The Countryside

The last thing I expect to see when I finish depositing a check at the bank is the countryside looming in the distance. Low and behold, a new shop has popped up (as of this August) right behind the Yountville Wells Fargo branch, called The Countryside! Staying true to the theme, and magically contained in a very small space that used to be Steven Gordon’s art gallery, is a collection of the most beautiful, majestic items. The space is just brimming with designer journals and notebooks, handmade gift cards, and nature-inspired tea towels…the kind of tea towels that you might use in theory but are really too pretty to ever clean up the spilled milk.
Bumble Bees on tiered cake plates!

Bumble Bees on tiered cake plates!

Everywhere you look, something is sparkling or is decorated with a cute little bird or butterfly. I have a growing obsession with mercury jars and iridescent glasses (for drinking glasses or candles) and The Countryside is packed with the most wonderful ones I have ever seen! Owner Lisa Cox made sure I found exactly what I was looking for – two of the same birds on a particular (secret!) item, and was charming and knowledgable.

Magnificent Mercury Glasses

Magnificent Mercury Glasses

This would be a great place to do your early bird holiday shopping, because it is original, undiscovered, and has very unique gifts! In fact, I did a little of my own – and left with a skillfully wrapped bag with silver tissue paper (so cute!) and a glittery turquoise bow. After quite a dull day in the office, a visit to The Countryside really brightened my day!

Birdie Birds on tea towels

Birdie Birds on tea towels

Visit them: 6484 Washington St (across form Redd), Yountville, CA

Open Thurs-Mon 10am-5pm and Sunday 10am-3pm

Call them: 707-266-2885

Naked Wines

Last night, while walking down the bustling (bustling? since when is downtown Napa bustling?) streets of Napa, something caught my eye. It was new, it was eye catching, and it was naked.

Make sure you have your (back) portrait taken in the window...

Make sure you have your (back) portrait taken in the window…

NakedWines.com is a storefront that just opened up this week and had their opening party September 12th, and seems to be doing quite well. The sounds of dance music welcomed us inside before we even got through the doors, and then were promptly greeted by Michele, who wins the award of coolest/nicest/most straightforward chick in town.

The walls were adorned with banners of local winemakers who chose to skip the middle man (distribution!) and go straight to the storefront. Beautiful featured bottles lined the walls (with a rotating list of 100 wines and a hilarious tongue in cheek wine menu).

We are proud! And they are proud of their silliness!

We are proud! And they are proud of their silliness! (I am also proud of my wine colored nailpolish)

Angels (club members) get complimentary tasting – and they really encourage tasting a lot of their wines until you find something that grabs you. Michele had us try a variety of viogniers until we found the right one.

Don't worry, their winemakers won't look down on you...they are just literally hung above you on the walls.

Don’t worry, their winemakers won’t look down on you…they are just literally hung above you on the walls.

It’s tough to find free or low priced activities for the young wine aficionados of Napa – and I think I found my new place to hang out on a Friday night! NakedWines.com is open 10am-10pm Sunday through Thursday, and 10am-11pm Fridays and Saturdays. Awesome. Now, just because tasting can be free doesn’t mean we should all take advantage of their freeness…buy a bottle, for pete’s sake! Support them! But the wine is so good, I don’t even need to tell you that. You’re going to want to anyway.

And, It gets better. Drumroll…

As a local, you automatically get the Angel’s pricing (their wine club) with seriously deep discounts…even wholesale pricing! My friend and I both left the building, laughing hysterically, with bottles of Rose’ and Petit Syrah, for $8 and $12, respectively.

The Rose' that stole my heart...a 2012 Bahue Rose'

The Rose’ that stole my heart…a 2012 Bahue Rose’

They source wines from Australia, New Zealand, the Napa Valley and Argentina, among other places. Why is it so cheap? It is a customer funded winery, and the customers fund the winemakers to do what they do best – make wine! It is basically like a winery co-op. And I like that.

Is that hand NAKED? Oh yeah...

Is that hand NAKED? Oh yeah…

I also like the lack of pretentiousness here – the servers are encouraged to talk with customers, sit down, try wine with them, and enable a fabulous time for all. I must note that, just because it is more laid back does not mean they don’t know their stuff. They do. We talked tannins and minerality and bouquets the whole time. But you don’t have to if you don’t want to, either. This is a very refreshing change of pace from many of the higher end, appointment only, I shall not open the gate for you without an appointment a year in advance wineries. Thank you!

Go crazy. Get Naked. And get yourself downtown. Things are happening.

NakedWines.com

Visit them: 1141 First St., Napa, California, 94559

Call them: 707 786 6287

Onliiiiine them: http://us.nakedwines.com/

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Don’t worry, I’m not reallllly naked.

A Gluten Free visit to Bouchon Bakery

Bouchon bakery has always been a childhood favorite of mine – for years, on Saturdays, I would ride bikes with my Dad and sister to the bakery, getting fresh morning doughnuts filled with raspberry preserves or topped with little chocolate candies. As an adult, I would race over after work with a friend to grab the infamous T.K.O (basically a glorified grown-up Oreo cookie) or devour almond croissants with abandon.

Then I went gluten free.

I assumed Bouchon Bakery would forever be off limits for me, with all of its eternally traditional French and gluten-filled goodness, and I would merely have to send all my friends there to enjoy dessert as I cried endlessly from my loss.

Well guess what?

I bet you didn’t know that Bouchon Bakery caters (and always has catered) to the gluten free population…they have french macarons and Neapolitan rice crispy treats! Macarons are basically made with almond meal, egg whites, and sugar, which renders them completely gluten free.

Pow! I still get fancy dessert!

Neopolitan Rice Crispy Treat!

Neopolitan Rice Crispy Treat!

I I bet you didn’t know that their French macarons are all naturally gluten free…

Fig Macaron, Anyone?

Fig Macaron, Anyone?

But I bet you really didn’t know they carry a little something special in the back on request called “Oh No You Didn’ts” – a chocolate dipped macaron wrapped in shiny foil – all the flavors!! Dipped in chocolate! Dark or milk!

Chocolate Dipped Caramel Macaron!

Chocolate Dipped Caramel Macaron!

Did I know until now?
I know I didn’t.
Make sure you try the caramel flavor.

Visit them:  6528 Washington St  Yountville, CA 94599

Call them: (707) 944-2253

Onliiiiiiine them: http://bouchonbakery.com/

Bouchon Bakery is open 7 days a week, 7am-7pm.

Goodness-filled Foil

Goodness-filled Foil