Category Archives: napa valley

1313 Main: Knocked my socks off with food flavor and presentation

Only a 15 minute walk from The Inn On First, a romantic Napa bed and breakfast inn, 1313 Main opened initially as a wine bar and later morphed into a restaurant.  Elements of the wine bar still exist as you enter the space, but really the restaurant is the shining star.

The menu is broad (such as frog legs, wagyu beef) and yet the basics are there as well (beef rib, roasted chicken, fresh fish).   The chef accommodates all food issues and easily presents great flavor and stylish presentation even for vegans.  You will find delicacies such as Peach Gaspacho, to Trout Tandoori, and Porcini Mushroom Raviolo.  For larger plates, tender Lamb Saddle with Chimichurri Sauce, stuffed Squash Blossoms, or the Hakaido Scallop with Spring Onion Perogi.

The service was great and the ambience casual with a touch of elegance.  Overall a real hit in my book and one of new favorite restaurants in downtown historic Napa.

#naparestaurants, #1313main

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.

 

 

Want to be part of a Napa Travel-log Series?

B & B and Me. Napa Valley: still need more participants for a Travel-log show.  Extending the show through the Fall.

This is NOT a reality show.  Some of you have said you would have applied had you known it was more of a Travel-log series where a production crew will follow couples as they enjoy their stay at this stylish B & B and as they explore the Napa Valley.   We are trying to showcase the inn and the greatness of Napa Valley.  The cameras are not with you all the time.  They meet you at breakfast to capture your thoughts about breakfast.  They will meet you at a winery where you talk about your experience of the wine.  They will meet you at your restaurant for dinner and showcase the food that is prepared.  The show is slated to be witty, informative, creative and fun!

WHO SHOULD APPLY?
Everyone, of course!  You all have stories to share about yourselves, your relationship, or even why you have chosen Napa Valley as your destination spot for that special occasion.  The production company would love to see diversity of every sort (race, culture, religion, sex, age, et al.).

HOW TO APPLY?
Simply make a reservation (or maybe you already have one!) at the Inn on First for a midweek stay (holidays excluded) in the Fall/Winter.  Then email the producers a half page of why you should be chosen, send it to info@bandbandme.com.

A Christmas movie from The Inn On First

Here in Napa Valley The Inn On First, a Napa Bed and Breakfast Inn, Jamie Cherry works hard to prepare for the Christmas season.  Weeks before Thanksgiving he sets out all the boxes in the attic, organizing what goes out first and what can wait.  On the Friday following Thanksgiving (yes, he still holds to the “no decorating before turkey day”) he begins the process.  This movie is a little clip into what he does and how he helps guests and friends enter into the magic of the holiday season.

Post-Earthquake Information from The Inn On First

Calvin
Calvin

First and foremost we are doing very well.  We want to say “thank you” to all  our guests, family, and friends who reached out to us with emails, phone calls, and texts of concern, love, and support.  It means very much to us and and reminds us of how much love there is in the world around us.

Hugo & Maxwell
Hugo & Maxwell

We, Jamie and Jim, were in Santa Cruz at the time of the earthquake for a niece’s wedding.  A friend called at 4 am Sunday and said we needed to come home right immediately.  All guests were accounted for and uninjured.  We learned Calvin hid underneath a night stand.  Maxwell jumped up on the bed, barking (naturally).  Hugo stood up and watched the whole thing happen.  No injuries, just scared little dogs needing some love and attention.

Staff Workers
Staff Workers and Clean Up

Our interim innkeeper, Cindy B., out-did herself keeping things calm and cool in the aftermath of our 6.0 earthquake.  We lost a lot of “things” and any damage to the historic mansion is cosmetic (cracked plaster, paint chipped off).  We called the staff and told them to take care of their families, and if they had time to join us later for clean-up.  Cindy B. rallied the troops around us and we began the process.

KitchenMess
Kitchen in Disarray

We closed the inn for two days to clean up the mess.  Lots of broken glass, lost dishes (a 100-year old hand painted china set- ugh!), two armoires that fell over and broke apart , and the picture window in the living room overlooking First Street.

However, as you can see in this next picture we had cleaned up by Sunday evening,Kitchen Post Clean Up and  most things  were back in order.  We only lost six bottles of wine in the basement/cellar and although everything fell over or off its perch in the attic, very little was lost.  All Christmas decorations managed to survive!

We were told to repair the cracked stucco on the chimney and the living room window won’t be repaired for awhile what with all the other businesses and homes in town in the same post-quake boat.

