Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Wayfaring Wine Country: St. Helena

A weekend in Napa Valley and Sonoma Part III

There was no better way to walk off a day of wine tasting than along a short lush trail to a beautiful historic mill in the soft golden glow of the afternoon sunlight. Bale Grist Mill was once the gathering place for early Napa valley settlers who would bring their corn and grain to grind into flour. The Bale Grist Mill, originally built in 1846, was completely water-powered and is still functioning today.

We arrived at the park near closing time and were a bit bummed that the tours and milling demonstrations for the day were already over, but they still let walk around for a self-guided tour. The staff at the mill were dressed in period-costumes and they also sold organic cornmeal, flour, and polenta that were actually ground by the mill. I loved the sound of the water pouring from waterwheel as it turned and the patches of moss growing all around the mill. It was really a unique piece of history in a beautiful setting.

We had planned dinner in St. Helena and had some time to walk around the main street before our reservation. There were lots of cute little boutique shops selling interesting gourmet food items, soaps, and even artwork made from bugs! We enjoyed dinner at Market, which was one of our favorite meals of the trip (but we pretty much didn't have any bad meals, food was just delicious everywhere). The menu was simple but all the courses were done very well with fresh ingredients and were beautifully plated. You know how sometimes you read an item on the menu and it sounds so good but then the actual dish falls short? At Market, the dishes taste exactly how you would expect them to, in good way: perfectly delicious, just the way you had imagined it. We turned in for the evening pretty soon afterwards with blissful food coma....

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