With delicious wine comes sumptuous food, and Northern California wine country certainly doesn’t disappoint. The best part of the food offerings: the wide array of choices. My favorite eateries range from casual pull-up-a-chair joints to a five-star hot spot by a world-famous chef. At the risk of boring my more loyal readers who have heard this before, Oxbow Market is my absolute favorite hangout in the area. I can’t think of a single trip to the wineries in Napa that didn’t kick off with a stop at Oxbow’s Hog Island Oysters. Who can blame me? Gorgeous oysters and a heavy pour of local Domaine Carneros champage — it’s perfect!
Oxbow Public Market
Tiffany had never met an oyster she liked — until Hog Island. I was shocked when she blurted out that she wanted to try one. She loved it so much, she ordered half a dozen more!
Inside the market, Hog Island serves as a social center, due to the snack-y offerings and yummy champagne. Across the way? The cheese shop, another one of my faves.
But Hog Island isn’t the only countertop offering locally sourced tasty treats. Ca’ Momi Enoteca pours red wines to die for. We also ordered a focaccia that was so good I took the leftovers home for breakfast, plus a charcuterie plate and pizza topped with the freshest ingredients.
For the high-end portion of our Napa dining adventure, Tiffany and I chose Morimoto, by Chef Masaharu Morimoto, of Iron Chef fame. His restaurant in the now bustling town of Napa is the hot spot in town. Morimoto is known for his inventive dishes, starting with his artistic version of toro tartare, which comes with a paddle to load on toppings.
Every dish was simple and fresh, with colors that jumped off the plate.
My favorite: this gorgeous braised octopus salad in chili oil.
Each course came with a sake pairing, and let me tell you: There were some beauties. Alas, I don’t know enough about sake to include any of the information here!
We thought that there was nothing else left to surprise us, and we even tried to politely decline dessert. The Morimoto staff just chuckled and waved us off. Boy were we glad we didn’t persist! The dessert was unlike anything either of us had ever seen. An elaborate tree branch-style “candy vine” draped in cotton candy “moss” was set up directly on the table with chocolate sesame “dirt” and a candy sampler.
We finished our gluttonous tour through Napa at Tarla, a bustling Mediterranean grill right next to the hotel Andaz Napa, where we were staying. (I want to stay there again and again.) After so many wine tours, including Robert Mondavi, Benziger, and Trinchero, it was nice to kick back with an ice-cold Efes beer. Looking at these photos brings back some lovely memories of my trip to Istanbul, which was my gift to myself for moving back to the US after a year in Costa Rica.
We couldn’t resist the flaming saganaki, a traditional Cyprus Island flaming halloumi cheese, made with local grape reduction and fresh lemon.
Everything on the menu at Tarla was delicious. Dig in!
Oxbow Market: Oxbow Public Market, 610 and 644 First Street
Morimoto: Morimoto Napa, 610 Main Street, 707-252-1600
Tarla: Tarla Grill, 1480 First St. (next to Andaz Napa), 707-255-5599
Linked to Travel Photo Mondays.
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