Thursday, August 22, 2013

Gravenstein Apple Juice in the Vitamix

Gravenstein apples
It’s fairly common knowledge that Sonoma County is known for its grapes and wine. You may not know that the area is also known for its apples – Gravenstein apples in particular.  Gravenstein orchards were planted long before the grapes and sadly many have been ripped out to make room for grapes.  Yet, among other things, there is still a Gravenstein Highway and a Gravenstein Apple Fair which celebrates these early harvesting apples.

I got a few Gravenstein apples at the farmers market recently and decided to try to make apple juice in my Vitamix, using this recipe from the Vitamix site. I followed the directions and it turned out really well – the juice was thick and very apple-y.  It does not make very much, maybe about 8 – 10 ounces. I think it would be a good ingredient for some sort of apple cocktail or maybe mixed with some sparkling water. Or, you can do as I did and just drink it all by itself!
And here is the finished juice!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Peach and Lemon Verbena Spa Water

I’ve been making what I call spa water – water with fun, fresh add-ins – every week this summer.  I was on a lemon cucumber – lemon verbena – lemon water kick for a few weeks. This week I changed it up to fresh peach and lemon verbena.  I make up the mixture on the weekends and just add water to the pitcher throughout the week to refresh it.  It’s tasty, healthy and a really easy way to drink more water. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Sonoma County Wow Dishes: Liberty Duck from Willi's Wine Bar

Willi’s Wine Bar is a wine bar and small plates restaurant in Santa Rosa.  The food is consistently great and the wine menu is interesting. They do a good job of having a rotation of seasonal items on the menu and maintaining old favorites that regulars would miss if they were not there.  

My favorite dish there, and the one I get every single time no matter what, is the Liberty duck. the Liberty ducks themselves are local from a place called Sonoma County Poultry.  The dish is sort of a duck stew where the duck has the consistency and feel of pulled pork.  It sits on a bed of white cheddar polenta and has plenty of sauce. It has a bit of sweetness to it and is the ultimate comfort food. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Sonoma County Wow Dishes: Burger from Healdsburg Bar & Grill

Healdsburg Bar and Grill is just off the main square in Healdsburg (which was recently included in a list of the 10 best small towns in America).  It’s an unassuming place in a town filled with lots of nice restaurants.  The menu is not large, but it has a range of choices and is a great stop for a quick lunch while wine tasting. 

I almost always get the HBG burger. The bun is perfect – not too hard, not too spongy and it comes from Costeaux Bakery which is also in Healdsburg. The meat itself is juicy and tasty. You can add toppings such as Fiscalini White Cheddar, bacon, heirloom tomato, etc.   The pickles on the side are right combo of tart, sweet and spicy and local, they come from Sonoma Brinery.  Garlic aioli is the perfect condiment. Fries with chipotle seasoning are nice on the side.

Fries with Chipotle seasoning

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Sonoma County Wow Dishes: Croque Monsieur from Chloe's

The first thing to know about Chloe’s French Café in Santa Rosa is that it is in a really odd location – it’s tucked into the bottom of an office building in Santa Rosa. The second thing to know, they are only open Monday through Friday.  Neither of these things deter the throngs of people I see there every time I go.  And why is that? Because the food is great! And the people who work in that office are extremely lucky.

I always get the Croque Monsieur at Chloe’s. It’s a grilled ham and cheese sandwich made with thick white bread filled with ham, cheese and a sweet Dijon sauce.  The top is drenched with béchamel sauce and broiled.  On the side are what I think are homemade pickles. It’s probably fairly obvious, but it’s not a diet meal by any means. One time I went here after running 13 miles. I think I might have come out even.

If you still have room for dessert, give the Napoleon a try. Bon Appetit!


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Sonoma County Wow Dishes: BBQ Pork Spring Rolls from Simply Vietnam

Next up on my list of Sonoma County wow dishes is BBQ pork spring rolls from SimplyVietnam in Santa Rosa. The restaurant is in an odd location – right in the middle of an industrial area – but don’t let that stop you.  The BBQ pork spring rolls are terrific!  Each roll contains barbequed pork, vermicelli noodles, lettuce, and I believe a hint of cilantro, all wrapped up in soft rice paper. On the side is peanut dipping sauce which has some sweetness to it and chopped peanuts which add some crunch. They are the perfect thing for a light lunch or for an appetizer for a party.  My friends and I have also gotten several orders of them and used them as snacks for book club meetings.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Sonoma County Wow Dishes: Burrata Cheese from Rosso

Burrata cheese from Rosso in Santa Rosa
I put together a list of several of the “wow” dishes from some of my favorite restaurants in Sonoma County. None of these restaurants are fancy. Several are in sort of odd locations.  But they all have in common at least one dish that is delicious and memorable.  I’ll be rolling out this list over the next few weeks so stay tuned.

Here is the first entry … Burrata cheese from Rosso Pizzeria.

 Rosso Pizzeria has sort of taken Sonoma County by storm. They opened their first restaurant in Santa Rosa a few years ago and now have another restaurant in Petaluma and a thriving catering business. Their mobile pizza oven is a fixture at winery “pick up parties” – parties wineries have where their customers can pick up wine, taste a bit (current releases, barrel samples and library wines are all fair game) and have a bite to eat, preferably catered by the great Rosso team.

The pizza at Rosso is terrific but what makes it special is the house-made burrata cheese.  According to Wikipedia, the name burrata means buttered in Italian and that’s a pretty good description of the cheese. The outside of the cheese is a thin layer of fresh mozzarella that has been rolled out.  The thin outer layer is then filled with a mixture of mozzarella cheese curds, fresh ricotta and mascarpone cheeses, along with salt, pepper and olive oil.  

The freshness hits you first. Then the creaminess. Then the smoothness of the olive oil that you douse it with. Then the pepperiness of the pepper. Eat it “neat”, no bread, no distractions. Try not to lick the plate.