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Guest blogger: Judith Dawson

It is glorious spring in the Napa, Carneros, and Sonoma valleys. Everything is green and flowers are blooming. With over a thousand wineries to choose from the array of food and drink is staggering (and so are some of the people). The vines are just beginning to sprout; the tourist season gets started in earnest in April.

We began our trip by flying into San Francisco where we rented a car big enough for six people and their luggage. We proceeded an hour north to Yountville where we stayed next door to the best bakery in the West. We had almond croissants for breakfast and unparalleled picnics from the bakery followed by excursions into Calistoga, St. Helena, and their wineries. Yountville is probably the most quaint and gentrified small town we have EVER visited. If you saw the movie Sideways you know that crowds of people flock to this area for food and wine. The restaurants couldn’t be better.

After a week of enjoying our friendships, food, and beautiful accommodations, we came home and wanted to cook! Over the years we have developed a Pepper Chicken Pasta that goes like this:

Pepper Chicken Pasta

Saute and soften two smallish or one big cooking onion in extra virgin olive oil. Add three big or six small cloves of garlic and a jalapeno (if you like spicy). Add enough sauteed chicken ( I buy cooked chicken from Costco and keep it in the freezer) for two servings and about one and a half bell peppers, large dice, of any color you like. Red and yellow are our favorites.

After all is sautéed, add some white wine to take it up a notch and serve over cooked lemon pappardelle from Trader Joes which is a staple at our house. We grate Parmigiano-Reggiano and sprinkle this generously over the Pepper Chicken Pasta and then top with roasted pine nuts. Reapply as desired. This is wonderful and simple. Very therapeutic.

Travel, food, and friendship make life very enjoyable. The art and architecture in the wineries is stupendous. Chateau St. Jean and Artesa were highlights but all had their own unique aspects. It was a trip that did not disappoint!