Friday, June 01, 2007

Napa B&B

Pipi and I, anticipating that we might not want to drive all the way back to Oakland after a big dinner with wine, stayed at a Bed & Breakfast in the town of Napa, just north of the town center. It was called the Hillview Country Inn and it was everything I hoped it would be. The inn was once a mansion built by a doctor in 1900. There really was a little cat (two, actually, although we only saw one, and that one only briefly). Our room was exactly the kind of room you picture when you imagine a B&B. Every room had a theme; ours was the Rose Room. Lots of pictures of roses, and dried roses wrapped around the drapery hardware. The room had its own bath, which was nice. I’ll eat breakfast with strangers if I have to, but I really hate brushing my teeth with them.

There was a big common area with a small bar—guests are encouraged to help themselves to wine, beer, home-made apricot brandy, and after-dinner liquor. There were two huge jars of cookies on the coffee table, and everywhere I looked, a candy jar. “We like to keep folks happy here,” Al Hasenpusch, the innkeeper’s husband, told me.

Breakfast was a force to be reckoned with. There was sausage and egg, and grapefruit. This of course, would have been enough, but the centerpiece was what innkeeper Susie Hasenpusch called “24-hour French toast.” As best I can recall, bread was soaked overnight in a mixture of egg, milk, butter, cinnamon, corn syrup, and I think something else bad for you. Then it was baked like an upside-down cake.

I know what you’re thinking: You’re saying to yourself, “That sounds edible, but really, couldn't Susie have found a way to add some richness and sweetness? Susie is way ahead of you. Each chunk was served with a dollop of cherry pie filling on top.

It was amazing. Breakfast was served at 8:30 am. We all joked about skipping lunch, but for the first time in recent memory, I actually did. With just a few snacks, I made it all the way through to dinner.

(Pipi, who found a plastic bread-bag clip in her breakfast, wasn't quite as impressed with the experience as I was, but even she had to admit it beat the Motel 6.)

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