Saturday, May 29, 2010

Wedding Week: Wednesday and Thursday

Here is the story of our wine country wedding.

Who knew a destination wedding would be such a hassle to get to?! We (Jim) had to carry my wedding dress on the flight and luckily the bins on Southwest Airlines were actually long enough for me to lay my dress down flat without folding.

Love this picture. We are in the L.A. airport and the flight crew from Southwest gave us a bottle of Korbel as we exited the airplane.

There is Dad, they arrived in Oakland a little after we did. Mom in front with her travel hat on.

First stop? In-N-Out Burger. This is a food blog after all... We made this stop all for Jim who loves and craves the burgers here. I hear we are getting an In-N-Out Burger in Texas soon, the Dallas area. Guess we will be making some road trips 3 hours north for a burger.

If you have never had an N-In-Out Burger, then just look at the excitement on Jim's face! The menu was surprisingly simple. They have a hamburger, cheeseburger and the double-double. All self explanatory. The rest of the menu is simple as: fries (one size only) and shakes or sodas. That's it. I was standing in line behind Jim wondering, what is the BIG DEAL???

It's the "secret menu" that granted this burger joint a cult following across the country. If you ordered your burgers off the menu they would come with:
  • a spread similar to thousand island dressing.
  • one slice of tomato (two if one won't cover the entire bottom bun)
  • a portion of lettuce
  • onions are always offered when you order. They come as a fresh slice by default, but chopped and grilled onions are available by request. The amount is constant regardless of the number of meat patties unless you ask for extra or lite of a condiment.
Now for the custom burgers. Many of these styles (I learned on the web) can be ordered in combination (for example, the Double-Double Animal Style No Salt.)
Animal Style is the most popular "secret" style. In addition to the standard toppings, animal style burgers include:
  • pickles
  • extra spread
  • extra grilled onions
  • mustard fried onion each meat patty.
3×3, 4×4, or generally M×C refers to a burger with a varied number of meat patties (first number, M) and slices of cheese (second number, C). For example, the popular Double-Double would be 2×2 (pronounced "Two-by-two" when you order it), while a burger with 3 meat patties and 1 slice of cheese would be a 3×1 (a "three-by-one").
You can also customize your fries. Here, Jim and I split a basket of fries, animal style.

This is one happy man!

Finally, we make it into wine country. Vines and hills as far as you can see. Wednesday evening Jim and I had a romantic dinner together before our guests started to arrive. We dined at Madrona Manor, which I would highly recommend for anyone looking for a special occasion place near Healdsburg.

It was a beautiful bed and breakfast with a FANTASTIC restaurant on the first floor. I thought I would bust at the end of the night. Each course was thoughtfully and artfully prepared. Here was our menu, course by course:

Mandy - Lobster "Cuit Sous Vide." Carrot, fennel, fava, coriander.
Jim - Scallop Sashimi. Uni, borage, Meyer lemon, fresh wasabi.

Mandy - Onion Veloute. Banyuls vinegar, 63 degree celcius egg, parmigiano-reggiano.
Jim - Foie Gras Tasting. seared, terrine, torchon, rhubarb, savory popovers, estate arugula. (This my friends was EXCEPTIONAL)

Mandy - Potato Gnocci. Peas, mint, pistachios, creme fraiche.
Jim - Northern Halibut. Peas, ramps, pancetta, aioli.

Mandy - Northern Halibut. Peas, ramps, pancetta, aioli.
Jim - Veal Tenderloin. Green garlic soubise, parsley root, pea leaves, maitake mushrooms.
Mandy and Jim - Next we had the Fromages. Madrona Manor Signature Cheese Course. Served table side. a.m.a.z.i.n.g.
  • Overture, Fresh goat cheese warmed table side over Himalayan rock salt. Andante Dairy, Sonoma County.
  • Brillat Savarin (cow) Fromagerie Delin. Normandy, France.
  • Tomme de Chevre (goat) Ossan. Pyrennees, France.
  • Soumaintrain (cow) Fromagerie Gaugry. Burgundy, France.
  • Appenburger (cow) Halbhartkase, Appenburg Switzerland
  • Blue D'Auvergne (cow) Rodolphe Le Meunier. Auvergne, France.
Finally we had dessert!
Mandy - Cart "a Glace." Ice Cream sundae hand "churned" table side using minus 320 degree Fahrenheit nitrogen. Chocolate sauce, almonds, whipped cream, cherries on top.
Jim - Root Beer Floating Island. Frozen root beer meringue, sassafras caramel, vanilla ice cream sauce.

If it wasn't such a fancy place, or if they had not seated us in the middle of the main dining area and entry way, I would have photographed every course and the amuse buche, and the three extra sweet nibbles they brought to us at the end of the night. I felt like waiving my white napkin over my head and yelling "I surrender."

