How could this trip get any better we kept thinking after each remarkable meal and winery experience. We were up and ready to go on day 4. Eager to try more wines on Pritchard Hill in the afternoon, we felt more prepared having been in wine country for a couple days.
We drove over to Caymus vineyards and began with a group tasting of some excellent wines. A “winery only” Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel were cool for me to try since I am familiar with their more popular Cabernet and Special Select Cab – two Napa staples. We were escorted out to the vineyard like at other properties and had a chance to try some of their berries which were super ripe and ready for picking.
We went back inside and checked out the World’s largest real wine bottle – filled with, yup, real wine. We bought a couple of the winery only selections and were on the road. It was an excellent tour, especially for one more available to the public.
We started to drive into downtown Saint Helena when we passed by Gott’s Roadside. Though we had already enjoyed a burger in San Francisco at their Ferry Building location, we couldn’t just drive by and NOT get…yes…a burger.
We pulled into the drive-in style parking lot and parked the Mustang. A couple photo ops in front of their sign and we were ready to order. Again, we split a single patty and an excellent vanilla milkshake. The food arrived in about ten minutes. Prepared with fresh beef, the patty again was deliciously moist and juicy. Toppings were plentiful – needed to take some off – and the bun was steamed and really soft.
Milkshake couldn’t have been a better call on that hot day. Yeah, it’s filling and we were literally driving into town for lunch, but it sounded so good at the time after walking around the vineyard and drinking wine all morning.
We bounced and continued towards downtown. Parked and headed right over to Cook for some real lunch. I heard about Cook from someone who knew some of the lesser known spots to get grub. Apparently, lots of chefs and winery staff go to Cook as opposed to some of the more touristy places in the area.
For appetizers we started with their fried calamari. So simply done. Though they look undercooked and bland, the calamari was friggin’ sweet – really. The breading was nice and light and the squids were definitely marinated at least overnight. They were tender and really really flavorful.
Served with a flavorful, rich yet surprisingly zesty aioli, the calamari were cooked with skill and precision. They were really perfect. Some of the better simply fried calamari we’d tasted. No clumps, each piece fried equally. No big fried nuggets. Just lots of moist and oddly juicy meat.
We also enjoyed mussels and clams with home made spicy chorizo. The broth was rich and full of tomatoes, onions, garlic and other spices. The ample amount of toasty bread that came along side was grilled nicely is always a required accompaniment for any mussel or clam dish – this extreme soaking up is a must.
I went with a lighter entree option and ordered their B.L.T. sandy. It was ALL ABOUT THE BACON – and it was excellent bacon. Prepared on crusty focaccia style bread, the black pig bacon was thick cut and really tender. Easy to tear and not at all stringy, the smoky flavors penetrated the bread with its rich porky flavor. Not too thick and not too thin. We loved every bite of the sandwich.
Home made mayonnaise was a nice touch with lettuce and heirloom tomato cut just the right size. Though the tomato looks really thick, it was so soft and ripe, it melted in your mouth. It was an excellent sandwich. No frills, but done right with excellent use of quality, proportion of ingredients and technical execution. It’s easier than you’d expect to mess up a Bacon Lettuce and Tomato sandwich.
We left satisfied and drove onward to our next winery appointment – back up to Pritchard Hill to Ovid. On the way up we stopped to take in the absolutely gorgeous view from the top of the Mayacamas Mountains. You could see the vineyards laid out below in geometric shapes of all kinds. It was unlike anything Jill or I had seen before.
Little did we know another incredible winery experience was just around the bend…