A guide to Oxbow market
Here's a guide to the merchants and restaurants at the new Oxbow Public Market (610 First St., www.oxbowpublicmarket.com) in downtown Napa:
Olive Press, (707) 226-2579. Owners Ed Stolman and Deborah Rogers launched the Olive Press in Glen Ellen in 1995.
Their Oxbow store offers award-winning California extra-virgin olive oils, tapenades, cured olives, olive oil crackers and balsamic vinegars along with olive-themed artifacts.
Tillerman Tea Co., (707) 226-2579. Yes, David Campbell and David Wong's stunning red and mahogany tea emporium is named for the 1970 Cat Stevens album. (A tillerman is a farmer.) Scores of teas from around the world are available in bulk, including rare 5-year-old fermented teas from China. If you have time, Wong says, he will brew free tastes of all 49 varieties. Short on time? Try the special "house flight" of five teas: green, oolong, black, jasmine and pu-erh. You can also purchase teapots, cups and other brewing paraphernalia.
Whole Spice Co., (707) 256-0700. Ronit and Shuli Madmone of Novato, second-generation spice merchants, have created an elegant little bazaar of 300 fresh spices and seasonings such as truffle salt and three types of cinnamon, available in bulk or prepackaged in labeled jars. They create their own blends at their processing plant in Petaluma as well as frequently searching the world looking for new items. Their bestseller is Zhug, a savory, hot blend of chili Tianjin, garlic, coriander, cumin, salt, cardamom, clove and cilantro that can be mixed with olive oil to make a dipping sauce or used as a dry rub on meats.
Fatted Calf Charcuterie, (707) 256-3684. Toponia Miller's artisan charcuterie and butcher shop uses only organic and hormone-free meats as well as minimal curing salts that result in exquisite European-style products such as duck or pork rillettes; mortadella studded with pistachios and chunks of fat; German-style beer salami flecked with caraway seeds; garlicky Toulouse sausage; duck confit; ham hocks; and delicate pastrami. Packaged products include pickled Italian fruits, Rancho Gordo beans, Lagier almonds and almond butters, unpasteurized bottled tomato juice and other Bay Area artisan foods.
Five Dot Ranch, (707) 224-5550. The Swickard Family, multigenerational Sierra Nevada cattle ranchers, sells all types of cuts of dry-aged, predominantly grass-fed Angus beef free of antibiotics and other hormones. A 1-pound flatiron steak costs $10. I took it home, dry-rubbed it with ancho chili powder, black pepper, smoked salt and maple sugar, grilled it for five minutes in a grill pan and enjoyed one of the richest and most buttery versions of this cut I've ever tasted.
Folio Enoteca & Winery, (707) 256-3700. This little wine bar, wine shop and counter-style restaurant was created by the Michael Mondavi Family Co. and features glasses or bottles of wine from California as well as some of the world's emerging wine regions. It's also a micro-winery, with vintages aged and bottled on site. The frequently changing food menu might include individual cakes of macaroni and three-cheeses, grilled panini, salads and beautiful, earthy-looking desserts.
Model Bakery, (707) 259-1128. This has been a mainstay of downtown St. Helena for 80 years. Oxbow's version, while smaller, is loaded with all the goodies. Try the from-scratch, inch-thick English muffins; Asiago cheese bread; sour cream fruit muffins; huge slices of fresh-made pizza topped with pepperoni or fresh vegetables; and brownielike chocolate cookies with walnuts.
Oxbow Wine Merchants, (707) 257-5200. This is an airy wine shop as well as a place to eat and drink. A menu features a wide range of cheese platters, charcuterie and small plates to accompany more than 100 wines by the glass and a selection of more than 600 by the bottle.
Oxbow Cheese Merchant, with the same ownership and in the same space as the wine merchant, features more than 100 artisan and farmstead cheeses from North America and abroad. Many cheeses change weekly so there's always something new and seasonal. Customers are encouraged to taste before they buy.
Pica Pica Maize Kitchen, (707) 251-3757. Owner-founder Adriana Lopez Vermut, born in Venezuela, has opened the first of what she hopes will be a chain of Bay Area-based Venezuelan sandwich shops selling the popular street food of her native country - arepas and cachapas. Arepas are pita-shaped breads of corn flour stuffed with assorted fillings such as chicken salad with avocado or sweet-and-spiced shredded beef with deep-fried plantains and black bean paste, then grilled to a smoking crustiness. Cachapas are large sweet-corn pancakes that can be packed with cheese, ham or spiced beef and griddled until hot. Other dishes include maize-wich sandwiches, deep-fried plantain, yucca, salads and soups.
Rotisario, (707) 226-7700. Thomas Odermatt, the Swiss-born entrepreneur who has gained a following for his Roli Roti roast chickens sold at Bay Area farmers markets, now runs this little restaurant in Oxbow as well. Roast chicken is still a specialty, but he also sells Italian-style porchetta, citrus-basted pork loin cooked on the rotisserie so the meat is juicy and the skin crackles like the crust on creme brulee. Both meat and skin are layered on an Acme ciabatta roll or Della Fattoria bread with caramelized onion and fresh wild arugula from Star Route Farms to make what may be the best pork sandwich in the Bay Area.
Taylor's Automatic Refresher, (707) 224-6900. There are almost always lines for this popular American restaurant (including one outside St. Helena and one at Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco) known for serving fresh American classic dishes such as hamburgers, hot dogs, onion rings and milkshakes at high speed. Most of the ingredients are local, and the beef for the burgers comes from Five Dot Ranch.
Three Twins Organic Ice Cream, (707) 257-8946. Owner Neal Gottlieb, who launched his growing ice cream empire in Terra Linda, is one of the Bay Area's pioneers in creating organic, sustainable ice creams made with local ingredients. His Oxbow store serves handmade cones, sundaes and such elaborate concoctions as the Twinossaurus (20 scoops of ice cream and toppings) and the world's most expensive banana split for $3,333.33 (it's made with rare wines in the toppings). "No one has ordered this yet," Gottlieb says. "But here in Napa I can run out and get the ingredients for it within 45 minutes."
Businesses scheduled to open within the next six months:
Hog Island Oyster Co. is slated to debut this autumn. Tomales Bay's nationally famous oyster farm will feature a restaurant and store with a raw bar as well as barbecued oysters and other dishes, with a view out to the Napa River.
Kanaloa Seafood is expected to open in May. Based in Santa Barbara and in the seafood distribution business since 1983, Kanaloa is owned by biologist Don Disraeli and Randee Disraeli, a former researcher at Scripps Institute of Oceanography. They've cultivated a global network of seafood suppliers from Alaska to New Zealand. Their full-service seafood market will specialize in sustainably fished produce, emphasizing locally caught seafood.
Ritual Coffee Roasters, launched in San Francisco's Mission District in 2005, will open in May. The company is known for its fresh-roasted, high-quality beans, espresso drinks, pastries and experienced baristas who must attend a barista training camp.
Ten farm stands outside the main building, set to open May 1, will sell seasonal fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, herbs, flowers and artisan food products. They include: Bera Ranch, Vacaville; Big Ranch Farms, Napa; Grandpa Jack's Farm, Napa; Full Belly Farm, Guinda; Morningsun Herb Farm, Vacaville; Nana Mae's Organics, Sebastopol; Rancho Gordo, Napa; Sun House Flowers, Napa; Wild Pear Co., Tomales; and Wild Forest Wild Mushrooms, Napa.