Things To Do in Napa #1: Airy Crunchbags of Melting Pork

Chicharones The key to successfully living in the town of Napa, I've discovered, is to appreciate what you are closer to, and therefore get to more quickly, than had you not moved to this bustling city that anchors the south end of Napa Valley.

It's been five months since I moved from Sonoma to Napa. I've had a good deal of time to explore the outlines and contours of this city. And while I remain extraordinarily happy with my decision to leave the more bucolic Valley over the mountain behind for a life with an amazing girl over here, I know enough now about Napa to say this: I knew Sonoma. I lived in Sonoma. I Played in Sonoma. City of Napa…You are no City of Sonoma.

That obscure political reference aside, there are a few things (well, more than a few) in this neck of the woods that make living in a bustling, traffic-infested city well worth it. This is the first of what I hope will be many blog posts that explore "Why Napa Besides Wine".

#1: Chicharones From the Fatted Calf
First, the Fatted Calf is a boutique, old fashioned butcher located alongside the Oxbow Market complex on First Street. It is the the city's source of all things carnivorous, raw and good. But it was at the Fatted Calf where I one day ran into the Chicharrones they sell next to the check out counter. The first bag I ever bought, I opened in the car as I left. I had to pull over. I was afraid something bad would happen if I tried to combine eating these things with driving.

First, a "Chicharrone" is just a fancy, Spanish word for "Pork Rind". And you all know what those are. But
Fattedcalf these Chicharrones, prepared and packed for the Fatted Calf by a meat company called 4504 Meats in San Francisco and available in Napa only at the Fatted Calf, and not available anywhere that I know of in the town of Sonoma, are among the most remarkable foods I've ever put on my tongue.

Imagine Airy Crunchbags of Melting Pork with hints of sugar and heat that dissolve effortlessly on your tongue. Imagine pockets of spiced and sweetened weightless pork that deliver a mouth-coating experience.

I happily drive across the town of Napa to grab bags of these….amazing things without thinking. They call to me. It takes my full reservoir of self composure to not rip open the bag and dig in before my change is delivered at the counter. I hesitated writing about this treat available in Napa but not in Sonoma because I'm not one to force addictions on my friends and readers.

Nevertheless, I urge you to visit the Fatted Calf and try these little treats when you are next in the town of Napa.


6 Responses

  1. Samantha Dugan - October 2, 2010

    Well this explains the wine pairing suggestion last weekend….

  2. Morton - October 2, 2010

    A slightly higher level of this delicacy can be found in many vineyards at the end of their harvest. It is eaten standing next to a cauldron of boiling fat into which pieces of most of a pig are placed including the rinds of skin. The chicharones come out early, maybe after the lungs, are drained on paper towels and consumed with whatever the vineyard worker drink, which is usually Miller Genuine Draft.

  3. Charlie Olken - October 3, 2010

    I know why you moved to Napa. You are one lucky guy. And chicharones have nothing to do with it.
    But, I will readily grant you that the Fatted Calf is reason enough to drive over to the Oxbow Market if one is trundling around Napa City. I find it a very dangerous place for my wallet and my waistline.

  4. Mark Freeh - October 5, 2010

    Wow. I’ve got the sudden urge to be just be ridiculously gluttonous and love it. NEED CHICHARONES
    My heart hurts.

  5. Marcia - October 5, 2010

    I could drop quite a bit of moolah at the Fatted Calf on a daily basis if I could afford it! Everything is scrumptuous. Looking forward to your next post on local culinary and libation finds. Just watch out for that dip between the railroad tracks right now on your Fatted Calf runs!

  6. wine gift bags - January 11, 2011

    It has to be fermented of course.

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