Chef Jesse Wiley Mallgren is a true genius - he said he never went to culinary school. Wow, what a gift he has!!!

Thursday we set out with about 20 of our guests who arrived early and did some wine tasting along the Napa Valley. My Dad welcomed everyone on the bus and gave his "Wine 101" speech which included tips like: You will not like everything you taste, and that is okay. If you decide you don't like wine at all, give him your glass and he will finish it.

Following him was my mom who demanded everyone to spit out their gum.

Jim and I being silly on the bus.

Here is our camera crew, capturing every moment of wedding week. I have a sneaky suspicion that there will for sure be a blooper reel.

Our first stop of the day was Robert Mondavi, the godfather of winemaking. They have an excellent tour, making this winery the Disney Land of Napa. Serioulsy, they take you through the vineyard, explaining the planting and growing process, then you go to the wine making facility and see what goes on after harvest. The tour ends with a grand tasting of estate wines.

My brother Brad and my mom in the vineyard of Mondavi.

We had beautiful weather Thursday. My brother and I at the end of the Mondavi tour, now doing some wine tasting.

First drink of the day was around 11:15 AM. My favorite at Mondavi was a wine you can only buy at the winery. Why is that always the case?

The happy couple enjoying the California sunshine.

Our entire group for Thursday. Aren't we a handsome bunch!?!?

For lunch we went to Alpha Omega winery and had Dean and Deluca box lunches awaiting us.

Herb roasted chicken breast with gruyere cheese, lettuce, tomato and roasted garlic aioli. Served with pesto penne pasta and sun dried tomato topped with parmesan. And a fresh baked cookie at the bottom. Delightful gourmet box lunch!!

All served with a side of... you guessed it... wine from Alpha Omega! We purchased a bottle from them to use during our ceremony on Saturday. Instead of a unity candle, we combined two bottles of wine into a decanter and shared a drink. Yes, we even had WINE during the ceremony. It was a wine wine and more wine week!

My husband-to-be and I at Alpha Omega.

We had a lovely lunch out in the sun here.

Our last stop of the day was at ZD Winery.

Not sure if we like this one or not. Seriously though, by 2:00 PM, everything starts tasting the same. ZD had some great reds and a view from our tasting room was amazing.
Thursday night, we were able to welcome more of our guests to wine country. Jim and I hit the Healdsburg Square and visited some tasting rooms. His family arrived from Austin and Nevada to join us.

Jim's mom and brother Jeremy from Austin.

AND... may I introduce my new nephew Benjamin from Nevada. Doesn't he make your heart swell?

We all gathered at Williamson Wines, one of our favorite tasting rooms to visit on the square. Excellent wine here!

Allyson and Jason, friends from Austin arrived Thursday evening too, we had such a great time together.

While Jim and I spent time with his family and our friends. My parents hosted a lovely dinner at Dry Creek Kitchen for some of their California friends. They had a surprise guest at the table (well, my dad knew, but no one else knew...) Tom Eddy. Jim and I popped into the restaurant, located on the square to say hello and meet Tom. He and his wife were incredibly charming. In fact, Tom insisted we take a seat and try one of his signature wines they were serving at the meal. I could have just melted right there, sitting next to him and talking about the wine he makes. Meeting the winemaker and sharing with him an absolutely beautiful glass of wine that he made - just incredible.

Jim and I rejoined our friends and family at a great restaurant called Healdsburg Bar and Grill. I don't know if they are famous for these fries, but it is what I have ordered the last three times I've dined here. Their truffle fries are to-die-for. Now they have regular, garlic and even a wonderful sweet potato fry with chipotle salt... but none of them are more superior than the Truffle Oil & Parmigiano-Reggiano. I think I probably polished off that entire basket of fries myself, it's served with a garlic aioli.

Because I had eaten an entire basket of truffle fries on my own, I ordered a small dinner, actually one of their appetizers. Polenta Fritos with Marinara Sauce, Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Thanks to my friend Jenee, I have a pic of our welcome bag and the goodies we included for each of our guests. My brother Brad designed the bag, and we filled it with a welcome letter and agenda, two bottles of water with a custom wedding wrap, a hunk of parmesan cheese, a bag of garlic croustini, a bag of Austinuts, hershey kisses, a wine skin so guests can bring back a bottle of wine from thier trip, two stemless wine glasses, and tickets for free tastings on the square.

This concludes my post on Wednesday and Thursday of wedding week. Next will be a recipe post, followed by Part Two of the Wedding: Friday wine tasting, and Saturday wedding.

1 comment:

  1. Aww....YAY!!! I'm so happy for you!

    And your dad..."If you decide you don't like wine at all, give him your glass and he will finish it." He sounds A LOT like my dad! ;)


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