Plenty to do and eat: summer in Sonoma
I have always enjoyed popping into the Eldorado Hotel’s little Corner Café. Typically, I’d linger before work with a coffee and Sonoma’s best croissant. Seriously the best croissant, hands down. I am not kidding. Thankfully, I have kicked the croissant habit – sneaking one in only every now and then – but I now have a new habit that may be even more sinful: their truffle fries! Although, more on that in a bit. The Café recently underwent a transformation from chic and comfy coffee bar to über chic and comfy wine bar. I simply adore the new decor. There are now flat screens for watching the game, a rustic communal table that will easily seat your whole gang, and a modern farmhouse vibe that encourages just hanging out. They still serve coffee drinks and pastries all day – and that killer croissant! – but now offer a creative menu of small plates, sandwiches, salads and pizzas that are more conducive to munching while sipping a glass of local wine, most of which are super affordable, even with six on tap. Beers are interesting, local and even hard to find, like the cult favorite, Pliny the Elder, from the Russian River Brewing Company. Now y’all, about those truffle fries. I undoubtedly have an obsession with sparkling wine, which I believe you all know about by now. There isn’t much that pairs more deliciously with a cold bottle of bubbly than a gargantuan pile of fresh-from-the-fryer French fries. Top that monstrous pile with truffle oil, parmesan cheese and plenty of salt and you’ve got yourself a swoon-worthy situation. Be sure to ask for a side of the restaurant’s homemade garlicky aïoli for dipping and allow bliss to ensue. I could write an entire love letter to the Café’s crispy duck wings, a more sophisticated, not to mention a more scrumptious, version of Buffalo chicken wings. Pizzas are thin and crispy, exactly what you’d want with your oversized glass of Pinot Noir, especially when topped with bacon and a fried egg. There is a selection of pretty salads too, if you’re so inclined. El Dorado Corner Café is located inside the El Dorado Hotel and is open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
It’s getting to be that time of year again where it’s impossible to walk along Sonoma’s sidewalks without millions of those tiny red plums squishing beneath your shoes. Because of their miniature size, I am afraid no one really wants to be bothered with them, even though they are utterly delicious. Poor little plums. Fortunately, the bigger, beautiful plum varieties ripen locally at about the same time. Much of the land planted with vines in Sonoma County, at one time, was planted with plum or apple orchards. I guess back in the day plums were big business, prunes and prune juice since having lost favor with many Americans. I can totally do without prune juice, I prefer grape juice, though I do love prunes. How embarrassing. Although, what I really, truly love is a fresh plum plucked moments before, right from the tree and eaten while standing there with juice dripping down my arm. Fresh plums are also lovely when simply sliced and tossed in a salad of delicate greens and soft cheese. In my mind, there is certainly no more ideal warm weather hors d’ oeuvres or perfect picnic fare than a platter of thinly sliced La Quercia American Prosciutto – find it in the deli at Sonoma Market – and sliced, fresh plums. Mmm, summer…on a plate.
Kristin Viguerie is one of Sonoma’s most passionate, food obsessed residents. In this weekly column, she covers all the delicious happenings, foodie events and restaurants in Sonoma, the rest of Wine Country and beyond. Find her at her Sonoma Plaza shop, Junipero & Co. (juniperoandco.com) or blogging daily as the Cook (thecardiganandcook.com) or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.