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Dinner near Sonoma Mission Inn ?

I just ate at La Salette today. Great sangria, fairly pricey for what I had, but nice, impeccable service. And, well, authentic Portuguese food... you don't find easily anywhere on this side of the big pond.

unusual or little known wineries in Sonoma

Schug for Pinot Noir. Not tiny but smaller family-owned winery.

Help! Overwhelmed by Sonoma/Napa Information


There are so many great wineries in the area it is overwhelming. You'll find some great Pinots down along the Carneros area, and a favorite of mine is Schug. In deciding wineries you might want to consider if you're just looking for really great wine or if you want a great view and place to visit. The two don't always go together. Schug, for example, is nothing to marvel at, but it's a nice Pinot spot.

Also, how far do you want to travel? There is so much right around Sonoma that you don't need to go very far, but as some people have already alluded to, there's some great zins up in the Russian River area.

You can do a simple tour of Sonoma and see Buena Vista (owned by the "big guys"but a nice visit for the historical element), Gundlach Bundschu, Schug, and then head up Rte 12 for great views and a few more lovely stops (someone mentioned Wellington, another small one I also like, but they have port which I'm fond of).

Or, you can walk around Sonoma Square and visit some of the wineries right off there. Depends how much time you have. Wines are generally more expensive than in Paso Robles, so keep that in mind when you choose where you're going.

Best place to buy crab in Southern Marin?

Santa Rosa Seafood sells cooked crab, just saw it on Saturday. They have a store in Santa Rosa and in Marin I know they are at the Marin Country Mart Farmers Markets on Saturday and the Civic Center FM on Sundays... maybe they're elsewhere in Marin on other days?

If you want to make sure they've got what you need, you can call them (707-280-2285). In fact, you can have them get your order ready and just pick it up. I've done that when I've planned for a few guests and have worried about having what I want. In any case, Santa Rosa Seafood is terrific every time... and you can get some of the most lovely smoked salmon or trout for an appetizer.

Santa Rosa Seafood
946 Santa Rosa Ave, Santa Rosa, CA 95404

Breakfast Report from Jeffrey's Hillside Cafe, Santa Rosa

I just ate at Jeffrey's for the first time and found this post after. Like JB I had the veggie hash and it was marvelous, and was terrific with some Taylor Maid Coffee. I actually split the dish with a friend, and I was awestruck how ample it was. Masquerading as a hotel/motel cafe, I would never have guessed...

Pie in the North Bay

Best pies in the North Bay - especially Marin and Sonoma counties?

Mine: Humble Pie formerly of Rohnert Park has reopened in Santa Rosa under Blue Label, still has pies, but I not like they used to (only 1 or 2 it seems like, though still very tasty).

Newest entry is Marge American Sweets, a welcomed addition by Megan Gordan, who is selling her tasty treats at the Marin Country Mart Farmers Market on Saturdays. She has other sweets as well, but pie is clearly, happily the focus and I had the most awesome lemon:

where to buy bean pot like in the Rancho Gordo video

Bram in Sonoma -- as others alluded to, it has really outstanding cookware... look no further:
It's in Sonoma on the west side of the square, and if you haven't seen it, the place is truly a marvel. They import fab cookware (and from discussion with the owner I gather his brother is a craftsman/manufacturer/whatever in Egypt, meaning items you can't find elsewhere, though they import from several countries). If you go to Sonoma, it's a must-stop (conveniently located next to another favorite store, Sonoma Home, which has lovely linens, etc).

Bistro Jeanty vs. Bottega?

Bistro Jeanty gets my nod. I've been there twice and it's been memorable (in the most positive way!) on both accounts.

Bistro Jeanty
6510 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

John Ash vs Syrah

I work with a lot of foodies and I'd say that Syrah is top of the list most often, I never hear anyone talk about John Ash (now called Vintner's Inn by Ferrari Carano).

That said, I'd prefer Zazu, but I tend to prefer the more farm-fresh, eclectic aspect of restaurants. If you have some time in the Santa Rosa area, there are some truly terrific restaurants in Healdburg too.

Former John Ash chef runs a wonderful breakfast/lunch place called Jeffrey's Hillside Cafe (Santa Rosa on 4th St), no dinner, but they are open 7 days a week and is the best place if you want brunch.

Syrah - Now Petite Syrah
205 Fifth Street, Santa Rosa, CA 95401

Jeffrey's Hillside Cafe
2901 4th St, Santa Rosa, CA

Best farmers markets for prepared foods?

