Restaurants & Bars

trip to Sonoma

Sharuf | Jul 3, 2002 12:09 PM

This is sort of a continuation of a thread of a few days ago on what to see in downtown Sonoma.

Yesterday I, my sweetie Mr. B, and his daughter Ms. P who is a professional chef in Silicon Valley, went for a daytrip to visit his sister and roam around a bit.

We went to the VELLA CHEESE FACTORY, famous for its dry aged jack cheese (Sonoma's answer to parmesan). It's in a marvelous old brick building - originally a brewery - tucked away on 2nd street behind a pasture containing a couple of huge draft horses. Ms. P hadn't heard of Vella and was quite taken with the place, so she bought some cheeses to take back home. Sweetie and I were reminiscing about the good old days when you could get cheese for cheap there before Sonoma price inflation came rolling in.

Then we went looking for the revived SONOMA SAUSAGE FACTORY. Found it in a courtyard just off the square on the East side. It is owned by one of the partners of the previous sausage factory plus a new partner. The place is smaller than the predecessor with about half as much merchandise and no longer had the earlier Mittel-Europa character. They offered such diverse things as andouille, bangers, Portuguese, chicken with coconut and several other choices.

I was eager to see if they still had Schweitzer bockwurst. They didn't. They had a weisswurst that was a mixture of veal and pork (which in my opinion is a bastardization - either make honest pork bratwurst or make veal sausage without cheap pork extender.)

The salesperson was saying that the place was hard for folks to find, and that they could expand their line when business picked up. I felt their problem was they didn't know who they were, and if they were more focused and had one product that they did superbly well - like Vella has with their jack cheese - they could be famous and successful.

They were selling sausage sandwiches for $4. The doggies were cooking on one of those roller things which can't deal with curved sausages in natural casings, so the eat out of hand choice was limited to franks of the proper roller-configuration.

On the salesperson's recommendation, I bought a package of Hawaiian Portuguese sausage ($6/lb).

Finally, we dropped by the RAMEKINS cooking school, located just past the General's Daughter restaurant on Spain Street, several blocks west of the square. The front door is off the back parking lot, and it looked like nothing was going on. Mr. B went inside and picked up a brochure which told us it was a cooking school for home chefs, and also a 6-room B and B.

When we got to Sonoma around noon, it looked like the tourist season had hit in a big way, with cars cruising and lurking for parking spots. When we went out in mid-afternoon there was no parking problem. I suspect, however, you wouldn't want to be there on the Fourth. Or on weekends. Or during hot weather.

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