The weekends are usually where you fit in rest and relaxation, but after spending a mid-week retreat in Napa at the Meritage Resort and Spa, I’m convinced that a weekday getaway for wellness is a good idea every now and then. Even though the drive is only an hour from my home, it felt like I was in a different world. The intentional combination of a healing spa treatment, mindful yoga, good food, and a little bit of wine was exactly what I needed from this staycation. It’s been so busy for me that it’s sometimes hard to slow down, and with the launch of Wellness Wednesdays, I might just have to schedule the exact same agenda in the next few months.
What’s funny is that I arrived to my relaxing retreat in a frenzy. I was actually scheduled for a Facebook Live interview right after checking in, with a food demonstration following that. Immediately I was in work mode, even though I couldn’t resist doing my interview on the most comfortable bed, which flipped that work switch off for a moment and turned on the vacation! After that was over, we were greeted with a cheese plate and a bottle of champagne, which I had to save for later to save my appetite for the Spa Bites superfood demo with Executive Chef Ryan Rupp.
The Meritage set up this private demo so that I could have time with the chef and explore a few new recipes, but I didn’t expect it to be just us and Chef Ryan! We were greeted with a glass of wine and he dove right into showing up how to make an açaí bowl, but not just any typical açaí bowl. He had a HUGE liquid nitrogen tank and used the “backwards Risotto Method” to freeze the açaí mix with the liquid nitrogen until thick and smooth. I have never seen an açaí bowl made like that before, it was pretty exciting!
Watching him plate the açaí bowl was just as exciting. He topped it with sprouted granola, sliced banana, Silverado Strawberries, and pure 83% chocolate shavings. I loved the different textures in each bite, and the açaí was unlike and I have ever had. I still couldn’t believe it was made with liquid nitrogen.
Aside from his extreme cooking techniques, he did offer great tips on the nutritional value of the foods, as well as gave me some insight into the most delicious strawberries I have ever had. The Silverado strawberries grow near the Napa region, and I’m surprised that Napa is not as well known for their strawberries as they are known for their wine.
Of course, you probably don’t have liquid nitrogen at home, so thankfully he shared a simpler version of his açaí bowl.
- 14 oz organic açaí puree
- 1 cup organic cashew milk
- 1 banana
- ½ cup frozen strawberries
- ½ cup frozen blueberries
- Blend and stir all ingredients until consistency is very thick. Garnish with favorite toppings.
After seeing that recipe, I thought there would be no way Chef Ryan could top that one. He jumped right into the next dish by preparing a salmon cure. After mixing an aromatic blend of spices, he pulled one of those TV tricks on me where he covered the salmon in the mix, and then pulled out a finished piece that had already cured for over 36 hours.
I was really impressed with the next step of this recipe, which was a deconstructed vinaigrette. He whisked together bloomed chia seeds, almond milk, olive oil, salt and lemon zest and it looked so amazing. I couldn’t wait to try this.
But this last step is what really blew my mind, almost as much as the liquid nitrogen. He showed me an interesting technique of skinning an avocado half, then he placed it on a plate and took out a small blow torch! He continued by charring the avocado, something again that I have never seen before.
He cubed the avocado and then started to build the salad plate with the most beautiful toppings like freeze dried blueberries, pomegranate, mandarin, watermelon, micro herbs, slices of cured salmon, and a drizzle of his chia seed dressing. Not only was it gorgeous to look at, all of the flavors were so exciting to taste, and the avocado really took on a different level of flavor and experience with the char. It had a charred crust to it, but the avocado itself was still firm and cool as I would expect in a salad. The perfectly cured salmon also went well with the refreshing chunks of watermelon.
The private demo with Chef Ryan really helped me have some time with him to learn about the different elements of the dishes, but I also like to think I helped him a bit too. He was set to be on a morning TV show the next day, and I was more than happy to not only be his practice, but to also taste his dishes!
The next morning was Wednesday, which meant it was all about wellness. I had a great night’s sleep and was looking forward to all of the activities of the day. We walked over to the vineyard deck and even though there was a morning chill, it was such a beautiful set up with an even more beautiful view. There were mats laid out with towels and water and what surprised me was that my cousin was there on one of the mats. I had no idea she would be there….Great minds think alike!
The class was 75 minutes of a gentle yoga flow, which was great for me as a beginner. The instructor, Carolena Coley, made me feel comfortable with her warm and friendly tone. In the middle of class, the sun popped out and it was getting warm on the yoga mats. At the end of class during savasana, Carolena came around and sprayed some lavender mist around us and I loved that finishing touch.
After class, we were treated to a colorful display of spa bites, which is such a great way to end yoga. Chef Ryan was there with the liquid nitrogen tank making açaí bowls again, but he also brought along a few more tasty treats that had a healthy and healing focus. The greek yogurt mousse was so smooth, and the fruit skewers with Marshall Farm honey was really refreshing to eat. I chased it down with three different kinds of juice shooters, but I found myself coming back for more cups of the kombucha and stone fruit. I grabbed my last cup and head back up on the deck to finish our morning with a discussion about meditation, led by Carolena.
I love how Spa Terra, the spa on the Meritage Resort that hosts Wellness Wednesdays, really incorporates such intentional activities into the agenda. From yoga, to healthy foods and drinks, to the moments of mindfulness, it is truly a whole wellness experience. But the time there wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the actual spa. Wellness Wednesdays includes a 15% discount for spa services to enhance your afternoon.
I’m happy that I had a little time before my spa appointment to hang out by the pool and get in the hot tub. The weather was nice, and I just wanted to relax by the water and get some sun…and some fries! If I was going to really live out my ideal afternoon, fries by the pool after a beautiful morning sounds like a good balance.
After that, it was time to balance that out with even more relaxation and rejuvenation with my appointment at Spa Terra. Located in the underground Estate Cave, Spa Terra is like a secret world. The temperature is naturally cooler in there, which already evokes healing vibes, and just being in a jacuzzi in a cave is already sounding like a dream. After settling in to my locker and chatting with some of the other lovely ladies from the morning’s yoga class, I slipped into a robe and went over to the Serenity Lounge.
I could have fallen asleep in the plush chairs and soothing sounds of water, but then it was time for my Ultimate Renewal Experience to begin. I went to another room and spent 50 minutes in bliss, which included an invigorating scrub, a body wrap, a scalp massage, aromatherapy oils, and even hot stones. I felt that this experience really touched on so many different healing treatments, so if you can’t decide on which one to get, this would be perfect…except next time I would love to go for 80 minutes!
After my whole Wellness Wednesday experience, I was already planning how I could come back again. Each class has a different focus on self-care, so going to more than one is a great way to get a well-rounded experience. Plus, taking a midweek break and focusing on grounding yourself is not a bad idea at all! If you’re looking for a retreat, reserve the last Wednesday of the month and book your Wellness Wednesday session…and while you’re at it, book your spa treatment too!