Playing Favorites

Although we’ve only been Napa residents for two weeks, I already have a favorite place in town, one I will undoubtedly take all our guests to visit: The Oxbow Public Market.  Located on First Street, a short walk over the river from downtown, the much-publicized Market is like a miniature-sized version of the San Francisco Ferry Building, and not by accident. The founder and CEO of OPM, Steve Carlin, was formerly the project manager at The Ferry Building.

The Market opened just over three years ago, and represented a key component of the revitalization of downtown Napa. The indoor market features a wide variety of food stalls, interspersed with several specialty retailers. It’s all one big open space, with no doors separating the vendors. Tables are scattered throughout the Market for those opting to eat on premises, although much of the food can be prepared to go. Outside and next door you’ll find Gott’s Roadside (formerly Taylor’s Refresher), and around the corner is The Fatted Calf, a store full of pork and cured meat products that is destined to wreak havoc with my arteries during my residence here in town. You can find a full slate of information on the Oxbow Market at http://www.oxbowmarket.com/.

In the meantime, I wanted to mention my two favorite vendors at the Market. The first is one of the few non-food outlets, Heritage Culinary Artifacts, whose proprietress is a wonderfully charming woman named Lisa Minucci. Formerly a Sommelier, Lisa has turned her love of all things culinary into a two-stall venue featuring antiques from the worlds of food and wine. From antique farm tables, breadboards, copper and sterling silver from all over the globe, to artwork, glassware, bottle openers and the like, the store features an amazing collection of “objets d’ food.” As my family will attest, I have already become a regular customer at Heritage, and I will look forward to visiting with Lisa each time to learn more about her and her world travels in search of interesting items to sell in her shop.

Heritage has a very elegant website which captures Lisa’s passion for her craft, and showcases a few of the items you can find in the shop. Check it out at http://www.heritageartifacts.com/, and be sure to stop in next time you are in Napa and ask her to show you the salt shakers. 😉

My other can’t-miss site at the Oxbow is C Casa, which bills itself as “An Innovative Taqueria” and more than lives up to its description. Owner Catherine Bergen is a vivacious woman who can usually be found delivering beautiful small aluminum plates of unique tacos to the customers lined up at the counter. C Casa’s menu includes all kinds of soft tacos, including lamb, duck and more traditional meats, served with freshly-made salsa, salads, and interesting side dishes. You can also buy roasted chickens and ducks, halves or whole, to take home. They make their own tortillas by hand, and fry many of them up into crispy chips to enjoy with your meal.

Some of my favorite tacos are those served during breakfast hours, with fried or scrambled eggs, potatoes or chorizo, cilantro, salsa, black beans, and a host of other ingredients. There is a lot more information on the website at www.myccasa.com including menus, hours, and details about their sustainable farming and gluten-free offerings.

There are so many other great food choices at the Oxbow Market, including great wine and cheese shops, The Hog Island Oyster Company, Pica Pica, and many more, and I promise I will try them all someday. But for now I am stuck on those duck tacos. Enjoy!

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