Spending the day in Napa feels a lot like sneaking into Italy without a passport.
Josh and I stayed in local Cordelia in Fairfield County, which is just a 20 minute drive into the heart of downtown Napa and 45 minutes outside of San Francisco. With a broken window but not a broken spirit (my car has feelings too), the FIAT roared onward into the heart of wine country.
Our first stop was the famous Oxbow Public Market, which is a dream for people who love to taste, crunch, sip, swirl, slice, chew and close their eyes when a bite is just that good. My husband picked this place and damn, the man knows me.
Every corner of the Oxbow Public Market is packed to the gills with something you can experience, whether it's a piece of local cocoa infused with toasted espresso beans or an aromatic rosemary bitter served by a guy straight out of a talkie.
Josh enjoyed a tasting at the Napa Valley Distillery, a beautifully curated salon and bar shop that transports you to the dapper days of the 1920s. The bartenders are impeccably presented with old-timer suspenders, hand-tied bowties and a few tricks up their sleeves. There is even a working gramophone that plays classic tunes. I don't know what classic tunes they were specifically, but they sounded pretty classic.
They have hundreds of bitter varietals and offer spirit tasting flights for $25. Josh tried a small flight of the Grand California, East India, Old Hollywood Ginn and Papillon Pastis. I absolutely loved smelling the fragrant glasses and learning about the homegrown herbs associated with each beverage.
One of my culinary dreams is to experience an olive oil tasting in Tuscany. I know, I know. I've seen Under the Tuscan Sun one too many times, but still. I love to dip bits of crusted, homemade bread into a shallow dish of olive oil with sea salt, rosemary and freshly cracked pepper. Add in a burrata log, basil leaves and some prosciutto and you've constructed my ideal feast. When I think of the last meal on earth I'd like to have, this would be it.
We sampled a dozen different types of olive oil from Greek and Italian olives at Napastäk, which also owns Napa Valley Distillery. This epicurean boutique IS MY DREAM KITCHEN. Let me repeat that. Every little thing in this shop felt like home to me - from the silverware herb markers to the spoon chandelier to the 100 year aged balsamic to the mini glass barrels dispensing decadent olive oils, every item inspired me to get together our closest friends for a special meal.
My favorite samples were black truffle, white truffle and the basil infusion. We selected the white truffle oil spray to bring home with us, which had me conjuring up visions of fancy popcorn and happier vegetables.
Our next stop was The Olive Press, home of the very first olive mill in Sonoma, California and the most awarded olive oil shop in the nation. We selected a tangy jalapeño oil that packed a pretty punch. When we got home from our road trip, I chopped up a few heirloom beets, added cubed triple cream brie and drizzled a bit of the jalapeño oil over top.
I'm grateful for the chance to have visited such an interesting market and look forward to making more creations with my new treats!
To all those who adventure unabashedly,