Sunday, October 25, 2009

Road Trip Part I - Yosemite

My husband and I went on a road trip about 3 weeks ago, and ever since we got back, I've been wanting to start this blog so that I could share info on the restaurants and places we stayed on the trip since everything was so wonderful. Our trip was for 11 nights, first we drove to Oakhurst, outside Yosemite, where we stayed for two nights, then on to the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County for 3 nights, then Napa Valley for three nights, and finally Paso Robles for three nights. We decided to stay in bed and breakfasts or small inns at each place, so with that as our only parameter, I started searching on for the best places in each of the areas.

Our first selection was Chateau du Sureau, a 10 room Relais & Chateaux property in Oakhurst, about 10 miles from one of the gates to Yosemite National Park.

This place had the most amazing service. To enter the property, you pull up to beautiful iron gate and ring up to house. As soon as the gate opened, we could see two people in Victorian servant garb rushing down the stairs of the house to meet us. One showed us around the property (which includes a beautiful garden area with swings, a gazebo, a pond, a giant chess board and a bocce court) while the other drove out car around the house and unloaded our luggage into our room (we stayed in the Mint Room) before we got there. We were brought roast beef crostini with glasses of good red wine about 15 minutes after we arrived. We spent the first afternoon in the garden on the swings and in our room relaxing. The room itself was very beautiful, with a canopy bed, antique furniture and a huge jacuzzi tub.

For dinner the first night we went to the restaurant at the Chateau, the Elderberry House. The restaurant itself is beautiful, and the service was flawless. When we were seated, the first thing we noticed was that the menu had our names printed it, a nice souvenir. The 5 course dinner and wine pairing was outstanding. Everything we had was superb, especially the salmon "lasagna" (although the bland-seeming eggplant soup was just ok). Before dessert, we were offered the opportunity to move to the patio to enjoy the remaining course. It was a lovely night and a great end to a wonderful day. The bill was about $380, which was one of the most expensive meals of our trip, but definitely worth it.

Here's the menu (click to enlarge):

The second day we were up early, had a European-style breakfast (cold meat, cheese, fruit and bread), and headed to Yosemite, where we met up with friends of ours who work and live in the park. They treated us to a wonderful lunch at the Ahwahnee Hotel (an amazing Fiscalini Farms Cheddar Cheese & Sierra Nevada Pale Ale Soup and a burger for me and a monte cristo for my hubby) and then to a complimentary tour of the Valley floor. We also got to see their house, which has views of Half Dome!

After the long ride home (it takes about an hour to get from the valley floor of Yosemite back to the Chateau), we didn't feel like another fancy meal, so we went to a local favorite, El Cid, which served decent Mexican food, under $40 for the two of us, including drinks and tip. We went back to the Chateau for another restful night's sleep in our beautiful room and got up the next day early ready to move on to the next stop - the small town of Forestville in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma.

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