It’s that time of year! The Tuesday Night Farmers Market begins
It was nearly four and a half years ago, a strangely warm October evening, that I stood in the Plaza flabbergasted by the beauty of a table stacked magnificently with old wooden crates overflowing with colorful heirloom tomatoes. I, simultaneously, felt positively woozy from the heavenly smell of gorgeous green figs in little baskets on a table one booth over. A trio of young, fully bearded, overall-wearing guys played a fun, folksy tune in front of the lone palm tree while little kids happily twirled and danced barefoot in the grass, giggling uncontrollably. I stood there, motionless, probably with the goofiest smile on my face, enthralled by the scene. Hundreds of picnicking locals, the whole town obviously, lounged joyfully on blankets, digging into runny cheeses, sipping wine and chatting merrily. The light that evening was simply magical, that autumn Wine Country light that is truly enchanting, soft and golden. Sparkly. I stood there as a tourist that evening in October, at my first Tuesday Night Farmer’s Market, giddy with the perfection of it all. And that is the exact moment when I made the decision to move here.
To me, there are so many delicious things to eat, drink and experience in Sonoma that make this town one of the most perfect little places a person could choose to live. Oh sure, there are the absolutely addictive, velvety, lovingly prepared lattes from the Sunflower and the swoon-worthy tortillas made from scratch each morning at El Molino Central in the Springs. There are the scrumptious, yeasty, soft pretzels baked fresh in Mike’s mobile, wood-burning oven most Friday mornings and then, oh boy, there are those to-die-for duck fat fries from the Hot Box Grill.
I could ramble on all day about how much I love visiting Sonoma Valley wineries, like while sitting high up on the grassy hill at Scribe overlooking our perfect little town or simply drinking those Sonoma Valley wines…maybe with the gang at “the fig,” probably a glass of the, always divine, Atmosphere Marsanne-Roussanne in-hand. There is Sonoma Market that we cherish like a best friend and the sweetest, mind-blowing lettuces grown by Paul’s Produce and the tangy, soft serve Straus frozen yogurt generously served at Whole Food’s coffee bar. All of these things make me grateful everyday that I live in this heavenly place, although nothing is more festive, more fun, more delicious, more Sonoma than our Tuesday Night Farmer’s Market.
Nothing screams “Sonoma!” more than the Tuesday Night Farmer’s Market and I know everyone must be as excited as I am that it is that time of year again. The first official Market of 2012 was this past Tuesday, May 1. Yay! For more information on this season’s vendors and entertainment, be sure to visit the Valley of the Moon Certified Farmer’s Market website at vomcfm.com. I hope to see you there!
On The Menu
On Sunday, May 20, from 4 to 6 p.m. Ramekins is hosting Patricia Curtan for a book signing and conversation with the author to celebrate her new book, “Menus from Chez Panisse.” Patricia began hand-printing menus for the restaurant while employed as a cook in the Chez Panisse kitchen. In “Menus for Chez Panisse” Curtan presents four decades of menus including dinners for special guests Julia Child and James Beard, with notes on the occasions, art and the food. Chef Michael Emmanuel, another Chez Panisse alumni and a good friend of Patricia’s, will be on-hand to offer bites and nibbles inspired by Chez Panisse menus with ingredients from Ramekins’ Fifth Street Farms. Tickets are $49. Call Ramekins to make your necessary reservations at 933.0450.
• Slow Food Sonoma Valley hosts a “Potluck Dinner” at the Grange for members, prospective members or those of you who would simply like more information about the organization on Monday, May 14, from 6 to 9 p.m. During this festive, foodie gathering the group will discuss their upcoming projects and events while sharing a wonderful meal. Guests should try to r.s.v.p. to email@example.com and bring a food item to share that is preferably locally sourced or produced. The Grange is located at 18627 Sonoma Highway in the Springs. For more information on Slow Food, visit slowfoodsonomavalley.com.
• Another “Dining Club Rive Gauche” dinner will be held at the Grange on May 9. This month, experience the “Cuisine of Morocco” with belly dance superstar Nathalie Tedrick and a menu consisting of lamb Tagine, chick pea cous cous, a Moroccan salad sampler, and much more. The dinner is $35, b.y.o.b. and reservations are required by calling 996.0900.
What’s cooking Sonoma?
Truly exciting news: the Fremont Diner is now open much later than usual. The atmospheric, roadside eatery will now be serving up their fun, farm-fresh, Wine Country fare daily until 6 p.m. If that news weren’t exciting enough, they are also offering happy hour pricing with $1 off beer and wine from 3 until 6 p.m. • Glen Ellen Star has announced their opening date to be May 18! I have been eagerly anticipating the opening of this new restaurant, featuring a chic-rustic decor and skillfully prepared wood-fired cuisine from Chef Ari Weiswasser and Erin Benziger-Weiswasser. I was fortunate enough to attend a practice dinner last month and I promise you, the food, atmosphere and wine program are all bound to be fabulous. I promise to give you a full report on the deliciousness when they’re open! Check out their website for a sample menu at glenellenstar.com. • Last week, Sonoma’s Best launched a fun, warm weather project named “Hot Diggity Dog.” They now offer a delicious selection of prepared artisan hot dogs and sausages everyday with names like the “Mutt” or the “Italian Dog.” Each week, a special dog will be created and named after a member of the Sonoma community. The combinations and toppings are fresh, unique and often homemade and would make a scrumptious lunch or snack – for merely $3 to $6 each – particularly when paired with a local beer or glass of wine. Be sure to save room for one of Addie’s monstrous chocolate chip cookies and a perfectly prepared Blue Bottle latte. Sonoma’s Best is located on East Napa Street at Eighth. Call 996.7600 for all the details.
Thai Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango
Makes 8 servings for dessert or a snack
This Thai treat is a favorite of our group each week at the Tuesday Farmer’s Market prepared by the talented chef at the Issan booth.
3 cups sticky rice, soaked overnight in water or thin coconut milk and drained
2 cups canned or fresh coconut milk
3/4 cup palm sugar, or substitute brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 ripe mangoes
Steam the sticky rice until tender. Meanwhile, place the coconut milk in a heavy pot and heat over medium heat until hot. Do not boil. Add the sugar and salt and stir to dissolve completely.
When the sticky rice is tender, turn it out into a bowl and pour 1 cup of the hot coconut milk over; reserve the rest. Stir to mix the liquid into the rice, then let stand for 20 minutes to an hour to allow the flavors to blend. Peel and slice the mangoes. To serve, place an oval mound of sticky rice on each dessert plate and place a sliced half-mango decoratively beside it. Stir the remaining sweetened coconut milk thoroughly, transfer to a small serving bowl or cruet, and pass it separately, with a spoon, so guests can spoon on extra as they wish.
Kristin Jorgensen 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 blogging daily as the Cook at thecardiganandcook.com or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.