I eat: Napa Rose [1], [2]

I opened a Disney credit card in 2007. I can’t tell you why because I honestly don’t remember myself; I was never a Disney fanatic. Over the years, I accumulated more than 400 Disney Dollars. It wasn’t until I researched the redemption policy that I find out I could use my Disney Dollars at Disney restaurants. I chose Napa Rose.

Inside Napa Rose, there is a lounge, main dining area, Dessert Counter and Chef’s Counter. The Dessert Counter seats about 4 to 5 people and is off to the right of the kitchen overlooking the preparation of desserts. The Chef’s Counter is split by the service counter (see picture below); each side seating 4. Diners sitting on the left facing the kitchen have a view of appetizers being made while diners on the right get to see the main course action unfold. Because of the extended experience, there are only two seatings per night at the Chef’s Counter/Dessert Counter, 5:30PM and 8:30PM.

IMAG0459Executive Chef Andrew Sutton

To snag seats at the Chef’s Counter, I made a reservation a month in advance for a 5:30PM seating. Henry and I were excited to celebrate our 5 year anniversary with a “free” dinner (thank you Disney Dollars)!!

The night of our reservation, we arrived early only to find out that whoever took our reservation FUCKED UP because they had no record of it.

I. WAS. LIVID.
THANKS FOR RUINING OUR ANNIVERSARY ASSHOLE!!!!

The Chef’s Counter was completely booked that night so the only thing the manager could do was offer us seats in the main dining area. I contemplated just walking out and going home, but I remembered that I had expiring Disney Dollars to use so I reluctantly accepted.

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After being seated, we placed our order fairly quickly since we agreed beforehand that we would order the “Vintner’s Table” (Chef’s Four Course Tasting Menu). I didn’t have a chance to be my usual indecisive self!

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Amuse Bouche

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Halibut

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Pork Belly & Loin

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Steak

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Goat Cheese Doughnuts

My anger began to subside as we finished our first course and it all but disappeared by the time dessert was served. Instead of sulking the whole night, I actually enjoyed my meal. Every dish was well executed and delicious. I especially loved the pairing of goat cheese doughnuts and “pear soup” (I told you I love hot + cold).

At the beginning of the night, given the reservation drama, I was sure we would never, ever, ever come back to Napa Rose… EVER. At the end of the night, I was willing to come back and pay for our meal!

…And come back we did. Less than a month later! Yes, mostly for the food, but also because Napa Rose comped our first meal in attempt to make things right – we only paid for Henry’s wine pairing, tax, and tip (based on full dinner amount, of course). That meant I still had expiring Disney Dollars to use.

For our second visit, I was only able to reserve seats at the Dessert Counter.

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View from the Dessert Counter

See the empty seats on left? That’s the Chef’s Counter. Since all 4 of those seats were empty and it was well past 6PM, I asked Sous Chef Gloria what the deal was. After speaking with the manager, she explained that the party cancelled and offered us the seats. HELL YEA! Not only did our view get upgraded, Sous Chef Gloria also told us about another tasting menu, one in which you relinquish control of your meal over to the chefs; we had no idea what our next course would be. This option had more, smaller portion courses and costs the same as the “Vintner’s Table”. I highly recommend it if you are able to sit at the Chef’s Counter.

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View from the Chef’s Counter

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We LOVED every dish, but the highlight of our meal had to be the mushroom soup. AMAZING. The “Best Hot Chocolate” was a close second πŸ™‚ I can’t wait to return for another meal.

Verdict [1] & [2]: 4.5/5
Napa Rose (@ Grand Californian)
1600 S Disneyland Dr
Anaheim, CA 92802

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Rush, Rush

Saturday = CRAZY.

I woke up at 7AM and rushed to Staples Center to run the 2012 LA Kings 5K. My one week of training prepared me enough to finish almost 2 minutes faster than last year’s time. I crossed the finish line in 26:34, which averages to an 8:34 pace. What my training did not prepare me for was having to run 3.1 miles IN THE RAIN. It wasn’t light sprinkles, IT WAS RAIN. Needless to say, I was soaked afterward.

There was no time to chill and hang out at the event because I had to take my last GMAT practice CAT and Henry had groomsman duties to attend to. I completed my test at 2PM, which left me with only half an hour to get ready for the wedding! I didn’t even have time to eat! 😦

Things finally settled down once I arrived at the wedding venue: Muckenthaler Mansion in Fullerton.

