Saturday, August 12, 2006

Wine Country Shenanigans Pt. 4 - D&D, CIA, Downtown Bakery
Though the food coma from lunch had yet to kick in, we already felt like passing out. Some of it was due to the rising valley temperatures outside, but we were really dying from laughter. We had just passed for a couple of cougars from the city celebrating a birthday in Napa and harbored no qualms about our geriatric front. We were a couple of fools high on life.

Our next stop was Dean & Deluca. A New York City darling in St. Helena? We see about dis. We went in with one mission: to obtain a mini-sack of dark chocolate-covered almonds to send to my sister in San Diego. The first offense upon entering the store was the unstomachable cheese smell permeating throughout. It was reminiscent of Whole Foods, and Whole Foods is quite a house of cheeses. We sauntered into the wine room, where we critiqued wine labels. An antsy clerk kept floating over to us to ask if we needed any help. You bet we needed help; we're clinically insane. (Seriously, name more college kids who get a kick out of imitating geezers and mispronouncing dings; we'd like to meet dem.)

We also overheard a conversation about someone forming a partnership with P.F. Changs and considered interrupting to inform them of their poor decision, but we weren't feeling that generous. After browsing around the store for a bit, molesting more pots and pans, and getting vexed by a normal 2-dollar bottle of oyster sauce marked up to 8 dollars at D&D, we searched for the almonds. Upon failing to find them myself, I asked a sluggish clerk to assist me. After rudely accepting my request and taking her time browsing the shelves and "the back", she returned to tell me that they were out of the almonds, and then suggested some other offensive alternative. What a great disappointment D&D was. Williams-Sonoma may not have a deli, fresh produce or a bakery, but they've got all the "gourmet" I'll ever need for my pantry, and classy, geezer salespeople to boot.

Next up was CIA Greystone, which was a totally spontaneous pitstop (we may be old, but we refuse to be stuck in a predictable rut). A wedding ceremony had just taken place, and we were there to witness all the inebriated groomsmen and bridesmaids embarrassing themselves in front of visitors. The frustrated photographer for the ceremony was playing kindergarten teacher to a bunch of wasted, well-dressed adult kids, trying to get them to pose long enough for halfway decent shots. Meanwhile, we sat on a bench facing all the hoopla and attempted to predict the groomsman-bridesmaid hookups that would undeniably take place that night.

We then took a brief, self-guided tour of the ground floor of the school, which was beautiful and rich with historic artifacts and displays. It inspired us to suggest forcing our kids (if we were to have any) to attend culinary school so they would eventually cook for us. We wouldn't care less about what they aspired to do in life; it'd be all about our agenda to chow down like kings well into our 80s (coming up soon).

Dean & Deluca and Greystone were all along the way to our next destination, Healdsburg, where Downtown Bakery's carbs were our next target. Healdsburg welcomed us with open arms in the form of a parking space smack in the front of Downtown Bakery. That is, after we drove around for a good half hour looking for Plaza Street, which was, much to our chagrin, right near the plaza.

What a cute little bakery, with items just like mom used to make, if only my mother baked or cooked.

Bran muffin

Oatmeal prune muffin with an orange glaze

After hearing all the rage about Downtown Bakery's bran muffins sold at the Ferry Building Farmer's Market on saturday mornings, I've been dying to try one. I cannot get up early on saturday mornings to save my life, so instead I get the muffins at the source--in its very Healdsburg birthplace (albeit I did get up at 7 am that morning to embark on these shenanigans). The muffin was a bit disappointing--its composition was very mollasses-based, and was therefore lacking the branny texture I usually look for. It paled in comparison to the muffins at FatApples. The oatmeal muffin was a bit better, though it mostly tasted like orange rather than oatmeal and prune. How misleading. Like Apple Jacks.

After that, we decided to be scene--that is, by taking the scenic route back to Marin on Highway 1.



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