Napa…for all the wrong reasons

 
Dear wine connoisseur,
 
I am perfectly aware that the Napa Valley in California is known for its fabulous wine. I know very well that the USA is the fourth largest producer of wine in the world. I am also aware that vacationers tend to plan their time in Napa visiting as many swanky wineries as possible, and spending countless hours discussing the importance of the perfect cheese and wine pairings. I appreciate that, really I do – I like cheese. However, I don’t drink wine…(there, I said it).
 
This post is not for you.
 
Viola -notafanofwine- Doyle
Dear cupcake, pastry and bread-heads,
 
Did you know that the Napa Valley in California, (apparently also called ‘wine country’ or something like that) has so much more to offer than that other stuff it’s known for? In fact Napa and Sonoma are home to some of the most delicious, heart warming, soul satisfying breads I have ever had the pleasure of breaking. Not to mention the myriad of cupcake bakeries offering some of the most appealing flavours I’ve encountered.
 
This post is definitely for you.
 
Viola -ieatcakewithmycake-Doyle

 

So if you can’t already tell, I’m pretty serious when I say that Napa and Sonoma have so much more to offer than expensive wineries and high end restaurants. Not so long ago, I was speaking with some friends that were about to spend some time in San Francisco. When I suggested Napa as a gorgeous place to spend a night or two, the response I got was “oh, we’re not really big wine drinkers”. Lets just say, if you appreciate the simple things in life – you will love Napa.  By ‘simple’ I am referring to:

Green pastures, fresh crisp air, all enjoyed while sipping on some of the best artisan coffee in America
The most delicious fresh crusty sourdough with locally made berry jam
A mid morning hot cup of tea with an amazing coconut cupcake
Nourishing organic soups and chowder, with a bit more of that bread on the side
Perfect homeware boutiques boasting the best in vintage styling
Locally grown vegetables and fruits, lovingly displayed at farmers markets…enough to inspire the average home cook  to want to prepare a festive feast…

I went to Napa with the intention of visiting as many bakeries as possible. In the end, Napa was more than just about bakeries. I discovered that more than wine, cheese, fancy markets and restaurants, Napa’s colour and enthusiasm for supporting local growers, and fierce appreciation for living off the land was enough to fuel my culinary imagination for a long time to come.

Sift
http://www.siftcupcakes.com/

As the first Bakery I visited, I was eager, and empty bellied so you can imagine I was super excited…

 

This is one side of the store. Wonderful vintage inspired clothing for ladies…

…and this is the other. Cupcakes for days!

One of the best coconut cupcakes the world will ever experience. Right there. In Napa.

Proof:  Moist coconut cake, butter cream, toasted coconut, chocolate drizzle, injected with chocolate ganache. Ridic.

Thanks to my sister in law Nora, My obsession for all things gingerbread has been magnified with a vengeance. Mr. Man Cupcakes. Gingerbread deliciousness!

This bad boy stood no chance…This one’s for you, Nora…

Edible colours on the walls, and pretty little homes for the cupcakes. Gorgeous!

Just a little sign on the road…

 

Oooh! What do we have here? A Street sign pointing me to another bakery??

Well I must certainly walk two blocks and then turn left!

The Model Bakery
http://www.themodelbakery.com/

…and I’m glad I did…it was wonderful.

 

If Food Network said it, then I had to try it! Most definitely not what us Aussies consider to be an English muffin. Though pleasant to eat, this muffin was much sweeter, and a lot more doughnutty in flavour than our humble  bready Muffins at home.

It was nearing lunch time, so that pizza was looking mighty tempting…and huge….

Sweet sauce on the base, and a delicious crust….and no matter how many times I visit the states, big pizzas still make me feel like a cool ninja turtle.

Kara’s Cupcakes
http://karascupcakes.com/

Just a quick stop past Kara’s cupcakes at the Oxbow Market. I just loved the soft serve looking butter cream, topped with festive snowmen, fondant stars and Christmas trees.

Something little for the road… A super most mini chocolate cupcake Deliciously decadent.

Sweetie Pies
http://www.sweetiepies.com/

The shop front of  the lovely Sweetie Pies.

I love how this Bakery also offers other festive home goods.

Check out all these wonderful festive cakes. No shortage of holiday cheer in this wonderful establishment!

Ultra Henri Matisse. That’s definitely me on the left.

Pies make me the happiest little girl on the planet….as much as I wanted to try a slice, I had other ideas

Ladies and gents, allow me to introduce you to one of the most incredibe baked treats I’ve ever come to experience in this lifetime. A pumpkin whoopie pie. How I miss you more each day!

A very happy hunter

Bouchon Bakery
http://www.bouchonbakery.com/

Bouchon in Yountville… still in the Napa region, also famous for its bistro. With 4 other bakeries across California, Las Vegas and New York City, I’m stoaked that for the first time I visit, it’s this location. Country perfection.

 

Signature treat? As if I would dare walk out the door without 3 of these goodies in my paper bag…

Everything you want a macaron to be. I could not help myself, and purchased the few festive flavours on offer, with the usual suspects too – pistachio, can never go past pistachio.

Fresh. Hot. Perfect.

All breads are baked following traditional french recipes. I don’t know if its something in the water, air or oven, but I would love to know what made this bread purchase the best I had ever made. Was it because I was in Napa and everything is better there?

Leaving Napa with a full belly, empty wallet, bread and cakes to last days… Blissfully happy.

Even on a cool rainy winter day, I can still fall in love with this place… Can’t wait to see you in Summer.

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Viola Doyle

Viola Marie Doyle is a Sydney based writer, cake decorator, food enthusiast and frequent jet setter. Currently the Editorial Consultant of The Journal Magazine Australia, Viola now relishes the opportunity to explore the little curiosities that she defines as the sweet life. Follow Viola on Instagram @violamariedoyle

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