Napa Style, Take Two

By Kate Riley September 13, 2009

My friends, I must be frank.  The past week has not been easy for me.  My entire family, including myself, has been sick with the flu so I didn’t get to do any of my DIY projects during the week.  Bummer. When I can’t get to my primer and power tools, my knees start to shake and my hands start to twitch.  I start to go a little stir crazy.  So finally, on Saturday, I was finally able to tackle some projects.  I’m hoping to feature them this week, if all goes well.  Good stuff coming. 

Y’all remember last week’s look at wine tasting in Napa.  Here’s another peek at just a few more stops on our weekend getaway.  

Day Two began by with a spectacular luncheon at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon in Yountville.  As many of you know, Mr. Keller is famous for his world renowned French Laundry restaurant, also in Yountville, with its nine course prix fixe tasting menu.  It’s practically impossible to get into the French Laundry, unless you go online at the exact perfect time (at midnight Pacific Standard Time two months in advance).  Don’t believe me?  Read this dude’s suggestions.  And even if you do get in, you’ll spend your kids’ college fund on one meal.  But as I understand from my swankier friends, it’s pretty spectacular.  

For the ‘regular’ folk, there is Bouchon in Yountville.  (And also in Vegas.)  It’s a little slice of Paris in the heart of the Napa Valley, from the menu, to the interior décor, to the waiters in little black vests, ties, and aprons. 


And the food.  Oh, the food.  It’s ooh, la, la, off the charts. 

The Parisian style interior:

bouchon interior bar

Disclaimer: If looking at pictures of other people’s food is somewhat gross in your opinion, please skip on down to the pretty pictures.  But if you’re a looky loo like me, always zooming in on other people’s plates, needling them in the arm, and asking, “Excuse me, what is that?”, then read on. 

And yes, I may be strange, photographing food in a fine restaurant.  But I really don’t care what people think about my Nikon D60 (awesome camera, I might add).  Really good food should be photographed.  Raise your hand if you agree.

Mr. CG loves Huîtres (oysters) – of course that’s where he begins. 

bouchon oysters

Me?  I’m in the mood for what the locals say is the best appetizer in town.  Rillettes au Deux Saumons.  Translation:  a blend of fresh and smoked salmon, served with toasted sliced baguette.  Sealed with a butter top in your own personal jar, served chilled to the table.  You’ve got to cut through the butter seal to get to the good stuff.  Uh. Mah. Gaw.  So delicious.  I’d swear there was crab inside, but the waiter denied it.  I downed the whole thing in one sitting with no regret. 

bouchon salmon on toast crop

For lunch, I had the special: Lobster crêpes.  Again, eyes rolling back in my head, so scrumptious.  Diced lobster and herbs inside a crêpe, served over lobster mushrooms and topped with chive crème fraîche.  Heaven.

Then Mr. CG had to ask, “What is crème fraîche anyway?”   I kind of knew.  I mean, I use it sometimes in cooking.  And I pretended I knew.  “Sort of like sour cream, but better.” 

But then I made the waiter describe it.

bouchon lobster crepe

Mr. CG had the most amazing special as well.  Open face shredded halibut over arugula with herb and bacon crumble.  I threatened his life if he didn’t cut me off a slice.  In fear, he relinquished some of his decadent choice. 

bouchon halibut open face

And let me just say that the pommes frites (french fries) are the most salty guilty pleasure ever.  Ask for the aioli (dippin’ sauce) and revel in their deliciousness. 

Here’s me, pretending to see and be seen.  “Oh yes, daahhhhhling, let’s do lunch next week.  Smooches.” 

Notice less of me, and more of the velvet fabric, the brass detail, and nail head trim. 

bouchon cg

For dessert, the Tarte au Citron (lemon tart) with coffee. 

bouchon lemon tart

So then Mr. CG says to me, “This spot is not only a meal, but an education.”  Well said, Mister. 

But I think it was the Sauvignon Blanc talking. 

