Sunday, March 25, 2012

{ Napa's Oxbow Public Market }

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!


  1. Love, love Oxbow's Public Market. So much good stuff in that space -- from Kitchen Door to Whole Spice. Wish they were closer!

  2. We have to make a date to go! I love the smoked olive oil, I also picked up the one with jalapeno added. Last time I tried the kitchen door, the service was great and we enjoyed all our dishes but also like Hog Island, so many choices;-) Good job on your post, looks like you had fun!

  3. wow this place looks amazing will go one day, would love you to join in #tuesfoodmarket will snaps if you can on twitter

  4. Oh, I wish our local market looked this wonderful! I'm kind of jealous!

  5. Wow, I've never heard of Oxbow's Public Market! Will definitely have to check it out! Looks so fun and filled with delicious food!

    Hi Kelli!! Congrats on the 24X24! And how delicious is that dinner party?? You are such a great hostess!

    I recently nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award because I'm so glad to have found your blog and I've really enjoyed reading about your culinary adventures! You can find more info here:

  6. It's been far too long since I've been to Napa. I used to go quite frequently. Your post made me miss it all the more. You highlighted some great eats and products, Lisa! I'll go with you and Patty. :)

  7. I live in Chicago but get to Napa about once a year because my brother lives there and always stop by the Oxbow! Always pick up some spices from whole spice and love Three Twins Ice Cream! Wish I was there now!

  8. Lisa,
    Why have I never taken the time to drive up to the Oxbow Market! I've heard it's great and your pix make me very hungry for a little road trip;)
    By the way, peonies are my favorites too.

  9. If you ever want to go back, I'm available. I had a bunch of dahlias at my old house, but didn't have luck with peonies, but I adore them too. I need to get up that way soon, it's been way to long, I don't know where I want to start first, I want it all, lol. Hope you have a wonderful weekend.


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