does that cost extra?! Hahaha!

        1. Laura

          Yup! But you keep it whole to microwave it: http://kitchen-parade-veggieventure.blogspot.com/2008/04/how-to-cook-artichokes-in-microwave.html

          Add a lot of lemon – it makes it!

          1. Laura

            P.S. My record is 12 courses. With pairings.

          2. Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli

            Oh wow! That DOES sound easy!! Definitely gotta try this!

            Twelve courses…why am I not surprised? I swear you have hollow legs! Lol

          3. Laura

            Don’t tell poeple my secrets!!!

            (I didn’t eat for the whole day after those 12 courses. It was a bit excessive, even for me.)

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