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Next Stop: Napa

Napa, California:  The USATF meet was only four days, but we knew it would be a grind and we knew it would be hot. (We did not know it would be 109° hot.) It is always a good idea to chill for a few days after a big event such as the national championships, so we decided to chill in Napa.

"Chill" is relative, but it was only 80 degrees in Napa today. Our usual visit to Napa on the way north each May from the Palm Springs area has been curtailed the past two years due to the Napa Expo RV Park being closed the ENTIRE MONTH of May for the Bottle Rock music festival. (The music festival is only THREE DAYS long, at the last weekend of May. Why do they need to close the RV park for the entire month of May? The festival uses every campsites for rock star motorhomes, green rooms, equipment, and catering trucks. I'm thinking I know someone who could organize a festival with a bit more efficiency, but... NO, you cannot have him.) Since we were coming down to the area for the track meet and to visit family, we jumped at the chance to spend a few days in Napa before returning to Oregon. Napa is only 65 miles from Sacramento. Prepare yourself for a wholelotta food photos this week! Minutes after checking-in to our reserved site, we went immediately to the Oxbow Public Market for a light lunch. We always visit this market and just love the concept: small food-oriented shops, books, craft breweries, restaurants, green grocers, bakers, olive oils, spices, cheeses, butchers and wine shops under one roof. Visitors can grab a bite, sit down for a full meal, grab something to take home to eat, or take home to cook. Photos from Oxbow Public Market today:In 2008, while DT was completely absorbed in organizing the 2008 Olympic Trials, I signed up for a culinary tour of Napa through Classic Journeys. It was tagged as a walking tour, but we never really did that much walking... we did a lot of eating and drinking though! It was a small group of like-minded people. Couples and singles and we enjoyed each other very much and keep in touch to this day. The first day of our tour we were brought to the just-opened Oxbow Public Market and to COPIA - an establishment next door to the Oxbow Public Market. At the time COPIA was a busy concern with all sorts of events, festivals, a restaurant and garden, but just a year later it closed. The building sat empty for eight years until the Culinary Institute of America (the "other" CIA) bought the property and brought it back to life as the Culinary Institute of America - Napa. CIA-Napa opened in November 2016.

The restaurant has reopened, the gift shop has reopened, culinary classes are on-going, special events take place and they offer wine tasting every day. The restaurant grows much of their own produce on the property. Chuck Williams, of Williams-Sonoma fame, passed away two years ago and gave his vast private kitchenware collection to the Culinary Institute of America. It is rumored to be over 3000 pieces and will soon be displayed in a museum currently under construction in the COPIA building. The museum will be free and open to the public. Just imagine opening Chuck Williams kitchen cupboards! Photos from our walk around CIA-Napa:The foyer

Main Hall

Gift Shop

We had a amble through the facility and were given an impromptu tour of the cooking school by one of the friendly employees (fun!) before walking through the culinary garden outside... where we found purple tomatoes and a gigantic fork. The fork "statue" is made with thousands of metal dinner forks. Really. People are SO clever.

After our sunny stroll, we made dinner reservations at CIA-Napa. Duh.

We made reservations for a late supper. Eight o'clock - due to our late lunch - and sauntered over to CIA for a cocktail at 7:30p. No one was in the bar, so we had an enjoyable conversation with the bartender. Everyone at the restaurant is new, as it has just recently opened. Every person is from somewhere and we find it so interesting to learn their story, especially in this country of immigrants, expats, nomads, pillars and pioneers.

We shared the Crispy Fish appetizer: fried cod, halibut and salmon with fennel and fennel fronds,
served with a saffron aioli.

Steak Frites: Hangar steak with garlic cloves poached in olive oil

Housemade handkerchief pasta with corn, fromage blanc and chanterelle mushrooms

Until my next update, I remain, your Napa correspondent.

RV PARK: Napa Valley Expo RV Park - The perfect spot for a visit to Napa wine country. Long pull-throughs and a few back-in sites. Full hookups. Bathhouse, wifi, laundry room, dumpsite. 15 minute walk to downtown Napa. Reservations are basically required as this small park is nearly always full. With our Good Sam discount we are paying $45 per night. They also accept AAA membership discount.