Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween, Almaden Winery

Today, we had a fun time trick-or-treating in our neighborhood at the Almaden Winery.

Inna dressed as a Blue Monster and I was "Ted" the bear.





Our neighborhood had many well decorated houses.




Alex collected tons of candy and we had a fun time exploring the neighborhood at night, see all the cool costumes.










Monday, October 28, 2013

Review: Sarah Brightman's Dreamchaser Concert

Today, we went to see Sarah Brightman's Dreamchaser Concert at SAP Center in San Jose.

I really liked "La Luna" and "Nessun Dorma" (though Nessun Dorma is written for a tenor - not a soprano voice). I also liked "Scarborough Fair", the "Phantom of the Opera", and "Time to Say Goodbye".

The guest tenor - Erkan Aki - had a really beautiful voice and was the highlight of the show.

There were a lot of special effects in the show and all the images were related to space, though many songs have nothing to do with space.

Overall, I liked the show, being a big fan of Sarah Brightman, but it did not move me as much as Leonard Cohen's show last year.











The setlist for today's performance was as follows:

  • Act 1:
  1. Angel
  2. One Day Like This
  3. Glósoli
  4. Hijo de la Luna
  5. La Luna
  6. Eperdu
  7. It's a Beautiful Day
  8. Ave Maria
  9. Canto Della Terra
  10. Nessun Dorma
Intermission
  • Act 2:
  1. Closer
  2. Breathe Me
  3. Figlio Perduto
  4. Kaze no Toorimichi (not performed in China)
  5. Scarborough Fair
  6. A Song of India
  7. The Phantom of the Opera
  8. Time to Say Goodbye
Encore
  1. Venus and Mars
  2. A Question of Honour

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Bouchon Bistro, Yountville

Today, we had our scheduled lunch at Bouchon Bistro in Yountville, CA. Bouchon Bistro and Bakery are run by the legendary chef Thomas Keller (owner of French Laundry - the only 3 Michelin Star restaurant in the area).

Inna ordered the "French Onion Soup" (which was very well prepared) and I ordered the "Carrot and Squash Soup". My soup was very exceptional.


My "Carrot and Squash Soup" both looked and tasted delicious!


Inna really liked her "French Onion" soup.


For the main plate, I ordered "Boudin Blanc", which is a white sausage with mashed potatoes and plums. The plums were especially delicious and the sausage was very soft.


Inna ordered "Grandmother's Rotisserie Chicken" and it was also quite delicious.



For dessert, we had "Baba au Rhum". It was so delicious!





We hope to eat here again, when we're in Napa or Calistoga area.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Wine tasting in Benziger Winery

Today we had a wonderful time exploring the beautiful Benziger Winery in Sonoma, CA.
Benziger was the site where I first proposed to Inna - 12 years ago on May 5, 2001.

The winery has not changed a lot - it still looks well taken care off and extremely well groomed.



The fall colors are everywhere with many trees changing colors.





We saw a lot of water lilies and frogs in the ponds surrounding Benziger. There is even an owl house for the local owl. The owl is used to control pests - as it is a bird of prey that hunts rodents and keeps the vineyard clear of pests.



The grapes were ready for harvesting.




The autumn colors of yellow, red, and green permeate the winery. It's definitely the "fall" in California.


After walking around the Benziger grounds, we decided to do a little wine tasting. We tasted 5 of Benizger's vintages but we did not really like any of them. However, we really like the Benziger Winery as a nice place to get away from the city.

Pancake Heaven at Solbar, Calistoga

We had a delicious breakfast and lunch at the Michelin 1 Star rated Solbar Restaurant in Calistoga, California.

I really love the "Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup" and enjoyed them a couple of times. These are my all time favorite pancakes anywhere!






Inna ordered the "Bodega Bay" - English Muffin with Dungeonness Crab and it was also delicious!




During lunch time (after a beautiful bike ride to Sterling Vineyards), we stopped at Solbar again - this time for lunch.

Inna ordered a cocktail - "Sex in the Valley" and it was a bit refreshing.


For lunch, we ordered "Spicy Shrimp Lettuce Wraps" and a "Chicken with Lettuce".


We also tried some Donut Wholes, which were also delicious.


Both dishes were delicious and healthy. We really like Solbar!





Friday, October 18, 2013

Relaxing at Indian Springs Resort & Spa in Calistoga

We arrived late in the evening, around 11:15pm to Calistoga's Indian Springs Resort & Spa.
The evening drive was not too bad - given the light traffic - and we had just enough time to get a dip in the hot, thermal pool of Indian Springs.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

The next day, we decided to get up early and go for a morning swim at the thermal pool. The morning was gorgeous and we enjoyed the warm water. It's so relaxing.






After the pool, we went to get breakfast at our favorite restaurant in Calistoga - Solbar.

I ordered my favorite "Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup". I sweat that the drive to Calistoga is worth it just for these beauties!


Inna ordered the "Bodega Bay" special, which was also delicious.



After breakfast, we decided to go for a nice bike ride to Sterling Vineyards. Here is a short video of our bike ride there:





Sterling Vineyards looked quite busy - and they have a ramp to the top of the mountain for a nice overlook, but we decided against going up.


We had a wonderful relaxing stay at Indian Springs Resort and Spa and hope to be back there again.