We had really enjoyed our time visiting Petaluma and hitting the Cheese Trail, which was a great time. But, all things must come to an end, and it was time head back to SFO. But not before the really friendly cat came by to bid us farewell.
I'd planned a single stop on the way to the airport and we decided to getting Dim Sum at Zen Peninsula which had been recommended to us. A big plus was it was basically on the way to the airport. The small parking lot is quite odd here, since the dining room is one of those cavernous dim sum places.
We were hungry and ended up ordering way too much food....well, it didn't seem to be a lot when we ordered, but the portion sizes seemed quite large.
We were also quite surprised at how slowly this place filled up....a slow trickle of people. The place wasn't even full when we left at 1145. Anyway, on to the food.
The Missus enjoyed the Chicken Feet.
This was decently flavored, good soy, fermented black bean, but nothing special. Still, it was toe-sucking goodness to the Missus.
The Gailan was under-cooked; very crunchy, lacking in flavor.
The flavor of the Pork Neck was nice; sweet and savory.
But the Missus didn't care for the almost crunchy texture of it.
The portion size of the Soy Sauce Noodles was quite large.
This was ok if a bit too salty.
The Missus saw Turnip Cake with XO Sauce and automatically thought it would be like Sea Harbour.
No such luck Chuck. The flavor was on the milder side and the radish cake a bit too mushy for our taste. Still, not bad. One funny thing; we didn't want to waste food so ended up taking this on our flight.......nothing like the smell of XO sauce on Virgin America!
I saw the Mustard Steamed Pork Intestine and decided I needed to try it. It was very fragrant, and the "sauce" tasted good, though I wasn't a big fan of all the scum.
And while there were some bits that looked like part of the Piggy's last meal floating around; the pungency of the dish masked all of that. This also added to the pungency of our carry-on....I really felt bad. In fact, I made sure not to buy any washed rind cheeses so as to not bother other passengers.....and here I was bringing pork intestine along for the flight. Luckily, no one sat around us and the flight was relatively empty. I didn't see anyone sniffing around wondering "what the heck is that smell"......
One last item I wanted to try was the Duck Liver Sausage Bun. Think ducky lapcheong.
While I felt the steamed bun could have been a bit lighter....it seemed to be getting gummy pretty quickly; I liked the flavor. The Missus's Shandong roots betrayed Her as She declared this way too sweet.
In spite of what you might think upon reading to this point; this was a decent dim sum meal; nothing spectacular, but still better, and cheaper than San Diego. Of course the Missus wanted to head to the SGV as soon as we got home.
Zen Peninsula 1180 El Camino Real Millbrae, CA 94030
We finished lunch a bit earlier than expected, so I decided to head over to Burlingame. I'd heard that one of the Tea Shops also made tea infused chocolates. After finding a parking spot, which was a lot more difficult than I anticipated, then wandering around a bit....the shop isn't the easiest place to find....we got to Rue Du Thé , which I believe is also named Leland Tea Company.
Really friendly folks. And while not on the same level....according to the Missus as Wine Country Chocolates, She did enjoy what She selected. Especially the chili infused chocolates.
Rue Du Thé 1223 Donnelly Ave Burlingame, CA 94010
We really enjoyed our short trip to the Bay Area. In fact, the Missus is already planning a return....for more cheese!
We did make one more stop in the late afternoon; Petaluma Creamery.
The focus of this shop is more geared toward ice cream and the café.
After our afternoon nap, we strolled back to downtown Petaluma, passing all those lovely Victorian houses.
Where D street meets 4th street is Walnut Park. We were visiting in October and from May thru November, Walnut Park hosts a Farmer's Market.
We had made the mile-and-a-half walk in record time....thanks to the ahem, the Missus's encouragement. So we took a nice break.
Would you believe that the Missus bought 2 pounds of apples? Which we brought back with us to San Diego?
We also saw what might be the cutest and most chubby, little pony.....
Petaluma Saturday Afternoon Farmer's Market Saturday from 2:00 pm-5:30 pm May though November Walnut Park Petaluma Blvd and D Street Petaluma, CA
We were still early for dinner, so we walked around Petaluma for a while.
Our dinner destination? A restaurant named Risibisi. I liked the menu, Italian with regional NoCal touches, which uses local ingredients.
We were seated in a cozy corner. The place filled up really quickly!
The service was polished and very professional, no complaints from us.
I sent Candice a text after ordering my Aperitif, joking that I must have been channeling her when I ordered a Negroni. The Missus had a Pinot Noir.
