My 100 Foot Journey to Heaven

The Beautiful French Laundry Right Across The Street From Our Hotel! My own personal 100 Foot Journey

I love to cook… obviously… and I love to eat, and drink! I started really getting into cooking (and drinking I might add) when I was in my early twenties after a decade of being old enough to watch and learn from my mother. Nancy cannot only cook her ass off (and drink her ass off too), but she can put together and throw the most elegant and beautiful dinner parties. Taking a note out of her playbook I purchased every Martha Stewart and Carolyne Roehm book out there. I loved to thumb through their beautiful tomes and draw inspiration from all their glorious ideas. Imagining the day I would throw my own sophisticated and elegant parties.

Around the same time that I started to dive into the kitchen I went to a dinner party where the hosts cooked the entire meal using recipes from The French Laundry. That is the moment that the foodie in me was born. The week after that dinner I went right out to my local book store and bought The French Laundry Cookbook. That Christmas I foolishly followed in the path of my friends and attempted to cook my family Christmas dinner using only recipes from TFL. I started prepping two weeks in advance, burnt my right and left hand, about four times; and, ultimately enlisted the help of my sister to get everything finished and on the table before midnight. You’d think that the whole experience would have tuned me right off, but alas, you’d be wrong. It only strengthened my admiration and respect for Thomas Keller and made me long to sit at his table and have him do it right for me (that sounds dirty, but you know what I mean!).

Napa Valley

Which brings me to a recent trip Josh and I took to Napa Valley for his birthday. Sitting on the sofa Thursday morning, sipping my tea, I started thinking about the boring plans I’d made to take Josh skiing and for dinner on his birthday. I looked over at him sitting in his chair sipping his coffee and said, “Why don’t we take that trip to Napa we’ve been talking about for two years instead?” He studied me for a minute waiting to see if I was joking; and, when it was clear that I meant it, he got on the phone with Delta. I called the sitter and booked a hotel room and by that evening we were packed and ready to go. I have never, and I mean never, planned a last minute vacation in my life. This was literally the first time I have ever traveled by the seat of my pants and it was extraordinary! It was also the first time in six years the two of us took a trip without the kids and extended family members. I realize it’s not like we suddenly decided to go to Bali, and Napa is only a few hours from Utah. But baby steps people, baby steps!

We stayed at a lovely place our friend recommended in Yountville called The North Block Hotel which just happened to be steps away from… you guessed it, The French Laundry! I wasn’t planning on trying to get in since it usually takes booking months in advance to get a table. However, I couldn’t resist calling to see if it was possible since we were so close I could practically taste it (see what I did there?) As luck would have it we managed to get a seating but not until 8pm the following night. I’m sure for all you hipsters out there that doesn’t seem all that late to you, in fact it’s probably a bit on the early side. For me, someone who generally eats around 5:30/6pm, it was late. It took some effort to pull myself together and rally but I did it! I put on my makeup, I did my hair, I wore heels and I threw myself out the door and walked 100 feet to heaven.

I Snitched The Clothespin, I Couldn't Stop Myself

I snitched the clothespin, I couldn’t stop myself.

First Course At The French Laundry

First course at The French Laundry.

I know you’re all thinking “Oh you only got a table cause you threw your name around.” Yes, yes I did throw my name around. I would have promised my third born child if I thought it would get me a reservation, so I’m obviously not above using my name. Though I was just as likely to hear a “no” as I was to hear a “yes.” I mean it’s a pretty prestigious and incredible place. I’m guessing no one there was all that impressed by my resume. However as I said, I was not above giving it a shot. A shot totally worth taking. Even if it only paid off because someone else canceled at the last minute or because of my excellent work in Killers (say what you will but a few people really liked that movie!).

When we walked in and were graciously taken to our table a sort of reverence came over me. Here I was in my culinary hero’s three star rated Michelin establishment about to have the meal of a lifetime. I sent out a silent thank you into the universe for my good fortune, sat down, put my napkin in my lap like a lady and started giggling uncontrollably. I was like “a pig in shit” the whole night.

The food was beyond description. That, however, won’t stop me from trying. It was gorgeous, imaginative and yet still delicious. Now I sound like I’m interviewing to be the food critic for the NY Times. Our waiter was gracious, kind and incredibly on it. The wine… oh man the wine! It seemed to pour from an endless bottle and each time our glass was taken away it was replaced with another full of something even more delicious than the last. It was truly one of those “once in a lifetime experiences” people talk about that I hope to have at least three more times before I die.

