Melanie Wong | Apr 22, 200204:34 AM     3

The open house at Dehlinger winery this weekend brought me to Sebastopol to visit some of my favorite haunts. After tasting the current offerings at Dehlinger and one cellar tease (the 1992 Merlot is in that fat peak period), the warmth of the day planted the notion of ice cream on the brain and soon I was parked in front of Screamin’ Mimi’s (http://www.sonic.net/~ronnie/mimis.html) in downtown Sebastopol. The sidewalk was crowded with bikes and scooters belonging the many kids who had the same idea and the line was out the door. But everyone was in good spirits and it moved quickly.

The ice creams and sorbets are made on premise from local Sonoma ingredients. They’re sold by weight and the servers keep showing you the scoops to see if it’s the right amount. This time I picked Chocolate Malt, Strawberry, and Cajeta Swirl. Three small boules came to $2.75 served up in a heavy ceramic bowl for eating at a sidewalk table. The style here is rich and emulsified creaminess, and sometimes the heavy base overtakes the flavoring material, which was the case with the Strawberry. The Chocolate Malt was fine enough if having a bit of grittiness from cocoa powder. My favorite of the three was the Cajeta Swirl that had pockets of rich Mexican-style caramel made from local goat’s milk. Rather than being gooey, the cajeta was dense and almost fudge-like.

Then I headed to Andy’s Produce on the Gravenstein Highway north of town. The heady fragrance from the outdoor display of strawberries wafted over as soon as I opened the car door. These early berries were from Watsonville for 99¢ a basket. I was impressed that the produce clerk emptied each basket from the flat to check for damaged berries and then repacked them. I also got a couple ripe Haas avocadoes for 79¢ each. The cheese selection has been expanded here, and the buyer must be in love with goat cheese as they take up more than 20% of the display area. There were four kinds of goat cheese from Spain! And, lastly I grabbed a half gallon of Andy’s own organic Gravenstein apple juice for $2.99 – highly recommended.

Here’s a link to Tida’s last report on a visit to this part of God’s country.

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