Kitchen Library, A Gem in the New Oxbow Market in Napa
Steven is an extraordinary photographer – whenever I need a little inspiration, want to dream, armchair travel or just take a break, I look at the pictures on his website – and a man who has traveled the world many times over and recorded some of his travels in books that are so evocative of the places they feature (often France) that I can’t look at them without finding myself rubbing the pages, a little like rubbing a magic lantern in the hopes of being transported, and a little like rubbing something that you think, or wish, was real. He’s also a guy who was born with the collector gene. In Kitchen Library, Steven brings so many parts of his work and life together, offering the things he loves and the kinds of things he’s collected. The space is small, but he’s built a lyrical world within its confines.
In fact, all of the spaces in the new Oxbow Market in Napa are small, but there isn’t one that’s not interesting. The market, which opened just a month ago, is still growing, but if you go there today, you can buy exotic teas at The Tillerman Tea Company, vintage kitchenware at Heritage Culinary Artifacts, Lisa Minucci’s stand, from which I was dying to buy the sign she’s standing in front of,
While there’s a weekly farmers’ market and more stands are due to open this month and next – including The Model Bakery and St. Helena’s cult eatery, Taylor’s Refresher – no one visiting the market ever has to go hungry. There’s plenty to nibble and there’s Folio, Michael Mondavi’s Enoteca and Winery, by which he means a complete micro-winery! When I joined the crowds there, I was delighted to find that the chef is Sarah Scott
You may not recognize Sarah’s face, but my bet is that many of you, like I, have made lots of Sarah’s recipes. She’s written stories for Bon Appetit magazine, her most recent being those terrific desserts in the Thanksgiving issue.
Sitting in the market with Steven was like being on a Main Street front porch in the liveliest, friendliest small town in the world. If Oxbow weren’t more than 3,000 miles from New York (and more than 6,000 miles from Paris!), I’d be a regular.
If you live nearby, lucky you! If you’re a visitor to the Napa Valley, put Oxbow and Kitchen Library on your must-go list. They would be worth a detour on their own, but happily most food and wine lovers will end up there without a detour because they’re just steps from Copia, the center for wine, food and art.
Because we got to Copia early in the morning, we didn’t do any of the guided winetastings – aarrgh – but we did see a great exhibit , Forks in the Road, and, of course, we went to the Julia Child corner.
While The Smithsonian has Julia’s kitchen, including everything that was in every kitchen drawer, Copia has the most iconic piece of Julia’s workspace: the ingenious pegboard wall with the outlines of all her pots drawn on it. The idea for this quick and easy removal and replacement system came from Paul Child, Julia’s husband, and I wish I had a penny for everyone who copied it when they saw it on The French Chef
I loved being in the Napa Valley – I know, I know, is there anyone who loves food and wine who wouldn’t love being there? I was there to do a chocolate class at The Napa Valley Reserve (take a look – it’s so gorgeous) on the grounds of the fabulous Meadowood Resort, which was a treat in itself (and about which I’ll tell more when I get the pictures), and, as much as I adore New York, it was awfully hard to get on that plane and fly back.
Hand-picked micro greens … cult wines … artisanal cheeses … breakfast croissants from Bouchon Bakery … organic everything … miles of magnificent vineyards … sunshine and breezes … the definition of California dreamin’