Bouchon Bakery is Back – much to the joy of locals and tourists in the Napa Valley

A couple days ago, we watched as several people casually milled about a small, unobtrusive pale green building in Yountville – waiting patiently – there was a sense of anticipation as the doors opened to the much loved Bouchon Bakery, which had been closed for a few months, under remodel.

The bakery offers stunning baked products – breads, brioche, croissants, French macarons, chocolate brownie bouchons, sandwiches, and other delicious items to their bakery clients and to Bouchon Restaurant (right next door) and Ad Hoc….all Chef Thomas Keller restaurants… The bakery plans to expand their catering…and potentially offer catered afternoon teas …which no doubt would be exciting and beautifully put together…look forward to seeing that in future trips.

Known also for their cappuccinos and coffee drinks, this is a happening place every morning.  A great way to start one’s day.

Their French macarons are beautiful.  They  inspired me to include the French macaron cookie as one of  Tea With Betty sweet recipes.

Wish we had a bakery like this near where we live…it’s nice having one to visit though….

Bouchon Bakery, Yountville, California...known for French Macarons and Artisan Breads...a nice patio too...is that our little Willie the wonder wiener dog in the background?  Why yes...ahhhh-miss that little boy immensely

Bouchon Bakery, Yountville, California…known for French Macarons and Artisan Breads…a nice patio too…is that our little Willie the wonder wiener dog in the background? Why yes…ahhhh-miss that little boy immensely

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Beautiful Food…and a Lovely Cup of Tea

We don’t often go for fancy lunches, however, when in the Napa Valley with certain friends of ours, we can’t resist going to one of their “must do lunch” locales. Take a look at these lunch time salads at Etoile, the fine dining restaurant inside the renowned champagne house, Domaine Chandon Winery in Yountville, Ca (Napa Valley).  The food is spectacular, like art .  While each dish is beautiful and delectable, we commented on that fact that each ingredient on the plate had distinct flavor and a distinct purpose for being there.

Their  tea service was “spot on”… restoring my faith in restaurants being able to do tea right.  The china was simple, sleek, and elegant.  Tea tasted so good from those cups.  Whole leaf tea (Mighty Leaf in silk bags) was steeped to order in the kitchen, then diffused into our individual porcelain pots.  The temperature of the tea was perfectly hot.  Simple, elegant, delicious….quality in a cup.

On a gorgeous February day, a gorgeous and delicious lunch finished off with a lovely cup of tea…and a shared dessert we were told we shouldn’t miss (they were right.)

Beautiful food from Etoile...Smoked trout salad, Lamb with poached egg, Roasted Beet and citrus, Excellent tea service, For 35 years Etoile's pastry chef has made this stunning, classic called Millefeuille

Beautiful food from Etoile…Smoked trout salad, Lamb with poached egg, Roasted Beet and citrus, Excellent tea service, For 35 years Etoile’s pastry chef has made this stunning, classic called Millefeuille

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Tea in the Napa Valley….what a treat

We love the Napa Valley…Certainly for the wine, but just as important to us is the fabulous food.   The Inn we often stay at offers an afternoon tea which “hits” the spot.  While the actual hot tea isn’t whole leaf,  it is organic –  the iced tea is fresh and brisk.  The variety of finger sandwiches and petite sweets are beautiful and tasty, served buffet style.  This afternoon tea offering “comes with the room”… not bad, huh!    After tasting wine all day, relaxing in the cheery lobby seating area consuming tea and delicious savory and sweet morsels  is a nice way to detox while planning your night out at some of the best restaurants in the country..

Their tiny  Russian tea cookies and petite chocolate hazelnut biscotti are delightful…crunchy and nutty…I just love them.  Give me a nut and I’m a happy person.

Below are photos of tea time at The Vintage Inn, Yountville, Ca – in the heart of the Napa Valley.  www.vintageinn.com

Afternoon tea at The Vintage Inn...in their quaint and lovely lobby

Afternoon tea at The Vintage Inn…in their quaint and lovely lobby

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A Hip Urban Tea Lounge – Tranquil Tea Lounge

This hidden gem, set in the urban downtown area of Fullerton, California,  is a modern alternative to traditional tea rooms.  They are serious about tea.  They celebrate tea and are meticulous in how they treat your tea leaves.  And they are NOT stuffy at all.

