Brunch – the hybrid meal

Brunch is one of those things that everyone loves that, for a long time, I just could not get behind. As someone who is obsessed with food and has a special affinity for breakfast sandwiches, it SHOULD be something that I love. I think all those hungover Saturdays and Sundays spent waiting for hours to get a group together and at least an hour waiting at the restaurant itself really killed it for me, though. I’d either end up hangry by the time our food arrived or have broken down and snacked prior to bruch, making going out to an expensive meal much less appealing. Also, I wasn’t a huge fan of eggs for a long time. Trying to avoid egg-based brunch dishes is like trying to dodge a minefield.

Things have changed in the last year or so, though. I’m becoming fond of the big weekend meal that straddles breakfast and lunch and the mimosas that accompany it. There’s something nice about getting together on a Saturday or Sunday in the late morning or early afternoon with the whole day ahead of us… as long as I don’t need to be productive later. I’m also warming up to eggs. Last weekend, three of my best girlfriends in SF and I had brunch at one of the girl’s apartments. She’s a fantastic cook, so she whipped up some sourdough pancakes and a tortilla dish that were delicious. Naturally, I brought champagne from the Fancy Pants brand. After the meal, the four of us took a buzzed trip to the City Target nearby. There are few places more dangerous than Target while buzzed, because everything there is so cute but so little of it is necessary. I walked out with a comfy new sweater that makes me think of cuddling by a fire, an ugly Christmas shirt (new take on the ugly Xmas sweater), and a book. A fantastic Sunday!

In honor of the hybrid meal, some of my favorite place brunch places of all-time:

Elizabeth’s (Bywater, New Orleans) – Great all-around brunch, the praline bacon is NOT to be missed.

Camellia Grill – (Uptown, New Orleans) – I’m not sure this counts for brunch, but it’s my all-time favorite diner and it serves omelettes the size of your head, so it makes my list! The cheeseburgers here are so. amazing.

Distilled (Tribeca, New York) – Lots of unique options for food, the best of which (in my opinion) is the fried duck with waffles. Good cocktail menu, too!

ABC Kitchen (Union Square, New York) – One of my favorite NY restaurants, period. The brunch menu sports a super diverse selection of food, including eggs, pizza, sandwiches, salad, pasta, and fish or burgers. The roasted carrot and avocado salad is one of the best salads you’ll ever eat and the mushroom and farm egg pizza is also particularly bomb.

Marlowe (Soma, San Francisco) – An airy spot with great food, portions on the smaller side that leave you satisfied but not on the verge of explosion. Try the crab and shrimp crepe.

 

 

 

Napa Wine Tasting

I’m so happy to be back in the Bay Area, for good! One of the things I was looking forward to the most was San Francisco’s proximity to so many beautiful places. If you get in a car and drive two hours you can end up

Last Sunday A and I went to Napa with one of my best friends from high school and her fiance. Although it was drizzling when we left, it ended up being a dramatically beautiful afternoon with the sun peeking through large gaps between dark gray clouds. The vines were beginning to turn, adding even more color to the landscape. We decided to Uber from SF so that all four of us could fully enjoy the wine tasting experience.

We started our day at Domaine Chandon, which makes sparkling wine. After grabbing three different bottles at the tasting counter (and insisting that we did not need instructions on how to cap them, because we would certainly be finishing them) we took a seat outside in their patio area. Another beautiful thing about the Bay Area is that even if its chilly, it’s rarely too cold to sit outside if you’ve got a jacket and your legs are covered in some way. Out of the three bottles, my favorite was the sparkling rose. Prior to a year or two ago I didn’t particularly care for rose OR sparkling wine, but recently it’s become one of my favorite alcoholic beverages. Perhaps it was the need to find something light in refreshing on hot and humid New York summer evenings combined with my general dislike for white wines that finally led me to this brilliant discovery.

After we finished our bubbly, we took a trolley into Yountville to search for food. I’d heard great things about Bouchon Bakery, but the line was incredibly long and none of us had had a substantial breakfast, so we kept moving and ended up at Bottega. The food here was fantastic! I had one of the best risottos of my life and I think my fiance’s short-rib burger was probably one of my favorite lunch items I’ve ever sampled while finer dining. My pasta was excellent, as well. We left Bottega full, happy, and with our stomachs ready to absorb some more wine.

Next, we walked to a nearby winery called Cornerstone Cellars for a tasting. The tasting area was smaller but the wines and company were enjoyable. None stood out to me here, maybe because of the rose kick that I have been on! We had fun with the huge wine bottles they had on display outside.

Finally, we ended up at one of my favorite wineries, Peju. The property is beautiful, with a well-manicured lawn, and the wines never disappoint. Unsurprisingly, my favorite is the Provence, which is a red and white blend. After playing with a few visiting dogs and doing a round of tastings, we decided to join their wine club because… why not. I’d say we drink a bottle of wine a week, so we may as well make some of those bottles nicer. We also grabbed a bottle of the Provence, because of course.

A and I will be back next month for a weekend trip in celebration of our anniversary in October. I can’t wait to explore more of Napa Valley and taste more wines then!