Yes, the meal was the price of an iPad, and yes, it is a totally extravagant, luxurious experience. But if you love food, Thomas Keller and good wine as much as I do, I recommend forgoing the iPad one more year. Not to mention, cutting costs where you can, putting your French Laundry intentions out there, (read previous post on intention work); and, if you have one, beg a wealthy family member to take you. If push comes to shove just promise Keller your first, second or third born child. I mean they take Amex so I’m guessing they take children too. I’m sure they could use the free kitchen help.

Salt Mana

Anyone who has ever shared a meal with me knows of my proclivity for salt. This little flower shaped vessel filled with my idea of mana practically made me swoon!

The Most Perfectly Cooked Filet Mignon I've Ever Had!

The most perfectly cooked Filet Mignon I’ve ever had!

Josh walked every morning to Bouchon, Keller’s baker in Yountville. He would pick me up a chai latte and their donut of the day and get himself a coffee and brioche. Bouchon was the inspiration behind Josh’s recent fervor for baking. So far he’s tackled croissants that are to die for, rye bread, challah bread, and buttermilk biscuits. Thank you Bouchon!

Bouchon Breads

Bouchon Breads!

Yountville has the most beautiful walking paths that take you right through the small town and it’s lovely parks. It’s the perfect place to take leisurely strolls, especially since there are a bunch of tasting rooms along the way!

The night we arrived in Napa we had a fantastic meal at Morimoto where we indulged in the chef’s choice menu. The food, ambience and waitstaff started our trip off with the perfect food coma bang.

Selfie In The Park!

Selfie in the park!

Toasting Josh Kelley Pre Dinner At Morimoto!

Toasting the birthday boy pre dinner at Morimoto!

A Dish From The Omakase At Morimoto

One of the amazing dishes part of the Omakase at Morimoto.

Josh Kelley's Chocolate Birthday Treat

Our waiter surprised Josh with this impressive chocolate birthday treat!

Katherine Heigl & Josh Kelly's Post Dinner Slightly Drunken Selfie

Post dinner slightly drunken selfie. Can you blame us? We’re in Napa after all!

Josh Kelley's Champagne In Bed

Champagne in bed and the cooking network! Afternoon birthday bliss!

Brunch At Farmstead In Napa

Deviled eggs and raw oysters at Farmstead in Napa. The perfect brunch and the perfect way to end our trip!
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  • John Wilwerding

    Thanks for the sharing of the emotional experience to the culinary environment and the presentation. I understand the balanced separation you need between private life and public, your so gracious in sharing yourself. I’m limited by manner of medical prescriptions to two servings of alcohol so I’m very discerning in tastes there. A simple act of sharing a special meal in a special place with a special person, is a gratification I experience rarely, so I appreciate the suggestion. Someday also before I died I hope to mimic this experience if we ever get back to CA. Thank you!

    May 11, 2016 at 6:30 pm Reply
  • Rose

    I love your complete honesty in these post its so refreshing. This place sounds mazing , eat and drinking I’m all in. Your pictures of Bouchon Breads had me drooling I Bread.

    May 11, 2016 at 7:34 pm Reply
  • Lisiane

    Hi, Katie! Love you! Kisses from Brazil!

    May 11, 2016 at 9:28 pm Reply
  • Orsolya

    I love reading your lines, you’re so inspiring! Greetings from Slovakia xxx

    May 12, 2016 at 5:50 am Reply
  • Jenna-marie

    What a nice holiday (: I would love to go to that restaurant one day, how fancy! The food looks absolutely amazing. I love your blog posts , thanks for sharing. Xo

    May 12, 2016 at 6:08 am Reply
  • Elizabeth Leas

    While I occasionally fancy myself a superhero, I unfortunately have had to face the reality of my mere mortal status, all the while living in the gorgeous Napa Valley for 6 years. My witty and sarcastic personality, combined with my outrageously decadent salary of being a chef (HA! 😉 have both sadly not afforded me the luxury and ability of indulging in the ever-sought after dining
    experience of the TFL… But never say never! (I took your advice and am currently waiting on return phone calls from my wealthy family members). Living in a food and wine “bubble” is incredible, but what truly makes it incredible is seeing it expressed through outside eyes. Your post did an incredible job of touching on the vast array of creativity and inspiration that is formative in what makes Napa what Napa is: a destination location AND a wonderful place to live. We are so fortunate to be surrounded by talented chefs, winemakers and restauranteurs that are dedicated to excellent, polished hospitality. Thomas Keller is a staple and has paved the way for many chefs, food lovers and connoisseurs of conviviality; it’s wonderful to see that you have expressed the same ideologies in your own family and lifestyle. Keep it up!

