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Sonoma: Cornerstone Gardens - wine tasting, Sage Fine Foods, and maybe the Bay Area's best and most expensive cupcake

rworange | Dec 29, 200809:19 AM

Located across from the Gloria Ferrer Winery, Cornerstone Gardens is best described by this NY Times Article (pdf format)

"Blurring the line between art and commerce, Cornerstone is so high-concept that even its founder has trouble describing it ,,, Chris Hougie ,,, started Cornerstone in 2004 after visiting Chaumont, a collection of folly gardens in the Loire Valley. “I wanted to change the notion of what a garden can be — a place that’s as much about ideas as about plants.”

Anyway, there are also three tasting rooms and Sage Fine Foods, a cafe that serves sandwiches, salads, soups and baked goods based on seasonal, local and organic ingrediants

Most of the shops have been there for two years. Sage opened four months ago replacing The Blue Tree Café which replaced Cornerstone Café, They are the same owners as Sage Catering in San Rafael.

For whatever reason this was the first time I've noticed Cornerstone Gardens. It was a half hour before closing so I just had a quick time to walk around.

Wine tasting rooms include Roshambo, Larson Family Winery, Grange Sonoma a collective of small wineries. According to the website, Ridgeline and Artesia are there, but I didn't notice them.

The tasting fees run from $5 - $10, with some, if not all, waving the tasting fee if you buy a bottle.

This complex has to be one of the most handicapped friendly in Wine Country. The parking lot is feet away, everything is flat, tasting rooms, restaurants and shops have enough room for wheelchairs and there is lots of seating for people who have walking challenges.

Everyone was just so pleasant too ... something, as a vistor, I haven't found true at many wineries or tasting rooms.

There is a little vistor center. It was late, I was hurried and my mindset was "I wonder if this is another tourist trap?"

I walked into Sage which is very spacious with one counter with deli salads and another with baked goods. There were a few shelves scattered here and there with things like olive oil, condiments, cook books (actually some good ones), etc. It reminded me a little of an abbreviated version of the closed fig pantry.

The menu board was brief. Nothing seemed to jump out at me except the cupcakes. They were looking good and they also had these great looking mini fallen chocolate cakes (in DeLassio cupcake size) topped with a dollop of creme fraiche.

I had no intention of buying. I walked around the rest of the shops but those cupcakes were calling me.

As I said, I really can't say if the provisions at Sage were any good because I was in the tourist trap mindset and wasn't paying close attention... till they rang up the price ... $4 for a cupcake that was smaller than Kara's.

Them tourist trap bells were going off in my head big time ... and then I took a bite.

This has to be not only one of the best cupcakes I've had in my life, it is probably one of the best desserts I've had period.

I got the coconut cupcake and the cake was moist, dense, fluffy, rich and light all at once. The very sweet icing added buttery taste to each bite and the tasty coconut was ... well .. the icing on the cupcake, so to speak. I'm still not sure about that $4 price, but gee this was good.

The coffee is Graffeo which is one of my favorites. They had some aqua fresca type of glass jars on the counter with fresh lemonade and mango tea with fresh ginger.

Here's a few of the current menu items
- Little gems, queso fresco and skirt steak salad with Rancho Gordo beans, avocado, salsa fresca, crisp tortilla and sweet lime vinaigrette, crema and cilantro ($9.95)

- Zoe's ham sandwich - Zoe's cured ham, Mt Tam triple cream, Country LIne greens, house pickled peppers on artisan sweet baguette ($7.95)

- Savory tart with Fatted Calf chorizo, roasted sweet onion, potato and Spring Hill Jack served with Sonoma greens, shaved fennel and champagne vinaigrette ($9.25)

- Grilled Chicken and avocado sandwich with chile crusted chicken, avocado, little gem lettuce, Bravo Farms cheddar, tomatoes, shaved red onion and lemon mayo, artisan roll ($8.95)

Sage Fine Food & Provisions
23584 Arnold Dr, Sonoma, CA

Cornerstone Gardens
23570 Arnold Dr, Sonoma, CA

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