NAPA — The Oxbow Public Market by the Napa River Trail is a great place to browse before or after checking into the Milliken Creek Inn and Spa.
At the Olive Press, we taste samples of locally-produced extra-virgin olive oils, from mild and delicate to peppery and robust.
Things take a “sweeter” turn at Anette’s Chocolates, where we try varieties of sauces, such as Cabernet chocolate wine sauce and amaretto chocolate sauce.
By lunchtime, we go for C Casa’s tasty soft tacos. I have the roasted fingerling and new potatoes with poblanos, sweet onions, pico de gallo, cotija cheese and lime crema, while my wife selects the avocado with corn relish, poblanos, green onions, mixed greens and avocado crema.
Dessert is delicious, peppermint ice cream, nice and rich, at Three Twins – and who can resist the chunks of peppermint inside?
Our visit to Oxbow ends at Whole Spice, where we meet an Israeli couple, Ronit and Shuli Madmone, and their young sons. The friendly couple sells spices and spice blends here and online at www.wholespice.com
Their little shop is filled with at least 500 jars of spices and a welcoming sign that says: “Please feel free to open and smell the spices.”
Some of the most popular blends, such as zhug and zahtar, are mixed with olive oil and sampled on fresh bread. Most Whole Spice products are certified kosher, and an organic USDA certified line of products has also been added.
Whole Spice prides itself on freshness, which Shuli Madmone explains this way: “If you come to our warehouse, you won’t see packed spices. We have an order, and we fulfill it on the spot . . . so it’s always super fresh.”
Whole Spice also features a “Cooking with Spices” program at the Oxbow shop and has done cooking demonstrations of Yemenite, Moroccan and Indian cuisines.
For more information, visit www.oxbowpublicmarket.com or call 226-6529.
George Medovoy publishes an Internet travel magazine, www.PostcardsForYou.com.