Lately the weather has been unseasonably cool and rainy, odd considering that it was late May/early June in California and it’s usually warmer around this time. The bf was actually a bit disappointed since he was looking forward to the warmer weather. In fact, my plans for a fun outing in Napa Valley with him was cancelled due to general un-picnic like weather. Boo rain. Because of the weird weather, I’ve spent the past few days hanging out at home so when the need to be outside to photosynthesize suddenly became overwhelming, I decided to pretend I was a tourist and hit up Oxbow Public Market near downtown Napa.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but it’s basically a large market hall with a bunch of small alcoves for shops, similar to the Ferry Building marketplace [apparently the guy behind the Ferry Building space is the genius behind Oxbow]. I wandered around for a bit checking everything out and getting a lay of the land. One shop in particular, Whole Spice, really grabbed my attention which had a ton of different spices, extracts and salts, including Himalayan Pink salt. I’m not quite sure how I would use the Himalayan Pink salt but I was tempted to buy a few ounces just because. I would like to go back to further discover what else they had in store. Since I didn’t really have a game plan when I came to the market, I ended up deciding to make it a day of eating. Of course I did.
My first stop was to C Casa. There were a lot of things on the menu that I wanted to try but since I had plans on sampling a few other bites, I had to pick only one. Instead of leaning on my go to [steak], I inched outside my comfort zone and ordered the spicy lamb taco (with goat cheese, avocado crema, mint, jalapeños, garlic aioli & micro greens) and the hibiscus orange iced tea.
I really enjoyed this taco. The lamb was nicely seasoned and really tender and there was a slight heat from the jalapeno peppers. The lamb was so good I would have eaten it by itself. I was disappointed that I couldn’t really taste the mint and I ended up taking out almost half of the micro greens because it was just too much. They really overwhelmed the rest of the taco.
I sulked for a second as I slowly made my way back to the marketplace before realizing the bakery I wanted to try was just around the corner. The Model Bakery has tons of different breads, cakes, cookies and other yummy looking pastries available all day long. I stopped in to try one of their famous English Muffins that was featured on Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate…“
This was no ordinary English Muffin; it was large, fluffy, and crispy. The dough is actually a ciabatta bread so it lends its unique texture to the muffin, plus they griddle them to give it a nice outside crust. I had mine toasted and slathered it with butter and apricot jam and I instantly fell in love with it on the first bite. The bread itself is really chewy, the good kind of chewy, and my mouth is watering just thinking about it right now. I want more and I know I won’t ever be able to enjoy a Thomas English Muffin ever again. I have effectively been ruined and I’m not mad about it in the slightest.
After feasting on the world’s best English Muffins, I made one last stop at Pica Pica Bar to see if anything on the menu could entice me. Originally I was going to order some tajadas [sweet plantains] but I ended up being swayed by a display of patacones. I’m not exactly sure what I got [I let the cashier pick the fillings for me] but they’re like twice baked potatoes with meat fillings instead of more potato. Also, instead of potato, it’s actually a plantain. I ended up with a trio of pork, chicken and steak with a spicy cream dipping sauce [which was sour cream with smoked chile].
Of the three, the chicken was actually my favorite. It’s rare when I prefer chicken over steak but the chicken had a smoky almost barbequed taste to it that I really liked. The pork was good too, it was just salty enough for me, though the tomato and avocado slice made it a little messy to eat. I could have done without the steak; it was just meh. It didn’t really taste like they had done anything to it. I would have rather have a second chicken patacone.
In all, I’m really glad I made the trip up to Oxbow and loved everything I nommed on during the two hours I was there. It was the perfect distraction from my day and I’d definitely come back to eat everything again. Especially that English Muffin.