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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Get Moving in Napa Valley

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5. Oddball Day

Brush up your culinary skills while making a gourmet dinner at Silverado Cooking School.  

After burning calories traversing Napa Valley, indulge a little with some hands-on epicurean experience. Kick off the day at the downtown Napa outpost of St. Helena’s beloved Model Bakery, with Canadian bacon, cheese, and fluffy scrambled egg atop the bakery’s legendary English muffin ($7). Light, airy, and cooked in clarified butter, the muffins have earned such a following that they’re sold in strict limits of six ($2.50 each, six for $14) per customer. Then head around the corner to the 40,000 square feet of gourmet bakery, spice sellers, and artisanal food and drink vendors at Oxbow Public Market. Make sure to stop by Napa Valley Distillery, a cocktail-geek mecca selling circa-1900 vintage barware and an expansive selection of rare bitters and other spirits though it’s early, you’ll want to sample their Napa Vodka Vintage Reserve ($5 for a -ounce pour), with crisp, fruity notes showcasing the single vintage Sauvignon Blanc it’s made from. While at the market, grab provisions for a picnic lunch: White Rock Salami, made with White Rock Cabernet Franc ($25/pound) from the Fatted Calf, and Cowgirl Creamery’s triple-cream Mt. Tam from the Oxbow Cheese & Wine Merchant. Drive 20 minutes to Conn Creek Winery for the Barrel Blending Experience; armed with a graduated cylinder and beaker, you’ll create your perfect glass and bottle of a Bordeaux-style blend by tasting from 19 barrels representing Napa Valley’s American Viticultural Areas ($95 for class, including tasting and custom bottle; reservations required). Unpack your market provisions for a picnic lunch at downtown Napa’s Veterans Memorial Park, before an afternoon strolling and shopping along the newly rejuvenated Riverfront District; look out for the circa-1884 Napa Mill, which now houses boutiques and restaurants, and local art along the promenade, like a two-tiered glass mosaic fountain by Napa-based artist Alan Shepp depicting the area’s history, plants, and wildlife. Pop back to your hotel for a pre-dinner nap you’ll need some energy for your hands-on meal at Silverado Cooking School. Under the guidance of professional Malcolm de Sieyes, you’ll don an apron and create an impressively complex meal from start to finish, using ingredients from the school’s own farm (from $120 per person). A recent menu featured a soup of wilted winter greens, potato, and chicken; sausage-stuffed quail; wild mushroom risotto; and, for dessert, dulce de leche and chocolate-chunk bread pudding. Sit down to enjoy the fruits of your labor and leave with recipes from the meal.

Published on Mar 6, 2014 as a web exclusive.

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