You might think I've been going to San Francisco a lot lately, and you'd be right - but I've had some good excuses. This one was one of the best - my oldest friend (in terms of the time we've known each other) Moira, is having a baby boy, and I wanted to be there for her shower.
Moira and I met in a swimming class when we were four years old, and grew up around the corner from each other. We weren't always the very best of friends - in some ways we were almost more like sisters - with that same rivalry and need for independence. At some point though, after getting back in touch when I moved to the Bay Area in the mid-90s, we realized the intrinsic value of having known each other for twenty-some odd years - and started to really relax around each other. We still sometimes go for months at a time without talking, but it always feels like it was yesterday when we do see each other. I don't think you can ever know anyone as well as someone you knew as a child.
The shower was scheduled for Sunday, and since I hadn't been up there in a while and felt up for an adventure, I
After winding our way through the newly-sophisticated downtown Napa, we arrived at a crowded intersection with a huge parking lot on the right side, and a large market complex on the left side - just past that we saw Copia - looking like the venue of a major sporting event with the big tents and thronging crowds everywhere.
Admission to the festival was $35. including ten tasting tickets - with additional blocks of tickets available. The tastings were generally at least three to five tickets apiece, meaning the food tickets went faster than you might have thought. When we started exploring the venue, we realized it wasn't really a restaurant tasting event - I had some tacos from Compadres and Tommy had a Niman Ranch burger - and after we walked around for another hour or so, we picked at slices of Filippi's pizza and some Ben and Jerry's ice cream. It wasn't exactly bad, but it certainly wasn't worth the price of admission. Most annoying was the fact that about 50% of the booths were selling merchandise. Call me crazy, but I don't really think I should have to pay to buy something.
The wine tasting was inside Copia, and several of the tables were already abandoned - apparently they had run out. We tried some mead that tasted like mold, served by a surly man who wouldn't talk to us, and a really mediocre red wine, served by a guy who wouldn't even look at us. At least on the plus side, they didn't ask us for tickets. I finally gave up and took some St. Supery Sauvignon Blanc. There were also some desserts by Whole Foods - some key lime tarts and eclairs.
We went in the Copia bookstore, which stocks scads of cookbooks, gift items, cookware and wines - a great place to find a gift for a foodie back home. After that, we wandered over to the new market complex just to the west of the Copia center, called the Oxbow Market.
The market is sort of a mini Ferry Building - it just opened a few months ago, and is not even yet fully occupied. There is a Mexican restaurant, a chocolatier, an ice cream parlor, a culinary antiques vendor, a coffee bar, and a few other vendors - you can find a full list and description here. Next door is a building housing a Taylor's Refresher, a Fatted Calf retail outlet, and a Model Bakery, just like the one in St. Helena.
While we were at the Copia event, we had checked the night's menu for Ad Hoc on my phone, and we weren't too impressed. Green salad and steak - it sounded like something I could make at home. Based on the menu, our tasting afternoon, and our mounting level of exhaustion, Tommy and I decided to cancel dinner and head back to the City. Even though it was Saturday night and we didn't have reservations, we figured in a city of a thousand restaurants we should be able to find something to eat. Luckily we weren't disappointed...
Next up - Spork and a North Beach Moroccan Baby Shower!