We started with the Tomato and Burrata.
The tomatoes were very good; nice acid, the flavor textbook perfect. The Burrata was creamy, slightly milky, walking arm in arm with the tomato and the flavor of the Olive Oil. The Missus actually preferred this version to what we had at Central Market the night before. She believed that the flavors were more on target and true to the ingredients. I was on the fence. The tomatoes in this dish had much more flavor, but I enjoyed the umph the anchovy and the peppery olive oil added to the dish at CM. Still, there's no denying, this was quite good.
The Watermelon Salad ($12) was a wonderful combination of flavors and textures.
The Hazelnut Vinaigrette was mild, but added just blended in nicely into the symphony of flavors. Watermelon and arugula playing well together! If anything, I'd have enjoyed a bit more pecorino to add a bit more savory-milky-salty tones to the salad. But this was very enjoyable.
Sweet Corn Risotto ($18).
I'm still looking for "that" risotto.....the usual restaurant style par cooked version, that excels. This one really didn't have the texture I enjoy. The corn added a nice sweetness, the pancetta and pecorino adding the salty tones to balance things out.
The Gnocchi Wild Boar ($18) was delicious. While the risotto fell short in texture, this was so good. The gnocchi was just firm enough, waiting to be eaten to start melting into the ether.
The wild boar was tasty, adding a nice richness to the ragu, which seemed simple, but full of flavor. An excellent dish!
The Missus had Her new favorite dessert; an Affogato. She asked if they would replace the vanilla ice cream with hazelnut ice cream which they gladly did. I had a Tawny Port, which proved to be a nice digestif. Man, we got get back to Porto one of these days.
We had a very nice meal at Risibisi. In fact, the Missus said that while the best dish of the trip was the Pork Confit from Central Market, She thought that our meal at Risibisi was better overall. It's a nice dilemma to have and one I'd gladly like to repeat again....have a dinner at Central Market, then at Risibisi....
Risibisi Restaurant 154 Petaluma Blvd N Petaluma, CA 94952
We really enjoyed our time in Petaluma and I'm sure we'll return someday...especially when the Missus is itching for some cheese! I do have one more post from this trip coming up....I'll try to get it done soon.
We arrived at the modest roadside factory/shop of Nicasio Valley Cheese a bit before they opened.
We were able to pass the fifteen minutes or so before the shop opened by wandering though the Pumpkin Patch......yes, it's that time of the year. Watching the kids take to the hay made us realize that this lifestyle is a million miles away from what we're used to.
When the shop opened we walked on over. The space is rather small, the staff enthusiastic, if not particularly well versed on the cheese. Nicasio makes cow milk cheeses. I had read that the style of cheese here is based on the traditional cheeses of the Lafranchi families Swiss heritage.
They so a nice job of lining the samples from the mildest to the semi-soft and flavored versions.
The Foggy Morning, was probably our favorite, very soft and mild, buttery, with a slight tang like a mellow sour cream. It also won first place in the Fromage Blanc, Fromage Frais, and Quark category in the American Cheese Society's Annual Competition. We could tell however, that this would not travel well.
Instead, we went with our second favorite. The wonderfully textured, mild salty-tangy flavored San Geronimo. The fragrance is rather strong, but the flavor is quite tame. A nice everyday cheese.
Folks are quite friendly, it's a nice little stop.
Nicasio Valley Cheese Company 5300 Nicasio Valley Rd Nicasio, CA 94946
A short drive away is a place that's much more of a destination; the Marin French Cheese Company. It's also the oldest continuously operating creamery in the United States; established in 1865.
They don't mess around with samples here....you open the top and slice your own.
The Missus enjoyed the shop....there's a stand selling sandwiches and coffee; the cooler is stocked with beverages; wine, sparkling wine, etc....
The young lady manning the counter was quite knowledgeable. We enjoyed a few of the samples , but thought they'd never make it back home in good shape. She told us that all the bries and camemberts will easily last 24 hours without refrigeration.
We ended buying a little insulated bag for cheese and picked up the truffle brie, not a big fan of flavored cheeses, but the Missus loves Her truffle. Plus, we were putting together a collection for Missus' work....She was going to do a cheese tasting upon returning. We both really took to the "Petit Breakfast", a wonderfully mild, but particularly creamy cheese. It's currently labeled as the "1865" in commemoration of Marin Cheese's 150th anniversary.
If you're in the area; this might be a nice stop for a short break or lunch.....
