Paleo & Primal Food, Wine, Travel & Living


Napa Trip Day Two: Napa Valley Marriott: Wowed by the Transformation!

After wine tasting in the Silverado area at Duckhorn and Frank Family, my BF and I headed back towards true Napa Valley to check into the Napa Valley Marriott.
It had been a few years since my last stay there. Since then, the hotel has undergone a $7 million facelift that was completed in April of this year. I was completely happy with my stay last time, so when I walked into the hotel, I was shocked at the transformation from quaint and comfortable to modern and fabulous!

The remodel project was completed in two phases over 15 months. At the end of it all, 275 rooms, the spa, meeting space, fitness center and the hotel lobby were redone.

Here’s a little rundown of the many new and updated features of the Napa Valley Marriott:

• a heated outdoor pool and whirlpool

• a fitness center

• 275 guest rooms, featuring Marriott’s Revive bedding

• VINeleven Restaurant and Bar

• 20,000 square feet of event space

• a complimentary daily wine and cheese tasting

What I can’t get over is that it was such a nice place to stay before the remodel (not to mention now), and so what I can honestly say is this: For the ambiance of the hotel and the quality of the room versus the price (rates begin at about $159 per night), it’s the best hotel deal Napa Valley has to offer. Also, here’s a list of their current package deals, combining a stay at the Napa Valley Marriott with such activities as the Napa Valley Wine Train, a golf outing, or a hot air balloon adventure.

For more photos of the property please check out their photo gallery here.

Here’s a picture of the new dining area (VINeleven Restaurant and Bar). We were on our way to dinner at Hurley’s (post to come) when I took this shot of one of the handsome bar tables (there are three or four large ones in the room.)

I was not aware the Napa Valley Marriott had the updated restaurant with such a desirable menu (hello Artisanal Cheese Plate!!), or I would have considered eating dinner right in the hotel that night! Extra tip: My buddy Rick Bakas recommends the chickpea fries. I guess they really are “Crazy Good” as the menu states.

In the morning if you wish, you can enjoy breakfast (served buffet style) on the patio. The set up is completely gorgeous and the food looked fantastic.

Who goes to Napa to workout? I DO, OK?! 😉 Here’s a photo of the gym (located right next door to the hotel), equipped with treadmills, ellipticals, bikes, and free weights. There’s also a little towel refrigerator which was a nice added touch.

Below is a picture of the room we stayed in. The patio door opens up to a little seating area outside. We had coffee outside the next day and listened to all the activity on the patio during breakfast. 🙂

In front of the full length closet mirror (an amenity I appreciate),
before heading to dinner at Hurley’s in Yountville.

There’s a great laid back and positive vibe going on in the lobby both in the morning and at night. I witnessed the staff and how they are happy to be there in their behavior towards other guests (not just me). In turn, the guests all seemed to be enjoying themselves and their surroundings.

During the evening, there is a complimentary daily wine and cheese tasting, featuring various area wineries.

Here’s a picture of their outdoor patio and firepit. It was a little chilly that evening, but I can only imagine the fun outside once things heat up!

Speaking of fun, what are you doing New Years Eve? I want to let you know about the party Napa Valley Marriott is throwing on December 31st:

Ring in the New Year in the Napa Valley! This year the Napa Valley Marriott is taking you back in time to an era of afros and bellbottoms. Event includes: Live Disco Music from San Francisco Band


Hosted Hors d’oeurves stations from Executive Chef Brian Whitmer: Action stations to include prepared-to-order VINeleven’s specialties:
Chicken-Cashew Lettuce Cups, Porcini Ravioli, Crispy Fried Asparagus with Meyer Lemon Aioli and much more. Local oysters opened to order. 
Starbucks ‘Viennese-style Coffee Bar with Biscotti and Freshly Baked Pastries
Balloon Drop at Midnight
Party favors
Midnight Toast sponsored by Domaine Chandon
Disco attire suggested and awards for Best Dressed Male and Female
Photo booth on-hand with free, unlimited photo prints of you and your friends
2012 Fortune Teller
Raffle and Silent Auction to benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs of Napa Valley featuring hotel stays, spa treatments, trips, wine and more!
Tickets to the party are $75.00 per person + taxes/fees. You can click here to order!

Or if you are interested in staying overnight, the NVM has a package that includes all of the above plus:
Overnight accommodations for 2
2 tickets to the Napa Boogie Bash
A New Year’s Day Recovery Breakfast for 2: featuring our “KC Barbecue Bloody Mary’s”, Breakfast Chorizo Burger “Sliders” and big screen football games
Late check out of 1pm on Sunday, January 1st

$299.00 + tax per couple.

You can click here to purchase the package.

You can find the Napa Valley Marriott on Facebook here, and follow them on twitter here.

Morning view from our patio. Thank you, Napa Valley Marriott. 🙂

Place Pigalle in Seattle: Romance on the Waterfront

Probably the most romantic dinner I have ever had was on November 2nd of this year. My boyfriend made dinner and for dessert surprised me at the end of the meal with my favorite treat: bacon wrapped dates. To be honest, every time he has ever made dinner for me has been very special, and every time I come over to his house it is quite like he is throwing a little party for me. The kicker is that he can really cook, so everything is delicious and I don’t have to pretend to like it. Also, I am no longer in charge of making all the food which is also an added bonus. 😉

But dear readers, while it is fresh in my mind I want to tell you about a restaurant we visited in Seattle just last Friday night called Place Pigalle. My meal at Place Pigalle was THE most romantic dinner I have ever had (so far, that is)! Place Pigalleis located through a little corridor behind Seattle’s Pike Place Market Fish Throwers and overlooks Seattle’s Puget Sound.Place Pigalle began as a watering hole called the Lotus Inn. The Lotus Inn used to be a hub at which sailors could imbibe before meeting up with a lady friend at the bordello upstairs.

