While in Northern California, my sister and I also stayed two nights at a friend’s house in the Bay area, a little north of Berkley. I really wanted to do something naturey, so we went to the Muir Woods!
I’ve always wanted to see the sequoia trees and finally got my wish. Soooo tranquil and calming. If I lived in the area (and didn’t always have to pay the $7 entrance fee), I would go here all the time! That’s Trinh and my sister inside the tree trunk.
For sustenance, I filled up on a pumpernickel bagel from Noah’s Bagels before the hike (actually, it wasn’t a hike at all… more like a pleasant stroll), and snacked on a lara bar after. Anyway, we couldn’t stay there too long so we just did the easy short trail… because after that, we were going to NAPA VALLEY!!!
When we came up this way, we weren’t even thinking of going all the way to Napa, but in the end, we realized it wasn’t that far from us and since we had already come all this way, we might as well go an hour further and finally see wine country.
The first winery we stopped at was Mondavi Winery. The grounds were so stunning and picturesque. Our timing couldn’t have been better because that day they were celebrating what would’ve been the late Mr. Mondavi’s 99th’s birthday, and so they were serving all guests a complimentary glass of wine upon entering, as well as a free wine tasting and food pairing. Talk about perfect timing! I know practically nothing about wine and I’m not much of a drinker in general, but I indulged a bit this time. :)
Other than those two wineries, we also went to Bouchon Bakery! My sister and Trinh got ham and cheese baguette sandwiches and macaroons, while I got two vegan bread rolls which were just $1 each and really delicious (they didn’t have any vegan sandwich options). I’m consuming so much bread here, and it’s all so good! Even though we didn’t really have a proper sit-down meal anywhere, we just grazed constantly on all the bread and wine samples everywhere we went, so we were really stuffed the whole time.
Along the way, we popped into this Oakville Grocery which had a bunch of things to enjoy with wine, such as cheese, crackers, sweet and savory preserves, etc, etc. That jalapeno jam was brilliant. I could just eat it with everything. Our trip to Napa was so short and I only got to experience a teeny percentage of it, but it was pretty awesome none the less. So beautiful, and such a foodie’s dream.
Trinh, my sister’s friend, and her sister-in-law Penny are both omnis but they were so awesome and looked up where we could get a vegan dinner back in Berkeley. In the end, they found Nature’s Express where they serve “Kick-ass vegan food.” We were in the mood for a fresh, healthy, and inexpensive meal, and this place was just perfect for that. The entirely vegan menu was extensive and also really reasonably priced. There were four of us gals, so we all got something different and I got a little taste of everything. :)
From top left to bottom right: 1. Their classic salad with air-baked sweet potato fries. 2. Tuna-salad salad. 3. Lentil burger patty with rice, veggies, sriracha. 4. Mushroom burger with daiya cheese, on a bed of greens instead of bread. I really loved their focus on fresh, healthy foods, and that you could even order your burger without the buns. And everything was really tasty and everyone really enjoyed it. If I lived nearby, I would probably go there all the time.
I also couldn’t resist getting myself a treat for the drive back to LA the following morning. I got the apple spice muffin and it had a great texture with fine coconut shreds and oatmeal throughout. The apples were blended into the batter and the apple flavor was subtle but really lovely, especially with the punch of cinnamon and nutmeg. It was the perfect road trip breakfast. Thanks Nature’s Express!
So, that sums up this Alien’s adventures in Northern California. Next up…. PORTLAND!! ^^