Several months ago my friend Helen and I ventured to Napa for the day to explore the beautiful Oxbow Public Market in downtown Napa. The market sits in downtown Napa and is perfectly located along the Napa Rive and Napa River Trail, adjacent to the Oxbow Preserve and Oxbow By-Pass Commons. Oxbow is filled with artisans and purveyors of unique and fine foods. There are many tasty restaurants to choose from that are sit down to simply great take out style. We ventured on a Saturday and the farmers market was in full swing adjacent to the market.
We parked at the edge of the market and with our reusable bags in hand; we darted off to the farmers market first to browse all of the wonderful produce and food artisans. Given that this trip was several months ago, the fruits and veggies may or may not be in season right now, but we did pick up several key fruits and vegetables to bring home.
Dahlias were in full bloom with the vibrant pinks, yellows and oranges just bursting. In fact a whole stand was dedicated to these stunning floral gems. I just wish I had a backyard full of these along with my most favorite flower, the peony. The colors just make me smile from ear to ear.
One of the most interesting artisans that we visited was a vendor called “The Smoked Olive”. This company is the brainchild of Al Harman and Brenda Chatelain. They did not create this on purpose but rather through a series of discoveries. Al was born into a family of gifted artists and chefs and his own personal style leans towards abstract. With his concept and Brenda’s passion for business and marketing, they blended their strengths together to create their company – The Smoked Olive.
The smoked olive oil is award winning with a bold smoky flavor and wonderful olive finish. It is great for coating meats and veggies and then grilling. Their product is loved by Tyler Florence, Emeril Lagasse and Chef John Ash, among many others. The olive oil comes in many variations. We also scored smoked brown sugar that was simply amazing and will be great to add to any rub recipe.
The number of fantastic places to visit in this Mecca foodie paradise is mind boggling. From the restaurants such as Kitchen Door from acclaimed Napa Valley restaurateurs Todd Humphries and Richard Miyashiro to the famous Gott’s Roadside featuring legendary burgers and fish tacos, the choices are amazing. Inside you can visit Pica Pica Maize Kitchen, Pica Pica Bar, Hog Island Oyster Company or Ca’Momi with authentic wood fired pizzas.
If you are in the mood for a bit of wine, visit Oxbow Wine Merchant & Wine Bar to discover some of Napa’s hidden treasures. One of favorite stops where we spent the most time was the Whole Spice Company. It was filled with unique, fragrant and wonderful spices from around the world. Quite frankly it was hard to narrow down my selections of what I wanted to purchase. The smoked alderwood salt was among my absolute favorite finds for the day. By this time, a coffee was in order and we headed to Ritual Coffee Roasters for a delightful café latte that included "artwork" in the form of decorative foam. At first glance I detected a slight Russian influence with the logo but quickly learned it was just wonderful roasted coffee that was music to my taste buds.
I would also recommend that you visit Oxbow Cheese Market, Five Dot Ranch, Kanaloa Seafood Market, Kara’s Cupcakes, The Olive Press and Tillerman Tea. Shifting gears a bit, if you are in the mood for one of kind gifts, check out Heritage Culinary Artifacts for premium culinary antiques from all over the world.
We ended our morning with a snack from The Fatted Calf. It is an infamous artisanal charcuterie and butcher shop. We dined on the roasted pork sandwich with peppers, Arugula, delectable onions and a bit of mustard which was all tucked into a crusty roll that was undoubtedly baked early in the morning from a local bakery. Each bite was pure heaven.
If you are visiting Napa from other parts of the United States or world, be sure to put Oxbow Public Market on your list of places to experience while in Napa. If you are a local Bay Area resident, like me, get up early on a Saturday and check it out – you won’t be disappointed. Afterward, you can always go across the river to check out Tyler Florence’s Rotisserie and Wine which we went to afterwards for a light lunch and glass of wine (my visit) or Morimoto Napa (on my list). Hope you enjoy all of the wonderful bounties available at Oxbow Public Market!