Napa-versary: Eating Napa

a landscape of a valley with mountains and trees
***This is part 1 of my “Napa-versary” trip report detailing a recent visit to Napa Valley to celebrate our 1-year wedding anniversary***

1. Eating Napa
2. Calistoga Ranch, An Auberge Resort Part I – Check-In, Our Lodge
3. Calistoga Ranch, An Auberge Resort Part II – Resort Facilities, Activities, and Food
4. The Restaurant at Meadowood + Meeting Chef Christopher Kostow
5. Eating Sonoma

They say that the 1st year of marriage is the hardest, and boy, they weren’t joking! I’m just messing around (dear wife, please don’t kill me). Our 1st year of marriage is officially a wrap, and celebrating our paper wedding anniversary seemed like the perfect excuse to travel. We thought about going overseas, but with work schedules being tight during this time of year, our time frame was whittled down to just a weekend which would be too hectic to fly internationally. There are plenty of good domestic options for a weekend getaway from San Francisco, and we considered Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and even Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

But in the end, we decided that it would be fun to try something that we’d never done before together…road trip! It just made more sense logistically, and would allow us to re-allocate the money we would have spent on flights toward the hotel. We looked into driving north up the California coast to Mendocino, which is on the NY Times’ 52 places to go in 2014, or southbound down the coast toward Big Sur and potentially staying at the iconic Post Ranch Inn.

After much deliberation, the ultimate choice was a dark horse from the beginning, Napa Valley. There were a couple reasons why Napa Valley wasn’t initially top of mind. First, neither of us are big wine drinkers so we wondered if there would be enough to keep us occupied for an entire weekend. We’d done day trips to go wine tasting, and never felt like it was worth it to stay for the night, let alone the entire weekend. Second, Napa Valley is only about 1.5 hours from our home, so we were skeptical if it would feel like a true vacation getaway, since in terms of proximity it was so close to home.

But once the decision was made, we split up the trip planning duties as usual – my wife took care of all of the food planning, and since there were no flights to book, my only job was to book the hotel. Napa Valley has many different options when it comes to lodging, with everything from Bed and Breakfasts, to chain hotels such as the Andaz by Hyatt, DoubleTree by Hilton, and Westin from Starwood, as well as luxury boutique options which include the Inn at Meadowood, Carneros Inn, and the Auberge Resorts, Calistoga Ranch and Auberge du Soleil. We wanted to stay at a place that reminded us of our honeymoon, and since there aren’t any beach resorts in Napa Valley, Calistoga Ranch fit the bill since it had a similar look and feel to the Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort in Australia.

a landscape of a valley with mountains and trees
View from our room at the Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort in Australia
The day had finally arrived and we took off for Napa in the late afternoon just in time to beat traffic. Even though we had a full weekend of eating planned, including dinner at The Restaurant at Meadowood later that night, we decided to stop off in downtown Napa at Oxbow Public Market. Oxbow is best described as an entire city block of deliciousness, featuring a large indoor food and shopping center that is surrounded by several outdoor restaurant and eateries. It’s perfect for groups, since there’s a wide variety of food options and plenty of seating inside.
a red sign with white text
Oxbow Public Market and Gott’s Roadside Cafe (formerly known as Taylor’s Refreshers)
a building with a sign on the front
Exterior of Oxbow Public Market
a large clock on a wall
a large indoor market with people sitting at tables
Interior of Oxbow Public Market
a sign from the ceiling
Hog Island Oyster Co. inside Oxbow Public Market

We did a lap inside the main building, but none of the food options called out to us. We decided to head outside which was a good choice, since we stumbled into Fatted Calf Charcuterie. This place is straight out of a vegetarian’s nightmares, filled with a variety of meats in different forms – salumi, sausage, smoked, jerky, they have it all. In addition to the raw meats, they have a ready-to-eat stuff including sandwiches and a daily special, which on that day was stewed pork shoulder. We settled on a plate of pork shoulder with summer corn and bean salad, and a BBQ pulled pork sandwich. The pork shoulder was ridiculously good and literally melted in our mouths.

a sign on a building
Exterior of Fatted Calf Charcuterie
a blackboard with white writing on it
Fatted Calf Charcuterie Menu
a display case with different types of meat
Too many meats to choose from
a piece of meat on a white paper
Pork shoulder – so delicious and tender
a close up of a sandwich
BBQ pulled pork sandwich
a box of food with beans corn and vegetables
Summer corn and bean salad

After eating, we headed back inside for dessert, and while there were a couple enticing bakeries, we couldn’t pass on the Three Twins Ice Cream shop. We’ve only tried their store-bought ice cream and really enjoy the flavors, so it was exciting to get it straight from the source. Afterwards, we also checked out the Olive Press store to restock on olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

a green wall with a sign and a sign
Three Twins Ice Cream
a cup of ice cream
Sea Salted Caramel
a store with shelves of food and drinks
The Olive Press in Oxbow Public Market
a row of bottles on a counter
Olive oil and balsamic vinegar tasting

We really enjoyed our stop at Oxbow Public Market , which was a great place to grab lunch and stretch our legs before continuing on to Calistoga. We would highly recommend Oxbow to anyone looking for good, quick eats in downtown Napa, and especially as a meeting place for large groups.

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