My parents and I had the best time in Sonoma Valley over the weekend. I wish I could pack another suitcase and go back there for a week or more, but I'll have to wait for the wedding in August to see it again.
We left Chicago on Friday morning and returned 48 hours later. Although it wasn't a lot of time, we fit in three tastings (one with the caterer and two cake tastings), a tour of our hotel where our guests will be staying, picking out all of the flowers with our florist, a hair and makeup trial, tasting wines for the wedding at our venue, looking for tuxes, a meeting with the rabbi, two delicious dinners, and a terrific lunch on the bay in Oakland. We didn't waste any time!
I'm not sharing pictures from all of my visits for obvious reasons: I have to keep some secrets about the wedding! I will show you a lot of pictures of food, though! Is that different from any other post?
Park Avenue Catering
On Friday, we met with our wedding planner at Park Avenue Catering
. They will be doing all of the food for our wedding, with the exception of the wedding cake. My dad really wanted to take the reins on the food throughout the planning process, so he chose this caterer and picked the menu. We tried some very creative dishes that I can't wait to display on my wedding day. I know that our guests will love them! The one dish that we're definitely going to change is the mahi mahi. We wanted a more flavorful fish, so we're going with something else. Doesn't it look gorgeous, though?
They gave us chocolates at the end of our tasting. Although we got full portions of everything, I made sure not to stuff my face. I still had room for them. I can't remember exactly what they were, but I tasted superb chocolate and raspberry and ate two of them. I would have had more, but there was nothing left on the plate. How sad.
We heard great reviews about Park Avenue Catering, and our visit with them confirmed those reviews even more. The staff was incredibly friendly, and our tasting was spectacular. I'm thrilled that we're going to have good food at our wedding!
Hilton Sonoma Valley
After our meeting with the florist, we drove to our hotel, checked in, and met with one of the events coordinators for a tour of the hotel. We liked the pictures that we saw of the property online, but we were even happier when we saw the Nectar Lounge where the after-party will be on the night of the wedding. We'll have our own space in a stunning outdoor area (with heating lamps) that's elevated above the city of Santa Rosa. It's gorgeous at night with all of the lights. We can also go inside in case it rains. That wouldn't be a problem, because the lounge and restaurant is also very nice.
My parents and I stayed in adjoining rooms; theirs had one king bed and mine had two queens. Both of the rooms were very spacious. For my friends who want to fit four in a room, you will have no problems!
I loved the way that they folded our towels.
I also used toilet paper instead of kleenex, because I didn't want to dissemble this flower:
While we were meeting in the main lobby and talking about brunch options for the day after the wedding, I saw that they were setting up a complimentary wine and cheese tasting. It was a bliss reminder that we were staying in Wine Country.
Of course, I hit the cheese-and-crackers table a few times before dinner. I also had a glass of red wine.
For those who are coming in August, don't forget to book your room!
The link is on the wedding page.
If you watch a lot of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives
or love Guy Fieri as much as my parents and I do, then you might know about Guy's first restaurant: Johnny Garlic's
. The original location is about five minutes away from our hotel, so we really wanted to try it.
I loved it the second that I walked in the door, because it was anything but a "snooty" restaurant. The bar was in my face, T-shirts hung all over the walls, and a friendly hostess smiled and asked how she could help us. It reminded me of a family-friendly restaurant, but it also wasn't tacky. I could see Guy's personality in everything.
Our sever took a while to greet us, but everything went smoothly once we put in our drink orders. Wine in wine country? Yes please! The servers brought out our wine in that little jug below (one jug per glass), and then they poured it into our glass. How cute.
We got some of Guy's focaccia bread to share, which was outstanding. It was light and fluffy in the middle and had grilled onions on the outside. We dipped it in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
My dad and I both got the veggie burgers for our main meal. As you see, Guy does not want us to go hungry. We chose garlic fries for our side. They tasted wonderful, but I have to warn you that I had garlic breath for 12 hours. I brushed my teeth twice, scrubbed my tongue with the toothbrush, chewed gum and ate mints. It wasn't until I had two cups of coffee the next morning that it went away. Johnny Garlic's does not take their garlic lightly!
There's a chance that people who come to the wedding will get to experience Johnny Garlic's if they are there the night before it. We don't know for sure, but it's looking better than worse. We loved the restaurant and the staff, so we'll see. If there's one thing that I do promise, it's that we not will serve the garlic fries!