The Elixir of Life is in Napa Valley – Day 4

I couldn’t think of a better way to end our trip then in beautiful Napa Valley. My only regret – not having enough time in the wine country. I guess that means we’ll just have to come back sooner then later!

The Highlights:

Micheal and Sissy at The Gables Inn Sausalito: What an amazing place to stay and a wonderful staff. From the wine and cheese hour with Sissy to breakfast on the sunny patio every morning, I will definitely come back and stay at this quaint bed and breakfast!

Morimoto Napa: After a slow start to the day we finally made it to Napa. While cruising through the adorable downtown we were beyond excited to see a restaurant from THE Iron Chef himself, Morimoto. The sleek and modern restaurant did not disappoint with some of the best sushi, sorry THE, best sushi I’ve ever had. From the deconstructed Toro Tartare, down to the traditional Spicy Tuna Roll, there was nothing ordinary about the Iron Chef’s cuisine. Absolutely divine!!

PlumpJack Winery: A beautiful winery in Napa and a perfect way to start the day. The wine was impeccable, especially the Syrah!

Chateau Montelena: After getting lost in the Bothe-Napa Valley State Park, driving through the winding mountainous roads, we finally made it to the gorgeous Chateau Montelena for a quick grounds tour and of course, some amazing vino! Interesting fact: until our visit I always thought Rieslings to be overly sweet, not anymore. The Montelena Riesling is crisp, subtle and definitely worth buying a bottle on your way out (the Zinfandel as well).

Cornerstone Cellars: What a happy accident! When the Hill Family tasting room was closing they sent us across the street to sip wine with local sommelier, Allison. The wine, of course, was delicious but most of all Allison was completely charming and a joy to spend our last few hours in Napa with.

Scoma’s Sausalito: After bidding adieu to the wine country we topped off an amazing trip with another fine meal at Scoma’s in Sausalito. The seafood in California is beyond anything you can get in Texas. I could seriously eat fish and sushi everyday if I lived here. The clam chowder and popcorn shrimp were an odd combination for an appetizer but rich and delicious. Matt had some mouth watering Halibut served over steamed spinach and potatoes, drizzled with a pesto cream sauce. I had the crab and shrimp stuffed sole smothered in a lobster sauce with steamed veggies and rice….amazing!!! We were too stuffed for dessert so we ordered some to go. When we got back to the room we opened the box to find not just our cheesecake, but a chocolate tart with raspberry sauce and a note that said “Enjoy Best of Both”!

Thank you Sausalito, San Francisco, and Napa Valley for giving us another memorable trip to reminisce about! Until next time!!

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Sunburns, Baseball & the Painted Ladies in San Francisco – Day 3

 

Sunburned and exhausted we woke up in Sausalito to day 3 of our trip to San Francisco. One delicious continental breakfast (I had to have my daily danish) and one missed ferry later we hopped the bus on our way to AT&T park. Decked out in our Texas Rangers gear we caught the attention of a fellow Texan riding the bus. It was interesting to hear his stories of traveling all over the world and finally landing in San Fran, “the greatest place to live in the United States”.

After making a few friends we found our stop and hoofed it to the ballpark just in time to take our seats in the blazing sun. Of course they were experiencing above average temperatures and my sunburn was protesting. After a few innings we made our way into the concourse and I must say, I had the best stadium hot dog of my life! San Francisco has definitely met all of my culinary expectations. After taking some pictures of the gorgeous ballpark and rooting the Rangers on to a solid win we took to the streets to explore on our last full day in San Fran.

We stopped for a pint in Union Square to take in a little people watching and cool our skin under the shade. A final jaunt on the hop-on-hop bus took us to Alamo Square and the famous Painted Ladies. The houses were beautiful and the park was a perfect spot to camp out on a late sunny afternoon. We continued on foot through the gorgeous Pacific Heights neighborhood. Between the vibrant flowers, luscious parks and hilltop mansions I found myself falling completely in love with this city.

It was nice to get lost amongst the quiet neighborhoods, away from all the tourists, and dream about the history and culture of the old Victorian homes that lined the streets. We eventually made it back to the water and a gorgeous trail that gave us one last sunset view of the Golden Gate bridge and Alcatraz. The evening was topped off with another delicious meal at Cioppino’s on Fisherman’s Wharf and an Irish coffee at The Buena Vista.

Next stop, my personal Disney Land – Napa Valley!