Congrats, Jen & Thai β™₯

The ceremony went off without a hitch and the meatballs served during cocktail hour were DELISH! I was so hungry I ate 8 of them!!! πŸ˜€

Although I had fun celebrating with friends, weddings, in general, give me anxiety. Personally, I would rather skip the wedding and go straight to the honeymoon – I’m working on getting everybody else on board with that idea. So far, my mom, who’s opinion is obviously most important, said she’s fine with me not having a wedding. Hopefully she’s not lying to me…

Thank You

When you’re in a relationship, it’s not about you anymore. It’s you AND your other half. I can handle taking care of myself, but I didn’t realize how hard it was to take care of two people all by myself.

Henry was in Vegas for a bachelor party and I was left with all the weekend chores, which includes, but is not limited to: grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning.

Grocery shopping – easy enough right? Yea, except Henry is always the one pushing the cart and keeping us on track. HELLO. My job is to read the magazines! DUH. And having to run to multiple markets to buy all of the ingredients is a serious bitch. Why doesn’t my local Ralphs have sweet Marsala or pre-sliced mushrooms? WHY.

Cooking – because we cook all of our meals for the week in advance, prep work is a pain in the ass. It may seem weird to some that we do this, but until I can get off work at a reasonable hour aka 6pm, this is what we have to do so that we’re not eating dinner at 10PM or later. Anyway, pealing and mincing one garlic clove is easy peasy. Peeling and mincing three entire bulbs of garlic makes me want to cry. What can I say, I love garlic. And no, I will not sacrifice flavor for convenience by using that pre-minced garlic in a jar shit.

Since Henry was gone, I had to trim chicken breasts. Not difficult, but I totally needed a break after trimming 16 pieces! And BTW, I’m usually not the one prepping meat… for good reason. I’m a notorious waster. Any fat or tendon/cartilage? CUT IT ALL OFF. Our 10 pounds of chicken breasts probably ended up at about 8 pounds.

Cleaning – dusting everywhere, cleaning the kitchen, wiping the windows, 5 loads of laundry on top of grocery shopping and cooking was almost too much to handle by myself.

EEEKKKKK 😦

SO. What I’m trying to say is… I appreciate all that you do, Henry.

β™₯

Loved

The highest lift at Breck (Imperial Express) takes you to about 12,840ft. Think this is the top? Think again. To get to Peak 8 Summit, you have to hike up a vertical distance of 160ft!

The easiest way to get to Imperial (for a snowboarder who doesn’t want to use the T-bar :P) is to get to Peak 8 Base and ride up Colorado SuperChair.

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Then take Frosty’s Freeway to Chair 6.

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From the top of Chair 6, ride down to Imperial Express.

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And voila!

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Hiking to the top was seriously the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do IN MY LIFE. Not only did I have to battle the elevation (it was hard to breathe up there), I also had to withstand the force of 30 mph winds. I almost flew off the mountain 3 times!

About half way up, Henry gave up and said he couldn’t make it. Even though I really wanted to give up too, I kept on going. I was determined to make it to the top!

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And I did it! Once I made it to the top, I basically just threw my snowboard down and collapsed from sheer exhaustion. I got myself together and sat for about 5 minutes looking out into the distance, just taking in the whole experience. I was really happy that I made it to the top, but also sad that Henry wasn’t there with me. Before I could sulk too much, I saw Henry walking up. πŸ™‚

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Flowers die. I don’t wear jewelry. Chocolates are meant to be eaten every day. The only gift I wanted was to be together at 13,000ft on Valentine’s Day β™₯

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Oh, Colorado!

This year’s Colorado trip started the same way as last year’s.

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We flew into Denver International Airport (DIA), picked up our gear/luggage and hopped on the Colorado Mountain Express (CME).

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After the two hour shuttle ride, we arrived in Breckenridge and checked into Pine Ridge Condominiums. So, why do I like Pine Ridge? Well, mostly because of this…

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Riding down to your condo after a long day is HEAVEN.

Pine Ridge may not be “ski-out”, but the Snowflake Lift, which takes you to Peak 8 Base Area, is just up the street. You can either walk there, or if you’re lazy like us, you can wait for the bus at the bus stop right outside the complex.