A woman by the name of Nellie Curtis ran the bordello (which she masked as a hotel). Then eventually the owners of the hotel, Rosuke and T.K. Kodama, were sent to an internment camp in 1942, and Curtis purchased the hotel lease. She ran her business for years, evading crackdowns and even an earthquake in 1949.

Sometime in the 50’s, The Lotus (equipped with a sawdust floor and an alleged blind accordion player) became Place Pigalle. The name comes from the red-light district in Paris. Patrons of Place Pigalle used to toss beer and wine bottles out the west windows and watch them sail 50 feet down to the sidewalk and ravine.

By the 60’s the biker crowd that frequented the tavern called it “Pig Alley”, and it became a popular venue for bikers and commoners.

In the 70’s, Place Pigalle became a mecca of sorts for artists, merchant marines, hippies and world travelers. Visitors were attracted by the view and the jukebox, which played everything from Edith Piaf to Jimi Hendrix.

In 1982, Place Pigalle was remodeled when Bill Frank (the bartender) took ownership. He made major improvements to the menu and even the equipment in the kitchen (by tearing out the Sears electric range). It was shortly after that, the restaurant began to attract a more serious following by distinctive diners.

Seth and Lluvia Walker now own Place Pigalle and keep a strong commitment to the restaurant’s tradition and history.

Below is a peek inside the dining room, which is on the smaller side, but looks spacious thanks to lots of windows and an enormous mirror on one side of the room.
Bar area at Place Pigalle
At the table, were my favorite flowers, tulips, which I normally don’t see until spring. 🙂
If you go to Place Pigalle, do everything you can to sit at table four. That’s pretty much the best view in the restaurant, which can be very helpful if you are trying to woo someone. 😉
We started with a 1/2 Dungeness Crab for our appetizer. The crab is served with with tarragon aioli, drawn butter, and lemon. To pair with the crab, we ordered a few glasses of sparking wine, and our server suggested a 2008 Prosecco, Bortolomiol, Brut, Filanda Rosé Valdobbiadene, made from 100% Pinot Noir.
I am pretty sure I could have ordered another crab and a bottle of the prosecco for my meal, but I was too excited to order other dishes once I saw the full menu (which I would describe as French-inspired).
The BF ordered the Roasted Beet Salad with Baby Arugula, Toasted Walnuts, Chèvre, Shallots, Lemon-Dijon Vinaigrette. It is a warm salad, and the Chèvre is rolled in the toasted walnuts in a little cheese ball. The arugula is a bitter contrast to the natural sweetness to the beets, and the flavors are all tied together with the vinaigrette. I ALMOST wish I had ordered the beet salad, but…
I was quite pleased with my Mixed Greens Salad. It was made with Gorgonzola, Spiced Pecans, Roasted Garlic, and served with Wildflower Honey Vinaigrette.

To accompany dinner, we ordered a bottle of a Bordeaux blend, the 2004 Château Greysac, Cru Bourgeois, Médoc. The Médoc part of the name refers to the region (and Médoc is the largest wine making region of Bordeaux, France). A perfect little French wine to go with what was to come next!

For my entrée, I ordered the rabbit roulade prepared with house-made duck and rabbit sausage, argula, onion jam, and a huckleberry reduction. I am a little ashamed to tell you that I pretty much cleaned my plate other than a piece of the roulade I bartered with the BF so I could taste just a little more of…

My BF’s Cattail Farms Lamb Foreshank with a chestnut purée, squash Napolean, and swimming in a little moat of jus. And I think I actually liked the lamb just a tiny bit better than my dinner! As flavorful as the rabbit was, the lamb was on the very next level. With the food and the wine and the company being so perfect, I could not have asked for more. I only wish I could have taken photos of the view from our table, but they just don’t do it justice.

Near the end of our dinner, Seth, (one of the owners of Place Pigalle) came by our table and introduced himself. We talked a little bit about food, wine and social media. Yes, my favorite topics! 😉

Seth graciously posed for a picture with me. 🙂
As I write this I find myself  craving the food we had, and dreaming of the components in the dishes… Like, I have an acorn squash in the fridge and I am thinking about how good the duck sausage (that was in the rabbit roulade) would be baked inside an acorn squash!!
Thanks to Seth, the chef, the sommelier, and the waitstaff for making everything perfect and a night I will remember forever!

Place Pigalle is open for lunch 11:30-3:00 everyday and for dinner 5:30-9:30 Monday-Thursday and 5:30-10:00 Friday-Saturday. They close at 3:00 on Sunday.

You can follow Place Pigalle on twitter here and you can find them on Facebook here. To make a reservation, you can go here or you can call the restaurant at 206.624.1756. Tell them you NEED table four!

PS: (Extra tip) There is free parking available After 5pm in the Public Market Parking Garage. The Public Market Parking garage offers covered parking and is connected to the Market’s Main Arcade by an elevator and sky bridge.

Hot Chocolate 15K Set to Warm Up Chicago on November 5th, 2011!