Internet, I have discovered the superfriendliest people on Earth. No, they are not Canadians. I know. I was surprised too.
They are, instead, the service workers of Napa and Sonoma, California. Seriously superfriendly people. Take, for instance, the bartender at our restaurant in Napa. We were early for our reservation, so we went to the bar for a drink. Our superfriendly bartender started advising us on where to go after we left the restaurant. Superhelpful, right? Except his manager might not have been pleased to find out that he recommended that we not eat dinner there. We should have appetizers there, drinks at another place, and then dinner somewhere else. I told him we'd be eating dinner right there and still he persisted in trying to talk us out of it, even telling us we were dressed too nicely to be there. He tried to flatter us out of patronizing the establishment that employs him. He did give up when I told him that we had a gift certificate from our hotel, but since we looked SO NICE, he went to the hostess to make sure she got us a good table.
And do you know what? That superfriendly bartender was entirely correct. Our appetizers? Outstanding. (Ceviche for Raj, tuna tartare for me. Who'd have thought a person with food-related texture issues would find herself totally in love with raw to rare tuna?)
Our dinners? Meh. Though Raj didn't know that yet when this photo was taken.
Two days later in Sonoma, even the weather was superfriendly.
We did the tram tour at Benzinger Family Winery where they explained about how they do biodynamic farming there. You get driven around the vineyard to see various features, a tour of the wine caves, and then tasting, all for the bargain price of only fifteen dollars! Unless you ask the nice lady if they have a military discount, in which case she may say no, but since you're active duty and the owner was a Marine, he probably wouldn't mind her letting you in for free. Superfriendly!
And then, after they give you a generous taste of five different wines, they will also give you a voucher for a free tasting at their sister winery and a very enthusiastic recommendation for a grocery store where you can pick up a picnic lunch. And then, when you get to said winery, Imagery Estate Winery, the superfriendly person will inform you that technically you get five tastings with your voucher, but really none of the people pouring actually count how many you have.
They mean that too. Raj, because he was driving, cut them off after three. I was not driving, but still had to tell them to stop serving me...after...a while...
Here's Raj and me just before leaving our hotel for dinner that night.
I show you this picture so you can notice two things. Right next to me there, you see my boyfriend in a suit. Ok, like you weren't going to notice that. But then on the other side of him, you see a table full of wine glasses. That's for the complementary wine tasting in the lobby. Which we partook in before dinner at The Girl and the Fig, where they served me sparkling wine with fig liqueur in it. Also quite possibly the best steak of my life.
At which point, I was forced to stop accepting the hospitality of the superfriendly people of Northern California, at least as far as it concerned food and alcohol. There was time for more wine that night, but my body was through. No mas, it said, and I listened. I did, however, accept some coffee at the airport the next morning. For the health and safety of all aboard my east-bound flight.
Thanks, California wine country! You're swell.