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Besides the excellent location, Pine Ridge also has reasonable/budget-friendly rates and helpful staff. I was able to use their meeting room while waiting for the shuttle to pick us up and take us to Vail.

Anyway, once we settled in and unpacked, we took the bus (Gray Line) to City Market. Since I planned our meals before we left for Colorado, shopping for ingredients was a breeze. Carrying our groceries home, on the other hand… well, this is what saving money by not renting a car looks like…

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If you’re considering not renting a car and you need to go to the market, rolling duffel bags (or any kind of rolling luggage) are your best friends!

During our stay in Breck, we made:

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a. Chicken Enchiladas
b. Chipotle Turkey Chili
c. Rib-eye Steaks w/ Mini Cheddar Potato Skins

I made sure to pick tried and true recipes that were quick and delicious. The last thing I wanted to do after a long day of snowboarding was slave in the kitchen.

Last year, Henry and I suffered the symptoms of altitude sickness: headaches, nausea, light-headedness and shortness of breath. This time around, I was more prepared. I made sure to keep myself hydrated and didn’t experience one single symptom. As for Henry, he didn’t listen to me when I repeatedly told him to drink more water and guess what? He felt like shit the first night/second day. Doesn’t he know by now that I’m ALWAYS right? Damn!

Our first snowboarding day was spent at Keystone. It was not a very good day. The snow was a bit sticky, the runs were bumpy and they also closed the base gondola due to high winds. And we missed the bus back to Breck so we had to wait an hour and half for the next bus. And when we finally got home, I noticed that the knob on one of my BOA boots was missing and without it I had no way of tightening that boot. Good thing Josh at Mountain Wave was able to fix my boot in less than 2 minutes for only $10.

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After a lousy first day at Keystone, we hit up Breck and man, the snow was SO MUCH BETTER. We spent much of the first day around Peak 8. My favorite runs on the bottom half of Peak 8 were Spruce, High Anxiety and Rounders.

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During the next few days, we pretty much covered all of Breck. Surprisingly, my favorite area was Peak 10! I say surprisingly because last year, I hated Peak 10 because the runs were icy – we did one run and then headed back to Peak 8/9. This year, we went down almost every run on the front side of Peak 10 and they were all so fun and fast.

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I also liked the runs at Peak 7. They weren’t as challenging as Peak 10, but still fun nonetheless. My favorite run was Wirepatch.

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We usually don’t go out and explore the town during snowboarding trips, but since we didn’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day (it’s overrated anyway!), Henry and I went on a date on our last night in Breck.

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Downstairs At Eric’s was perfect for us because we were in the mood for pizza and I was able to catch the end of the Kings game. We ordered the sweet chili wings, “garbage” pizza and chicken fried steak.

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I really loved the chicken fried steak; it was so moist and tender! The crust of the pizza was interesting. When I ordered the garlic wheat crust, I really didn’t expect actual minced pieces of garlic in it – what a nice surprise since I LOVE GARLIC!

We passed up dessert at Downstairs at Eric’s because I wanted to see what else Breck had to offer. About 2 or 3 blocks down the street, we found this cute ass place: Crepes a la Cart. The smell was so damn intoxicating, I just had to order a dessert crepe. There were many choices, but I finally decided on the Turtle Sunday.

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SOOOOO DELISH! My only complaint was that they didn’t give us enough ice cream! But in retrospect, maybe this was a good thing since it was really cold outside.

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So, after 5 days in Breck, we left for Vail. We were really sad to leave, but we were also excited to check out Vail and see what all the hype was about.

To be continued….

48

…months, that is. And counting…

Happy 4 year anniversary to us β™₯ πŸ™‚

I’m frequently asked, “So, when are you going to get married?” And every year for the past 2 years, I’ve casually answered, “Oh, not for another 5 years.” Obviously, this is not a firm date – I just want to get people off my back. I really hate the marriage question.

Even though I have no intention of getting married any time soon, I know Henry is the one for me. I’ve pretty much known since we started dating. It’s scary and probably sounds a little cliche, but we really are the opposite sex version of each other. This might not work for some, but it totally works for us.

* We both share a love for snowboarding. I really have Henry to thank for my improvement these past few years.

