They say Napa is all about the food and wine. And, no doubt, I enjoyed some food last weekend that was out of this world.

But, for me, Napa was more about the people.

Thanks to the gracious people from Bush’s Beans, I had the privilege to travel to Napa to cook at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA for short) for a day with three other bloggers. Sandy from Reluctant Entertainer, Tina from Mommy’s Kitchen, and Aggie from Aggie’s Kitchen were my cohorts in the culinary adventure. They’re wonderful, beautiful ladies, inside and out. We had great fun in the kitchen.

I’m so tickled for the chance to get to know each lady – hope to see them again soon!

We cooked, ate and shared creative ways to use beans. It was a blast. (Be on the lookout for new recipes that I’ll be posting soon adding to my Bodacious Bean recipe file.)

Ken, Katie, and Christina, all representing Bush’s Beans, were our hosts along with Connie Guttersen.

Their genuineness and relaxed demeanor was passed on to all of us. You feed off of people like that. I have to admit that I left home a little concerned about not measuring up or feeling uncomfortable, but they certainly set me at ease immediately. Their companies hired well.

Under the direction of Connie Guttersen, R.D., Ph.D., author of The Sonoma Diet, and Andy Wild from the CIA, we managed not to lose any digits and succeeded in cooking up some tasty eats.

Connie Guttersen is as refreshing and positive about what she does as anyone I’ve ever met. She’s a real encourager.

She knows her stuff and was a wealth of information in the kitchen. She’s an encourager – a cheerleader. Connie will be starting her own personal blog soon and I can’t wait to share it with you as soon as it premiers.

Andy Wild from the CIA was our instructor in the kitchen for the day.

I’m not sure what he thought about all of us taking pictures of every single thing he said and did, but I was thankful that he was chosen to be our go-to man.

He taught us the basics in knife skills as well as other tips.

I was sad to say goodbye to the CIA Friday afternoon. It truly was a day I’ll not forget.

Later that night my husband (yep, Randy was able to go with me and I’m so glad he did) and I met Michelle from What’s Cooking and her husband, Glenn at Ad Hoc for dinner.

Once again the food was fabulous but the company was even better. We laughed and talked for hours, practically closing the place.

Look how cute and tan she is? And I’m so, so…pink.

How is it that you can meet people for the first time in real life and feel like you’ve known them forever? It’s amazing to me. Michelle is a forever kind of a friend. Be sure to check out her site – especially if you’re interested in cooking with kids.

I know this sounds like a bunch of hiney kissing, but honestly, everywhere we visited over the weekend we met super people. Whether a cab driver, wait staff, door man, or a stranger on the street, at every turn there was a smiling face, a helpful hand – definitely noteworthy hospitality. And I’m from the South where we’re known for hospitality.

Truly the people made our experience a real treat and I’m very thankful for that.

(While Bush’s Beans covered much of the cost of our trip, no one paid me to say these nice things. There are nice people in this world – real nice people – everywhere. No bull. Nice people. Nice.)