This weekend marked the second installment of my month long quest to stall the hands of time, pretend I still have a life and ease myself into my 40s. My wife planned a special spa retreat in Yountville at the brand-spanking-new Bardessono Eco-Spa. Our friend Cristina is the 'Director of Customer Experience' and she hooked us up (she's committed to an interview in the near future - she's an Alice disciple, a slow-food maven and an opinionated foodhead). Upon arrival we were ushered into our minimalist-style suite and given a tour of the technologies in the room. There is some wow factor here, but since my real career is providing such technologies, I wasn't too impressed. I'd actually love to help them integrate and improve the in-room tech. They could do so much more. I also wasn't too taken by the design. It felt very cold-modern, where I prefer warm-modern. I'm not much into the Dwell / DWR vibe, but I know a lot of people dig it. Though, I love the cactus wall in the lobby (see photo) too cool.
Everything at Bardessono is eco-minded. Recycled, reclaimed and renewable materials were used throughout. You'd be hard pressed to find anything that wasn't well-considered. Frankly speaking, I cannot imagine any new resort NOT building green. It would be obscene with the awareness and technology in our possession. Bardessono takes it to the limit and Cristina brings some personality and perspective to the task. To that end, most of the materials were sourced within miles of the resort.
One of the great features of the rooms is the in-suite massage tables and ample space for treatments. And so, my wife arranged for a massage for my aging body. Following, I took a shower outdoors, overlooking the hills of Napa (nice touch) and then a steam (sigh). I would have been content lounging with a bottle of wine and passing out, but there was more to the evening. She led me down the hall to the bar where a dozen of my near and dear friends were waiting, to my surprise. Not only were they all staying at the resort with us, but we were about to share in a dining experience!
Cristina arranged for a special menu with chef Sean O’Toole. Continuing the theme of eco-friendly, the restaurant is committed to sustainable, local, seasonal - you know the drill. Again, I can't imagine a restaurant opening in Northern California without a Slow Food mentality, so let's not dwell on the fact that most ingredients are sourced within miles of the resort. Needless to say, everything was exceptional.
Our opening course of lobster gazpacho was served in a foamy broth with Thai spices and a perfect confetti of spring vegetables - exquisite! The second course of seared scallops and morel mushrooms paired two of my favorite flavors and textures. Add to it a fat piece of seared, smokey lardo and I'm in hog heaven. Our Petaluma Farms chicken was flavorful and juicy, with a crispy skin. I am sensing a resurgence of chicken on dinner menus. After Bourdain trashed the use of chicken in Kitchen Confidential, chefs have stepped up to the challenge to coax flavor and texture out of the forgotten bird. Dessert was a Baba Rum cake, drenched in liquor. Perhaps a little too much for my taste, but it provided for great conversation.
We spent the next day riding bikes and tasting wines and hit the Fatted Calf at Oxbow Market to grab provisions for my son's 4th birthday party the next day. We lunched on charcuterie and cheese with more wine, sunshine and big smiles. God I love wine country. I could not have imagined a better way to spend phase two of my birthday month.