Call me lucky, but I have friends who are always the first to learn about upcoming vegan events in town and out. Six months ago, my friend Rosie alerted me that vegan cookbook author and vegan culinary celebrity, Isa Chandra Moskowitz will be in Napa on February 8th for a cooking tour. The event sold out quickly online and we were the first ones to get our tickets in. Time flew and before we knew it, we were driving on our way to Napa.
To the vegan world, Isa is a rock star that cooks. The vegan woman version of Jamie Oliver. Isa made vegan cooking “cool”. She was one of the first, if not the first to have a vegan cooking show, which was aired on public television pre-Internet days.
Isa’s event in Napa was scheduled on a Sunday night. My friends and I decided to go earlier in the afternoon to grab lunch and check out what Napa had in store for us. After researching “vegan Napa” online, my friend suggested a restaurant called Melted.
Rosie and I got the “Aunt Weaver Stamper” with vegan swiss, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, and walnut arugula pesto.
My two other friends got the “Settin the Woods On Fire”, originally vegetarian but veganized for them with vegan cheese, tomato, avocado, salsa, cilantro.
We all got the vegan smoothie (not pictured) called “Dan Rather” with peanut butter, chocolate, and banana. From the description alone, we should have known that the smoothie would be too thick and heavy for a drink; it was more like a dessert.
We realized we also should have went with a half order instead of a full order because the portions were too big for us. My friends preferred the “Aunt Weaver Stamper” better than the “Settin the Woods On Fire”.
After our lunch, we met up with more friends and went to a vegan-friendly winery at O’Brien Estate . We checked the online resource, barnivore.com to confirm if indeed O’Brien Winery offers vegan wines. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have gone! O’Brien Winery passed much to our relief. My friend Rosie had gone before and she said that the owners’ daughter is vegan and she gave her a tour around the estate.
Alas the daughter was not there when we arrived at the winery. Another bummer was that it had been raining that day so we weren’t able to roam around for a tour. Instead, we were seated in a nice dining area where we tasted various fine wines. When the rain stopped and the clouds calmed down a bit, we walked around with our guide, Julio, who poured us dessert wine while explaining the process of growing their grapes and making their wines.
The wine tasting was originally priced at $25 per person but it recently jumped up to $40. We were lucky that Rosie had reserved the wine tasting before the price hike so O’Brien Winery had to honor the old price.
The O’Briens live right in the estate; that’s their house painted in grey color.
We also visited the room where barrels and barrels of wine were stored. Another group had its wine tasting here.
My gorgeous friend, Cassie.
The O’Brien wines are grown, picked, fermented, and bottled within the vicinity. Everything is self-contained; in fact the wines are not distributed to any retail stores.
As you could tell, some of us have turned red. Oops.
I’m not going to lie; I got pretty buzzed from all the fine wines. I don’t usually drink so unfortunately I didn’t feel well after the tasting. I was hoping the next place we visit would make me feel better. I thought perhaps caffeine would help (ha!).
Next, we headed to Oxbow Public Market. We found several artisan vendors that sell vegan products and other creative stuff.
Ritual Coffee where we had our caffeine fix. Unfortunately, the coffee didn’t sober me up. I should have known better!
Whole Spice store.
Some of my friends got hungry so they ordered vegan tacos and chips from C Casa.
The Avocado Tacos had corn relish, poblanos, green onions, mixed greens & avocado crema.
The Guacamole and Chips had roasted corn relish.
Thankfully, I had the chance to recover before going to our main event, Isa’s cooking show. Actually, the event is called “Isa Live, a Vegan Life in Four Courses“. It was held at City Winery which was not so far away from Oxbow.
Upon arriving, I realized just how big the venue was. I heard that about 300 people were there! The venue was a music hall where the audience area was configured into a massive dining space with tables and chairs. It had a main stage where Isa cooked and talked to us. Sandwiching the main stage were screen projects showing the food up close.
Isa was hilarious all through out the show. My friends and I were laughing the entire time. In fact, we felt like we were watching a stand-up comedy routine instead of a cooking demo.
The second course was a vegan Tamale with lentil “chorizo”, mole sauce, and guacamole.
The third course was a Chickpea Stew with chewy rosemary Biscuit.
After the show, the audience had the chance to do a meet and greet with Isa. I should have brought my Isa Does It cookbook for her to sign. But then again, we had a long day and were dog tired and ready to get some rest. The dinner ended around 10pm!
Isa graciously answered all of our questions and even took a photo of the audience when my friend asked for her to do it. Prior to meeting Isa, I thought she would have this “I’m too cool for anything” attitude but she turned out to be super nice, funny, and down to earth. Her humble personality made her even more of a rock star in my book.
After dinner, my friends and I checked in to Hawthorn Suites. We knew the event would end late so we booked a hotel and didn’t risk driving back to San Francisco.
I brought my own toiletries but it was nice to see that the hotel offers toiletries from Mineral Fusion, a vegan skin-care company.
The next morning, we packed our bags and checked out of the hotel. We saw commercial stores nearby like Michaels, Home Goods, and Kohls so we decided to stop by and check out Home Goods before leaving Napa.
I ended up buying a cake stand. At first, I was debating whether I should go for the fancy ribboned cake stand or the simple one. I eventually chose the simple one because it could go with any occasion and could match any style and theme.
As we headed to our car, we saw a rainbow facing us. I thought the rainbow was a nice goodbye gesture from Napa.
The drive back from Napa to San Francisco was beautiful and scenic. Even though Napa was far from being a vegan paradise, our trip was a memorable one. Many thanks to Rosie who invited me to Isa’s event and for driving us safe and sound in the pouring rain. Like I said, I’m one lucky gal for having such friends. Speaking of which, I have to go now, I just got a Facebook invite about another vegan event happening soon!
I’ve also put together a short video of our trip. I hope you enjoy!