Sonoma County is beloved for its agricultural roots and all-around un-Napa vibes. It may be the one place the place you may get third-wave espresso made by woodworkers, hummus with Michelin cred and a self-serve style of $350 cabernet.
Final month, we went particularly to eat. My son was seeking premium pizza. I used to be searching for micro-seasonal, veggie-forward yum. And my husband, who permits himself about two steaks a yr, needed the most effective lower he may discover. Our pup, like at all times, had scraps on the mind. Every of us discovered our bliss — after which some.
Regardless of the pandemic, the variety of noteworthy bars and eating places which have opened in Sonoma County prior to now two or three years is astonishing. And that doesn’t embody the hidden gems and weekend pop-ups we found, like Woodshop Espresso, which is tucked contained in the trellised alley of a French vintage store, Chateau Sonoma, close to Sonoma Plaza. That’s the place we begin on this explicit Saturday morning.
House owners Cameron Iturri-Carpenter and Sasha Papadin are native woodworkers with “an energetic ardour for third-wave espresso.” Sometime, they’ll have a brick and mortar that marries the 2 obsessions. For now, you’ll discover them perched between the vine-strewn buildings, often on a Saturday morning, promoting their white-oak charcuterie boards and pour-over stands alongside medium-roast blends and pastries from Taarts by Aline.
My cup of spherical, berry-tinged Fiddleback has sufficient zip to get a sloth going. However we want stroll solely 210 ft to seek out breakfast at Valley Bar + Bottle Store. Valley opened in 2020 within the 186-year-old Leese-Fitch Adobe previously housing Harvest Moon Café. In its quick tenure, Valley has already made quite a few nationwide greatest restaurant lists. To me, it has the magic of a Barcelona bodega.
Inside, minimal-intervention wines with names like Scar of the Sea line the cabinets. And a cook dinner within the open kitchen is misplaced in her empanada dough. I order a slice of the towering Spanish tortilla on the counter and admire the speckled ceramic bowls that may quickly be crammed with soft-boiled eggs, feta and pickled beets. We discover seats on the rug-covered patio and dig into each dishes.
The tortilla is perfection: Potato slices and onion slivers suspended in paprika-stained egg. And all that is still of the opposite dish is an olive pit and a few pink-stained yogurt. Dazzled and sated, we hop on our bikes and head again to our resort, The Lodge At Sonoma. A Mission-style resort on Broadway, The Lodge has all the trimmings of top-notch wine nation lodging: Not too long ago-remodeled cottages, a spa providing CBD remedy massages and a foyer with an artwork gallery.
However for me, the pull is exterior, among the many laurels, roses, wisteria vines and plum pine timber that dot the pathways. As a part of a renovation accomplished in 2021, the resort invested $1 million into landscaping its grounds, which incorporates backyard sculptures and classic items, like a wine press, curated by a group that features San Francisco design agency Wilson Ishihara (of Viceroy and 4 Seasons fame).
Beneath the property’s 400-year-old Heritage Oak tree is a wall the place friends are invited to write down their “private desires” and place them in a bottle. Over time, the resort will collect these papers as compost and add them to the soil that feeds the on-site winery. I marvel on the tree, take into account scrawling my current dream — dinner — on paper, however set out for the actual factor as a substitute.
The resort’s spiffy tavern, Wit & Knowledge, finally ends up among the many highlights of our weekend; the eating expertise that others could be examined towards, from the swift service and dynamic wine record to the full of life bocce ball on the terrace.
A somm begins me off with a splash of glowing California albariño, which stokes my urge for food for the hearth-oven dishes that begin surfacing in succcession: Snappy, slow-roasted beets with tangerine labneh. Pappardelle cacio e pepe, its plump fava beans and mushrooms inky with pepper sauce. And my husband’s steak, a perfectly-crusted eight-ounce filet that slices like butter to disclose a pink center.