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* We are comfortable being alone, which makes it possible for us to not be totally dependent upon one another.

* We LOVE to travel. Other than our cruise to Mexico, we’ve only traveled domestically, but we’re looking forward to traveling internationally in 2012 – let’s just say it has to do with snowboarding πŸ˜€

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* We both have weird laughs that all of our friends make fun of.

* We are FAT ASSES. Maybe not in the literal sense, but we’ve certainly unleashed our inner foodie.

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* We are both stubborn as hell. And proud of it.

* We enjoy outdoor activities… although, Henry did almost drown while swimming in Hawaii. I saved him. He owes me his life.

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Well, here’s to many more years together β™₯ πŸ™‚

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Cibo e Il Vino

After much anticipation, Memorial Day weekend has come and gone. There were a few glitches along the way: a shit-load of work I had to finish before I left for SF on Thursday, rain forcing me to cancel my original plans on Thursday and a weird allergic reaction to something during our stay in Napa. However, the delicious food and near perfect weather we had over the weekend more than made up for these slight inconveniences.

Henry and I didn’t leave for SF until about 12:30 or so because I had to take care of something at work. Even though Thursday was supposed to be my day off, it sure didn’t feel like it. I kept having to check my work blackberry during the day. Yes, I have two: work and personal blackberries. It’s sick, I know.

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Rain was in the forecast for Thursday (which made me cancel my original plans to hike the Land’s End trail) and sure enough, dark rain clouds spotted the sky as we approached our destination. I guess we chased away the rain because we didn’t experience a drop of rain during our entire stay.

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We arrived in SF just in time to change and get ready for dinner. We decided to revisit one of our favorite restaurants, Gary Danko. The first time we ate there was during our first trip to San Francisco together back in 2008. We fell hard and fast for Gary Danko and even though two years have gone by, it still remains as one of our most memorable dining experiences.

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The next day, we ate brunch at Honey Honey Cafe and Crepery before heading up to Napa. Honey Honey Cafe is located on the corner of Taylor and Post and if you’re planning to drive here, expect to pay $3.50 AN HOUR for street parking (parking in SF is RIDICULOUS!!!!). The restaurant is pretty big by SF standards and fast-food-esque in the sense that you order and pay for your food at the counter and then pick a table to sit and wait while your food is brought to you. They have an extensive menu including the usual breakfast and lunch items as well as their signature sweet and savory crepes.

If Henry hadn’t knocked some sense into me, I would have ordered the Post Street omelette, which is basically a traditional Denver omelette with a San Francisco derived name. Henry made me realize that since we were at restaurant that specializes in crepes, perhaps I should order one of its namesake. Thus, I ordered the Half Moon Bay crepe (cheddar, tomato, mushroom and crab cake) and Henry ordered the Cancun burger (jack cheese, crispy bacon, tomato, avocado and salsa). Delicious!!

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After brunch, we made our way to Buehler Vineyards for our 2PM appointment. Buehler is located in the mountains east of St. Helena, approximately a 6 mile windy drive from highway 29. The overall experience was unlike all the touristy wineries located along the 29 or on the Silverado trail.

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Page Buehler, the son of John Page Buehler, Jr., gave us a tour of the property while explaining their general wine making process. It was just us and Page (and his cute dogs :)) so we felt really special to have all his attention. We made our way back to the office for a tasting and Henry ended up buying two bottles: 2008 Zinfandel, 2008 Reserve Chardonnay. He probably would have bought some of the Cabs, but he already has two bottles at home. Buehler is one of Henry’s favorites.

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After Buehler, we went to one of the most touristy wineries EVER: V. Sattui. And well, it’s touristy for good reason: the grounds are beautiful (many weddings are held there), they have a great deli and cheese selection that you can enjoy outside on the picnic tables and oh yea, the wines themselves aren’t too shabby either.

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After Henry had a tasting and purchased a 2008 Zinfandel, we bought a black forest ham panini, some prawns in mustard sauce and a salt cod cake and had a wonderful picnic outside.

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SF/Napa Food & Wine (+our verdict):
Gary Danko, 5/5
Honey Honey Cafe & Crepery, 4/5
Buehler Vineyards, 5/5
V. Sattui, 4/5
——–

To be continued…