Despite what year-round "spider" crab sushi rolls might tell you, soft shell crabs are a highly seasonal item, available in very limited quantity, especially on the West Coast. Supplies of these freshly molted crabs, a product of Chesapeake Bay shellfish, are usually exhausted by July, so order them up anywhere you see them. We recommend you take this list of Bay Area restaurants serving soft shells, and squeeze in as many dishes as humanely possible in the next few weeks.
Winter in Wine Country is a time for restaurants to revamp, remodel, change ownership and, this year at least, build from the ground up. From pizzerias to gastropubs, Napa in 2012 is shaping up to be considerably less buttoned-up.
Between January and March, Wine Country is packed with specials on spa packages as it's traditionally the slowest time of the year. Whether you're looking for a discounted massage or something romantic for Valentines Day, check out these spa specials:
Napa Valley is known for the wine, food, and beautiful views, but there is fantastic shopping here as well. Some of the best finds are in winery gift shops, which are packed with wine-related trinkets and gear that ranges from coasters and wine openers to cycling jerseys and hats. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
There may not be as many places to stay in Napa Valley as there are in San Francisco, but I’d wager my weight in wine that they are just as diverse. From exclusive resorts to motels out of horror movies, we’ve got it all and plenty to choose from. Some of the most elegant and exclusive resorts in Napa Valley can be found on our list of the best spas and most romantic things to do and here are more favorites from North to South (upvalley-downvalley, as we say):
There are tons of summer celebrations in Napa Valley, but what do you do when the wedding reception's over, the wineries are closed, or you want another drink or two after dinner? Not long ago, the answer would be to pop a cork in your hotel room, but these days the Valley has plenty of options for night owls.
If you’re waking up to go wine tasting, odds are pretty good that you either need a solid brunch to soak up yesterday’s fun or something hearty to prepare you for a long day of wines and vines. Here are my picks for the seven best brunch spots in Napa Valley, broken down by specialty and experience:
Visiting a slew of wineries can be fun, but often it's just as enjoyable to relax a bit more and drive a bit less. Ma(i)sonry, just north of the heart of Yountville and located a short walk from Bardessono and Michael Chiarello’s Bottega, is a perfect spot to relax, check out art, and try wines from 15 limited production wineries. The ivy-covered manor is so enjoyable that it was featured in the New York Times Magazine as a must-stop an 11-hour Napa Valley tour.
Love him or hate him, wine critic Robert M. Parker, Jr. has made and broken many a winemaker. On Oct. 22, feel the power as he leads a tasting of the 2007 Châteuneuf-du-Pape at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. A sparkling wine reception follows (as it should when you’re shelling out $750). 2555 Main St., St. Helena, 707-967-2305, ciachef.edu
Spent the weekend up doing the Yountville shuffle. Here's my blog brief.
Yountville might feel like a planned community (of restaurants and resorts) rather than real place where real people live and dine (and get spa treatments). But it doesn't seem to detract from its ability to continue to be the big destination in the Napa Valley. (Thanks, French Laundry.)