August 10

Update on the traveling Eades


We’re in Napa right now, where everything is overpriced, overhyped and pretentious. We’ve come up with another medical couple for a meeting. The hotel, which advertised full internet service, has no internet service. I can’t find a critical piece of my Verizon gizmo that I use while traveling, so this post is being written on my Blackberry, a task that is a real pain. Had I known that the hotel didn’t have internet service, I would have made sure I had the full complement of Verizon equipment before I left.
If you’ve written a comment that hasn’t appeared yet, I’ll put it up as soon as I have internet access. Also, as soon as I get access, I’ll post about my brutalization at the hands of fate over the past few days. It started with a dreadful concert I got roped into Thursday night (Joe Cocker and the Steve Miller Band), followed by the Napa experience, which culminated (so far…unfortunately, there could be more to come) in a meal last night for four that cost $1,400.00 plus. You read right. $1,400+. Absolutely obscene. Not the amount of food, but the price. I’ll describe the meal and include pictures as soon as I can.

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  1. Don’t you always pay more than $350 for dinner? Hell, I always have an inner debate when I buy the sockeye wild salmon at Costco for $7.99 a pound. It’s fabulous and worth it, but after 60 years as a vegetarian, the cost of real food (as opposed to wimpy produce) startles me anew.
    Funny about Napa. I had friends who bought into a winery there, then they went to French Laundry one weekend and became so grand that I haven’t spoken to them since.
    It was the French Laundry. We didn’t let it go to our heads, however, only our wallets. And only once.

  2. I concur. Napa Valley (for the most part) has become an absurdity. When Francis F. Coppola’s henchmen tried to charge us a $15 cover charge for the privilege of entering his winery gift shop (a price which did not include any tastings, even from his $50/bottle cheap plonk), I vowed never to return to Napa. Absurd.
    Having said that, the Dave Brubeck concert at Mondavi was an event I will always remember.
    Just had a tasting this afternoon at Rubicon (Coppola’s winery), and it didn’t cost us a dime. We are wine club members, which isn’t a bad deal, and, as such, get free tastings anytime we want. I would have revolted myself were I to be charged $15 just to enter the store. I don’t know if they still do that, but if so, a whole lot of people paid the price because the store was thick with people. They have a nice little private tasting room for wine club members, so we were spared the crowd.

  3. .. done like a kipper for that meal. Fooking ell.
    Albery Roux who’ll you’ll know by name if not by experience.
    I recall him being asked what his fave meal was and i think it was something like bacon with potatoes i.e. if someone who was the first Michelin starred restauranteur in the UK can like something as simple as the above then…..well its Darwinian sexual selection vis ‘waste’ isn’t it….umans love to waste money as it denotes ‘fitness’ we all know this but with it comes the rationalize that it tastes better than something down the road for 90% less.
    When i was a trader we used to eat in some fancy joints in the UK, Canada and America and one place in Belgium in partic was insanely priced.Crackers.
    My fave meal….. most anything wifell makes but a plate of eggs and bace with the latter done ‘the Yorkshire way’ i.e. just cooked i find hard to beat
    That mouth watering piccy you posted vis yr din dins the other night..honestly did you enjoy yr rip off meal much more than that ?
    I’d wager not but am curious.
    Frances Ford Knobhead ought to have a bottle stuck firmly up his fat arse and be charged for it being done too !
    I’ll post on the full meal when I’ve got internet. Suffice it to say that in my opinion it wasn’t worth the bucks. Wifey feels differently, however, so we’re going to have dueling posts on the experience.

  4. Re: Rubicon. I suspect (and dearly hope) they regained their senses and dropped the ‘visitor’ charge. My tourist dollars went to their many neighbors, whose wines are (typically, and generally speaking) at par.
    I’ll bet they have, but I don’t know for sure. It’s worth seeing the place if you can do it for free. Tasting is pretty good, too. I think it costs $25 a head if you’re not a wine club member.

  5. Hi Dr ME,
    I know how you feel. In Sydney we have the similarly ranked Tetsuya’s. 2007, French Laundry ranked 4th in the world and Tetsuya’s ranked 5th.
    A visit (with wine) requires taking out a second mortgage.
    Meanwhile, if you want to read something really depressing, try this paper:
    What’s depressing is one of the authors listed (in a long list) is none other than Jeff Volek. It looks like he had very little influence on the absolutely riseable recommendations of this obtuse offal of an offering: at least an hour and a half’s amount of moderate to vigorous excerise per day for the obese! No fooling. Note how the conclusions do not match the arguments in the main body of this….. words fail me. The committee has succeeded in designing a camel.
    Michael (now 100% secular) Richards
    I know Jeff disagreed with all these recommendations. But that’s the price one pays for being on a committee. Unfortunately, it’s one of those things that folks in academia have to put up with to advance through the ranks. It’s why I avoid getting on these things like death.