He’s so mesmerized, he doesn’t discover us sneaking his duck fats potato wedges onto our plates. We made it as much as him with dessert, a slice of Basque-style cheesecake, its barely burnt and bitter exterior the last word match for that creamy, custardy inside. We waddle again to the cottage and binge-watch the British actuality present, “Attractive Beasts,” on Netflix.
The subsequent day after a motorbike trip to Soiled Lady Donuts, we make our approach to The Barlow, the 12-acre out of doors market district in Sebastopol. A marathon is wrapping up, and the runners are ingesting beer in tents as a substitute of consuming carbohydrates, which is what my household does. I duck into Area, a high-tech wine bar that provides tastes of hard-to-find wines, like Immortal Property’s $350 cabernet, however not earlier than swinging by Acre Pizza for a slice.
Acre Pizza was opened two years in the past by the proprietor of Acre Espresso, which has places throughout the county. Opening chef Alastair Hannmann, the identical knowledgeable behind Walnut Creek’s Metropolis Sq. Pizza, is thought for his New York- and Detroit-style pies made with a Central Milling-based flour dough that ferments for 72 hours. My child goes for 2 slices of New York made with native tomatoes and mozzarella from Double 8 Dairy in Valley Ford.
The pizza is staggeringly good, he says, and I take his phrase — and the remnants of sauce on his cheek and just-washed hoodie — for it. He’s joyful, and so am I. As a result of it’s my flip. We pile into the automobile and drive 22 miles to Healdsburg for dinner at Little Saint, arguably probably the most highly-anticipated new restaurant within the county. And all they serve is vegan meals.
Little Saint is run by the identical group behind three Michelin-starred SingleThread. The meals is grown on that farm and on Little Saint’s personal plot. Inside, the ten,000-square-foot area has the identical open plan because it did in its Healdsburg Shed days. There’s a restaurant, wine store and bar, and every thing has an upscale bohemian really feel, like a rocker’s lair. Steven Tyler would hang around right here.
The primary half of the menu — From the Larder, From the Fields — blows me away. We order freshly-baked lavash studded with seven-spice shichimi togarashi for lapping up dips like a crimson lentil hummus so alarmingly good, I truly pause, urgent my fingers into the flecks of fenugreek, attempting to make it final. Even one thing so simple as brine-pickled carrots with wild fennel pollen or castelfranco radicchio and asparagus feels elevated. The latter is speckled with sumac breadcrumbs and a creamy ravigote dressing that mimics Caesar.
The principle dishes, notably a much-talked-about cauliflower biryani, falls quick, although. It arrives with such showmanship — two servers every carrying a picket tray; one crammed with yogurt and pickled goodies; the opposite, the rice dish topped with edible flowers — I’m anticipating every basmati grain to be its personal fluffy delight, the best way my Persian mother’s tastes. Not the case. The rice is erratically cooked, some under-dente and in clumps. However the flavors and textures are there, from the spicy cauliflower to the crunchy fried onions and plump, pickled golden raisins, so there’s hope.
The subsequent day, we make our manner again to the East Bay, with a slice of Spanish tortilla for the street.
If you happen to go
Woodshop Espresso: Open from 9 a.m. Saturdays (and generally Sundays) at Chateau Sonoma, 453 First St. West, Sonoma. Verify Instagram (@woodshopcoffee) for up to date hours and pastry companions; www.woodshop.espresso.
Valley Bar & Bottle Store: Open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday-Monday (with dinner from 5 to 9 p.m.) and 11 a.m. to three p.m. for weekend brunch at 487 First St. West, Sonoma; www.valleybarandbottle.com
Wit & Knowledge: Open 5 to 9 p.m. for dinner and three to five p.m. for joyful hour at 1325 Broadway at Leveroni and Napa Roads, Sonoma; witandwisdomsonoma.com
Acre Pizza: Open from 11:30 a.m. day by day at 6761 McKinley St., Suite 150, Sebastopol. Additionally at 1080 Petaluma Blvd. North, Petaluma; www.acrepizza.com.
Little Saint: Open 5:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday-Monday at 25 North St., Healdsburg; www.littlesainthealdsburg.com