    May 14, 2016 at 7:56 pm Reply
    • Katherine Heigl

      Thank you so much for this comment, your witty and sarcastic writing style is brilliant! In my second life I’d be a chef in Napa. I’d love to know where you create so that the next time I’m visiting the area I can delight in your food! XOXO, KT

      May 16, 2016 at 9:53 pm Reply
  • Jacquie

    Love, love your blog! It’s so awesome for you to share! My girls are huge fans, got me watching Grey’s! What can I say? You are an amazing person! I don’t know how you manage to do all that you do! Thanks for sharing. Btw, LOVE Yountville! It’s such a cute little quaint place to visit! And YUMMY food everywhere! I don’t think anyone could go wrong visiting the Napa, Sonoma area! It’s just so beautiful!

    May 14, 2016 at 11:12 pm Reply
    • Katherine Heigl

      Thank you so much! I’m thrilled you are enjoying it and thank your girls for the support! XOXO, KT

      May 16, 2016 at 9:55 pm Reply
  • Nicola

    This was a FANTASTIC read! Thank you so much for sharing your experience and the pictures were great! I enjoy reading your blog very much, especially when you share your recipes and cooking stories. You’ve inspired me to with all your do it yourself crafts and endless ideas on Pinterest. Your blog is very refreshing and always makes me happy to see a new post. Keep them coming!

    May 15, 2016 at 8:41 pm Reply
    • Katherine Heigl

      Awesome, I love hearing that! Thank you so much for checking my blog out and for all the support! XOXO, KT

      May 16, 2016 at 9:50 pm Reply
  • Gwen

    It look like you had a great time. Great food and drinks what’s not to love, I have to bring this up to my for our next trip.

    May 16, 2016 at 1:44 am Reply
  • M

    You’re a girl after my own heart. My mom hated cooking, so she gave me full control of cooking dinner every night. I had my mom’s Martha Stewart cookbooks and some issues of Gourmet, and I tried all sorts of recipes. I learned cooking and baking at the knee of my maternal grandmother and aunt. I even made money in the summers by baking for friends and neighbors. My great aunt gave me her super secret pound cake recipe (it uses butter flavoured Crisco but is the best I’ve ever eaten–for a long time crisco was considered healthier than butter. I am going to try to reconvert the recipe) I lived at the beach, so my lemon pie was a favourite since lemon is so refreshing after seafood. I used the Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk recipe but with a crust made from Ritz crackers, like a famous local fish restaurant. I lived in this ocean side small town in the early 90s, so there wasn’t a lot of gourmet ingredients nor was I familiar with fresh garlic or other”exotic” ingredients. The Southern country cooking I grew up with used powdered garlic and nobody knew that dried herb and spices should be replaced every year or so. (my mom had some spices that she had bought when she got married in the 70s…) Then I got married, and my dh got interested in gourmet cooking as well–thanks to another newlywed couple. I don’t own the The French Laundry cookbook, but I have perused it at our friends’ house. They even invited us to try some of their culinaria experiments, although as newlyweds, we all were limited by budget. Another friend introduced me to Nigella Lawson and Ina Garten and started a rather extensive cookbook collecting addiction.

    I reveled in creating gourmet meals and being a domestic goddess that would make Martha Stewart proud. I now have MS along with other serious health issues and have a very limited endurance level, but my husband and I are moving to Boston soon where U Mass has a renowned MS clinic. Hopefully I’ll again be able to enjoy cooking and baking like before I got so sick.

    Before I got so sick, when my husband I were first married in the early 2000s we bought a wonderful little 1940s bungalow that had the most amazing gourmet kitchen that the former owner had remodeled. The kitchen was enormous with vaulted ceilings, professional Viking range and double wall ovens, the most cabinets I’ve ever seen in a kitchen, and new Corian countertops (when Corian was so popular). It was completely out of place in a suburb of Detroit, so we got a great deal on the house.