Eating My Way Through San Francisco – Day 2

 

Breakfast Pastries. Performing Pooches. Crystal Waters. Vibrant Flowers. Pearl White Birds. Sailboats. Alcatraz. The Golden Gate Bridge. Fisherman’s Wharf. Seafood. Sourdough Bread. Pride. China Town. The Stinking Rose. Trolleys. Weddings. Boudin. Pier 39. Herb Caen Way. Architecture. Tadich Grill. Oysters. Cioppino. The Buena Vista. Irish Coffee.

San Francisco!

Heaven is in Sausalito: Day 1

A Golden Gate meets sun kissed skies that seep beneath the sea
A simple rose greets new friends with sinful grapes and cheese
Wealth marries the cliffs adorned with glass that see into the streets
As lovers stroll, hand-in-hand into the crisp night breeze
Adventures and time fight to steel the travelers thoughts and dreams
And San Francisco sheepishly awaits the next day’s escapades

Las Vegas: Four Life Lessons

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Somehow I managed to get through my entire twenties without going to Las Vegas. Of course in my youthful arrogance I didn’t see the point of rushing away to the desert to throw my money away. Never the gambling type I swore to spend my time attending shows and feasting on the local culinary fare if I ever went. But here in lies the problem with the last sentence…Never is a powerful and generally useless word. This brings us to lesson number 1:

1. Never Say Never

Never the gambling type I say – but Never will end you up at a craps table for 6 hours giving high-fives to your new best friend while throwing out lingo like you’re an old veteran. “There’s something in the air they pump into the casinos” people say, but I say there’s something about free drinks and the roll of a dice.

Lesson learned – I have completely eaten my own words. Over a brief 3 day span I grew quite fond of the desert air and local games, but one thing I won’t become too fond of is my instant love for Craps. No weekend drives to Louisiana here – I need to spend all that money on more important things…like good wine, more fun adventures, and amazing food!

2. Caesar Doesn’t Live Here

One thing will never change, my amusement for the simple things in life. At the beginning of the trip we spent most of our time at Harrah’s. What’s not to like, cheap tables, karaoke, and the hustle and bustle of loud party goers gambling all their money away. Once we were finished with the smokey haze of the casino we headed down the strip to the illustrious Caesars Palace.

One too many Hangover jokes later and a lengthily stroll through the extravagant digs, Caesars quickly became one of our favorite hangouts. We didn’t do much gambling – just a lot of noshing on some of the amazing cuisine.

First Stop: Walking around in the heat gave us a huge craving for something cool and refreshing. Lucky for us a quaint little stand next to the main bar outside made the best Mojito I’ve ever had. Another perk to Vegas – walking around with a nice, big, alcoholic drink to beat the summer heat.

A Sweet Treat: Payard Patisserie & Bistro for some delicious truffles and macarons. In my opinion nothing compares to the Parisian classic, Ladurée, but Payard definitely is a close runner-up. The staff was amazing, letting us sample a few treats to make up our minds, and the atmosphere was perfect for people watching.

The Highlight: Bobby Flay is one of my favorite chefs. I’m quite the southwestern cuisine fanatic so Mesa Grill was an obvious choice for our splurge meal of the trip. For more on this lets move on to Life Lesson Number 3.

3. Bobby Flay Could Make me Eat Anything

Tucked amongst the noise of the slot machines and haze of the jumbo screens is Bobby Flay’s Vegas nod to southwestern cuisine, Mesa Grill. Small and intimate, this colorful restaurant backs a punch that only Bobby Flay could create. Perfectly spiced pork tenderloin and sweet and savory tamales had my mouth watering with every bite. The menu:

[Pics in the Gallery above]

Drink of Choice: Of course I can’t remember what it was called but it was a Peach Margarita that was to die for!!

Appetizers (including an amazing assortment of breads and muffins):

  • ROUGH CUT TUNA “NACHOS” with Mango,  Habanero Hot Sauce, and Avocado Crema
  • TIGER SHRIMP and ROASTED GARLIC CORN TAMALE with Corn – Cilantro Sauce

Entrees:

  • NEW MEXICAN SPICE RUBBED PORK TENDERLOIN with a Bourbon – Ancho Chile Sauce and Sweet Potato Tamale with Crushed Pecan Butter (for me)
  • GRILLED LAMB PORTERHOUSE CHOPS with Preserved Serrano Chile Vinegar Sauce and a Chorizo – Goat Cheese Tamale with Thyme Butter (my friend)

Unfortunately we didn’t leave any room for dessert but my stomach didn’t need anything else to mask the amazingness from my succulent and spicy Pork Tenderloin!! Everything about Mesa Grill was, well, amazing!

