We have loved the food everywhere in California. We found a little breakfast place just south of our hotel, called the Redwood cafe. It was right in the center of Cotati, and had a great selection of organic foods, juices, and some pretty darn good espresso.

Of course, like the rest of California, they keep saying “eXpresso” it’s driving me nuts. oh well.

We ordered a big breakfast, with fresh made vegetable juice, and two cups of coffee each, sitting on a little table on the sidewalk. A great start to any day.

The big plan for the day was having diner at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon in Yountville, so we planned on spending lunch at the hotel in the pool. Or at least Yulia and Sasha did. I had plans to meet my buddy Peter Rogers.

If you know of my movie from High School, “Aerobic Boy” then you know of Peter. He was the writer/director, and I hadn’t seen him since we graduated. We managed to connect on Facebook earlier in the year, and he had apparently moved to Santa Rosa.

We met for lunch at a little diner. You would think it might take a minute to recognize someone after 20+ years. But Pete looked almost the same.

I, on the other hand, am bald as hell.

For whatever reason he was able to recognize me, and I walked up to him and said, “My hovercraft is full of eels.”

Pete looked at me for just a second, “Brushing after every meal helps prevent tooth decay!”

We hugged.

These were the code phrases from our characters in our high school film in 1987. Some things you never forget.

We were able to have a quick lunch after all this time. We were both drama nerds, with he working in Insurance now and I’m a computer geek. Pete is hoping to find his remaining copy of our film so we can convert it to digital and put up to Vimeo or something. He hopes to come to Seattle around christmas, some maybe we can connect again. Sometimes it’s great to talk about nothing at all. Even after 20 years.

Back at the hotel, we dressed up and got ready for Bouchon. We had originally thought about hitting the French Laundry while here, but the waiting list was crazy. Also, a bistro setting can be much more family friendly.

We let the GPS direct us over to the Napa side of the valley, and again we got turned onto a tiny, winding mountain road. We almost got directed onto a single lane road, but I figured out that things war mis-marked and backed down and got us back on track before things got too ugly.

Once we were out of the mountains, we took a walk through Yountville. Honestly, this is where we should have stayed. It is small, walkable, and amazing. The galleries and shops are fantastic.

Dinner at Bouchon was amazing. We were a bit early for our reservation, and had a bit of coffee from the Bouchon bakery. Once we were seated, it was an amazing diner. Great service, fantastic food, and wonderful wine. Not cheap by any measure, but worth it for a vacation meal.

Looks like I need to re-read that Thomas Keller book that my brother gave me. Amazing.

We are back in wine country again.

This is our third trip here, and we are staying on the Sonoma side again. Yulia found us a great hotel on a golf course south of Santa Rosa, and having a big place to relax in is really the way to go.

We started the day in downtown Santa Rosa, which frankly is a bit worse for wear. A lot of the Napa and Sonoma valleys date back to the late 1800’s. Downtown Santa Rosa has some pretty col historical buildings, but just doesn’t have the cool kitschy feeling you want in wine countrySo we set the GPS to Sonoma, and headed across the hills.

We hit Glen Ellen after some beautiful but windy roads, and found the wine country we wanted to hit. The whole central Sonoma Valley has the old, country feel, with little storefronts and fruit markets between the wineries, with signposts on the way, pointing to each of the wineries, in all directions.

We hit a little market to pick up some fruit and chocolate. headed into downtown Sonoma to walk inside the shops and parks. it is an amazing city center, with shops, historical architecture, and history all rolled together. We wandered the streets, and the courtyard and alleyway shops. The whole town was amazing. Napa, in comparison is much newer and not nearly as walkable.

We went from there to three of our favorite wineries. First was Cline, which has amazing gardens and pools. THey have a bird collection i the gardens, and Sasha took time to have a conversation with several of the birds. She went over to the turtle pool while we tasted a few wines.

We next went across to the Jacuzzi winery, and since the crowd was too big to do wine tasting, we did an olive oil tasting instead. it was really fantastic stuff, and you really appreciate how fresh and crisp oil can be.

After that, we went to Viansa, which we have visited on every trip to Napa. They have an outdoor pizza oven, and an amazing little store. We got some wine and food for the evening, and headed back to the hotel.

We had a normal room when we checked in, but Yulia worked her magic, (and used some Hilton Honors magic as well) and we were upgraded to a Junior Suite. The staff moved our luggage while we were away, and we cam back to a top floor room of about triple the size.

It’s nice to order room service, hit the pool for a bit and just relax. We should do this more.