Category Archives: bed and breakfast

I’m a Vegan-Cheater

As a chef it is a funny thing to state you are eating vegan.  People look at me strangely, wonder if I am okay, and when invited over to their homes are wondering if I will be satisfied without a piece of meat on my plate.  That’s okay.  This was my reaction to most vegans who came into my life.

Over the course of the past ten years I have worked with many vegans here at the inn, all of whom have given me ideas and assistance on what could and would make a nourishing breakfast without eggs or meat or cheese (some of the mainstay building blocks of breakfast).  Their education has opened my eyes and palate to try new things that are all plant-based, and I have fallen in love with most if not all of what I have made.  Many have shared recipes, tips and tricks with cooking and keeping things in balance, and over that time I have come to appreciate the challenge of vegan cuisine at breakfast.  Generally I can say I have been fairly successful and am still growing in presenting new and exciting breakfast items for vegans.

Then, as some of you know,  five years ago I had a fight with a bad piece of cheese and, Hi-Ho the dairy-oh, the cheese stands alone- I lost the battle.  Since then I have been unable to eat pork, beef, or dairy.  Did you know that beef and pork share the same protein structure?  There is something in that protein structure that doesn’t agree with my body today.  It is never immediate but takes hours for the pain to become uncomfortable

Okay, so I made adjustments, found a great source of Vegan Cheese called “Follow Your Heart” and even Jamie loves it (it melts, cooks well into product, and goes well with crackers).  I am a cheese-a-holic, need a piece every day to feel whole and satisfied as a human being.  Chocolate?  Could leave it behind.  I know, I know.  For some of you those words are anathema.  Yet for me it is everything.  Leave cheese behind?  Never!

Recently a guest, William Brown, came through the house, a doctor who had recently moved to vegan and shared a bit of his story with me, how going vegan has been proven to reverse heart disease.  What?  Reverse it?  Oh my, yes.  I did my research, read some more and decided to give it a try.  Oh, I’m not perfect by any means.  I still eat eggs.  I simply cannot give up that deliciousness. Also, they call for a reduction or elimination of refined flour products (ugh, what, no bread?) and sugar (give up sugar?  have you tasted my chocolate chunk cookies?).  I suppose you could call me a Vegan-Cheater.

I tell people that I am 99% vegan.  The one percent is for when I don’t want to be vegan as something so delicious is sitting in front of me I must take a bite, or ten.  Like homemade flour tortillas.  I will let you know how I progress.  Yes, I will still incorporate eggs, dairy, and meat into breakfast as I want to play with a full deck of ingredients as I continue to work toward my goal of 250 breakfast recipes.  150 down.  100 to go!

2017 and The Inn On First

What new things are coming to The Inn On First for this year. As the best Napa Valley bed and breakfast inn, new breakfasts, of course!  I’ve just completed testing on a new recipe for a Prosciutto-Ricotta Cake with Poached Eggs, what I will call Cindy’s Ricotta Cake (as it was a guest, Cindy Weatherman, who gave me the idea for the breakfast).  It has opened up a realm of new possibilities in terms of flavor profiles: Italian style (with parmesan, prosciutto, served with basil oil and topped with honey roasted tomatoes), Mexican style (with pepper jack cheese, chorizo sausage, roasted red pepper, and homemade salsa), and American style (with bacon, chive, cheddar cheese and homemade creme fraiche), and much more.  Expect to see this recipe and more during 2017.

My cookbook is almost ready.  We are working on the cover, trying to decide which of over 90 breakfast recipe photos to put on the cover.  Should it be the pancakes oozing with chocolate sauce and fresh strawberries on top?  Or maybe the bird’s nest with salad greens, topped with pommes frites and a poached egg?  Or what about biscuits with a black cherry compote with a poached egg and prosciutto?  Ah, decision, decisions.  An email will be coming out soon with all the details.  The book will be available in black and white (less expensive) and color.

We are adding some new services this year: mobile nail, make-up, and hair services.  Want to have your nails touched up?  Or would you like to splurge and have someone do your makeup and fix your hair for a nice dinner?  We will bring in a Nail Tech or Cosmetologist to take care of your needs.  We are currently building those packages and will soon make them available on our website.

We have some new restaurants in town, such as Corner and the CIA at the Oxbow, and many new tasting rooms.  We will be visiting and reviewing each of these in hopes of guiding our guests to the best of all experiences present in downtown Napa.  We also have a new Jazz club, Blue Note, which is receiving rave reviews for both the music and the food, and there are some new offerings at Silo’s Music Club that we will be reviewing as well.

2017 is opening up right now.  Our rains have mostly come and gone and there is a new day shining ahead of us.  Why, even our boys are putting their COOL on as the clouds dissipate and the vines start growing here in the Napa Valley.  It’s a great time to come to the Valley, especially during the week; fewer people, more personalized service.

Christmas at The Inn On First

The holidays are magical here at The Inn On First in Napa, California, a luxury bed and breakfast inn.  Our own innkeeper, Jamie Cherry, pays attention to every little detail in decorating for the holidays.  I’m responsible for the lights on the tree, help decorate the trees, but he is pretty much responsible for everything else.  Attached is a video that shows you a bit of what Christmas is like here for us.  Wishing you and your families/friends a  happy holiday.