4. Everything Looks Better at Night

The last full day we stepped away from the casino and took in the sites of the Las Vegas Strip. It really is a breathtaking scene. With a little bit of Paris, New York, and dancing fountains, my camera and I fell in love with Sin City. My favorite casino for luxury was definitely the Bellagio with the high-end shops and plush casino. For the young and hip I would definitely say the Cosmopolitan with the fun decor and, supposedly, hottest night-club on the strip. I wouldn’t know of course since my nights were taken by the craps table. 🙂

It was a blast walking the strip during the day but nothing was better then taking in the sites at night. Other then NYC I’ve never been to a city that comes alive like Vegas does at night. The lights, the people – I could have walked around for hours if my feet weren’t already revolting against me.

Overall I had an amazing first trip to Vegas. Next time I go back I’m going to relax a bit more, take in some of the scenery at the pools and hit up some of the shows. Until then I’m going to keep my new found love of gaming at bay and recharge my liver.

Until next time Vegas!

Foodie in France – Day 12 and 13: Cannes and Nice

At the risk of sounding like a broken record I must say again…where has the time gone? Total blog fail on my part for not posting my final days in France. Ever since we left in October I feel like the last two and a half months have been a giant blur. With the new year approaching I’m making it my goal to incorporate my blog into my daily life. So here we go….

Since this is my final post on one of the most fabulous trips of  my life I thought I would treat it more like a pictorial diary. So without further ado here is a recount of my final days in Cannes and Nice, France.

Day 12: Cannes

Our 14 day trip to France was winding down and on the twelfth day we decided to take a day trip to Cannes. Before we left for Europe we were told by quite a few people that Cannes is one of the least spectacular places on the French Riviera.

The city, best known for the Cannes Film Festival, brings the most beautiful and famous movie stars from all over the world to the famous steps of the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès every year. Spectators line the streets of the exquisite Promenade de la Croisette to catch a glimpse of their favorite stars.

The short trek from the train station to the water front was pretty disappointing. The city was dirty and quite run-down in a lot of areas. Once we got closer to the famous Promenade the eloquent swag of the Luis Vuitton and Gucci adorned street was felt in the air.

The Promenade de la Croisette sits between two very impressive harbors and is home to many exquisite shops, hotels, and restaurants that overlook the Mediterranean. After a few hours of window shopping we headed to the docks of the harbor to admire the million dollar yachts. While discussing which prominent dignitary and celebrity owned which yacht (pure speculation of course) we stumbled upon the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès and the hundreds of celebrity hand prints that grace the walkways.

We had a great day in Cannes but it was nice to get back to Nice in time for some night time exploration and exquisite cuisine.

Daily Nosh

Another fabulous French breakfast full of meats, eggs, bread, and cheese and
a late afternoon snack of mussels and French Fries with a side bottle of Chablis.

For dinner – one of the best meals I’ve had the entire trip!

  • Wine: Pouilly-Fume
  • My Dinner: Sea bass coated in an amazing cream sauce on a bed of fresh arugula and grilled red onions
  • Matt’s Dinner: Succulent duck soaked in creamy gravy served with potatoes and arugula salad
  • Dessert: Creme Brulee (of course) and cappuccino
  • Night Cap: Guinness at the Irish Pub down the street!

Day 13: Nice (Last full Day)

Our first few days in Nice were filled with rainy excursions and plenty of time spent in the hotel room and restaurants. So the last day was spent exploring the fabulous city of Nice…and it was a gorgeous day.

Sitting here recanting the final day is happy and sad in it’s own way. A trip of a lifetime with my best friend in the entire world was filled with nothing but fabulous moments, magical places, and the most breathtaking wine and food I could ever dream of. So for our final day in Nice less is more…I will let the moments speak for themselves through my lens.

The waters of the French Riviera were different, beautiful shades of blue. It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

The city is separated into Old Town and the newer parts of Nice. The Old Town was where we spent most of our time. The shopping and food was unbelievable.

The city was so vibrant, literally, and full of life. The streets were filled with antique shops, flower shops, and patio cafes full of onlookers drinking their afternoon espresso.