  6. I can hardly believe the figure you quoted for the meal. That’s it, I’m staying put right where I am. 🙂 I was not that impressed with Paris either, but it was not anywhere near as expensive.
    I do have a comment pending moderation on the previous post, but it’s not serious. Don’t worry about it.
    Thanks for your forbearance. I’ll get to the comments today.

  7. Sorry you’re not having fun.
    I saw Joe Cocker and Steve Miller in chicagoland last month. While JC was a little cookie monsteresque and Steve Miller played a lot of stuff from the forthcoming album (with a new singer and a new sound that is completely unrelated to 1974-1978 era SMB), the wife and I had a great time. Fun show, especially SMB. Curious to hear a dissenting opinion (or maybe Joe Cocker’s voice has completely fallen apart in the subsequent month).
    Frankly, surprised that you’d go to such a thing. Seems beneath your general music taste. Pearls before swine I guess. Or maybe Slop in front of Pearl Wearers.
    Hey Max–
    See today’s post for a full review.

  8. Sorry the concert was so bad. I saw Steve Miller last summer and thought he was fantastic, one of the best show I’d seen in quite some time.

  9. Next time I recommend that you head North to Canada’s Okanagan Valley, especially the Oliver area. This is Canada’s Napa Valley. Great vineyards, great scenery, great wines and some excellent restaurants at a fraction of Napa prices. Now that the Canadian dollar is tanking Americans get an even better deal.
    Thanks for the recommendation.

  10. Hi, Dr. Eades,
    I’m wondering where you went in Napa. I live in Calistoga, and absolutely love it here. Couldn’t think of a better place except the south of France. I’m so sorry to hear that you had such a bad experience. Wish you had asked me where to go–there are other places than the French Laundry. Didn’t you know how expensive it is? I used to go frequently when the price was $85-125.
    And there are much better places to taste than Coppola.
    Can I help?
    Sharon in Calistoga
    Hey Sharon–
    I’ll keep your email and get in touch before I head up the next time.
    I’ll post about The French Laundry so you can read about what happened.
    I know many better places than Coppola, but our friends wanted to see it. I don’t know all the other places, however, and would warmly welcome a local’s advice. Thanks for the offer. You may live to regret it.

  11. If you ever find yourselves in western WA, here’s one for you – Xinh’s Clam and Oyster Bar in Shelton, WA, one of the best seafood restaurants in the state, and probably THE best place to get oysters on the half shell on the west coast . The chef is very accommodating about making changes for those avoiding gluten and carbs (for example, geoduck sashimi instead of fritters, stuffed grouper in a rice wrapper instead of wheat, curried prawns on sprouts instead of pasta).
    The two of us can generally get out of there for <$80 including dinner, a shared dozen of oysters on the half shell (the “dozen” is more like 18 or 20 if you order the assortment, because the kumamotos and olympias are quite small and they don’t want the customer to feel shorted), wine, coffee. If you’re ever in the area we’d be delighted to treat you to dinner there.
    You shouldn’t make such an offer without knowing my wife’s capacity for oysters on the half shell. She can consume more than anyone I’ve ever seen. I’ll let you off the hook by assuming that by ‘you’ and ‘you’re’ you mean the singular, i.e., me only, and not the two of us. You’ll get off much less expensively that way.
    I don’t know where Shelton is, but we may have to go to Seattle sometime over the next six months. Is Shelton anywhere close?

  12. I just discovered this site-fabulous! Thanks for all the wonderful info. sharply written.
    I live in SONOMA county, which is Napa county’s less pretentious neighbor. We have wonderful winerys, beautiful scenery, and we are not the obnoxious tourist draw that Napa is (and we hope to keep it that way lol.)
    Our weather is nicer, and we are coastal. So I highly recommend you take a day to check us out, you’ll feel much better about your trip to wine country. (But don’t tell your friends-keep us small lol.)
    Hi and welcome aboard. Glad to have you. I hope I can continue to provide value or at least entertainment.
    We missed Sonoma and hit Napa, Yountsville and environs. A mistake probably.

  13. You shouldn’t make such an offer without knowing my wife’s capacity for oysters on the half shell. She can consume more than anyone I’ve ever seen. I’ll let you off the hook by assuming that by ‘you’ and ‘you’re’ you mean the singular, i.e., me only, and not the two of us. You’ll get off much less expensively that way.
    Of course, I mean both of you. Though if it’s the best oyster experience you want, I’d wait until things start to cool down, late September or so, as the oysters aren’t at their best during the summer. You may also want to put the Pacific Shellfish Growers association SLURP on your calendar (, IMO this is the ultimate event for the oyster lover in particular though other shellfish and local wineries are well represented. I consume probably 3 dozen or more there, so can be content with a more moderate amount at other times (which I need to be, they’re pretty carby).
    Shelton is about 1.5 hours from downtown Seattle by freeway, two hours if you take the ferry. I highly recommend the latter if it’s a nice day. Gorgeous view of the Olympic range, maybe see a whale, and it saves one from the annoyance of I-5. Take the ferry back and you get the Seattle city lights at night reflected in the sound, and that alone is worth the trip.
    It all sounds great. I’ll let you know if we head your way.

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