 

 

The Inn On First Remote Organic Garden…TFL’s got nothing on us!

Okay, so maybe The French Laundry Garden is a bit more spacious and they have incredible chefs creating magnificent food for all 3 restaurants, but we are really proud of our own Napa Garden, compliments of Toni’s backyard with Rick’s assistance (our own Mr. Home Improvement/Contractor/WineMaker/now Gardener), who are graciously permitting us to grow so many things remotely and to come and pick what we need once a week.  From green onions, to tomatoes, peppers, melons, and so much more.

Boy are we happy campers tonight as we pulled away with all these luscious tomatoes!  What shall we do, what shall we do?

Breakfast awaits.Garden Abundance

Death reminds us to celebrate in the NOW

I know our blog should be about all the great things that are happening right now, but sometimes we need to stop and acknowledge that there is a hard part of our lives as well.  We had a lot of grief in our lives these past few weeks at The Inn On First. Jim’s friend of 38 years, Teresa Bulone East Dominic; Jim’s spiritual mentor, co-author, and dear friend, Juanita Meller; and today Jamie Cherry’s oldest sister, Mary Beth, who had been actively dying from cancer this past year. These are all people who have helped form and shape who we are in our lives today, and we give thanks to them and the growth they inspired within us.

It’s not that our grief paralyzes us.  As a friend of mine said recently: “It is hard until it isn’t.”  And some days it isn’t hard at all, and those are the days we celebrate these magnificent lives that have impacted us over the years.  Our grief turns to gratitude as we remember them.  Our service to our guests continues to deepen, and our love for our guests and each other continues to grow because of those who have loved us well, especially these individuals who have been important anchors in our lives.  Thanks to all the wonderful guests who have been so supportive of us during this time of surrender.  Our call is clear: celebrate the NOW for tomorrow we may not be here.

#1 Inn on Yelp for Napa awarded the #2 slot for Best B&B in America!

Yelp* users have named us the #1 Bed & Breakfast in Napa and the #2 Best Inn in America!

For years we have been working hard to provide great food and great service to our guests.  Yelpers, those who post reviews for Yelp.com, have been generous in their praise for all of our hard work and for that we are ever so grateful.  They have made us #1 for Napa B&B’s for 8 years running and now they have propelled us into the national spotlight by rating us the #2 Best B&B in America!  How cool is that!  Thanks to all who have been part of The Inn On First family and making us a successful lodging property in the Napa Valley.  Read all about it here»

 

Garden Tomatoes are in!

TomatoesAs a foodie-destination spot in the Napa Valley, The Inn On First takes great pride in  obtaining fresh and organic ingredients wherever we can.  So, when our friend and contractor, Rick Leonard, invited us over to a friend’s house (Tony) to pick tomatoes, we jumped at the chance.

Fragrant as you picked them off the vine, some of them opening upon touch, begging to be eaten right away.  We did!  Sugar sweet, like candy.  Cherry tomatoes, early girls, mortgage busters, and more.  With more on the way she (Tony) made it clear we were welcome to return again.

So in the next few weeks expect to see them on the menu: from creamy, roasted tomato soup with grilled cheese croutons, to focaccia stuffed with summer tomatoes and mozzarella.

Our updated look and feel- before and after pics

The Inn On First, a luxury bed and breakfast inn in Napa, is happy to announce  the completion of our winter renovations.  We are so grateful to all of our guests who stayed with us throughout the work.  You kept our spirits strong and gave us the courage to keep moving forward during the worst of the foundation upgrade and the scaffolding for the new paint job.  So here are some before and after pics.

The outside of the historic mansion and garden suites building went from white and yellow with green trim and green awnings to tan and white with red awnings.
Scaffolding and Color ChangeNew color

 

 

 

 

As for the garden we moved the corner patio that had a separate wooden table and chairs and conjoined it with the larger breakfast patio.  That left us the opportunity to dig out the corner and to put in a new fire pit that is auto-ignited with a timer switch so guests can enjoy the warmth of the fire anytime between 7:30 am and 10:30 pm.  We hope you enjoy the new look and feel as much as we do!

Garden TransformationNew firepit

Fuller Park: even in winter it’s beautiful

Fuller Park WinterJust a short ten minute walk from The Inn On First, a romantic Napa Bed and Breakfast Inn, is Fuller Park. It is where I walk the dogs each morning after breakfast service.  Over the course of the year it changes with the seasons and every year I think one season is better than the next.  When actually they all have their merits.  In winter the leaves are gone, the air is crisp, the sky blue, and there is winter leaf-mulch all around.  There are fewer people in the park so it makes for a lovely walk in silence and solitude.  Until those squirrels decide to play naughty and run across the paths of the dogs.  Calvin is incredibly fierce in his determination to chase, but alas he is called back to formation with the pack.

Fuller Park Dog ShadowsFor me it is the long shadows with the sun hanging low in the sky that calls me to attention.  It is romantic in its own way, creating an ideal of shadow and light that equally play together into something beautiful.  It is serious, yet playful; simple, yet full of delight.  While visiting here in Napa, at any time of year, take a walk around Fuller Park and discover some of the beauty that other than grapevines and wineries.