The harbor was my favorite area. I could site and stare out at the beautiful ocean for hours.

Nice has an indescribable charm. From the rocky beaches to the ancient buildings filling the city with color…it’s magical!

Daily Nosh:

Breakfast: Our final French breakfast of eggs, cheese, bread and fruit.
Snack: French Fries and Mayo!!

Dinner at la Voglia:

Wine: Morando Chianti
Appetizer: Mozzarella Platter served three ways with a side salad

My Dinner: Lobster and bow tie pasta in a creamy tomato sauce topped with parsley
Matt’s Dinner: Rigatoni Pasta with Beef Ragu
Dessert: Chocolate and coffee ice cream piled high with whipped cream

France

I miss Paris and the elegance that fills the air. I miss Beaune and how the wine warms the soul. I miss the crystal waters and snow peaked mountains of Annecy. I miss the history of Nice and the opulence of Monaco. I miss how the French Riviera pulls you in like a bad habit. I miss France.

Adieu!

Foodie in France – Day 11: Nice and Monaco

I can’t believe it’s already been a month since we were in France. Time flies by so fast it’s scary. Now that I’m fully immersed into the daily grind again I find myself reflecting on our trip to France quite frequently. It was such an amazing experience and one day in particular really stands out in my mind. Here is my recap of our day in the most opulent city I’ve ever been to, Monaco.

After such a dreary day yesterday we woke up to amazing weather. In typical Sellers’ fashion we stayed up almost all night and barely made it in time for breakfast…just in time for closing in fact. We convinced the waitress to let us partake in some of the buffet and fill up on some morning cappuccinos. This was definitely the best breakfast buffet we’ve had so far.

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Foodie in France – Day 10: Nice

Our last few days in Nice were non-stop so there was very little time in the hotel room to blog our final days. We made it back to Dallas and of course it’s been go go go ever since. I definitely can’t leave you hanging on what happened the final days of our trip so here is a recap of day 10 in Nice!

When we arrived in Nice yesterday it was quite dreary outside resulting in a pretty raining night. This morning was no different. We woke up to rainy skies and a damp outlook for the rest of the day. There was 90% rain in the forecast for the remainder of the afternoon which meant our all day Hop on Hop Off Pass might not be as picturesque as I wanted.

Last night we stayed up super late as usual so unfortunately we missed the breakfast buffet. Since it was windy and rainy outside we opted to stay in and order room service. Even with the bad weather the ocean view was spectacular and the breeze from our opened balcony door was cool and refreshing.

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Foodie in France – Day 9: Nice

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Today is our longest travel day of the trip. Since Annecy is in the mountains we had to backtrack to Lyon then change trains to Nice. I love Europe’s transportation system. It’s easy to hop on a train and travel to multiple different places. A luxury I wish we had back in the states.

We woke up super early and grabbed some breakfast before our 8am train. Le Mercure Annecy was a great hotel. The staff was nice, breakfast was good, and the rooms were nice and clean. Even though there was no AC the cool weather made it comfortable at night with the window open.

I have to mention the biscuits we bought from La Cure Gourmande in Annecy. They were absolutely delish and a perfect snack for long hours on the train. The country side on our way to Nice was incredible. Town after town you see mountains with ancient medieval castles at the very top surrounded by old cities. It’s like something straight from a fairytale. The strangest thing was seeing these medieval cities set amongst modern towns like Avignon. There’s so much history everywhere, yet there’s so much graffiti as well. It’s a strange mix of the different centuries blended together.
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Foodie in France – Day 8: Annecy

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Today is our last full day in Annecy and we’ve had such a wonderful time. The city is so beautiful and vibrant. Our plan is to head back to the lake for a stroll and check out the boat tours. Lake Annecy is a part of a group of lakes starting with the largest in Geneva, Lac Léman. The crystal clear mountain water is just magnificent. To get the day started we headed downstairs for some breakfast. Of course I had my usual bread, cheese, meat and scrambled eggs. I definitely foresee lots of running in my future after feasting on all of this incredible French cuisine.

We headed straight to the waterfront and took some more fabulous pictures. I’m sure the lake is amazing in the summertime. The waters are so inviting. We didn’t see any boat tours at the moment so we headed to the old town center for some ice cream. I don’t know if it’s the atmosphere or allure of being in another country but the ice cream in France is fantastic. We walked around with our mint chocolate chip and coconut ice cream before finally heading out on the lake.
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