Then Mr. CG pulled up curbside for a little cat nap.

mr cg nap

While he digested, I went exploring in the NapaStyle flagship store, across the street from Bouchon. 

napa style 

I think Michael Chiarello has a strange obsession with salt.  Don’t get me wrong.  Salt is good.  Very good.  In food, really really good.  But this NapaStyle owner and chef has salt everywhere in the store. 

When you walk in, you’re greeted with a salt shaving station.  And everyone tries their hand at shaving salt. 

napastyle shave salts 

Then there’s the racks and rows of specialty salts.  Even Jurassic Salt.

napastyle salts

And the glass carafes filled with more specialty salts.

napastyle salts in carafes

And the burlap bags filled with salts.

napastyle salts in burlap

A salt obsession. 

For a chef, that’s OK.  For the ordinary person, a bit strange.  Confession.  I actually own some of these salts.  Deeper confession.  I really love them.  

I fell in love with this Galleria Lantern.

napa style candle holder 

These simple glass jars tied with twine are so simple and so pretty.  I envision them hanging from a front porch, or in a series, on a tree branch hung over an outdoor dining table. 

napastyle hanging bottles

I totally dig this wine barrel sink.  Outdoors, in the right spot, it would be marvelous. 

napastyle wine barrel sink

And where have I seen such pretty seltzer bottles before?  Oh yes, right here

napastyle spritzer bottles

Finally, I must show you my absolute favorite store in charming downtown St. Helena, called Vintage Home.  It is so my style.  Oodles of white ceramics, beautiful linens, pillows, and gorgeous accessories.  It’s just a teensy bit. . . oh heck, let’s face it.  The shop’s merchandise is way out of my budget.  But I sure love window shopping !

Gorgeous pillows.

st helena pillows

Spectacular designer ceramics.

vintage home wihte ceramics 

I swoon over this standing mirror and zebra print chair. 

vintage home mirror and chair

Stunning planter box and silk florals.

vintage home planter box


Fabulous gigantic wine jugs.

vintage home wine jug

A green glass version.

vintage home green wine jug 

You know, I think with the right bottle, I could mimic this look with a bit of paint.  For hundreds less.

And I know one of you savvy crafty DIYers out there could make this very same spice chest for much less than the $195 price tag. 

vintage home spice box


How lovely are these wine bottles?  And how easy to make, with some ribbon, some frosted spray paint, and alphabet stickers.  They make pretty vases for singular stems too. 

vintage home wine bottles


So that’s it, my friends, another glimpse at our whirlwind weekend in the Napa Valley.

More DIY projects, coming soon. 

Happy Sunday. 


  1. I absolutely love your site, but I really wish I had found it a year ago- this timelast year we were in Napa for 2 weeks of golf and wine . I loved every minute of it. We stayed in Yountville, and when I needed CVS there were roosters walking all over the parking lot

    My favourite winery visit was Rodney Strong, and then J wines.

  2. I am almost having chills with envy. I love fabulous foods. I actually saw the salmon spread somewhere…maybe the Food Network? I think it was one of the show host’s favorite all time foods. The shopping looks divine. I’m always taking food shots in restaurants. I just let others assume what they will…maybe they will think I’m a famous food critic (not a newbie blogger).

  3. I secretly love salt too! I love to go over to the St. Helena Olive Oil Company and taste salt and oil until I’m about to burst! I will have to go to Bouchon. I’ve only had a little snack from the take out bakery (devine!) after visiting Vilagio Spa. Another slice of heaven! Love it there in Yountville.

  4. Cuz, The Bouchon and their Salmon spread was featured on the Food Network show ” The best thing I ever ate”! It was Tyler Florence who visited on the episode “Filled with envy”. It looks divine!
    I’m sure you will take us there when we come for our visit, right? ;)

  5. Hey Stephanie at I love this post! The sink is the best idea I have seen yet for my barn sink..I’m gonna use this one! I can see you had a great time..I had a nice weekend! I went to the Barn House event and it was fab! I posted pics on my blog if your interested..As usual well done post! Hope all is well with you and yours!