    I spent all my time cooking and baking. We even invited my husband’s family to visit for Christmas as his brother also lived in Detroit, so his parents and sister could visit all of us at once. I worked for weeks and had everything planned and expertly executed. My husband’s family still says that was one of the best Christmases ever, and they raved over the food. The ice maker did crap out on Christmas eve before dinner, but that was the only hiccup. We moved soon after and still miss that house.

    I’ve always wanted to visit The French Laundry, but we’ve never been to California. Maybe one day. Even though I don’t cook like I used to, I still love curling up with my cookbooks and posting recipes on Pinterest. My friend died a few years ago, but he and his wife did get a chance to go to The French Laundry. He told us all about it and showed us photos. So we could live vicariously, and hope and dream of visiting ourselves one day.

    PS: I just watched Home Sweet Hell this past weekend, and I absolutely loved it! You were amazing. I know women just like your character, which increased the schadenfreude ending.

    May 17, 2016 at 12:40 pm Reply
  • Tiffany

    When I read your posts, it feels so real. I laughed when you said how excited you were when you got to the table. My husband and I are such foodies also. And yes, I would have thrown my name around if I had to. Good for you. Enjoy the benefits of your hard work. I’m not a real spur of the moment trip taker either. But, we took a three day fast planned trip to a near by island one weekend and it was the best. Thanks for sharing your posts. I love the variety of topics. And thanks for being so real in your posts. I believe that you have to spend your money where it makes you happy. We feel that way about food and wine. Eat the best that you can and enjoy it. The bakery looked amazing. I know it was probably hard to leave the kids. It is hard when I have to. But I’m glad you had fun. Sorry about the rambling…

    May 20, 2016 at 10:48 am Reply
  • John

    I very much enjoyed your post. I live in Napa and am fortunate to have visited both TFL and Morimoto. Both are excellent, but TFL takes the cake. Our last dinner took 4 hours, including a brief break spent in the garden. When we finished THF the only comment I had was that my taste buds hurt! (In a really good way).

    May 23, 2016 at 5:20 am Reply
  • Fiona

    I loved the film The Killers. So count me in the list of fans.

    June 13, 2016 at 2:27 am Reply
  • Brenda

    Holaaaa heigl me encanta tu blog graciassss x compartirlo he visto muchísimas películas tuyas incluso las tengo se ve q sos una persona muy buena y transparente unas de las peli q vemos en familia y nos encanta es bajo el mismo techo nos encanta esa peli soy una gran fan tuya te sigo en instagram y por face .Tenés una hermosa familia felicidades !!!!! te mando un beso enorme Graciassss

    June 21, 2016 at 1:31 pm Reply
  • Dana Booth

    Just found your blog via your twitter post 🙂 Wouldn’t have looked for you on twitter, but I’ve been hooked on Jackie & Ryan lately. Such a wonderful movie in these not so wonderful times. I’ll have to see what The Killers is… I wasn’t really quite sure what to expect from your blog, but it is beautiful. Love the pics of you and your hubby because you’re both so happy 🙂 Looking forward to more from your blog; thx!

    June 23, 2016 at 8:11 am Reply
  • Janice power

    A walk in heaven could not be more perfect because this is the only heaven in the universe and it’s also hell to those who feel separate and I blessed to be here manifested to see all that the universe has created in itself, we love everything that’s alive because all existence is one existence , if only more beings could realize this heaven would manifest must faster and destroy the knowledge we are separate, how to cut up existence? Or life? We are all teachers of each other sharing our journey, YES some have it much better then others but we have to be content and make it the best even with the little we have been given, it would be FAB if a movie could be created to make all realize that WE ARE THE ONE EXISTENCE MANIFESTED INTO EVERY FORM IMAGINABLE ~ with love janice

    June 23, 2016 at 3:30 pm Reply
  • Lisa Hayman

    Hey there! What a lovely little rabbit warren I have stumbled in while I’m supposed to be doing PhD research! It’s been a delight to scroll through some of your posts and gauge a really sweet insight into your everyday. And you know what? I love that you are this totally normal human being (shock horror right?!). What a perfect spontaneous getaway! I’m definitely a soul more comfortable with my lists, plans and run sheets! For our first wedding anniversary my husband I and went to Tasmania, Australia and my compromise was that we would book a place to stay by 2pm each day when we knew how far we had driven that day after our days adventure – that was enough spontaneity for me! Ha. Congrats on your tiny blue human (which is how I ended up here in the first place). What a blessing and wondrous time for you guys! Lis x

    June 24, 2016 at 3:15 am Reply
  • Jenn

    Great post! I love that you added in “my third born” I’m the commentary, now knowing you’re pregnant. How fun! Congratulations!

