My family went up to Sonoma on Friday to cash in on our holiday present to ourselves (we give ourselves a family present each Christmas/Chanukah.) This year's present was a sausage making class taught by Bruce Aidells at Ramekin's in Sonoma (www.ramekins.com). We had a ball. I highly recommend this cooking school! We made, and got to take home, New Mexico pork and chicken sausage, Kentucky pork breakfast sausage and Italian sun-dried tomato chicken sausage. This was a hands-on class and it was loads of fun.
The class was at night but we drove up in the late morning so that we could do a bit of chowhounding. First we went to Wildflour Bakery in Freestone because I had read the following link on Chowhound:
[BROKEN LINK REMOVED]
The breads are fabulous!!!! They bake some of the best breads I've ever tasted. Highly recommended.
We then went to Lucy's Cafe in Sebastopol. More good breads and a good lunch (actually mine could have been better -- they overcooked my hamburger -- they comped me french fries, though -- I didn't want to wait for another one to be cooked.) John and Becky loved their choices -- cauliflower and potato soup followed by a pork roast sandwich for John and a grilled chicken and cheese sandwich for Becky). All the lunches were served with a nice salad and the fries were very good.
We then drove into Sonoma and went to Vella Cheese to pick up some of their wonderful cheeses. We got some Toma, a creamy cow's milk cheese, raw milk sharp cheddar, a semi-dry jack that has lots of flavor, and some of their excellent Asiago. We also picked up a pound of their nice butter -- it's only sold their -- it's very fresh. However, it's lightly salted. Good for everyday use.
Then, we walked around the square in Sonoma and had a pleasant surprise. One of our favorite food purveyors is back in business after a long time away from the square. Sonoma Sausage makes some of the best sausages I've ever tasted. They used to be on Highway 12 and later moved to the square in Sonoma. Then, suddenly, they were gone. I heard that the original folks sold the business and the new folks couldn't make a go of it. Well, the original owners are back and they have a new shop just off the square at 414 First Street East (behind the Sonoma Wine Shop.) We love their hot beer sausage, Hawaiian Portuguese sausage (outstanding!!), ham, etc.,etc. I was so happy to see this place, that I almost shouted out loud. Again, highly recommended!!
We finished our little food trip with a visit to the Sonoma Market, a very good small supermarket. By the way, they carry many of Vella and Sonoma Sausage products. Here's a link to their website :
I guess the same people own this market and one in Glen Ellen. There's info re both of these markets on the website.
Anyway, it was quite a good chowhounding day.
And, by the way, we were so happy with our experience at Ramekin's that we've already signed up for a dim sum making class on May 4th. It's being taught by Joyce Jue.