Friday, July 16, 2010

Downtown Napa staycation - Part I

A few weeks ago, my husband and I took off to Napa Valley for a mini vacation. It is nice to take little breaks like this just to take in new surroundings and rejuvenate yourself. We have been to Napa Valley before and each time, we try to go to different areas, this time, we are focusing on downtown Napa.

We stayed at this new boutique hotel in downtown Napa called AVIA. I like that it has a contemporary yet warm feel to it; the color palette in the guest rooms consists of various shades of brown, chocolate with accents of moss green. On their website, they describe it as "rustically elegant". I love the bathroom too! It is big and bright as they use Eastern White marble over the entire bathroom, including the oversized walk-in shower. Bathrooms in hotels are very important to me, if it's too small or outdated-looking, that can break the deal for me.

As it was lunchtime soon after checking in, we decided to take a stroll through downtown Napa to get to the Oxbow Public Market, a smaller market kind of like the Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco.

After walking around the entire market, we decided to have lunch at Pica Pica Maize Kitchen. This place serves up Venezuelan cuisine and favorites such as the arepa; a grilled corn flour cake, the cachapa; a sweet corn pancake and the maize'wich; a sweet corn bread. Basically, you choose one of the three breads and then one of the many different stuffings available to make a sandwich.

We chose to have the chorizo capacha (left) and the pulled pork maize'wich (right) with a side of yucca fries (middle).

Both sandwiches were pretty good, I like how the sweetness of the corn contrast with the savory-ness of the meats. I did not try the yucca fries but my husband said that they were good!

In the evening, we went to the Chef's Market that was taking place just a block away from our hotel. For a Thursday night, we were quite surprised at how many people actually showed up at this outdoor event. It is like a farmer's market with live entertainment and cooking demonstrations. We tried the cherries at different stands, wine-infused jams and preserves and sat through a cooking demonstration of ahi tuna tartare salad. At the end of the demonstration, they gave out samplings of the dish and even complimentary sauvignon blanc to go with the dish! This is Napa after all...

Stay tuned for the second part of my recap as we visited Michael Chiarello's Bottega Restaurant and Redd in Yountville!