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Sonoma Sunday

Melanie Wong | Jan 20, 200208:02 PM

Another weekend with no rain, last Sunday was a great day for a drive to enjoy the winter landscape. With no particular itinerary in mind, my first stop was to head south to downtown Healdsburg to grab a donut for breakfast at Flaky Cream. Too late, my favorite, the chocolate old-fashioned (love the hint of spice in the glaze and extra crunchy crust), was already sold out as was nearly everything else. But the white board said “Breakfast special: patty of spicy sausage, two eggs and hash browns, $6.50”. Not in a hurry, I treated myself to a sit-down breakfast. The spicy sausage is one of my favorite things here---a big, juicy patty of coarse ground and juicy pork that is as spicy hot as promised. Eggs over-easy and hash browns ordered well-done were needed to keep the heat in check. The potatoes this time weren’t as crisp as usual, but all in all, it was still very satisfying.

441 Center St.
Breakfast and lunch

Colder and grayer along this bend of the Russian River than forecast, I decided to head out to the coast to try to find some sunshine. This was a chance to check out the oceanside mushroom, mussel and gooseneck barnacle foraging opportunities.

On Westside Road driving southwest from Healdsburg, my route takes me past stark vineyards of dormant vines, grazing cattle and bare trees shrouded in gray mist. As evidence of the single mindedness of my mission, I do NOT stop enroute to visit a single one of the many wineries I pass by, not even Rochioli or Gary Farrell. (vbg)

Westside Road merges with River Road east of Guerneville, and I start keeping an eye out for the “tamale lady”. A day-glow sign alerts you that she’s coming up, and her cart is on the north side of the road just east of Rio Nido. At Lalita’s Tamale Cart, smallish cigar-shaped tamales wrapped in a single corn husk are $2.50 each or $24 per dozen. A “meal deal” is also available at $4. I’d had the vegetarian ones before and this time picked up a chicken and a pork tamale. The meaty filling was very finely shredded, almost pulverized, and would be considered too dry if not for the extra vegetarian molé sauce provided on the side.

Lala Patron
Wed-Sun, 1pm until sold-out
Or call to order

Following River Road to the sea, I am rewarded with bright blue skies and more sunny warmth when I reach the coastline where I turn north on Hwy 1 toward Salt Point State Park. This is one of the few state parks that allows mushrooms to be harvested. Due to the lack of rainfall the previous week, few mushrooms were fruiting. I took note of the spots where overturned duff and bits of mushroom debris were evidence of collecting so I’ll know where to go next time.

The lowest low tide of the day was predicted for around 5:00pm at Fort Ross and sunset would be circa 5:20pm. I arrived at Gerstle Cove (a few miles north of Fort Ross) around 4:15pm when the tide was ebbing (going out). I found a mussel-covered rock northwest of the parking lot that was high and dry with good eating-size specimens of mussels and gooseneck barnacles and not too far from the shoreline trail. Many types of seaweed could also be harvested here and I made a mental note to learn more about the edible types.

For the homeward drive, I was treated to spectacular views of the sun setting over the Pacific as the road snaked along the winding coastline. Once again I thanked my lucky stars that I’d been blessed to live in the Garden of Eden.

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