Going For Yelp Gold: An Interview with Natalie Coughlin
When Yelp staffer Megan C mentioned that her sister, Natalie C, wanted to visit the office we practically jumped off the block. As Lafayette's own six gold medal toting Olympian swimstress, Natalie lounged with our own Ligaya T at the Press Club and divulged her winning East Bay favorites!
Ligaya: We hear that aside from swimming, you have a passion for eating. Any Bay Area perennial picks?
Nat C: Metro is by far my favorite restaurant in Lafayette. The staff is always courteous and (of course!) the food is wonderful. The quality of ingredients is just superb. For special occasions, I enjoy Chez Panisse or Oliveto. Both restaurants do so much with humble ingredients.
Ligaya: And where to go if you're not on a budget of gold?
Nat C: For cheap eats, you can't go wrong with Top Dog in Berkeley after a football game or late night. I love the hot link with spicy mustard.
Ligaya: I understand you also have a thing for wine. Any special places to get your drink on?
Nat C: I recently had one of the strangest and yet most enjoyable experiences at a winery called Carneros Della Notte that specializes in Pinot Noir. These are by far the best pinots I've ever tasted! The vineyard is rustic and generally not open to the public but the wines are available online. I would highly recommend everyone get a bottle!
Ligaya: We heard wedding bells will be ringing in the spring, and you've got your eye on Napa. What makes the area so special for you?
Nat C: While we were settling in on the Legion of Honor, I visited Carneros Inn and quickly changed my mind. It's perfect in every way. Delicious food, phenomenal wine, great location and (fingers crossed!) good weather in April. What else could I possibly want?
Ligaya: Indeed. Congratulations! The East Bay's got its fair share of vino-rrrrific spots too. Any top picks?
Nat C: When I don't have the time to go all the way to the Valley, I head to Wine Thieves instead. Great little wine shop with a fantastic selection. The Livermore vineyards are wonderful too. Wente is just gorgeous and always delivers.
Ligaya: Where do you work out when not in official training mode? Any fine places to dive right in for a swim?
Nat C: I haven't really been swimming lately. Every time I get in the water, my inclination is to lay out rather than work out. But I have been trying to be active so I've been hiking the Lafayette Reservoir Rim trail with my dog and fiancé.
Nat C: (Laughs) SheRa's a handful. She just adores Nitro Dog though!
Ligaya: Do you ever take her out on the town?
Nat C: One of our favorite local joints is Bo's. They give her bones as big as her body to munch on! They've got mouth-watering BBQ too.
Ligaya: Now that you have a little bit of downtime, what keeps you busy?
Nat C: I enjoying being in the kitchen, and am actually cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year. I'm going to spend hours at Diablo Foods! I've been going to many events as of late and one of my favorite was the Right to Play first annual dinner in New York City. It's is a really cool organization that uses sports as a teaching tool for at-risk children around the world. Also, I'm obsessed with Alice Waters. Alice, if you're listening, I would love to get involved with your Edible Schoolyard program!
Ligaya: I'm sure this is a tough one: you received ROTD for your take on Evvia Estiatorio. Were you more thrilled to received this distinction, than say, a couple of gold medals? Be Honest!
Nat C: Okay those medal were pretty satisfying, but I can't tell you how excited I was about the ROTD. I saw that when I was in the Olympic Village and I was trying to explain to my non-Yelping teammates what a great distinction that was... They didn't get it, so I called Megan to share my excitement!
Ligaya: Ahem, any waxing secrets?
Nat C: Three words: laser hair removal.