Hitting the Silverado Trail, a scenic route that winds along the eastern reaches of the Napa Valley, we start at one of the region’s fine-dining pioneers: Auberge du Soleil. Everything here is so perfect, so blue-sky- and-sunshine that, as we wander through art-filled, tropically lush gardens, we start to wonder if we’ve fallen through a wormhole into a far lovelier dimension.
Dinner is a stately gourmet trip through classic French technique and, of course, much of California’s bounty, but it’s breakfast that thrills us most. On the restaurant’s terrace, overlooking hills and valleys in every shade of green, row upon perfect row of vines as far as the eye can see, we discover smoked salmon pizza. Yes, the smoked fish on cream cheese spread over
fabulous, springy sourdough pizza base – it’s my new favourite thing. Schramsberg Blan de Blanc – a creamy, sprightly fizz – is the perfect companion. Drinking at breakfast? Why not?
In nearby St Helena every other shop is
a restaurant, gourmet foodstore or outlet for Napa’s own-grown peppery olive oil. We stop at Gott’s – you gotta stop at Gott’s – a burger joint for decades and a place of pilgrimage for a damn fine patty. The server shares a menu hack: ‘order regular fries with sweet potato spices’, so we do. Neat trick.
A couple of hours exploring to walk it off and then Archetype, the prettiest restaurant in this prettiest of towns, with its oatmeal- coloured perfection, frondy ferns and glazed lean-to. Even the food is pretty – my crispy local duck with Asian slaw in a pillowy hirata bun comes with ‘dirty rice’ in a teeny Chinese takeout carton.
Before we get back on the trail proper there’s just time to swing by Yountville. It’s home to The French Laundry, but this time we try Redd Wood, the newest outlet for local chef Richard Reddington, for first-class wood-fired pizzas and huge platters of charcuterie from the curing room: guanciale, ’nduja, salumi.
More info: visitnapavalley.com
Photo credits: Chris Gramly
You may also like these American food and drink travel guides…
Manhattan, New York
Queens, New York
Top 5 classic American hotels