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Category Archives: Local Adventures

Playing Tourist: A Napa Valley Picnic

It’s been a while since I’ve played tourist in my hometown of Napa. The weather has been a bit more consistent and warm, so I’ve been itching to get outside. As usually happens with my life, I’m either booked up on the weekends or need a really, really good reason to get outdoors.

Enter UncommonGoods, a Brooklyn-based company specializing in unique items for your home, gifts, or yourself. I was invited to check out their extensive kitchen + bar tools section and pick my top favorites to try out. As someone who works at a nonprofit, I was absolutely swooning when I learned they’re a founding B Corp, which means they use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. How could I say no?  Read the rest of this entry


Playing Tourist: V. Sattui Winery

As most of you know, I live in the Napa Valley. Because of this, I am frequently asked where to go for food, wine, and the best Napa experiences. While various wineries all have different niches they fill (small private parties vs. groups vs. food pairings vs. art displays, etc.), one of the wineries I always recommend to Napa newbs and am always bringing groups to is V. Sattui in St. Helena, CA off of the famous Highway 29.! Surely you’ve realized now that I love playing tourist in my backyard! 

Recently, I was contacted by RelayRides to take part in their Hometown Hidden Gems page on Pinterest. I have to admit that I hadn’t heard of RelayRides until they contacted me. It’s a peer-to-peer way of sharing cars, sort of like an AirBnB, and it makes a lot of sense for people who either don’t use their cars often or who travel a lot. There are options to either rent your own car out (and make some skrilla on the side) or to rent a car when you need one for a reasonable price. RelayRides also has pretty sweet sounding airport rental program at SFO where you can leave your car there for free parking! when you fly out and some money if your car is rented while you’re away. This is great for people heading into SFO to head up to Napa Valley 🙂 Anyway, I was excited to share one of the “hidden gems” of Napa Valley that first came to mind for me, V. Sattui.

V Sattui - winery of the year sign

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NapaQuake 2014

The last few days have been a very interesting living in Napa! Most of you have heard by now that we just had a 6.0 earthquake on Sunday morning at approximately 3:30 am. For most people, living in the Bay Area– or even California as a whole– means expecting a few earthquakes now and again. I’ve experienced so few in my 20-something years of living here, that I almost forget to remember we’re prone to earthquakes. I was alive but very young for the 1989 Loma Prieta quake that devastated many parts in the Bay Area. I don’t remember much, but my parents have told me stories about that day. My dad was on his way to the ’89 Battle of the Bay World Series in San Francisco (San Francisco Giants vs Oakland Athletics). My lovely mom and aunt Donna were taking a toddler-aged me shopping. I was also here during the 2000 earthquake in Napa, when my aunt Donna and her Brit hubby were visiting. I remember a picture frame falling next to me and waking me up. The damage to Napa was significant but we rebuilt. Earlier this month, a small earthquake 3.2 rattled me awake but after a short while, I was able to fall back asleep.

Sunday, August 24th was much different. Chef and I awoke at the start of the quake, forcing us to endure many minutes of shaking when it was really only seconds. Moments after the quake stopped, we heard neighbors shrieking to turn off the gas, sirens blaring down our street, and dogs barking incessantly. I realized that this was going to be pretty big.

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Playing Tourist: Spring Mountain Vineyard

One of the absolute best things about living in the Napa Valley is the access to fabulous food and wine. Seriously, moving back after college has done absolutely nothing for my waistline. It’s just so hard to say no to brunches, lunches, and wine tasting trips. And then, of course, friends want to partake. I have to be hospitable, no? This is what I like to call “playing tourist”. Because, sometimes, locals and natives like to learn about their home, too! Read the rest of this entry

Napa Eats: Mini Mango Thai Bistro

Hi, my name’s Natalie, and I’m a picky eater. (Cue the group welcome from the interwebs) Mushrooms, no way. Onions, only if I can’t detect their crunch. Tomatoes, only in sauce or cleverly hidden in a sandwich. I’ve pretty much always been this way with certain foods and textures. I usually just pick around whatever it is I hate don’t care for. Slowly but surely, I’m getting better at being more open to food. It’s not an easy process.

For my birthday, my family and friend Charise took me out to lunch at one of my top five restaurants in Napa, Mini Mango Thai Bistro. Funny thing about this restaurant: it was the restaurant that made me fall in love with Thai food! See, not only am I a picky eater, I’m also a newbie Thai food fan. During my enlightenment period in college, I constantly refused offers of going out to Thai food for lunch, dinner, a midnight snack, made by my friends. My family would offer to take me out to Thai restaurants in Napa, and I would scowl, and ask to go to sushi instead. Sounds pretty contrasting to being “enlightened”, doesn’t it? I couldn’t agree more. It wasn’t until the semester before my travels abroad in Europe that I finally began giving food I once considered “weird” or “creepy” (yes, food can be creepy!) a try. One such occasion brought me to  and had me falling in love with Thai food.


Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane, shall we? Read the rest of this entry

Napa Eats: Fume Bistro

My grandparents came down for a visit while en route to my cousin’s birthday. Being that my grandmother’s birthday is coming up soon and she’ll be in Tennessee for it, we wanted to take her out for a lovely dinner to celebrate early. Per usual, we were fronted with the conundrum of where to take her. After tossing some ideas around, we decided on a place we hadn’t been in years (which resulted in us wondering why we hadn’t been in years..)Fumé Bistro.

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Napa Eats: Bouchon Bistro

My friend Jeff and I have made it custom to catch up over dinner or dessert when he is visiting home. This past occasion, we went to Bouchon Bistro in Yountville. While I’ve been to the bakery for a sweet fix, I’ve never been in the restaurant for dinner or dessert. Jeff ordered two orders of Bouchon’s famed profiteroles (yes, two orders), and I was trying to mop up the drool pouring down my chin after the server mentioned a special of the evening: Le Bouchon.

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Napa Eats: Bounty Hunter

Sure, we all have to eat food; but why settle for something blah when you can enjoy something incredible? Two weeks ago, my best friend Charise came to visit me for much needed girl time. She’s in the middle of planning her wedding and I was having the day from public transportation hell. What can I say, I’m a small-town girl where our “public transportation” consists of a few bus lines. In need of some serious comfort food, I decided to take Charise to a place I’ve been to a handful of times and had the same amazing sandwich each time,  Bounty Hunter Rare Wine & Provisions. Read the rest of this entry