The Marin French Cheese Company 7510 Pt Reyes Petaluma Rd Petaluma, CA 94952
We, on the other hand, had to be off to our next stop, which was about 40 minutes away on the outskirts of Santa Rosa.
Down, off the beaten path outside Santa Rosa you'll find this sign alongside a single lane unpaved road. This is not one of those impulse stop kind of places you see while driving by. It was also our favorite stop on this day.......there's a real charm to this place which was founded by Joe and Mary Matos who relocated from the Azores in the 70's. Joe Matos is a fifth generation cheesemaker who brought his family's recipe with him.
At the end of the gravel road you basically come to a barn and what looks like the back of a house.....
As I parked in front of the "office" a young lady working in the barn area came over and opened the door to the office for us. Upon entering the wonderful fragrance of cheese met us.
Matos Cheese makes one cheese; a nice simple firm cheese called St George. It's much like everything you see around you; simple at first blush, but it rises above, a good, honest, everyday cheese, lighly milky, slightly acidic, not too sharp...that well; I'd eat everyday if I could.
The friendly young lady let me check out the drying room....I loved it! I asked about the cows we had passed...and yes, these were all of their cows. At peak they produce about 10-15 wheels in a day. The young lady said Joe Matos is happy with doing things this way. And really isn't interested in expanding or being famous.
And we got hang out with truly "happy cows".....
I wonder how many wheels, this not-so-little lady will put out?
Matos Cheese Factory 3669 Llano Rd Santa Rosa, CA 95407
I know I haven't mentioned this before....but the prices are quite inexpensive...like 40-60% less than what you'd pay for the same product here in San Diego.
So, we were in Santa Rosa and had two places on our list. Unfortunately, we went oh fer two. The first stop, a Chocolatier named Recherche Du Plaisir was closed for the day because they were at some fair. The second was the Russian River Brewing tasting room......but when we drove by, the line was all the way down the street....this was not going to do.
So we ended up going to the local Whole Foods, grabbing some salad, bread, and a beer and headed back to Petaluma. We ended up having a very nice lunch....that's the St George, which we almost polished off.
So if you're in the Marin - Sonoma area and want a break from your wine tasting....why not visit a couple of stops on the cheese trail. You can find up to date info here.
We had a blast.
It was now time for a nice afternoon nap...then off to dinner!
Our one full day in Marin - Sonoma County was going to be a rather busy. Instead of doing what most folks here would do (wineries), we went after some cheese.
But first, breakfast. We headed to Old Town Petaluma, which looked quite sleepy.....
And headed to a place our good friend Candice recommended for breakfast named Della Frattoria. Part bakery, coffee shop, and brunch stop, we enjoyed the atmosphere, and the folks here are quite friendly.
The coffee was decent and the brunch menu was nice, lots of bread (duh) based items. While there were many tempting options, the Missus and I aren't keen on huge breakfasts. Especially if we have a busy day ahead of us. I did see something I thought we'd both enjoy, which I hadn't seen since we were on Malta, a sandwich made with an Italian style flatbread called a piadina. The sandwich seemed like more than enough for the two of us and we were willing to pay the split plate charge of three bucks, but the really nice young man said, "why don't you just order the sandwich and I'll bring you an extra plate....it's already cut in half. that way you won't have to waste three bucks." Nice folks, eh?
It was all the great breakfast suspects plus the addition of arugula which balanced things out. It's that bread that really made this sandwich.....closer to a "fry bread", than a piadina, it was really nice and crisp, and really good. Just enough for the both of us.
Della Fattoria 141 Petaluma Blvd N Petaluma, CA 94952 Hours: Open Daily 7am - 3pm
We then headed off to our first stop for the day, over to Point Reyes Station, parking our car on the street. The town is very quaint and seemed like a favorite stop of bicycle folks, who were taking a carb break along the street.
On Saturday mornings, Toby's Feed Barn turns into the Point Reyes Farmer's Market.
It's a cute little Farmer's Market, with a quaint small town feel. I love the vibe.
The main reason we drove here was because one of our favorite domestic cheesemakers; Cowgirl Creamery is located here. We started at the booth at the Farmer's Market.......where the woman working seemed quite uninterested in talking about the cheese and just really wanted to give out samples. Perhaps she hadn't gotten her morning coffee yet.....
We did enjoy Toby's Feed Barn though....which actually is a feed barn.....
But these days also a really cool store and art gallery......
