Oxbow Merchants Fork it Over For Good
For those of you who, like me, have been watching the significant evolution of downtown Napa the last few years, I do not have to tell you that "It's come a long way, baby."
A major player, and catalyst, in that evolution is Oxbow Public Market. A smorgasbord of sights, tastes and smells, Oxbow has the community feel of a farmers’ market, just one that has put on its “Sunday best.”
From the outset, the property was plagued by a series of bad luck: the closing of Copia, the much-heralded but short-lived food and wine museum that is Oxbow’s neighbor along the Napa River; then construction on Napa’s First Street Bridge that turned the surrounding streets into a prohibitive maze; then the economic downturn. Indeed, some of the opening tenants have come and gone, but a good number have stayed—and new businesses have moved in—and they all appear to be thriving.
Today, Oxbow is a bustling hub of culinary delights, a des- tination for locals and Wine Country visitors alike. You are as likely to spot a famous local winemaker or chef meeting a friend for lunch at Hog Island Oyster Bar or picking up pro- visions at Oxbow Produce and Grocery, Kanaloa Seafood or Five Dot Ranch as you are to see a family of Italian tourists relishing a taste of home at Ca’ Momi. The positive energy of a community of like-minded folks, all appreciating good food, radiates throughout the building, right out into the parking lot where the Napa Farmers’ Market happens every Tuesday and Saturday between May and October.
And, so, last fall, Oxbow and its artisan merchants decided to thank their community of supporters by “forking it over.” The group came together to craft a farm-style dinner, held on the beautiful riverside deck at Oxbow, and invited the local community to purchase tickets to join in the fun—with all proceeds going to the Napa Valley Food Bank (canv.org/ foodbank.html). A total of $13,000 was raised to help further the food bank’s ongoing efforts to assist economically dis- advantaged individuals, families, seniors and other orga- nizations serving those less fortunate in meeting the basic human need for food. And, thusly, Fork It Over! was born.
This year’s Fork It Over! will be held on September 21 and again 100% of the merchants at Oxbow are enthusiastically contributing to this "party with a purpose" to a benefit the Napa Valley Food Bank. In keeping with the community spirit, many of the restaurants will be sourcing ingredients from their fellow Oxbow merchants for the dinner—as many of them already do on a regular basis.
This year’s menu includes an oyster bar crafted by Hog Island Oyster Company, accompanied by Ca’ Rosa sparkling wine from Ca’ Momi and a special Fork It Over cocktail created by newly arrived Oxbow tenant Napa Valley Distillery; Gott’s Roadside’s ahi poke taco made with Kanaloa Seafood Market’s tuna; bread from Model Bakery and the Olive Press’s olive oil; a noodle salad from Todd Humphries’ Kitchen Door that uses Yountville’s Full Table Farm’s vegetables, as well as those grown in the restaurant’s own garden plot at Copia; C Casa’s heirloom tomato gazpacho made from height-of-the-season tomatoes from Oxbow Produce and Grocery; Pica Pica Maize Kitchen’s chicken salad Pepeada; grilled top sirloin from Five Dot Ranch; a timballo di maccheroni from Ca’ Momi, whose owners Dario De Conti and Valentina Guolo-Migotto also maintain a plot at Copia, in addition to their much larger organic home garden that also supplies the restaurant; local artisan cheeses curated and contributed by Oxbow Cheese and Wine Merchant; desserts by Kara’s Cupcakes, Annette’s Chocolates and Three Twins Organic Ice Cream; and coffees and teas by Ritual Coffee Roasters and Tillerman Tea. Table settings to set the scene are being created by Poor House.
In addition to delicious, locally sourced food, Fork It Over! will feature live music and a very special sculpture created by artist Gordon Huether using cans of food that Oxbow is asking the public to bring to the market during the month of September. After the event, the “dismantled art” will be contributed to the Food Bank.
With this level of community spirit, evidenced both among the artisan merchants at Oxbow and outwards to their greater Napa community, it seems that Oxbow is poised to continue its trajectory of success. Good things do come to those who do good.