Roxanne's Fine Cuisine - Novato, CA Chef Roxanne Klein (of the now closed Roxanne's in Larkspur) was famous for her radical all-raw cuisine. She recently introduced a packaged line of raw foods. We understand there are 34 different products. We tried three: two desserts and a snack mix. Definitely the desserts are on the heavy side (as they are nut-based), so plan on each container containing multiple servings. Fish Brothers Wild Line Caught Smoked Salmon- Blue Lake, CA Based in Humboldt Co., they offer small batch, smoked fish which is naturally smoked, using Native American traditional methods (hickory wood). They offer mostly wild fish (but not all). They do both cold and hot smoking. Really good, look for it. Gabriel Farm's Asian Pear Apple Juice- Sebastopol, CA New at our local Whole Foods are both Gabriel Farm's Asian Pear Jams (Asian Pear & Ginger and Asian Pear & Blackberry) and Asian Pear Apple Juice. We've had their Asian Pear juice at the Marin Farmer's Market and it's divine, this version with Apple juice blended is less intense but still wonderful. Who knows how much they have to sell? So don't miss out. Bellwether Farms Sheep Milk Yogurt- Sonoma Co
While it's not organic, it is local and it is delicious (I'm a big sheep's milk fan). It's got a great balance of acidity. The fruit is from the Northwest and actually doesn't do alot for me (it's also not organic). The fruit is on the bottom so you can skim the yogurt off the top if you wish. Of course if you are lucky enough to find the Vanilla you won't have to mess with the fruit issue. The Vanilla is really good and is my favorite! The flavors I've seen: Plain, Vanilla, Strawberry, Blackberry and Blueberry. Point Reyes Preserves Raspberry Jam - Marin Bright, tart and very raspberry. Not too sweet and it makes a perfect topping with some sweet butter. This is the local jam I've been looking for! Pretty close to the perfect raspberry jam.Rancho Gordo Heirloom Beans- Napa
I can't pick just one type. I just love what Steve Sando has done for Heirloom Beans! Apparently he started growing heirloom tomatoes and was saving seeds, so he thought he would try his hand at beans - and are we ever glad he did. Rancho Gordo also offer dried corn (posole) and grains like wild rice & quinoa. Check out the recipe section of their site.Robert Lambert's
Golden Date Syrup- San Rafael This artisan-made syrup is a great treat on pancakes or waffles. I've been enjoying it on top of oatmeal or drizzled on a piece of good toast. The ingredients include sugar but it's not too sweet. Really fun and well made.
Gianna's Artisan Baking Company I *adore* this Seaside, CA's gingerbread pumpkins, which are one of their seasonal offerings. They appear around Halloween and last until after Thanksgiving. Their recipe for gingerbread is amazing and I have yet to manage a re-creation. These cookies get me through the Thanksgiving rush. Perfect with a cup of coffee or tea. Yum! Yogurt Saint Benoît - Bodega Bay We've been enjoying the wonderful yogurt made by the de Korsak brothers in Bodega Bay for many months now, but we didn't have a very local source until recently. They offer the yogurt plain or with local jam (organic) on the bottom. Flavors change by the season: In late July, 2006 they are Honey, Plain, Strawberry, Meyer Lemon and we've just seen the return of last winter's flavor: Plum. I love the plain with sliced peaches, Jack likes the Meyer Lemon and Plum, Trent prefers the Honey. We love the porcelain pots that the Saint Benoit yogurt come in.Flying Goat Coffee - Healdsburg Amazing stuff. Their roastery is in Healdsburg, CA and they have coffee counters in Santa Rosa and Healdsburg (and unofficially at Larkfield at Bungalow Tea). They offer many organic and fair trade options. See our write-up in Coffee & Chocolate.