Point Reyes Farmer’s Market at Toby’s Feed Barn 11250 Hwy 1 Point Reyes Station, CA 94956 Hours: Saturday 9am - 1pm
Not having had great luck at the Farmer's Market, we headed down the street to Tomales Bay Food where Cowgirl Creamery's Shop is located.
Unfortunately, even though the sign said open (920 am Saturday morning)....no one wanted to acknowledge my existence......
Since I really didn't think I should have to hail the young lady standing behind the counter considering I was the only person in the place as well as standing in front of the cheese case a few feet from her....yes, I did have questions....and yes, I wanted to learn something about that Red Hawk we enjoy so much. But it was not to be.
Tomales Bay Foods 80 4th St Point Reyes Station, CA 94956
Point Reyes Station is a cute little town and Cowgirl Creamery makes some of our favorite cheese.....however......well, I'll just leave that be. We were off to have more cheese.
After lunch in Sonoma we drove over to Petaluma and the apartment we'd be staying in. So glad it had A/C as it was pretty hot out.
We loved the location, about a mile and a half from downtown Petaluma, we would get some exercise walking to and from dinner. A big plus were the lovely Victorian homes that lined the streets on our walk to and from dinner.
Even those homes that were sort of ranch or adobe style had their own unique touches......I loved this front yard.
We really enjoyed walking down "D" and "B" streets.
Petaluma's historic downtown is quite charming. The city was once called the "Egg Capitol of the World" and this is where Lyman Byce perfected the Egg Incubator. It was also the agricultural crossroads for Marin and Sonoma counties. The downtown area still has a stately, but also a "cow town/agricultural" kind of feel. And it's home to two other important "names"; Mesa Boogie and Leo Laporte.
When deciding on dinner; the name "Central Market" kept coming up. Even by Leo Laporte! After reading about the "farm to table", made from scratch philosophy, this seemed like a perfect fit for dinner in what was once the agricultural center of the area.
Loved the space with its high ceilings. The place was fairly empty when we arrived but filled up quickly. Our Server, Ashley was the perfect balance between polished, professional, and friendly. The feel was up-market, yet
casual, with folks in everything from jackets to shorts and sandals. I believe they call their style "Cali-terranean" or something like that.
Now call me a terrible Food Blogger for not photographing the wine....we had the Sauvignon Blanc from Six Sigma Vineyards with our starters and salads and the Cuvee, and really nice red blend with our main.
And then there were the Pork Cracklins ($6.50).
Very light and crisp, not overly salted, with enough paprika to give it a wonderful smokiness.
We liked the Fresh Burrata with Beefsteak Tomatoes with Capers and Anchovy Dressing ($12.50)
As one would expect, the tomatoes were quite meaty, but we'd probably have enjoyed them having a bit more flavor and acid. The combination of Burrata Cheese, the deeply savory anchovy, added with restraint, and the peppery and grassy olive oil was quite a hit.
The Farm Chicory Salad ($11) was nice.
While it was bit too "lukewarm" for our tastes; the fennel and the olives, lifted this from being just another ho-hum salad.
The Missus loves Her Beets, so the Red Beets - Cherry Tomato - Cucumber Salad ($9.50) was a must have.
This was a well put together dish, the cucumbers and arugula made it for me. I thought the pesto clashed with the Greek yogurt dressing, but there were no complaints from the Missus.
Without a doubt; the best single dish we had on this trip was the special for the day; the Pork Confit.
The pork was just simple perfection, crisp on the exterior, moist and just firm enough, not falling to pieces interior. It was also so very "porcine" in flavor and went really well with the refried beans, in lieu of the what would normally probably be mashed potatoes, was a very pleasant surprise as I'd never have thought of that combination. Which tasted really great with the pork. The demi-glace was also very good, not overly salty. The Missus was smitten with how light and crunchy those onion rings were.
Dessert? Well, the Missus has a new favorite, as She loved the Affogato.
Call it fire and ice; espresso poured over ice cream. The Missus just loved this, the best of both worlds as it were.
Me, I was still feeling the heat and wanted some liquid refreshment for the walk back to our apartment. I decided to get something light and refreshing and the Scrimshaw Pilsner from North Coast Brewing Company (Ft Bragg) filled the bill.
We really enjoyed our meal at Central Market. All the dishes were at the least "solid", prepared well, and the service was the best we had on our trip. The space is very warm and welcoming and we'd gladly eat here again. And that pork was just amazingly perfect.
Plus, I loved this sign above the men's urinals.....
Central Market 42 Petaluma Blvd N Petaluma, CA 94952
We were really enjoying the vibe here......
