Traveling puts me in my happy place. It is honestly where I feel my best - a little out of my comfort zone, exploring new places, and usually with people I love. There is the anticipation of travel: planning, researching, packing and excitement. There is the moments of actual travel: living out all those plans, flying by the seat of your pants, tasting the food, meeting the people and being away from day-to-day life. And lastly, there is the aftermath: looking at the photos, considering what you would have done differently or kept the same, and thinking about how that travel changes how you see your world.
Every time I travel, I think about how much there is to see in this world. How many places there are to live and be happy. Make stories, create lives. Explore and experience. But when it comes down to it, usually, we are driving through the North End of Boise, on our way from hours of travel, and I feel lucky to call this place my home. It's not a huge cosmopolitan city, full of fashion and bustle, which is sometimes what I crave. But it is home, it's easy and full of our friends and the life we have created. And it reminds me that we can truly be happy wherever we are, as long as we are present.
Travel has shaped so much of my life. From early days of meeting exchange students, to watching my sister travel abroad and finally crossing the ocean myself. I caught the bug at an early age. And I made it one of my missions as a parent, to give that bug to my child. And also, inspire others to travel with their children, near or far. It's the one of the greatest pleasures of my life.
This past week, Dan and I had the pleasure of traveling to San Francisco and wine country on a pretty dreamy getaway. It was primarily luxurious because it was an adult-only vacation. I love traveling with Kiki, but I also recognize the importance of getting away with my spouse. We traveled with two other couples, both of whom enjoy fine wine and dining as much as we do!
Two years ago, we found ourselves creatively coming up with ideas for a Ballet Idaho gala auction item. One of our friends was able to procure a private jet flight through a local company, Jackson Jet Center - they would donate a flight for the auction if we agreed to buy our own two-way trip. SOLD!
After seeing a New York Times article on Tartine, we decide that San Francisco would be our destination. From there, we created a 4-day trip to the city and Napa Valley. There were months of planning, mostly thanks to our friend Lee. The trip was born.
We left on a Wednesday morning from the Jackson Jet Center in Boise on a Pilatus. We lived up the 2.5 hour flight to say the least - when would we be doing this again? Our pilot's name was Phil and he ended up becoming a friend by the end of our trip. Phil floats us effortlessly into SFO. I was in the cockpit for the last 45 minutes of the flight and quickly understood the lure of flight. It was magical.
We stayed at the Fairmont Heritage Place in Ghirardelli Place. It was a perfect place for 3 couples to reside in the city. Our apartment had 3 bedrooms with en suite bathrooms and a kitchen. Included in our stay was a lovely breakfast, happy hour with wine and appetizers and a town car to deliver us/pick us up within a 2 mile radius around the city (that was worth so many Uber dollars).
Wednesday was spent in the city. We explored the Ferry Building and ate lunch at Hog Island Oysters. We ate on the outside warf, sipped rosé and ate fresh seafood. It was too early for check-in at our hotel, so we all had pedicures. All six of us. It's true.
Thursday was a drinking day. A day of drinking many tastes of fine California wine. If you ever go to Napa and want to take the guess work out of which of the hundreds of wineries to visit, look no further than this guy: David Rasmussen of Eclectic Tour. He is knowledgeable, professional and a great person! He drove us around all day and arranged beautiful tastings, an alfresco lunch, and great conversation. We visited the following wineries: Caldwell Vineyards, Fisher Vineyards, Terra Valentine and a tasting room in Napa called Vintner's Collective.
I am currently waiting for a case (or two) of wines from Caldwell...I drool a little just thinking about those wines. And the port.
We decided to sober up with dinner at the Carneros Farm Restaurant. The food was delicious, but my palette was spent. I hope to go back someday to savor every bite and enjoy their beautiful spa and resort.
Friday morning was gorgeous. We had eagerly signed up for a spinning class at SoulCycle on Union Street a week before...we didn't make the 9:30am class (oops). But, I did lace up my running shoes and go for a nice run along Crissy Field with the Golden Gate Bridge as the backdrop. The sun, the smell of the ocean, the people out and about - it was a great start to another day of imbibing.
We had a special dinner planned for Friday night, so we decided to eat lunch a little early. We headed into Chinatown and found our way to City View Dim Sum. This was actually my first time eating dim sum and it was more than I ever expected. Our friend Maji held our hands and ordered for us...pointing at the carts full of steamed dumplings and rolls and steamed vegetables and other delicacies I had never tried before. It all happened so fast - the ultimate fast food!
As I write this blog post, I realize just why my pants didn't fit well when we returned home. There was a lot of eating and drinking. I can't deny it. And this next meal was one for a bucket list. Our calendars were marked for a date in January 2018 to make reservations for The French Laundry. It has been on many of our lists of restaurants we'd dream to dine in and we scored a tabletop for 6. We arrived in Yountville 30 minutes ahead of schedule so we sipped on a bottle of rosé at Bouchon just down the street (and maybe split a few chocolate cookie sandwiches). Gluttons!
The French Laundry experience was magical. I say experience because it really was about much more than the food plated so beautifully on ornamental china. From the moment we arrived until the parting with bags filled with shortbread and chocolates, we were treated to spectacular service. From the "Happy Birthday Lauren" typed at the top of our menus, to the sommelier that helped us pair our wines to the courses, to the simple white table cloth with a solitary candlestick, to the kitchen tour...we easily understood why this place has 3 Michelin stars. Many people have asked me if it was worth it. Yes, the whole experience was worth it! The food was delicious and beautiful, but I would argue that I have had food that rivals Thomas Keller's at State&Lemp in Boise. Enjoy the food, savor the wine and sit back (but up straight) dining at this icon of a restaurant.
Our last day in San Fransisco was 70 degrees and sunny. We didn't rush ourselves much as we reminisced about the French Laundry. My favorite part of the day was sitting at Crissy Field, watching the dogs play, the people bask in the sun and sitting by my friends next to the bay. Oh, and I can't forget the ride on the new electric scooters around town (when will Boise get these?). And a gaggle of naked men happily riding bikes!
Until next time San Fransisco!