I've been waiting so long for Paul Bertolli's (formerly of Oliveto) new charcuterie company to come online that I almost can't believe I have one of the first 3 products in my hands. A much larger roll-out is expected in June – can't wait until his Mortadella and Sopressata are available. These plump sausages come in classic or spicy Italian and are packaged with a bay leaf. Yum! Bouchon Bakery- Yountville, CA
The tiny Bouchon Bakery in Yountville, CA next door to the restaurant offers artisan breads and pastries as well as small selection of sandwiches to go. Pictured here are the Pain au Chocolate, chocolate and almond croissant, 2 currant scones, 2 pate de fruits and a sweet baguette. Point Reyes Original Blue Dip & Dressing - Point Reyes
This farmstead cheese company, famous for it's Point Reyes Blue Cheese, offers a dip/dressing which has converted, me, a non-blue cheese eater. It keeps popping up on local menus and I keep adoring it – so much so I now have my home supply. Try it with cripsy bacon and lettuce, or drizzle on a BLT. Yum. Bennett Valley Bread & Bakery's Mt. Taylor 5-Seed Bread - Santa Rosa This local bakery uses organic flours and natural leavenings. We like their Mt. Taylor 5-Seed, which is not too seedy inside, and has really good overall flavor. They have no website but their phone number is 707-575-9345 - and they do appear at some of the local farmer's markets.
Black Sheep Farm- Occidental They sell locally raised Pork & Beef - the beef comes from a type of Italian Heritage Cattle. We've bought prime rib roasts twice and my only complaint is that they need to leave more fat on top. The Bacon is not very smokey and results in a more porkish tasting product - Jack liked it. You can find them at the Santa Rosa Farmer's Market on Saturday during the Winter and the Healdsburg & Sebastopol Farmer's Markets in the Spring/Summer/Fall.
We love the Corn Salad, Baby Artichoke Hearts and Pickled Mushrooms, and the Asparagus is also a winner. Julie Evans' recipes have been passed down from generation to generation (perhaps that's why the preserves taste like Grandma's). The preserves are cooked on a stovetop, and made in small batches without artificial additives or preservatives. I've also tried and liked the Apricot Preserves. They source most of the ingredients from local farms.
Although Point Reyes Preserves' website is under construction, you can buy the Baby Artichoke hearts and some of the venerable Point Reyes Blue Cheese as a Jule's Jewels package from Point Reyes Farmstead Blue Cheese (another local treasure).
The fruitcake is based on his English Grandmother's Recipe - and wow did it ever taste like it! It comes tightly wrapped in cheesecloth with a beautiful dried fruit decoration. You can really tell it made with good quality ingredients and it's really packed with nuts and fruit. You can taste the brandy. This was a winner. Robert Lambert, famous for his fruit syrups, also makes a Dark Fruit Cake and a Summer Fruit Cake for the holiday season. We bought it from him directly at the Marin Farmer's Market. But you can also order from his website - although the White Fruit Cake is exclusive to Dean & DeLuca.
Damnation Beer - Sonoma Damnation from The Russian River Brewing Company, a Sonoma micro-brewery, is my latest local indulgence. It's a Belgian-style Strong Golden Ale. It was available at the 2nd Slow Food Fast Food Picnic and t'was great with a hamburger. It's smooth but has a golden malty characteristic which I like a lot, and just a hint of bitterness. It comes in 750ml bottles with a cork and cage.Primavera - Sonoma Tortillas made in Agua Caliente (just north of Sonoma, CA). They are hand made corn tortillas. Not being a fan of corn tortillas in general, I made a leap from whole wheat ones to these and am an instant convert. The bean ones are especially delicious with just a hint of spiciness. I’m not switching back. They are available at the Santa Rosa Whole Foods but they also appear at the Ferry Marketplace Farmer’s Market on Saturdays in SF. I haven’t found a website for them – but here is their contact info: Primavera, 17070 Sonoma Hwy, Agua Caliente; (707) 939-9350. Janet Fletcher wrote a great article recently that included them.
Sconehenge English Muffins - Berkeley
A great local alternative to other English muffins. This bakery in Berkeley is well known for their scones but these English muffins are great! You need to keep them refrigerated to keep them fresh if you aren’t using them all the day that you buy them.
They are thicker than the standard English muffin (thicker than bagels) so you sort of have to squish them a bit to get them into even a wide mouthed toaster but it’s worth your effort. If you have thin toaster you can cut them in 3 and that works well too.
Straus Dutch Chocolate Ice Cream- Marin
Jack remains insane about Straus Family Creamery's Dutch Chocolate. (He's met a few other fanatics, too.) We never seem to be able to keep a pint in the freezer untouched. The Raspberry is nicely mild and the Vanilla Bean (greatly improved sometime in late 2005) has tons of vanilla flecks in it - it's a runner up to the Dutch Chocolate. Two new flavors have just been introduced: Coffee and Mint Chocolate Chip. Organically made in Marin County.
