Friday, May 15, 2015

Daytrip to Sonoma County

Eating like a local:
Regional food specialties

- Exploring Cali's Wine Region

Was out in San Francisco for a bit (report coming) and spent a wonderful day out in Sonoma County. Most people choose to do Napa Valley when exploring this region but I'd heard it was for the snobs and I'm more about the locals which is why Sonoma sang to me. San Fran is an amazing food/drink city and at first I wasn't sure I wanted to take a day away from there but I'm really glad we ended up doing this daytrip. We already know we'll be back to further explore the area, hell I could live there.
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El Molino Central

Boyes Hot Springs, CA

First stop up is a place that we'll most certainly return too. Where's theres vineyards, there's Mexican restaurants. Those working the fields need to eat. Whether in the form of taco trucks or a more modern approach with local ingredients, Sonoma County has all the options. El Molino Central isn't far from downtown Sonoma and it's the perfect place to start your day. You can fill your stomach up with modern takes on Mexican street classics or wake up with a cup of Blue Bottle coffee. The star of the show here is the stone-ground in-house corn they use for the tortillas and the tamales. A molino is a Mexican mill where back in Mexico the entire town takes its dried corn to turn it into masa. Not on this day but sometimes you can see them using theirs in-house.

Guacamole

The love doesn't stop at the tortillas. Guacamole is sold by the avocado (1,2,3 etc) and it isn't made until your order has been placed, the chips go into the fryer at the same time and are ready when your guac is made. No seats inside but there's a few shaded tables in the back. We split a couple plates and choosing which one was more preferred is like deciding between a Lamborghini or a Bugatti. I'm more than happy with either or but would rather just have them both.

Bohemia Beer Battered Fish Tacos on their famous corn tortillas

First up the tacos. There may be fish tacos out there that are equally as good as these but there aren't any that are better. The beer battered fish was giving off the same crunch sounds of the chips and inside of it was perfectly flaky fish that was bursting with steam having come fresh from the fryer. Cabbage adds even more crunch while the salsa de arbol adds heat that the avocado lime mayo cools down. You know the tortillas are trump tight. Same story for the tamales. Not only was the masa the perfect texture but the meat to masa ratio was on point. The lady that owns the place became famous selling tamales at the San Fran farmers market and it was easy to understand why.

Niman Ranch Red Chile Pork Tamales with pickled cabbage relish
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Matanzas Creek Winery

Was rec'd this spot in Santa Rosa by my boys girlfriend from the area. Sensational views and some good white wines, one of which I sent a case home. Aside from liquid grapes they also had alot of lavender based items including some grill sticks I bought for home.
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Lazzini's Market

Santa Rosa, CA

Quick pit-stop before heading onto the next winery. This is the locals spot for sandwiches. Packed house on this Sunday visit around noon. Specialty of the House is the Godfather sandwich which featured beef tri-tip, bbq sauce, mayo, red onion, and pepperoncini. Little too much going on but the meat itself was nice. I'd skip the sauces and ask for a smear of some horseradish if I was a regular.

Godfather Sandwich
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Iron Horse Vineyards

Sebastopol, CA

Neither of us are huge wine enthusiasts though she drinks it when its around and there are no craft cocktails in sight. Especially the bubbly. So I made sure to do a little search for a sparkling winery and all results pointed to this place. The ride there was out of a postcard and so was the vineyard itself. We couldn't ask for a better day to do a tasting in one of the more scenic wineries in the county. It's up a mountain and the tasting bar sits on top outside. Double bonus because it was oyster day which meant a pair of sisters well known for their appearances all over the county were shucking here. Good wines, great vibes, and an amazing location.

 Fresh Shucked Tomales Bay Oysters from the Oyster Girls Roving Rawbar. 2 Raw. 2 Grilled.

The view from the benches
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Canneti Roadhouse Italiana

Forestville, CA

Heard positive things about this modern Italian kitchen being led by a chef from the Tuscan coastal town of Massa. The menu looked money so this was lunch. Loved the layout of the place as it was a small cozy spot with spaces indoors near the open air kitchen and also outside in the well tended garden patio. It was in a small little town and it felt that way. Had a little bit of a feel of the old country. The Sunday trattoria rustica menu is different than the other days and has some large bowls of pasta listed, all of which are made in house. I'd describe both as simple but perfectly executed and that's exactly what was needed at that day and time.

Chickpea Tagliatelle with Manila Clams and Pink Bay Shrimps

Pennette Pasta with Pork Sausage Sugo and Pecorino Cheese
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Dry Creek Vineyard

Another formidable spot in Healdsburg. This one with a huge outdoor space for parties to enjoy. All these places let you taste at leisure and you're more than welcome to shoot some bean bags or just read a book in one of the chairs. They also had a scenic walk thru part of the property.
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Barndiva

Healdsburg, CA

The tiny little town of Healdsburg might as well be the location for a romance movie. It's beautiful and very much coming of age. It's got all the stuff you find in these tourism driven towns. Boutique Clothing stores as well as hotels, Farm to Table eating establishments, Art Galleries and much more. Including the radiant restaurant that is Barndiva. Built from the inside out in an old barn this was a beautiful setup. Reason they popped onto my radar were the cocktails. The important stuff.

Cocktail Menu

Popped in around opening for an early eating/drinking session and plopped down right at the bar where the tenders were there to greet us with smiles and satisfactory customer service all places should strive to match. Loved the drinks, enjoyed the food. I'm plotting my return ... ♫ back to Cali ♫

"frisèe lardon" crispy pork belly - poached quail egg, baby lettuces, bacon

dungeness crab ravioli - artichoke, red wine vinaigrette
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El Molino Central
11 Central Ave
Sonoma, CA 95476
(707) 939-1010

Matanzas Creek Winery
6097 Bennett Valley Rd
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
(707) 528-6464

Lazzini's Market
3449 Bennett Valley Rd
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
(707) 575-3888

Iron Horse Vineyards
9786 Ross Station Rd
Sebastopol, CA 95472
(707) 887-1507

Canneti Roadhouse Italiana
6675 Front St
Forestville, CA 95436
(707) 887-2232

Dry Creek Vineyard
3770 Lambert Bridge Rd
Healdsburg, CA 95448
(707) 433-1000

Barndiva
231 Center St
Healdsburg, CA 95448
(707) 431-0100

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