My daughter and I had a lot of fun in Sonoma this past Saturday. We took a class at Ramekins, the wonderful cooking school, in which we learned to "pull" mozzarella cheese from curd. We made balls of mozzarella and little balls of the cheese surrounding egg yolks or cherry tomatoes. The class was taught by Cat Cora, executive chef of Postino, the wonderful Lafayette restaurant that's been discussed many times on this board. You may also have seen her on the Food Network ("Melting Pot," "My Country, My Kitchen"). She's a great teacher and the class was really good. We made individual pizzas with the fresh mozzarella and our choice of other topping ingredients: roasted garlic, infused oils that she showed use how to make, heirloom tomatoes, San Daniele proscuitto, roasted peppers, porcini mushrooms, fresh basil leaves, roasted pepper paste, grated Parmagiano. Then we all tasted each other's pizzas with a couple of glasses of wine, beer, or soft drinks. A really fun day!
We also went to a couple of other places in Sonoma. We stopped in at the excellent Sonoma Market and bought some Artisan country sourdough batards (these have a bit of whole wheat in them and are really excellent) and some Vella cheeses (they carry the whole line) that aren't always available in the city -- Toma, a creamy cheese that I haven't seen in San Francisco and the raw milk sharp cheddar, great in mac and cheese. We also picked up some Sonoma Sausage there -- the hot beer sausage and the Hawaiian Portuguese. They have a large selection of these sausages in the store. This market is a great place to go if you don't have the time to stop at individual artisan food purveyors -- they carry lots of different producers' products. It's also a great place to stop to get prepared foods and good wine or beer for a picnic in the Wine Country. On weekends (and maybe during the week -- haven't been there on weekdays) they grill meats outside and sell them by the pound.
We also went to "The Patch," a produce stand right across the street from Vella Cheese. They have some of the freshest produce (it's growing right next to the stand) available -- wonderful corn (in two weeks or so, the exceptional yellow corn will be ready -- now they're just selling white corn), squash, potatoes, etc. Honor system -- there's a box for payment.
Finally, before the class (it was at 3:00 in the afternoon) we went for lunch at Juanita, Juanita's, a little Mexican restaurant with killer green salsa and thick crispy chips and very good burritos, tacos, and plates -- chicken with chipotle cream sauce, carne asada, etc. Seven good beers on tap. This place is cash only, so go to the atm first.
Here are links to the places I've described:
Sonoma Market: http://www.sonoma-glenellenmkt.com/
Juanita Juanita: http://www.juanitajuanita.com
Vella Cheese: http://www.vellacheese.com
Sonoma Sausage: http://www.sonomanews.com/display/inn...