Saturday afternoon found me in Forestville in the center of the Russian River Valley for the open house at Scherrer winery (not open for public tasting). All nine wines previewed for tasting were lovely. The ones to seek out are the 2000 Helfer Russian River Valley Chardonnay, 2000 Hirsch Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, and when theyre released next spring, 2001 Shale Terrace Alexander Valley Zin and 2001 Old & Mature Vines Alexander Valley Zin (both tasted from barrel).
With the start of the local Gravenstein apple season, I had a craving for the first fresh Gravenstein apple pie of the year. I checked with friends I ran into at the winery on local favorites, and both steered me away from Moms Apple Pies to Village Bakery in Sebastopol. Then we realized that Kozlowski Farms was practically next door, so I headed over there instead. Its located approximately where the 116 is on the map below on the west side of the highway.
Instead of a whole pie, I opted for an apple tart ($3) that was a hefty hand-pie in the shape of a half-moon with a thick fluted edge. The apple filling had the lovely complexity and intensity of flavor that Gravensteins are famous for. This had a bit more gluey starch holding it together than I would like, but maybe the physics of hand-pies demands this. The crust had a substantial feel and firmness to the bite.
I continued north on my way to Covey Rd. (the short cut to River Road, approximately the e in Forestville on the map), and decided to stop at this corner at Carrs Drive-In for dinner. It had been at least 5 years since Ive had a burger at this Forestville oldtimer. It's still the same river mud brown with the frayed interior and a couple tables outside. Too bad Id over snacked on the Taleggio, Old Amsterdam Gouda, garlicky roast leg of lamb, and baguettes offered as palate cleansers at Scherrer because I would have ordered a real milkshake and a 1/4 pounder from here if Id been emptier. So I went for the regular cheese burger ($2.35) and fries ($1.10). All the fixings on the burger were fine toasted non-airball sesame seed bun, fresh shredded iceburg, sliced pickles, grilled onions, American cheese, thick-cut tomatoes but the patty itself was feeble. Maybe a 1/4 pounder would show better. But the fries were as good as the memory - thinly cut, golden brown, very crisp and tasty and could put plenty of fancy places to shame.
Life is good.
Kozlowski Farms [Sonoma County]
5566 Gravenstein Hwy.
1.800.473.2767 or 707.887.1587
Carrs Drive-In [Sonoma County
]6533 Covey Road
P.S. If youre attending the Gravenstein Apple Fair next weekend, plan an alternate route in case traffic on Hwy. 12 and 116 backs up, e.g., approaching from the east on Occidental Road.
P.P.S. Started out the morning at the Healdsburg farmers market delighted to run into local hounds Mark B and Louise. The heirloom roses were especially beautiful in country bouquets. Were in fig hiatus right now, waiting for the second crop to ripen in the fall. Bought some luscious tomatoes Cherokees and Mortgage Lifters; also some sweet and juicy Fantasia nectarines from Dry Creek Peachs stand garlic cheese curd from Springhill, cling peaches, English cucumbers, heirloom zucchini, and a sharlyn melon.