We walked back to the apartment and headed off to bed. Tomorrow was going to be a fairly long day....lots to do. There was that Cheese Trail thing after all.....
I thought it quite a coincidence, Ed from Yuma told me he and Tina had just returned from Sonoma and had a post ready. I mentioned that we headed in that direction in just a couple weeks. Ed and Tina both enjoy nice wines, so a trip to Sonoma made perfect sense. So what were we after? Well, cheese of course! We'd been enjoying various Northern California Cheeses for a while and while doing a bit of research, I came across the Sonoma Cheese Trail and soon enough I was looking for flights and accommodations. In the end, we flew Virgin America, and really enjoyed the service....and ended up staying at an AirBnB in Petaluma. The drive up from SFO was nice, the Missus always gets a kick driving on the Golden Gate Bridge. Since we couldn't check in until later in the day, we headed straight away to Sonoma......man, it was pretty darn hot when we arrived.
Things went off the rails a bit when we found that the place we had planned on having lunch at; the Epicurean Connection had closed and we had to find a Plan B. Which turned out to be right on Sonoma Square named OSO. The name hit home since "Oso" in Spanish means "bear" and for some reason this brought me back to our recent trip to Madrid and El Oso y el Madroño, The Bear and the Strawberry Tree, Madrid's Coat of Arms.
The place had a very relaxed vibe, our Server, who asked us to forgive any small errors because she was in training was perfect. The menu featured some small plates, salads, a burger, salmon, and the like.
The Missus enjoyed Her Cucumber Gimlet, which was very clean tasting and refreshing. I had a Orange Mule, the ginger beer did the same for me.
We started with the Little Gem Salad ($8).
Simply dressed, very petite, the Missus loved the beets. I thought the pistachios were a nice touch.
Without a doubt, the best item we had were the Deviled Eggs ($10).
The filling was perfect, light, with just the right amount of curry to enhance and lift the flavor of the yolks. The paprika added a touch of smokiness....and the crown jewel was the sweet crab that topped the eggs. The Missus loves Her eggs....and She really enjoyed this.
The Mole Braised Pork Shoulder Tacos ($14), left something to be desired.
The mole negro was very bland and mild, something that a mole should not be. The pork was dry and the centers cold. The tortillas rapidly fell apart.
Overall, a decent start to our couple of days in the area. We enjoyed the vibe, casual, relaxed, and the friendly service.
OSO Sonoma 9 E Napa St Sonoma, CA 95476
Our next stop was right up the street. Tucked into a small shopping arcade. Blink and you might miss the sign.
Belgium really made the Missus into a chocolate lover, so this was a nice stop for us.
The place was doing some great business.
The Missus had a few tastes and made Her selections. I saw Her having one the other day and She told me they are quite enjoyable. I believe the chocolates are actually made in Glen Ellen.
Wine Country Chocolates 414 1st St E Sonoma, CA 95476
We headed away from Sonoma Plaza, a few blocks North and found the actual reason we decided to stop in Sonoma; Vella Cheese Company.
Located in the old Sonoma Brewing Company Building which was built in 1904. When prohibition hit, Gaetano Vella took over the building to make cheese in 1931.
Vella Cheese is known for their "dry jack" a Monterey Jack styled cheese that is aged for 7-10 months. We ended up having a nice round of tastings and decided that it was the Mezzo Secco that we enjoyed the best.
"Mezzo Secco" means "half dry" and this version of Jack cheese is aged from 4-7 months. It's nicely neutral with nicely balanced nutty-grassy-milky flavors. It tastes great solo. It's also fairly hardy and would make the trip back to San Diego with no problem.
Vella Cheese Company 315 2nd St E Sonoma, CA 95476
On the way back to the car we ran into this rather friendly guy....
In spite of the little "hiccup" at the beginning; things were turning out well. We were happy to get back to the car though.....the temp in the car read 97 and we were happy for some AC. Next up...we were off to Petaluma.
mmm-yoso!!! is a food and travel blog centered in San Diego. Most often Kirk posts here, and Cathy also posts alot, but since they are busy with other things, today you get to read something by Ed (from Yuma) who wants to let you know that he borrowed some of the photos from Tina.
The day before attending her family's annual cookout in Cotati, Tina and I found ourselves in the center of the old town of Sonoma, California. Some buildings date from Mexican colonial times:
That one reminds me of several structures in Monterey, a city that also preserves a lot of mid-19th century buildings.