When you visit you are apt to see the plaster cracks in the living room and foyer even though we are structurally sound.  Again, the damage is cosmetic.  Cracked Plaster We are currently ordering new items for the rooms that need it, so please forgive the mismatch of lamps, etc., until we are able to restock our inventory.  Apart from some of the visual clues around the house, you would be hard pressed to imagine we experienced an earthquake at all.

What about the aftershocks or tremors?  We felt two this morning but thought it was the dogs jumping onto the bed.  That was the extent of movement we experienced- very short, very small.  As seasoned Californians we know these come and go and we find them more amusing as there is no damage to the house or belongings.   Our guests from Georgia slept through the first one and she thought the second one was her husband shaking the bed to wake her up.  They are with us for another night.  Others, though, for their own reasons  canceled and while we were sad to see them go we understand their comfort level is different in regard to this event and they didn’t want to visit Napa, or even California at this time.

OxBow InteriorAs with all things Californian recovery comes quickly and the community moves Oxbow Markettoward full recovery.  The Oxbow Market, our local Napa gathering spot with shops, stores, and restaurants, is already booming with activity.  I walked around today purchasing produce, spices, and meat as I wanted to support local vendors in their loss of inventory over the weekend.  It was nice to see so many other people doing the same.  They reopened Main Street today and they are currently looking to reopen First Street this weekend.  There are parts of outer Napa (away from downtown where we are located) where water is still an issue with broken water mains.  The majority of downtown restaurants are open, some with “limited menus” until inventory is restocked, and wine tasting rooms are still open for business.  The wineries are open after their own clean up, and the local grocery stores are looking to be reopened by Friday (the clean up there is pretty significant).

Living Room Post Clean UpHow can you help?  Come visit.  Taste wine.  Go out to lunch and dinner.  Support the local community.  Let Napa know that we can and should carry on with the great gift of hospitality that is offered to all.

 

Was on Silent Retreat in Montecito…so what?

Garden Pond 2015I usually blog about the restaurants (you’ll see more soon) or wineries (always more to share), but today I wanted to share something a bit more personal and compelling for me as Chef and Co-owner of The Inn On First, a luxury bed and breakfast inn in Napa.

Annually Jamie gives me one week to go away so that I can spend a lot of time in silence and reflection with my BFF from southern California (Linda, whose husband is also generous in letting her go for one week).  We rent a cottage on a 25-acre retreat property, are self-sufficient for the day in terms of breakfast and lunch, and then gather at dinner to cook and share our thoughts about the day.  Each day we independently choose our theme for the day: what’s on our minds or hearts that is calling for attention?  It could be work, relationship, self, family, friends.  It doesn’t matter.  There is no formula.  You spend the day however you choose (reading a book of reflection, walking at the beach, going for a hike, sitting in your room, sitting by the river, enjoying the views, swimming in the pool, drawing pictures) and trust your heart, mind, and body to lead you through the silence.

My overall theme this year was Joy.  It always seems to elude me.  I feel love and peace so often, so why not joy?  I also know that sometimes I have to work at love:  that some days love really is a decision even though I don’t “feel” it.  That I have to work at peace: taking time to sit for five or ten minutes in quiet and solitude, a moment set aside for my heart to settle down for a bit.  So, where is joy in all of this?  And how do I go about working at it?

Over the week of reflection I realized that I have defined joy as effervescence, a giddiness or happiness that bubbles from within.  How wrong I have been!  I realized that joy is the simple action of appreciation, a moment when I am awed by nature, or touched by a friend’s concern, the deep abiding breath you take when you are simply awed by a view from the mountain top.  I came to understand that it is an “ah” (or “aha”) moment when you are not necessarily effervescent but simply in appreciation for what you have before you.  Thanks and gratitude.  Not overflowing, but simply in appreciation and simplicity.

Garden2015I returned home to The Inn On First from retreat and sat in the garden.  I saw the hummingbird feeding from the salvia flowers in the yard, watched the fish swim excitedly in the pond just before I threw in their food, and enjoyed watching a couple sit at a table, conversing and sharing a glass of wine.  I thought about all the ah-some moments I have had here at the inn over the past seven years and I took a deep sigh in gratitude.  Of course, this is my joy.  People, food, wine, nature, Napa.  All of it put before me.  Not in giddiness.  Not effervescent.  Simply grateful and appreciative for what was right in front of me.

The work of joy for me, then, is to take the time throughout my busy and not always joy-filled day to “look” for those ah-some moments: in the laughter of guests at the breakfast table, in the tenderness of a couple sitting quietly hand in hand in the yard, in the joviality of a couple playing chess over a glass of port, in the sound of a guest playing the piano in the living room, in my surprise at the guests who enjoy throwing the ball for my dogs as much as I do, in the delight of guests who share their appreciation with the morning’s selection for breakfast, in the clink of the glass cookie plate cover (meaning someone else has returned to the jar once more for some chocolate love) multiple times over the course of an evening.  All of this brings joy to me.

