Food

Zuzu Tapas Restaurant, Napa, CA

We only went out to eat once while in Napa, preferring to cook at home. But our one meal out was definitely a home run. Zuzu in Napa, CA is a tapas restaurant that has a full wine and beer list, serves tapas in the traditional Spanish small plate style and also has authentic sangria and paella on hand to satisfy any customer. I got to have dinner with two of my oldest friends (and bridesmaids), Ermentrude and Phryne. As well as my friend, Kimbrough, from Richmond, VA whose heart is as golden as her hair.

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I know small plates are a bit of a fad right now but tapas have been around for much longer than they have been hip in the restaurant scene. There are a couple of different origin stories but my favorite is that King Alfonso X of Spain had some mysterious illness that prevented him from eating large portions. So instead he ate only small meals with wine. This trickled down to the common people and became so popular that to this day wine must be served with food and so small plates are an integral of Spanish food culture. In fact when I visit my family in Spain we stop at this small restaurant in downtown Malaga and eat their entire tapas menu (except the sweet meats). The picture below is circa August, 2014. We are full of food and wine and all smiles!

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But back to Napa, 2018. When I was looking for restaurants I actually found two different tapas restaurants blocks from each other on Main St. After some research I decided we should try Zuzu and I am so glad we did. They don’t take reservations but after a short wait at the bar we were seated and able to cheers to an auspicious start to our Napa travels! They have a great wine collection and we enjoyed a lovely Tempranillo with dinner. But what’s better than Spanish wine with Spanish tapas?

The most difficult thing about tapas is trying to decide what to order. We decide to each pick 2 things and then threw in about three honorable mentions based on the staff’s recommendations. The staff was brilliant and knew exactly what order to brings things out in. They started with the cold items and slowly built up to the heavier offerings. It was the perfect meal and in true Spanish fashion took us over an hour to get through. Some of my favorite dishes were the seared rockfish, roasted beets, arugula and shaved truffle salad and calamari ceviche pictured below. I also loved the flat-iron steak and fried Manchego but by the time we got to the heavier dishes I had put my camera away so I could just enjoy the food and company.

Zuzu is a smallish two story restaurant and we were nestled under the stairs. It was perfectly cozy and intimate this way. And since I’m short I wasn’t even at risk of banging my head! I didn’t try the other tapas restaurant to give a fair comparison but the vibe we felt when walking past to get to Zuzu was definitely not as homey. I think we made the right choice. Although speaking of choices we couldn’t decide what to get for dessert so we just got one of each!

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Clockwise from the top we have a chocolate cream de pot, a caramelized apple empanada, a basque cake and a piece of heavenly tres leches cake. Despite the 12 small plates prior to this all four dessert plates were completely cleared. I can’t say enough how much I loved this meal. If you ever find yourself hungry in Napa and unsure where to eat I think you must go to Zuzu!

Travel

Oakland, CA

I love airplanes. I love the rush when they take off. I love that they get me to the West Coast in twelve hours and nobody dies of dysentery. I love that plane selfies are more acceptable than work selfies. I love being the first one to do the crossword puzzle. But most of all I love when they take me to visit a friend I haven’t seen in years.

 

On the way to my bachelorette party in Napa I stopped to pick up my officiant, Ermentrude, in Oakland. We’ve known each other since high school and we are basically common law married on facebook. She moved to the other side of the country a few years ago so it’s been ages since I’ve seen her in person. But Ermentrude knew exactly how to welcome me to her new home.

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I had a great time exploring her neighborhood and spending quality time with one of my oldest friends. I got to meet her beau and discover exactly how close she now lives to Trader Joe’s. Walking distance, she lives walking distance from the world’s best grocery store. I was so jealous I took this weirdly distorted picture of the sign that can be seen from her street in a mock rage.

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One of the wonderful thing about Richmond is how amazingly tolerant we are as a city. And one of the thing I loved about visiting my friend’s neighborhood in Oakland, CA is realizing that tolerance is everywhere. I saw dozens of signs touting this philosophy and was touched by every one.

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I was also in awe of all the cute homes and their gardens overflowing with gorgeous succulents. There were huge, they were colorful and as odd as it sounds they made the whole neighborhood smell amazing. Although that might have been the pot that was being smoked all over.

 

I just think you should know that I am succulent murderer. I don’t mean for them to die. But they die. I think if I lived in San Francisco and not Richmond I would have less of a murderous past. While I was in San Francisco I also murdered this delicious coffee and toast breakfast from Oliveto’s.

 

Of note when you go to another local shop they have a basket of freshly boiled eggs sitting next to the cashier. Just sitting there. Being adorable. And slightly overcharging you for the luxury of a pre-boiled egg.

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After our morning ramble we went to back to Ermentrude’s quaint cottage and got down to business before heading back to the airport to pick up another couple of ladies and finally head to Napa! Since all my girls has been so kind as to fly all the way in from various parts of the world and country I wanted to make sure I had a lovely little welcome waiting for them. I had spent a considerable amount of time scouring etsy, pinterest and instagram for the perfect gift and eventually settled on gift bag stuffed with travel essentials. Fortunately for me we live in a world with Amazon Prime and I was able to find everything I wanted to include and ship it directly to Ermy’s house for free. I tried to load it down with practical things that would make a girl’s weekend more enjoyable. I settled on a water bottle (glass, so you could drink wine), a scarf and collapsible makeup bag that I filled with smaller treats. In the makeup bag I had two different lip stains that worked great together, oil blotting sheets, a tide stick, fun sunglasses, a sheet mask and of course ferraro rocher!

 

I did order some iron-on decals off Etsy from Chessa Creations. I’ve ordered from her before and would absolutely recommend her to anyone looking for a custom made order! I was very scared about ironing on the decals myself but her instructions were perfect and they turned out great! It was really a lot easier than I thought it would be. I now want to personalize everything!

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All in all my one night in Oakland was definitely the perfect start to my bachelorette festivities! If you have a long time friend you haven’t seen in a while I suggest you make a plan right now to go visit them. In this age of facebook, instagram, snapchat, iMessage, gmail, FaceTime, etc. I feel like we sometimes forget how special it is to actually be with someone. So go take a vacation with your bestie!