From a different era, here's the old theater from 1933 which has a strangely familiar name:
And in the middle of this district of historic buildings, shops, tasting rooms, and restaurants is a beautiful park, Sonoma Plaza, including a nice fountain:
Lots of shady places to sit and picnic on a warm summer afternoon:
But we were hungry when we got to town, so our first goal was to find La Salette, a restaurant specializing in modern Portuguese cuisine. It's kind of hidden at the end of the walkway at 452 1st St. East:
Though there was a nice indoor area, we opted for one of the outdoor tables under an umbrella on the patio:
Soon we were given two elegant little glasses that held perfectly clear tomato water, lightly accented with the smoky touch of ham. A drop of extra-virgin olive oil lay on the top and a small cube of ham and a couple of corn kernels rested at the bottom:
Looks like grappa, but it tastes like the essence of a garden ripe tomato. A true amuse bouche, a fantastic start to the meal.
We soon received lightly crusted bread rolls that had a nice firm soft crumb, whipped butter, and a bottle of Pellegrino:
For our first course we chose three items from the Tasca tasting plates list, all served on a wooden cutting board. This photo shows off the tremoco-lupini beans, the slices of Serrano ham, and the rustic nutbread:
The ham was disappointingly ordinary and maybe a little dried out, but the beans were perfectly prepared, al dente – firm with a distinctive mouth feel.
This pic gives a close-up of the boquerones (white anchovies) and the almonds dusted with spicy piri piri:
The almonds were fine, but the white anchovies were the highlight on the board– concentrated ocean fish flavor with a rich creamy texture.
The gazpacho came next:
In contrast to standard California gazpachos, usually a seasoned fresh tomato vegetable purée, the kitchen at La Salette roasted tomatoes and vegetables in their wood oven before puréeing, giving their cold soup a smooth and lightly smoky sophistication.
To accompany our meals, Tina and I each had a flight of three Portuguese white wines, partly because we thought they would match the cuisine but also because we are largely unfamiliar with the white wines of Portugal:
The lightest, and most common in the US, is the fresh tasting vinho verde (on the left). In the middle is a Pomares from the Duoro Valley, a little richer with a nice floral nose. And on the right was the full flavored Esporao Reserva from Alentejo, having a higher alcohol level and a long smooth finish. In general, the wines complemented the food, and it was interesting to compare different wines with different dishes.
Our main courses were the highlights of the meal. Tina chose Sardinhas Asadas, Monterey Bay sardines flash baked in their wood oven. Each of the fish was nearly the size of a small trout, and they were lying crossways across a mound of very tasty warm sweet onion cebolada:
The preparation was remarkable. The fish were fully cooked, yet incredibly moist and flaky tender, sliding easily off the bones. Simple and exquisite, these little fish were also accompanied by a couple slices of hard-boiled egg, roasted black olives, and micro greens:
I opted for the wild caught Bluenose Sea Bass Filet lightly breaded and served on a bed of collard greens and roasted yellow corn:
The fish was excellent – fresh and perfectly cooked, and I was blown away by the collards and corn. The greens were cooked to tender crunchy and had a light touch of bitterness that balanced perfectly the roasted sweet flavor of the corn. The mouth feel of the vegetables also balanced and contrasted with the sea bass, just as the colors on the plate contrasted/balanced each other and made the dish visually appealing as well.
We came, we saw, and we ate:
The meal ended with two little balls covered with toasted coconut. It was certainly enough dessert:
We left La Salette feeling happy – and that wasn't just because of the wine. Considering the quality of the food, the excellence of the service, the tastiness of the wines, and the relaxed ambiance of the location, the price tag seemed quite reasonable:
Speaking of wines, our visit to the town of Sonoma concluded with a stop at Walt Winery:
Owned by the Hall family of Napa Valley, Walt specializes in Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs grown in cool coastal influenced vineyards in California and Oregon.
Tastings are done at tables, not standing at a bar, which allowed Tina and I to talk about the wines, our plans for the rest of the day, and anything else. That day the tastings were $30 apiece and included six different wines. First came generous pours of two Chardonnays, one a single vineyard Dutton Ranch Chardonnay and one blended from several Sonoma Vineyards. Notice also the excellent stemware:
The four Pinot Noirs were likewise served two at a time, allowing Tina and I to try one and then the other and notice their similarities and differences. We enjoyed all of the wines. Here is the tasting menu at the time of our visit:
We sat around Walt slowly sipping and then walked around the Plaza for a considerable time, really enjoying Sonoma and the warm afternoon and our leisurely pace. Contentment.