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.

dotts

Brightly colored dresses in the window suck me inside faster than I can control, and then I see the silver glitter on the floor of the front entrance. This is my new favorite shop, and it opened up yesterday.

Dresses and underskirts, layering skirts, jackets, and bloomers are handmade by Amy Dotts of Portland, who was a regular Last Thursday vendor on Alberta Street for the past two years. The dresses are bright and invite lots of smiles – with prices starting around $120, it is a great deal for handmade, local clothing. Each one could be easily dressed up or down with a flick of the wrist and the right pair of tights or pearls! There are a variety of prints and solids, and one of my favorites has little bicycles all over it.

Part inspiration, part oddity, the knitwear by “Girl with a Hook” is something unlike anything I have seen knit before, and very mystical. The hats appear almost distorted in shape, each one created with handspun yarn in a freeform style. I placed a hat on my friend Martina and she looked charming and elfin at the same time. I didn’t leave the shop empty handed, for I fell in love with one of the knit headbands ($40)- it has sparkley yarn and bubbly bits woven in, and wass surprisingly warm on this cold December day.

Just as charming is the jewelry by Viki – whimisical and inspired by nature, Vicktoria Ciesiul uses recycled metals and beautiful stones. Each one looks unique and sophisticated.

All of the vendors are local to the Portland area – and the term, “it takes a village” really applies to Dotts. Amy Dott’s mother greeted me in the store, her dad created the metal shelving in the shop, and the individual designers are all closely tied as friends. I plan on wearing my new Girl with a Hook headband all winter, knowing that no one will ever have an identical one as this!

Dotts
2916 NE Alberta St
www.amydotts.com
503 516 0567


love bite: lili patisserie and cafe

Last night was my first failed foray into Sellwood, at an attempt to locate a fabric store. No matter where I went, the GPS red dot on my iPhone was always traveling in the opposite direction from where I was headed. The fabric store closed before I could find it, and on the brink of tears, I drove on, lost, in search of redemption. I found myself driving slowly past Lili Patisserie and Café and could not help but investigate my namesake. I walked in upset, lost, and hungry, and left impressed, beaming, and satiated.

Lili’s is special. This is the kind of restaurant you would want to bring your best friend, your sister, your mother, or your boyfriend. It has a welcoming charm, a non-overly fussy French interior, and incredible food at reasonable prices, given the quality and locality of the ingredients. I find out from the perky waitress with enviably tousled hair that Lili’s brother owns a farm less than a mile away, which is the origin of all the produce used in the recipes. Much of the menu is based off of this farm-fresh produce, and it is impressively tasty. In addition, everything at the restaurant is made from scratch, and made to order. Even the bread and butter is delightful! I am presented with an elfin-sized wheat roll and whipped butter with fresh herbs.

Inside, antique mirrors cover the walls. Vintage wooden frames and cookie tins adorn the cabinets, with a wash of pale blues and greens throughout. Even the floors are charming, with hand-painted drawings and words of kitchen supplies. A lemon juicer lies ahead; a mixing bowl to my left.
I peruse the menu of well-crafted dishes, and decide upon the gnocchi. Lili has the best gnocchi, hands down, that I have ever tasted, and I order a lot of gnocchi. Their secret – no potato! What? I still have some questions about the reality of this dreamy dish, but I do know that the dough is made with ricotta cheese, topped with a San Marzano tomato sauce, and set over a bed of sautéed spinach. There is even a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese to create utter perfection. The gnocchi itself is fluffy, angel-puff soft, and served with a spoon, for $14.

It is rare that I order wine at a restaurant (I tend to save the extra cash to purchase dessert, as I am an avid sugar hound) but I decide to order Namaste’s “Peace,” a Chardonnay blend, for $7. It has a slight effervescence at the first sip, and tastes of crisp fall apples – a perfect autumnal wine. I am even more at peace. The majority of the wine selection is from Oregon and Washington, and I love that they support local wineries!

I overhear nearby conversations of Cinderella pumpkins, of sorrel, of trips to France. The fellow patrons are well versed in the ways of dining, and they fill up the café quickly – the small, ten table venue develops a waiting line within minutes of my arrival. I am informed that the dessert case is filled to the brim with sweets during the day, which is also the after dinner dessert selection. I choose the lingonberry panna cotta. The lingonberry topping is tart, the panna cotta is thick and custardy, and served in a mason jar. I leave none behind.


I could not be happier with my meal at Lili Patisserie and Café. I left wanting to spread the word to everyone I know who appreciates beauty, local cuisine, and excellent culinary skill. This is a place I would love come to on a date…but I already took myself here on a date, and will continue to do so, until my boyfriend catches on. I hear they also serve breakfast and lunch. Blueberry pancakes, anyone? I will be back soon. Their winter hours are rather short, so make sure you check the hours before heading out to Sellwood. 

Lili Patisserie and Cafe
8337 SE 17th Avenue
Sellwood, OR
503-233-8844

video: flora

Everything in Flora smells divine.  It is nearly impossible to explore this downtown gift shop without falling in love with one, two, or maybe even three distinctly delicious scents.  Flora carries candles by Tatine, which smell exactly as described.  After taking a whiff of the Wood Smoke scent, I’m transported into a camping tent.  I smell the Forest Floor candle and I’m on a hike.  I smell the Snow Drop and…well, you get the idea. Continue reading