Finding Bodega Bay so overrun with visitors on Sunday afternoon that it was impossible to get off the jam-packed coastal route to park and get out of the car, I turned south to visit the hamlet of Valley Ford, the southwest tip of Sonoma County. Dinucci's Italian Dinners still reigns after more than three generations. The Valley Ford Hotel is closed for renovation and will reopen with a new restaurant, Rocker Oysterfeller's.
I parked in front of the vintage filling station decorated with ancient food and beverage advertising shown here.
A sandwich board sign on the sidewalk promotes "homemade sausages" at Valley Ford Market a couple doors down.
Valley Ford Market, the town's general store, sports a well-stocked meat counter featuring choice grade beef and local poultry. Here's what the meat specials posted on both sides of the front entrance looked like.
If I'd felt more ambitious, I might have opted for the fresh rabbit. But this time the homemade sausages (German bratwurst, Italian, Linguica, or Polish for $5.99 per pound) appealed to my lazy side. Inside, I was pleased to see that these were raw, fresh sausages. Not pre-cooked, not smoked, and not frozen, and I confirmed with the woman behind the counter that they were made here. She said that Dennis, the owner, makes them himself. I bought one each of the Bratwurst and Italian to try. Two plump links set me back $3.75.
I pan-roasted them on two successive mornings for my breakfast. The Italian and Bratwurst are both excellent, finely spiced with a light cure and very satisfying texture. The fresh meaty taste is what sets them apart from more commercial production. The Italian sausage has no fennel. I'm especially taken with the Bratwurst and the juicy roundness of the flavor.
For those just passing through on the way to Bodega Bay or in need of more immediate gratification, the deli counter at Valley Ford Market offers hot homemade sausage sandwiches for four bucks or so. It has a full selection of cold cuts (e.g., Molinari brand salami), sandwich fixings, and local cheeses from Bellwether Farms, Vella and Spring Hill to put together a picnic basket.
Next Stop: Sebastopol BBQ: Bill's Farm Basket and Locomotion -
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