  6. So sorry you all were down with the flu! I can’t believe how early it’s starting this year. I almost kept the girls home from church this morning b/c I was worried it would be just our luck for Natalie to catch something the day before the 1st day of preschool…I NEED her to go!!! ;)

    I loved this tour today. It’s so fun that I get to live vicariously through you. ;) Napa Style looks like fun (love that barrel sink) and the neat wine jugs are so cool.

    I’d love to have you stop by the next Decorating Dilemmas party. :) I’ll be sure to send you an email a few days before. :)

    PS. Love your top in the “seen and be seen” photo! :) I think brunettes look pretty in that shade of blue. Thanks for the compliments on my own photos…I think I’ll go Dolly Parton again for the next wedding. ;)

  7. I love the glass jars. My friend hung blue glass jars with candles from the trees at her wedding this weekend. It was absolutely beautiful!

  8. Thank you for reminding me what a wonderful valley I live in. Life gets so hectic, I drive up HWY 29, ignoring all the beauty. It really takes a visitor to show me the details, why the wine country IS such a tourist draw (and not in the Mickey Mouse way). I need to get out to the vineyards before the crush, or I might lose it. I never go one season without some stole grapes warm from the vine.

  9. hey kate! it’s been a while since i visited your site… very nice re-do. is this wordpress? you know, we were up in yountville a few weeks ago b/c my dad was in the napa valley art show. we were debating what to do for lunch and ended up doing quick and easy. i should have gone with my instinct and tried out bouchon. now that i see your pictures i’m going to be haunted by what i missed out on. we’ll have to make another trip up, and soon. hope all is well, besides the flu. take care & feel better. -bg

  10. I love your tours! I need to add CA to my list of vacation destinations…especially after all of your info and beautiful pics.

    Feel better!

  11. I’ve just found your blog and I really enjoy all the info and eye candy from your trip. I’ve got a question. Do you have any idea how to mimic the finish on the display case that holds the white ceramic pottery? Dark finishes seem relatively easy but an aged light finish scares me a little. Any thoughts? Thanks for sharing all your great ideas!

  12. What a post! Most outstanding was how cute you were in that swirly dress/top, while dining in the French restaurant!!! Seriously…you really covered so much here…it was just so much fun to read and see it all! What a wonderful time you had…I am jealous!!! LOL!

    Have a great week!

  13. Dont know how I missed this days blog….but I was just thinking how great would one of those large wine jugs look as a lamp base!

  14. Love this store, visited last year when I was in SF. The Roasted Garlic Grey Salt is awesome sprinkled on garden fresh tomatoes and cucumbers with a drizzle of olive oil.

  15. I stumbled on your website and your Napa Valley story and it made me feel so happy and hopeful to do more travelling. Thank you!!!! The food was inspirational, you just gotta have pictures when its practically art. Thanks for cheering me up:)

  16. What a fun site! My hubby’s fam is from Napa so we visit often although we don’t get to be tourists as much as I’d like. Thanks for sharing your designs and ideas

  17. When I think of Napa I think of Lemonade, the Wine Train (apple cider for me) and sleeping. I was two months pregnant and all I wanted to do was eat and rest. When we walked through the town of Napa I saw a lemonade stand with fresh lemonade. I had some and after that everywhere I went for the next 7 months and longer I craved lemonade. When you find that right food or drink when you are pregnant it is pure bliss. We went to a lovely restaurant, in the City of Napa, but I don’t remember the name. I only rolled (on the train) by Yountville and other cute towns. You know I’m tired of I don’t want to look in shops. lol

  18. I’m so glad you enjoyed Bouchon so much! My brother-in-law is the Executive Sous Chef there and the food and setting really are spectacular. Send me an email next time you go and I will make sure he sends you out something fabulous as a thank you for the amazing review!

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