By Kevin Nelson
This is a California-based wine and travel blog, but sometimes I look longingly to the East and think, “Now that would be fun.” And so it is with the upcoming (January 21) “Drunk 2016: An Evening of Wine, Jewish Text Study, Art, Music, Theater and Imbibing,” to be held at the Theater at the 14th Street Y in Manhattan. Organizers of the event say it is devoted to “art, humor and some serious drinking.” If that strikes you as a good time too, see the website for the Laboratory for Jewish Culture in New York. Continue reading
By Jennifer Kaiser
Looking for a delicious, healthy quick bite in Napa? Check out C Casa, a unique Mexican restaurant in the Oxbow Public Market.
Try one of their creative tacos, such as the Chilorio ($6.25), which combines garlic, ancho chilies and shredded beef with citrus-marinated red onions. Or the C Chop Salad ($5.75/$9) with queso fresco, red bell peppers, pumpkin seeds and creamy cilantro lime dressing. You can add one of several different protein options such as buffalo, salmon, grilled prawns to any salad.
And the dining is casual, with the dishes served on paper with plastic forks picnic-style. You sit at your table in a general dining area shared by diners at Five Dot Ranch and other restaurants in Oxbow. Continue reading
By Jennifer Kaiser
If you’re hungry and have had enough salad to last a while, stop by Five Dot Ranch Cookhouse at the Oxbow Public Market in Napa for a burger ($14), pastrami or roast beef sandwich ($12 each), or one of their steaks. Because Five Dot is also a meat market, diners can pick one of their incredibly large steaks, and the chef will grill it to your liking. You can have it solo ($8 grilling charge on top of the price of the steak), or add sides such as Extra Cheesy Mac and Cheese and Grilled Asparagus.
Five Dot Ranch is a seventh-generation family-run cattle ranch in Northern California. They practice environmentally sustainable ranching on open ranges and pastures, and raise the cattle naturally, without antibiotics or added hormones.
Five Dot Ranch, Oxbow Public Market, 610 First Street, Napa. (707) 224-5550. Open daily in the summer. Breakfast 8-11:30 a.m. Lunch/Dinner 11 a.m.– 9 p.m.
And for a quick six-second Vine video on the pleasures of the Five Dot Ranch, please see here.
By Jennifer Kaiser
Congratulations to the team at Carpe Diem for reopening their beautiful wine bar in downtown Napa. The building, located on the corner of 2nd and Brown Street, was badly damaged in the August 2014 earthquake. Exterior scaffolding reminds visitors that the work to rebuild Napa continues. While the wine bar was closed for repairs, Carpe Diem opened a pop-up in the nearby Oxbow Market. That spot has now closed. Continue reading
People are always looking for novel and interesting wine tasting experiences, and here’s one: Cuvaison Estate Wines and Domaine Carneros in the same day, back-to-back, perhaps one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
Here’s how it could work: Cuvaison and Domaine Carneros both have Duhig Road addresses, in Napa off Highway 12 in the Carneros District, the southerly grape growing region that straddles Napa and Sonoma counties and produces such lovely chardonnay and pinot noir. Cuvaison and Domaine are so close to each other that you could practically walk or ride a bicycle from one to the other, although who would want to do that? Better to drive a car or better still, hire a limo or van service so you don’t have to think about driving.
Both Cuvaison and Domaine make excellent wines (and Domaine makes sparkling too! Go for the Le Reve Blanc de Blancs). On Duhig Road the entrance to their respective driveways—turn left to Cuvaison, right to Carneros—are steps away. The question is, which driveway should you head up first?
By Jennifer Kaiser
The August 2014 earthquake in Napa shook up a lot, including restaurant locations. On a recent visit to the Oxbow Public Market I spotted what I thought was a newcomer: Carpe Diem, located near the front door. According to Jim Foster, the affable general manager, the earthquake damaged their downtown wine bar and restaurant at 1001 2nd Street. That business is closed now, but plans to reopen in just a few short months.
In the meantime, they are serving lunch and dinner in the Oxbow spot recently vacated by Pica Pica Arepa Kitchen (the Venezuelan eatery has returned to its spiritual home at 401 Valencia Street in San Francisco’s Mission District). Carpe Diem looks forward to reopening its doors downtown and, depending on the success of the Oxbow spot, may stay there as well. In the meantime, you can enjoy their vinegary short ribs on brioche buns (pictured, $4.75), fresh field green salads, steamed bun pork “tacos” ($4.75) and indulge in their famous harissa ($6) or black truffle French fries ($8).
Carpe Diem Wine Bar at the Oxbow Public Market, 610 First Street, Napa. Mon.-Sat. 11a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sun. 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Happy hour daily, 4-6 p.m. For an update on Carpe Diem and its stylish new location on 2nd Street in Napa, please see Jennifer Kaiser’s report here.
When you travel you come across many strange sights, things you are not ordinarily used to seeing, and so it was the other day when I found myself in front of a bakery case at Ca’ Momi Enoteca, the gourmet pizza restaurant in the Oxbow Public Market in Napa.
Ca’ Momi is proudly and “obsessively”—as its own advertising says—Italian. Its pizza is certified as authentically Neapolitan. Its cheeses and cured meats are imported from Italy. Even the restaurant’s name refers to an Italian family home.
So what the heck is it doing making beignets? For this is what I saw in the case in front of me: beignets and more beignets, a whole shelf full of them. They looked delicious but as everyone knows, beignets are about as Italian as a crepe or a Truffaut movie. Beignets are French, or of French origin, most popularly associated in this country with New Orleans cuisine.
Then I looked a little closer. These were not beignets, I discovered, rather they were bignès. They were spelled differently, with a reverse accent mark on the e, and pronounced a little differently too. They were an Italian form of the pastry that turned my expectations on their head. Continue reading
My vote for the best breakfast place in Napa goes to Alexis Baking Company and Café. And no less an eminence than actor and bon vivant Kyle MacLachlan shares this sentiment with me.
MacLachlan is best known for his role as Special Agent Dale Cooper in the long ago David Lynch TV series “Twin Peaks,” as well as such shows as “Portlandia, “Desperate Housewives” and “Sex and the City.” He also owns a winery in his native Washington, knows Napa Valley like a local, and on an episode of “The Getaway” on Esquire TV he has recommended the ABC Café for its hearty and satisfying breakfasts.