The downtown San Rafael FM isn't a year-round market though. For the North Bay (at least in Marin), you have (1) the Marin Country Mart Farmers Market (Saturdays in Larskpur across from the Ferry) where El Huarache Loco is for marvelous authentic Mexico City food (someone mentioned Phoenix Pastifico who is also at that market) (2) the San Rafael Civic Center Farmers Market (Sundays; this is a huge one), and (3) the Corte Madera Farmers Market (Wednesdays, I haven't been there so can't say anything).

El Huarache Loco
100 Alemany Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94110

Sfogliatelle in the North Bay?

anyone? anyone?

Napa Cooking Classes

In case you want to change plans and spend some time in Sonoma County, some time in Napa, you not only have Ramekins but Relish Culinary School up in Healdsburg, which is a fab town with a really terrific cooking school. I've taken a half a dozen classes there, some of them 'roving' meaning out in the wineries, all really top notch.

If You Blink... You Missed it

Any suggestions on the best out-of-the-way food stops in the Bay Area -- the kind of places that you have to be a local to know about?

Best NORTH BAY 2010 Bites

Yes, ditto on Rosso!

Sfogliatelle in the North Bay?

Anyone know where to get sfogliatelle in the North Bay? I recently had some at a New York deli while on a trip and fell in love!

Best NORTH BAY 2010 Bites

Favorites for the North Bay (Marin & Sonoma)...

My highlights include:
-Breakfast at Howard Station Cafe in Occidental
-Baked goods at Wild Flour in the tiny town of Freestone (great place to bike too)
-Saturday Farmers Market at the Marin Country Mart in Larkspur
-Casual dining under $50 for 2 at Pacific Catch in Corte Madera (ahi tuna salad)
-Cheese finds from Joe Matos ("St Jorge" cheese) and Bohemian Creamery
-BYO restaurant The Fig Cafe in Glen Ellen

What are yours? Any favorites for delis? Sushi spots?

Howard Station Cafe
3611 Bohemian Hwy, Occidental, CA 95465

Pacific Catch
133 Corte Madera Town Center, Corte Madera, CA 94925

farmers market finds, winter 2011

Seconding the fish from Santa Rosa Seafood at the Larkspur Landing Market (at the Marin Country Mart). Outstanding fish, I go there every Saturday and always find great fresh products.

Santa Rosa Seafood
946 Santa Rosa Ave, Santa Rosa, CA 95404

Trader Joe's - I don't get it.

What Trader Joes IS:
*Great packaged items with terrific ingredients (I can actually read the ingredients and be happy for a change, unlike the Safeway option)
*Excellent quality at terrific prices. And, for that matter, a good alternative to Whole Paycheck (I mean Foods) which gouges you just because you want decent ingredients.
*Great alcohol selection at lower prices (it's an issue for wineries to sell to TJs because of their pricing policy, they can undercut other wine shops etc.)
*Good dairy (in my area they get their milk from Clover, which costs a lot more if I buy it under the Clover brand) including a terrific cheese selection

What Trader Joes ISN'T:
*The place for produce. I buy my bagged salad greens and a few occasional items (bananas, potatoes) there, but nothing else.
*A one stop shop. You have to stop elsewhere. Sometimes they try to be one-stop, but IMHO I don't think they should even bother with produce or with personal goods (tissue papers, etc).

For me this means I shop at TJs regularly but I also have a local produce store I go to as well as a local store (I'm in the North Bay so it is Olivers Market), and when desperate for something I cringe as I go into Safeway. I do make occasional stops at Whole Paycheck, but I can't abide their pricing policies, and Olivers offers some of the same products but more reasonably priced.

Jan 04, 2011
chowtogo in Chains

Heirloom apples

If you want some products made of TRULY local apples contact Nana Maes Organics.They're out of Sebastopol and also sell at the Marin Country Mart Farmers Market in Larkspur.

Look on their web site for details about the apples they grow. I understand that even supposedly local gravensteins can come from Oregon and such, but Nana Maes is truly local.

Nana Mae's
708 Gravenstein Hwy North 174, Sebastopol, CA 95472

Farmer's markets in January?

There's a new one to add to the list at the Marin Country Mart. It's in Larkspur across from the Ferry Terminal. And it's a year-round open 9-2 on Saturdays. I got some lovely jam from local Happy Girl Kitchen.

Newest Farmers Market in Marin County

I discovered another year round farmers market in Marin. It's at the Marin Country Mart -- what used to be Larkspur Landing -- apparently kicked off a Farmers' Market at the end of 2010.

It's a much smaller market in comparison with one at the Civic Center, but it was very sweet and not too crowded. Apparently they hand select all the farmers/sellers who are there.

A good seasonal veg selection (I understand they prefer organics, but I saw some nonorganic things too) and I bought some great sustainable textile shopping bags and fresh juice. An interesting mix, and some sellers I hadn't seen before. A found it a happy discovery. Has anyone else been there?