Saturday, January 4, 2014

Back in the DF

I came back to the DF on Dec 14th after a fantastic month-long visit in the States!

The original reason for my visit was a long weekend in Florida to celebrate two Elon friends' wedding. I loved our mini Elon reunion and am so glad I was able to be there to celebrate! Congratulations again Larissa and Brian!

Elon friends 
The beach in November? Don't mind if I do! 
at the reception
Elon girls at the reception
Since the wedding was in November, I decided to take advantage of the fact I was already in the US and fly up to Maryland to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family for the first time in 4 years!

I had so much fun hanging out with my family the week of Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving day: catching up, eating, working out, playing with my niece (cousin's baby girl), a delicious crab feast, and our Thanksgiving desserts baking marathon! (We missed you, Brandon!)
getting to the end of our Thanksgiving desserts
baking marathon with my cousins, aunt,
and mom (taking the photo)
Thanksgiving desserts - yum! 
I also loved having the chance to catch up with lots of friends from high school and college, as well as finally meeting baby Bruce! 

baby Bruce, aka "Poncho" with
his poncho from Mexico
Another trip highlight included seeing the new musical If/Then with Idina Menzel, Anthony Rapp, and LaChanze while it was in previews in D.C.! So good! 


I decided to extend my trip to be able to go to Napa with my parents and grandmother to visit my brother and his girlfriend. That meant an extra week at home and a week of vacation and family time in California! 
somewhere not too far from Las Vegas
made it to Napa - cheers! 
in downtown Napa
We stayed in "wine country cottages" at RiverPointe. What's interesting is that RiverPointe is located in the floodplain so all of the cottages have to be mobile to be quickly removed if there is a flood warning. From November to April, only about 35 of the 100+ cottages are kept on the property. We had two one-room cottages connected by a patio, so my grandmother and I were roommates for the week.

RiverPointe
RiverPointe
We even had some "pets" for the week with the cats that visited us on the deck. 


We visited a few wineries throughout the week, including Vine Cliff, Chimney Rock, Sterling, Jacuzzi, and St. Supery. (Let's just say it definitely helps going with someone who lives in the area and works in the food/wine industry!) 

in the cave at Vine Cliff
Chimney Rock
Chimney Rock
Chimney Rock
delicious (and expensive!!) wines at Chimney Rock
Chimney Rock
riding the aerial tram up to Sterling Vineyards
riding the aerial tram up to Sterling Vineyards
view from Sterling
We also did a walking food tour with Foodies on Foot, stopping at Juicy and Pica Pica at the Oxbow Public Market, Model Bakery for some incredible English muffins, La Esperanza taco truck, Napa Valley Bistro, Bui Bistro, Lucero Olive Oil, Clemente's at Val's, and Sweetie Pies. Yum!

a mini arepa at Pica Pica
delicious English muffins from Model bakery
Model bakery
tasting olive oils and a balsamic vinegar at Lucero
(They also gave us ice cream with chocolate olive oil
on top - surprisingly delicious!)
Clemente's at Val's (authentic Italian takeout inside a liquor store)
history of the "malfatti", which we tried at Clemente's
We also visited the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Greystone, where Brandon went to school...

CIA
CIA
...and ate (twice!) at Napa Valley Biscuits where he is currently working. (I highly recommend "the Pappy"!)
Napa Valley Biscuits
We also did a Segway tour (dorky looking, but really fun!), made a trip over to Sonoma, and visited the Charles Schulz museum in Santa Rosa.

with the Charlie Brown Christmas tree
at the Charles Schulz museum
Since we were reunited in California (and wouldn't be later in the month), we celebrated an early Christmas.


siblings
the family
excited about his Hofbrauhaus beer stein
Brandon and Brittany opening a present
Ok - this isn't really Christmas, but Brandon and Brittany have chinchillas.
How cool is that? 
And since this is "Becca in the DF," I wanted to share two examples I saw of Mexican influence in Napa (besides the taco truck previously mentioned): 

Chilaquiles on the menu at Boon Fly Cafe
Tajín seasoning, corn husks to wrap tamales, and dried
peppers at Walmart

Overall I had a fantastic time in the States and loved having so much quality time with friends and family!


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