So don’t be surprised if you find me glancing your way with a smile as you sit in the yard sipping wine, or see me sitting in the yard with a cup of coffee enjoying a moment of quiet gratitude as you return from your day of wine-tasting, or walking by your breakfast table with an appreciative nod as you eat my food with delight.  It’s just me, working at joy, finding it in every ah-some moment put before me here at the inn, hoping that, maybe, you’ll find some too.

 

Addendum is open for the season! Get your picnic baskets ready for lunch….

Per Paul Franson, our Napa “in the know” columnist and writer has informed us that Thomas Keller’s Addendum is open for the season, only a fifteen minute drive from your favorite luxury Napa bed and breakfast inn, The Inn On First.

Addendum behind Ad Hoc in Yountville serves take-out lunches Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. They also have some tables you can use for a picnic.

While fried chicken remains on the menu (our favorite item on the menu),  chef Thomas Keller and the Ad Hoc team have decide to take BBQ more seriously with the recent purchase of a new Rolltisserie Smoker, which is one of 40 in the country.

Ad Hoc’s chef de cuisine Katie Hagan-Whelchel and TKRG chef de cuisine Devin Knell have spent weeks perfecting their “mop ‘n smoke” technique and BBQ recipes that will be available at Addendum throughout the year.

All meat is smoked with hickory and Napa Valley grape vines cuttings.  We provide you with the picnic basket and ice packs; you fill it with your favorite BBQ items and we’ll send you to one of our great picnic spots in the valley.

Torc: restaurants come and go…I hope this one stays.

A ten-minute walk from The Inn On First, a luxury lodging property in Napa, is the restaurant called Torc.  It opened a few months ago and I wanted to give it awhile before tempting fate with such an eclectic menu.  We shared the evening with our friends, Don and Kathy, so that meant more bites to enjoy.

Beginning with the artichoke soup with mint and lemon, I was in love with the velvety finish.  The portions are not large (we had read about this beforehand) and yet when I saw what was put in front of me I appreciated that they seemed just perfect for dining on multiple courses.  The Kampachi Crudo was incredible, a white fish with a citrus sauce and avocado, as was the Roasted Beets with Burrata and a Sherry-Maple glaze.  Growing up on canned beets I thought I would never try them again.  Since trying roasted fresh beets my heart has been changed, and Torc delivered it with gusto.

We also tried the Deviled Eggs, and the Pakora, as well as the Jamon Iberica, all great small starter appetizers for the meal.  Jamie had read about the Coconut Rice and the flavor on that dish was subtle and fun to eat.  We also enjoyed the Pork with the Cheddar Grits and a Buccatini Pasta with a Lamb Bolognese.  We enjoyed all of it.  Prices for apps and sides run $5 to $15, and the entrees are from $14 to $29.

Torc is willing to accommodate changes to dishes to present Vegans, Vegetarians, and Gluten-Free guests.  That is something not every restaurant in Napa offers.  The menu changes seasonally so I am looking forward to some really great meals in the future.

Fly Fishing Guide and Lessons now available!

The Inn On First, your luxury Bed and Breakfast Inn in Napa, is proud to be the first to offer Fly Fishing Lessons to our guests.  This is a unique experience that can enhance your stay here in the Napa Valley.

You begin your day at 7 a.m. in the parking lot of the inn where you will meet your guide, Richard Loft, who will offer you an early morning continental breakfast.

Fly FishingYou will sign all the necessary paperwork, he will hand you a map, and you will follow him for 45 minutes up into the hills beyond the Napa Valley.  When you arrive he will suit you up in your waders and boots, and explain the basics of fly fishing.  After a few lessons of casting and reeling, the real fun begins!  Wading out into the river you begin the process of catch and release.  Plan on a minimum of two to three hours in the water.  Snacks and water available as you fish.   When you are finished you can sit down to enjoy your sandwich lunch soaking up the beauty of Napa County Wilderness.  Generally you can plan on returning to the inn no later than 1 p.m. which still leaves time for wine tasting in the afternoon.  (Disclaimer: As with all fishing excursions, expect to have fun but catching of fish is not guaranteed).   $525/couple, or $325 for one person.  (50% deposit required, and there is a 72-hour cancel policy)

Fishing in the State of California requires a license which can be procured from the California website: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/ols/, or you can make a visit to Sweeney’s in Napa (1537 Imola Ave West., Phone: 707 255-5544, Store Hours: Mon-Fri 9:00 – 6:00, Sat 8:00 – 6:00 Sun 9:00 – 5:00).