Taste the Best of Napa in an Afternoon
After a few days of tasting Napa Valley’s wonderful wines, many people want to take a break. That’s why Mecaela Miller started Rooted Fork Foodie Tours. Her tours let guests sample the best of food in downtown Napa in a few hours. The tour guides take guests on foot to many of the compact food magnet’s hot spots – eight in the Taste of Downtown Napa Tour – where they enjoy a delicious bite or two and often sample a beverage. The refreshments are not entirely wine focused. Aside from a sparkling wine or sherry, options include a cocktail, beer, and coffee drink.
One recent Taste of Downtown Napa Tour led by Annie Budash, one of their knowledgeable and entertaining guides, visited eight downtown destinations, all favorites of locals. On the short walks between locations, she provided information about each restaurant or shop that even most insiders don’t know about along with other enlightening details of Napa history.
The intimate group started at Monday Bakery, a fresh, new addition to Napa’s booming food scene, to try buttery almond cake topped with house-made strawberry curd and cold brew coffee. A short block away in the private dining room of Norman Rose Tavern, their popular Frank’s Frito Slider with pepper jack and avocado relish was served paired with a specialty cocktail. Its generous size made clear that no one was going to be hungry after the tour was over.
Anette’s Chocolates is famed locally, and went overboard for the curious guests, offering samples of a dark chocolate truffle blended with a hint of infused Cabernet wine, crunchy beer brittle with dark roasted peanuts and ale sprinkled with salt, finished off with a classic chocolate port sauce and vanilla bean ice cream. Why save the dessert for last?
Compline Wine Bar, Restaurant and Merchant is a wine lover’s dream, so although it sounded weird, their pairing of sparkling wine served with decadent fries cooked in duck fat was a perfect combination. Owner/sommelier Matt Stamp led the session.
Continuing past the new shops of First Street Napa, the tour’s next stop was Ca’ Momi Osteria; fortunately, it was in the afternoon, not during the busy dinner service. Sitting at the food bar, everyone watched as the pizzaiolo stretched, dressed and baked four authentic Neapolitan Pizza Margheritas of organic ’00’ flour, tomato, mozzarella di bufala and basil in just a few seconds before finding a bit more space in their rapidly filling stomachs. Several guests took the boxed leftovers to enjoy later. With the pizza, Ca’ Momi served traditional spritzes from Venice, the home region of the founders of the restaurant, who also make the Heartcraft sparkling white wine used in the refreshing cocktail.
Next up was Napa Palisades Saloon for a Reuben Croquette, a deep-fried morsel of corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and 1,000 Island dressing paired with samples of Napa Palisades brews.
After a short stroll across the Napa River seeing the development that has tamed its former floods, the group arrived at the renowned Oxbow Public Market’s Kitchen Door Restaurant, where they sampled Chef Todd Humphrey’s famous cream of mushroom soup expertly paired with El Maestro Sierra Amontillado Sherry. The last stop was Hudson Greens and Goods in the Oxbow Market, where everyone refreshed with a Green Jeans smoothie of kale, romaine, spinach, apple, cucumber, lemon, ginger, turmeric, celery and parsley, a restorative guaranteed to balance the tasty treats enjoyed throughout the day.
In three hours, the happy guests enjoyed a true taste of Napa and were likely ready to dive into the wine once more.
In addition to the afternoon Taste of Downtown Napa Tour, Rooted Fork offers a brunch tour that includes a progressive feast at such restaurants and shops as French icon Angèle and Basalt, both overlooking the Napa River, the Fatted Calf butcher and charcuterie, Oenotri, with its southern Italian specialties and Sweetie Pies, whose name is self-explanatory.
The Taste of Downtown Napa tours are available to reserve on Fridays and Saturdays at 2pm, the brunch at 10am on Saturday. The company also arranges private tours.
Prices range from $90 to $100 per person and can accommodate vegetarians and most food allergies. Must be 18 years or older.
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Article By: Paul Franson