My friends Stella and Mariusz were visiting this week from Virginia Beach, so since I had the week off, we drove up to Napa the day after Christmas. One of the places I told them we had to check out was the new Oxbow Public Market.
The market, right next to Copia (Mondavi's offering to the wine gods), is supposed to be the Ferry Plaza in wine country. In fact, Oxbow's founder, Steve Carlin, was a project manager who helped create the vision for the popular San Francisco Ferry Building maketplace. (He also spent several years with Oakville Grocery.)
The Oxbow Public Market in downtown Napa opened just a couple of weeks ago. But it's doing a "rolling" opening, which means that you can visit the marketplace but not every store is open. So each storefront will open in the next few weeks, as they're ready to be open. If you wait a couple of months, you'll probably see the Oxbow at its complete glory. But if you visit earlier, you also get the chance to chat with the store owners as they prepare to open their places. Either way, it's definitely a fun place to food explore.
Here's what we saw when we visited during the holiday week:
One of the first stop as you walk into the Oxbow's warehouse-like location is the Folio Enoteca & Winery. Enoteca is Italian for wine cellar. They have a little cafe like area and they're actually producing wine on site. Folio is an offshoot of the Mondavi family, owned by Michael Mondavi.
Of course, there has to be a chocolate purveyor. At the Oxbow is Anette's Chocolates of Napa Valley. Here's a photo of chocolate-dipped apricots. Yum.
One of the more impressively organized and displayed storefront is this by Tillerman Tea. It's a new tea company based in Napa created by two partners (one of whom came from the winery industry) who followed their passion for tea. Stella loved the bright red tea cannisters.
We did a tea tasting at Tillerman, and the owner, David Campbell, served us a green tea from China called mon jian. It was very nice with a very slight smokey flavor that reminded me of Dragon Well tea. I also loved all the tea ceramics at the store. Definitely a place to visit again.
It was too early in the morning for us to try out the ice cream place at Oxbow, but it definitely looked interesting. This is the Three Twins Organic Ice Cream, which like the name says makes ice cream from organic and sustainable products in the Napa Valley. That's the owner there, Neal Gottlieb, a former Peace Corps. volunteer. One day I'm going to ask him how he got three twins, because shouldn't it be called Triplets Organic Ice Cream? ;-)
Here's a storefront that's still under construction. I would say half of the stores weren't really opened yet.
This spice store looked like it was pretty much ready to open, but it was still closed and I took this photo behind the wired barrier.
This store is known as Heritage Culinary Artifacts, which has an eclectic collection of things for your kitchen. It really had a pork theme, for some reason. So it's great for all you pig lovers.
Here's another home furnishing/entertaining-type store known as Fete. There's a weird accent on the first "e" but I can't seem to do it on blogger. Oh well, you know it's fancy when it requires an accent.
Not many of the food places were open. Along with another Taylor's Refresher, there's going to be this Venezuelan place called Pica Pica Maize Kitchen. It should be open soon after the new year.
The location will also have a Fatted Calf, a cheese shop and a rotisserie. There'll also be a farmers market in stands outside the building with local farmers selling things in the mornings, but I'm not sure when they'll be ready to do that. Stay tuned.
Oxbow Public Market, 610 First St., Napa. Open daily starting with farmers market at 8 a.m. and restaurants till 8 p.m. Web site.
Saturday, December 29, 2007