Breadmakers that we love: Acme - Berkeley, CA Wild Flour Bread - Freestone, CA Della Fattoria - Petaluma, CA Bennett Valley Bread & Pastry - Santa Rosa, CA (don't miss the Pugliese & Challah!) Model Bakery - St. Helena, CA & Napa, CA (I love their english muffins & olive bread!) Full Circle Baking - Penngrove, CA Artisan Bakers - Sonoma, CA Bouchon Bakery - Yountville, CA
Local Charcuterie we recommend: Fatted Calf - Berkeley (and Napa!) Santi Charcuterie - Geyserville, CA Fra'Mani - Oakland, CA Boccalone- San Francisco, CA Floravita 2000 - Santa Rosa, CA An alternative beverage with possibly a healthful twist! Floravita is a blend of spring water and an infusion of fruits and berries with the flower of the black elder tree. We've tried both red and white and prefer the white. They also make a sparkling version but we haven't seen it for sale yet. Three Twins Organic Ice Cream- San Rafael, CA It's hard not to love sustainable organic ice cream. We finally made it to the store (thanks CookieCrumb!) after at least a year since we discovered them at the Marin Farmer's Market (the Strawberry is amazing!) and enjoying root beer floats made with Three Twins Vanilla at Fish in Sausalito. Flavors are seasonal and don't miss their sorbets! They now have a second store at the new Oxbow Market in Napa. Ancient Organics Ghee- Stinson Beach, CA Organic ghee made from Straus Family butter. Very expensive, but if you want the best... It's basically claified butter; what they call the essence of cow's milk. We're on our second jar. (It now comes in a second, smaller jar, too.)
Cowgirl Creamery's Niloufer's Panir - Pt Reyes Station
Cowgirl does it again! This creamy Parsi Cheese completely changes my world. Imagine the taste of an artisan cream cheese without the heaviness. It reminds me of a smoother Bellwether Creamery's Ricotta - there is a slight sweetness to it. Great spread on a bagel or by itself and it doesn't need fruit or honey but if you need a quick dessert you've found it. Rustic Bakery - Larkspur We purchased their Sourdough Polenta & Black Pepper and Sweet Onion & Creme Fraiche Flatbreads at Artisan Cheese (Sept, 2006: We've seen their products at Whole Foods). They are crispy with the sourdough not overwhelming the flavor. The pepper is nice and peppery. Really good! Update:
November 2006 - Rustic Bakery's Vanilla Pecan Organic Granola - Their granola is fantastic! Don't pass it by.
It's expensive and it tastes like it. The pecans had a freshly roasted quality about them. I dream of my next package. Sisters Three Artisan Cookies - Santa Rosa Handcrafted. Quality Ingredients. Hand decorated. Yum.
Two Rock Valley Cheese - Petaluma This may be our most significant Farmer's Market find in quite a while. DeBernardi Dairy are offering a 3 month and an almost 1 year old raw milk goat cheese at the Santa Rosa Farmer's Market. The 10 month+ has won my heart. It has only a delicate goatiness but lots of complexity and character which reminds me of a French mountain cheese. It's slightly crumbly. Absolutely Stand-out. You can find them at the Santa Rosa Veteran's Building Market on Saturday - be sure to tell them Fork & Bottle sent you. Triple YUM.
Patisserie Angelica's Butter Caramel Sauce - Sebastopol You can really just eat this out of the jar - no need for ice cream. It has the buttery character of a perfect butter caramel. Hard to resist. Sweet Marcelline's - Windsor Based locally Sweet Marcelline's offers cookies, candies (try their english toffee) and other sweets made by hand with organic ingredients and Guittard chocolate (where applicable.) Their toffee cookies are truly amazing and seem to evaporate when the package is open.
