Sonoma County might be famous for its wine (500 vineyards will do that for ya), but it is a veritable fruit bowl and sea basket too!
Here are 5 foods you must try between sips:
1. Dungeness Crab
Oh how I love crab but I didn’t know that it was any good outside of Maryland. It is good here in Sonoma! Order the dungeness crab flat bread at Willi’s Wine Bar and you’ll be a very happy diner. This is a tapas bar owned by culinary legends Mark and Terri Stark, who have a handful of popular restaurants in the area. Willi’s Wine Bar has an extensive list of local wines and produce too. It was a rainy Wednesday evening when I went and the place was pumping.
2. Lobster Escargot
An oxymoron I know, but stay with me. Served in a cute little escargot plate – the ones with the snail holes in them – these little knots of lobster are on the menu at John Ash & Co restaurant at The Vintners Inn in Santa Rosa. What makes them snail-like is not only the plate, but the delicious combo of garlic, butter, chardonnay and parmesan cheese. Not that I could see it, but upon enquiry, discovered the chef’s secret.
Read my post on 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Sonoma here >>>
3. Gravenstein Apples
Just like Hawkes Bay where I grew up, this is actually orchard country. You’ll find the famous gravenstein apple at farmers markets and they even have a fair in its honour. It’s a tart little apple and especially good for sauce or cider. Or baked in a pie at Mom’s Apple Pie in Sebastopol on the aptly named Gravenstein Hwy. Betty Carr, aka Mom, started making her pies in the 1980s and friends raved about them so much they encouraged her to open a shop. She did and still pops in today. And so did I.
Local farm Liberty Ducks boasts that they raise the slowest (9 weeks rather than the standard 6) and tastiest ducks in the country, so I put that to the test on my plate at Zazu in the hipster haunt of The Barlow in Sebastopol. Two things: The Barlow is full of new restaurants and bars and is well worth going for an evening. And two, the duck leg was prepared confit style then fried. Pull-apart good with a crispy skin. Yum!
Cheesemakers are dotted like grapes all over Sonoma County. There are so many farms and makers (30 and counting) that you’ll need to have a plan if you fancy tasting. Download this map of the Cheese Trail and set off to taste, tour and even take a class. The cheeses that you’ll find on wine tasting menus around the county include sheep’s milk, goats milk, cows milk, buffalo milk mozzarella and fancy ones wrapped in cloth, ash and seasonings. Grab a bottle of wine and your cheese selection and head off for a picnic somewhere breathtaking.