    June 24, 2016 at 5:08 am Reply
  • Christine

    You are awesome! Thank you for sharing your life! May God continue to Bless you and you’re family❤️

    June 25, 2016 at 12:52 am Reply
  • Raquel

    What a great read and so totally down to earth! I live in Dubai and I just stumbled upon your blog! Now planning that our holiday next year must include a trip to Napa! By that time, I would be over my chemo and radiation treatments so looking forward to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! Stay blessed!

    June 27, 2016 at 7:10 pm Reply
  • Linda Guiffreda- Baker

    Just discovered your blog today as I am house sitting in Tocqueville Utah—I’m a city girl so fetching eggs each morning is a treat and a novelty for me—I’m gonna flip through your suggested French Laundry Cookbook for recipes using eggs, lots of eggs!!! I wisely took up my knitting bag filled with unfinished projects—and even though I am not as proficient as you are in this talent (I only know one stitch!!)–I use the most beautiful yarns from all over the world and make these incredible scarves for family and friends, too!!! Your Utah skies are incredible–I bet it is one of the reasons why you love it here. Blessed good wishes for your growing family. Your exquisite photos bring us closer to you!!! I’ve been your groupie for a long time but your wonderful blog is the yellow frosting on the cake!!

    June 29, 2016 at 11:25 pm Reply
  • Noni

    French laundry is the only thing on my bucket list. And maybe Napa one day too. I went to culinary school and everytime I did a recipe from the FL cookbook, I got amazing scores. I live half an hour away from you in Heber. I live in a crazy little cabin in the middle of town.

    July 23, 2016 at 8:30 am Reply
  • Beth

    Hehe I am one of those fans of your work in Killers! And enjoying having stumbled upon your blog this evening – such fun happy stories and memories you share! I love that you write with such a genuine voice. Your family is blessed to have you 🙂

    August 3, 2016 at 12:57 pm Reply
  • Joanne Katende

    I just discovered your blog, but I’m in love. I love your refreshing honesty, and passion and sense of adventure and fun!!!Congratulations on the baby and best wishes for you and your fam.

    December 13, 2016 at 6:16 pm Reply
  • Ashley

    I love your post about your trip to Napa for Josh’s birthday. What a special way to celebrate! Though I have never been to Napa, it is definitely on my bucket list and has now moved up the list since reading your post:-). I think what I like best about your post was the “spontaneous trip” that you took, just the two of you. My husband and I did that for our fifteen anniversary this past summer. We had not been on vacation without our son (9yrs), so we decided to go to Rosemary Beach, FL this past summer. It was nothing short of heaven to spend time together as a couple. We stayed up late, slept late, and ate our way around the area. It’s so important to take those little brief trips to reconnect. I’m sure it was a birthday that you and Josh will not soon forget.

    January 25, 2017 at 1:53 pm Reply
  • Chanel

    My favorite place in Yountville is the cemetery of all places… one important reason is that my husband’s grandparents are both buried there as they were both residents of Yountville for over 30 years but two it’s a quaint little old cemetery with gravestones dating back to the 1800s and it sits among the trees in the back of the little city. I hope you got a chance to visit. It’s also pretty cool that Morimoto was your Friday night restaurant of choice. My cousin works there and does special events . north block is awesome but the yountVille inn is also another great choice to stay so if you ever get a chance to go back to check it out. Other places local must sees.. Castillo de amoroso winery. It’s an amazing castle!

    September 10, 2017 at 7:38 am Reply
  • Ana Leamon

    I just read your post and saw this add for a masterclass on cooking techniques by Thomas Keller.. You should check it out! Love your blog!

    January 19, 2018 at 5:29 pm Reply
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    Big Blind, Little Blind

    Big Blind, Little Blind

    Oh Baby!