Dear Aunt Gay

Dear Aunt Gay,

Summer is coming to a close for us, the kids are back to school tomorrow.  I wonder if you took your car trip to California?  We made the trip to Napa for the kids to spend time with Grand Daisy.  While we were there we were able to see “The Intouchables“, it was spectacular, keep the movie recommendations coming!  You know how much we enjoyed “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”; I’d give that a 7.5 and for the “The Intouchables” a 9!  We saw the movie in this little theater in St. Helena called the Cameo Cinema.  This little one screen movie house no doubt added to our enjoyment of the movie.  The owner of the theater greeted us and introduced the movie before the lights went out, the concession stand sold reasonably sized items, no cups that require a two-handed hold, they also had great stuff, not the typical movie fare.  I lament the scarcity of things like the Cameo Cinema in the world.  Even Napa feels less…….special, since our regular visits beginning a decade ago, it feels like the amount of wineries, restaurants and expensive shops have doubled.  It feels more like a place to spend loads of money rather than a place to experience peoples’ passion for great food, wine and artisan offerings; the substance of the place feels like it’s disintegrating.

However, I hope I never complain about getting to visit Napa Valley, just the weather is worth the trip and the gardens.  We were swooning over Thomas Keller’s garden for his restaurant in Yountville!  I bet even I could grow something successfully in Northern California….which says a lot.  We also had a few wonderful meals out, most notably El Dorado Kitchen in Sonoma and The Kitchen Door in Napa.  The Kitchen Door is in this wonderful development called Oxbow Public Market, it’s a concept I hope takes over the United States!  It’s like a little mom and pop village with restaurants, coffee, treats, spices, teas, grocer, juicer, etc. all housed in this natural light filled warehouse, we visited Oxbow almost everyday on our trip.

One other big highlight was the ferry ride into San Francisco – a quick drive from Napa to Larkspur, hop on the ferry, 30 minutes (and two ecstatic kids) later we were in the city.  We were big on hunting down a particular pizza truck and visiting the Yerba Buena Gardens which has an amazing kids museum and a historic carousel.  It’s such a fun city, and somehow, although it’s always on the agenda, I’ve never made it to tai-chi in the park,  which I’m dying to do….I guess there’s always next year, wanna come?

Hope all is well in your corner of the world.  Sending our love to everyone.




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