Recipe, Travel

Napa, California, 2013: Oxbow Public Market and a Look at Sweetbreads


Oxbow Public Market is relatively new on the Napa tourist scene, but it’s often the first place we visit. It’s a food market that’s been here for a while, but it only really started hopping within the last few years. In addition to local fruits and tourist items, you can find some of the best farm-to-table restaurants and some really nice lunch options. I always go for the oysters first, but my mom likes the Italian honey cream puffs and Kyle is a fan of the tea shop.


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On our first day in Napa, we met my family for lunch and got all of our favorites. The Morgan family had Oyster Po’ Boys and some really, really terrible coffee from the overpriced coffee stand. I guess it was imported and interesting, but we each picked our own flavor and neither were drinkable. Tea for everyone!

And yes, our family got an entire box of honey cream puffs.




I also popped in to the meat shop before we left to see if they had anything interesting. They do a braised tongue sandwich that always sells out before I can get there and, despite arriving before noon, I missed out once again. I did, however, pick up some sweetbreads. I watched a ton of retro Julia Child cooking shows while on bed rest so sweetbreads had been on my mind, but the ick factor keeps most shops from stocking them. Luckily, the Oxbow meat market had them in stock.

(Vegetarians might want to stop reading right about here.)



To prepare sweetbreads, you need to rinse and soak them first. Sweetbreads are thymus glands and traditionally people soak them in milk to get rid of the some of the gamey flavor, but I like that about organ meats so I just did a five hour water soak. After soaking, I removed the tough white outer membrane, dried the meat thoroughly, and battered them with an egg wash and a flour/salt/pepper mixture. I then pan fried them in olive oil and a little butter until they were crispy.

They. Were. Delicious.

They turned out a lot like really creamy and intense liver. Nobody else in my family likes adventurous meat eating (they have bad memories about that pork uterus I fried up a few years back) so I ate all of this myself. I will say that it’s probably a little too rich to eat all at once, but I didn’t want it to get soggy in the fridge. This would be best as a hot appetizer, served on toothpicks or spread on some nice crusty bread. Yum!


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  • Reply Hope

    I never heard of sweetbreads as a meat. I thought you were talking about sweet pastry (pan dulce in latin america) and I was all yum until I saw the picture. lol It looks interesting though. I’m willing to try stuff here and there. I think the weirdest thing I’ve had is tripe and I actually like it! 😀

    November 21, 2013 at 6:11 pm
    • Reply Carly Morgan

      I like tripe too, but nobody else I know does (except you!).

      December 2, 2013 at 12:30 am
  • Reply Christine

    lol Carly, you’re awesome. Being Chinese (with parents born and raised in China), there’s not much of an animal that freaks me out. I don’t generally like the flavor and texture of liver though, but the way you prepared this sounds tasty! I went back to re-read your uterus post. I’m surprised not more of your readers were horrified by your pictures and descriptions. Impressive LOL

    November 21, 2013 at 9:47 pm
    • Reply Carly Morgan

      It’s so true. My side of the family eats a whole lot more organ meats than Kyle’s. There’s actually a great Chinese market in the bottom of a shopping mall that has to be not too far from where you live. You might know it – it’s always packed and they have every meat under the sun there. It’s where I found that uterus!

      December 2, 2013 at 12:29 am

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