My best friend and I enjoyed lunch at Tranquil Tea Lounge (TTL) yesterday.  We love this place.  We get to relax to a lovely lunch with spectacularly prepared teas.  Whether iced or hot, each tea order is made to order and managed to perfection.

The iced ones are prepared at the bar. Leaves are measured from silver canisters that line a shelf like those at an old apothecary’s shop. The tea is then steeped, sweetened and shaken with ice, perfect.  The hot teas are steeped at your table and the server handles the timing and removing of the leaves for you.  Again, sheer perfection in tea service.

While TTL offers about 90 teas, I had the same one two times in a row…I am in love with the Ti Kuan Yin Monkey Picked Oolong which, according to legend, was once actually harvested by trained primates because they could climb to the top branches to pick the leaves where humans couldn’t go.  My friend, T., is more adventurous and tried the Gunpowder tea this time.  We both had hot tea this day.  A big decision as their iced tea is so delicious too.

TTL’s menu is priced for daily visits.  Their Tranquil Tea Trio, which includes a half sandwich, choice of soup or salad (always fresh and gorgeous) and your choice of their quality teas…all for $9   Can’t beat it.

We did opt to order their “Betty’s homemade scone” … (had to just because of the name, right?)  Since their varieties tended toward the sweet side, we chose one for dessert…a passion fruit / mango scone.  It was fresh, warm and delicious.  It was rather large, so we shared it.  The presentation of the food is “top chef” worthy.  Very appetizing.  And you are never rushed.

They also have a special events room which I was checking out for an upcoming date with a group of friends who want to go on a tea adventure with me.  Will be doing that within the next two months. Should be fun and interesting.  Next time I visit I plan to order their darling little handmade French macarons.  They are cute as a button and fresh and delicious.  Even if watching calories, these little bites make  sense… The Tranquil Tea Lounge site is www.tranquiltealounge.com

Simple wonderful tea service at Tranquil Tea Lounge in Fullerton, Ca

Simple wonderful tea service at Tranquil Tea Lounge in Fullerton, Ca

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The Rodney Dangerfield of Beverages (in Restaurants)…

Even at fine dining restaurants in Southern California, most often, tea gets little to no respect.   Here it is, the second most consumed beverage in the world, and most food professionals treat it as an afterthought.  It happened to me this weekend.  We were at two, white tablecloth, fine dining restaurants…had wonderfully skilled service, deliciously prepared meals; yet when I ordered tea at the first restaurant, our sommelier level 3 rated server asked me, “do you care what kind I bring you?”  I said, “yes, I do.  What type of tea service do you offer?”  He said, “I don’t know I’ll go get the box.”  He then brought me a Revolution brand tea box (which was good) and some almost hot water and forgot the cup.  It was kind of funny as I was with four others who know my challenges with getting good tea outside the home, they were laughing the whole time, so was the server by the time we finished.

The next night, we were at a different fine dining restaurant, one we had wanted to go to for a long time.  Had a seriously delicious meal.  This time I said I’d like a cup of black tea and some milk after dinner.  The server (who again was skilled and did a beautiful job) told me she was pretty sure they were out of black tea as someone asked for it last night and she had to dig through the bags to find the last one.  She said this happens all the time.  I didn’t order anything else and went home to make a cup of tea – and thoroughly enjoyed it.

I have had wonderful tea service at many restaurants, but it sure is “hit and miss.”

It’s a conundrum of sorts I suppose for the restaurateur, as the tea category isn’t very big for them…thus they don’t focus on it.  However, it’s so minor because most consumers haven’t had a good cup of tea or tea service in a restaurant.  Kind of a “catch 22.”  Still, if you offer a product, I go back to the principle of quality.  Ensure each segment on that menu reflects the quality of service and ingredients that make guests want to order that item again.  Pretty simple really.