Following our tour of Oxbow Market last weekend, and with a detour to watch Monkey play basketball in Napa, we arrived early in Yountville for our long-held reservation at Ad Hoc. It’s funny how being required to book a table eight weeks ahead of time, can make you overlook small details.
What the hell was I thinking I’d do with a post-game, ravenous, 10 year old boy for an hour before dinner? Oh yes, take him on a culinary and wine tour of Yountville. What kid in their right mind wouldn’t want to do that on a dark, chilly January evening, right?
Well the good news is that Yountville sure looks pretty in the twilight, and thankfully, the bakery at Bouchon was still open at 6pm, at least for macaroons, although the bread shelves were pretty darn bare. After waiting in line behind some Chinese tourists, Monkey opted for a raspberry (gluten-free) macaroon, mostly because I vetoed the idea of one covered in dark chocolate and wrapped in shiny, bright colored foil. I know, I’m such a killjoy, but we were about about feast on a three course meal conjured up by a Thomas Keller kitchen, and the macaroon did perk him up until dinner.
We then wandered through the V Marketplace for a few minutes, mostly to get out of the cold as everything was already closed. I spied Kollar Chocolates, which looks like a mighty fine place to eat lovely chocolates, and there are lots of art galleries, a good wine shop and some clothing stores I highly recommend you avoid unless you want to dress like an American tourist on vacation. Our last stop before dinner was a wine tasting shop where we lounged in front of a fire and played hangman in which all the words were Keller-themed. (By the way, that wasn’t planned but an eery glimpse into how genetics makes our brains work on the same wavelength.)
After asking “Is it time yet?” for about the hundredth time, I finally was able to “YES!” to Monkey’s question, and we skipped our way down Yountville main street, a place I can only describe as Thomas Keller’s answer to Disneyland. Actually, a quick word on this. Yes, Yountville is “cute” and yes, it’s become completely saturated by Thomas-Keller owned establishments, from pseudo-French brasseries to bakeries, and of course, the hallowed French Laundry. And so, yes, I think this is completely overdone and rather a shame, but still, if your idea of a good time is to immerse yourself in a food fantasy land, by all means spend the weekend in Yountville. I just happen to think you could spend an hour or two in Yountville, eat a nice meal and then explore the “real” Napa and Sonoma for the other 46 hours of your getaway.