A Quick Trip to Whine Country

by Sarah on August 30, 2010

Readers, please meet George Calvert Yount.  George, the readers.  Mr. Yount was one of the first settlers in the Napa Valley and received two land grants that totalled nearly 17,000 acres.  The little town on the land was named Sebastopol, but since the town we now know as Sebastopol had already laid claim to the name, the townspeople renamed the town Yountville after Mr. Yount died.

If it were me, I’d have named the town George.

(George does not think I am funny)

A little bird once told me that a sure-fire way to get reservations at the French Laundry is to show up on their doorstep 2 months to the day of when you want to visit.  So that’s what I decided to do.  My friend Ms. M and I, who share the same birthday, plotted and planned our excursion.  She brought the coffee and donuts, I put gas in the car and drove.  Important decisions aside, we were on the road by 6:45, damned if I wasn’t getting a reservation this year.

We arrived in a cold and damp Yountville at 8:00 am.  The place was dead.  It was too cold to walk around and I was too wired from my donut shop coffee to get more over at Bouchon Bakery.  We sat in the car and waited.

Finally, after cursing the passersby for possibly cutting in our imaginary reservation line, we went to sit in the lovely courtyard and waited for them to open.  Behold!  The famous blue door.  The blue door that I may never get to see the other side of.  A nice girl in a lopsided skirt politely came out to inform us that the French Laundry had not taken reservations in person for at least five years.  She kindly gave us a business card so that we could go back and sit in my car some more and dial in with the rest of the schmucks at 10 a.m.

Needless to say, neither of us got through.

After cursing a blue streak, we decided to cheer ourselves up by ridiculing Michael Chiarellos’ Gray Salt.

And since we needed even more cheering, we had lunch at the charming (and Michelin starred) Bistro Jeanty.

It’s just as cute as a button, right?

The lovely patio before the lunch crowd.  By this time, the weather had warmed and we decided to take advantage of the day and sit outside.

Oh!  Radishes, butter and salt!  How I love thee!

And my butter, so cute.  Why are girls such suckers for mini-anything?  Have you seen that commercial yet with the tiny giraffe?  Argh, it just kills me.

I’m also a sucker for a good piece of quiche.  This was an exemplary one.

Ms. M had a piece of sole.  Delicate.

And neither of us wanted dessert until we heard they had fresh strawberries served with creme fraiche and sugar.  I couldn’t even wait to eat one before I snapped the picture.  This is just the perfect taste of summer for me.

So, in a nutshell.  You’ve gotta either know someone, or be one helluva lucky bastard to get a reservation at the French Laundry.  But you probably can get in to Bistro Jeanty and that might be just as good.

P.S.  We had a few friends calling for us at the same time….we are actually on the waiting list twice.  We’ll see how that pans out.  I’m not holding my breath.


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