At Drake's Bay in the Point Reyes National Seashore you will pass the historic alphabet ranches (A,B,C...) on the way to the lighthouse. G Ranch is the home of Lunny Ranch Grass Fed Beef which can be purchased in the park at Drakes Bay Oyster Company (where great oysters can also be had). The restaurant at Drakes Bay a little further up the road serves Lunny's Grass Fed Beef burgers. LouLou's Cornichons & Bing Cherry Jam - San Francisco
We were enjoying these cornichons at a friend's house and asked about them (secretly thinking they were likely a bottle brought back from France) to our pleasant surprise they were from this San Francisco based company. LouLou's hand makes chutneys, preserves, pickles, jellies, marmalades and jams from sustainably grown ingredients. We've also recently been enjoying their Bing Cherry Jam (on the runny side) with whole cherries in a not two sweet syrup. Rising Tide Sea Vegetables - Mendocino, CA A great source for Kombu, Wakame, Sea Palm (Kelp), Nori and Dulse. They will ship to you if you are not local. Kate Marianchild and Larry Knowles harvest sea vegetables locally and dry them. They also offer some imported Japanese and Atlantic seaweeds. Almost all of the sea vegetables they offer are sustainably wildcrafted and mostly they are organic. I'm about to call and ask about their sea lettuce. Woodhouse Chocolates - Saint Helena See our write-up in Coffee & Chocolate.Highly Recommended. Hobbs Applewood Smoked Bacon - San Rafael Hobbs meat products are good quality and seem to be consistent. This bacon is wonderful. It cooks up without too much shrinkage and you can get it crisp without burning it. We've recently also tried their smoked pork loin and liked it. They are one of the suppliers to the French Laundry.Two Apple Juices Nana Mae's 100% Gravenstein Organic
Apple Juice - Sebastopol This apple juice is a standby in our house. Trent asks for it specifically - he's a huge fan of their Gravenstein Apple Juice.
Solana Gold's Autumn Harvest Organic Apple Juice - Sebastopol We sampled the three Solana Gold Apple Juice blends at the Russian River Festival this summer. They are all very distinctive. This one is Joanne's pick. The company has some association with Nana Mae's (I think the owners of the two companies are brothers?)
Pâtisserie Angelica is sort of a local secret; they focus on Wedding Cakes, but a few of their other cakes are sold by the big gourmet guys nationally (like Dean & DeLuca and Williams-Sonoma). Their cakes are fantastic! (! - Jack) Fortunately, their wonderful creations are available to us locally at their shop in Sebastopol. The Pumpkin cake below was featured by Dean & DeLuca in Fall '05. This picture was taken at the Sebastopol Farmer's Market where Patisserie Angelica had a booth in the Fall. March 2007 update: Cakes are now available on-line!
For two years now my Birthday cake has come Patisserie Angelica. Their Present or Package Cake can be designed with a variety of options. I chose Vanilla Bean Cake with Vanilla Buttercream and Raspberry Jam, the cake is completely covered with rolled fondant. Last year's cake was Green and Pink this year's cake was yellow and purple. The amazing thing is these cakes taste as good as they look.
Of Pâtisserie Angelica's other cakes, Jack's favorite is their Tiramisu, Trent's favorite is Cardinal Sin and my second favorite (a very close second) is the Parisienne.
Della Fattoria Scores Again!
Della Fattoria's Biscotti
& Polenta Pullman Bread- Petaluma
Jack adored this biscotti with cranberry and pisatchio. Joanne loved and now craves their Polenta Pullman which I believe is only available at the Petaluma store. They use it to make toast and some of their sandwiches. I can't tell you how amazing it it is. It's just divine.
Fiorello's Gelatos - Marin Trent and Jack really like this Artisan Gelato made in Marin County. I don't think they have a storefront. As a result it's hard to find, although some North Bay restaurants feature it. We've bought it at The Cheesemaker's Daughter in Sonoma and Dean & DeLuca in St. Helena and more recently at The Cheese Shop in Healdsburg. There are a ton of flavors. The Stracciatella is like very good chocolate chip and seems to evaporate in our freezer. Joanne likes the Zabaglione and the Spumoni.
Sweet Pea Ravioli - Berkeley This Sweet Pea ravioli was fantastic. They don't have a website - but if you are in Berkeley they have a storefront at 1786 Shattuck Ave (510) 883-0783 or you can find them at the Saturday Berkeley Farmer's Market like we did!Alexander Valley Pickles - Sonoma They make the most delicious Dill pickles and Bread & Butter pickles we’ve found outside of Ricks Picks in NYC. The B&B pickles have a thick edge and a hint of curry on the finish. The dills are what I know of as new dills – they call them “manhattan style” with no vinegar and an essence of fermentation in them – they are just wonderful.