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Wednesday Night's Santa Rosa Downtown Market

Melanie Wong | Aug 19, 200609:03 AM

This week I made my way to the Santa Rosa Downtown Market held on Wednesday nights during the summer. Two more weeks left for this season. It's been a few years since my last visit to this street party and the emphasis now seems to be on prepared foods and the festival aspects and less on the farmers market. The farm stands had a few local representatives with a bigger percentage of Central Valley producers than the other farmers markets in Sonoma County. And even a local farm like Love had far less on display here than the night before in Healdsburg's plaza. Yet, while the produce is not as unique and outstanding here, this was an excellent opportunity to catch up with producers of other specialty foods.

A sampling of the offerings -

I had a sample of Sweet Marcelline's toffee. Great flakey, brittle yet substantial texture, rich browned buttery flavor, and just the right amount of chocolate.

The grilling stand from Hunter Steakhouse offered tri-tip, ribs, and chicken. A tri-tip sampler for a buck was a good way to have a sample without springing for a whole sandwich. A bite was all I needed to know that this was overcooked beef with sauce that was too sweet.

Willie Bird's was grilling what looked like acres of organic turkey legs. Mom's Apple Pie looked like it was doing a brisk business.

I stopped at the Chippery's stand,, to buy a small size of sea salt chips, $2. Freshly made without transfats, they're not particularly crisp nor flavorful though notably nongreasy.

Next was a pupusa, $2.50, from Hot Tamales. Only so-so, the corn cake was rather leaden although the flavor was good. According to the menu, the filling is mozzarella, squash, carnitas and beans. The curtido was highly spiced and had some shreds of red and green sweet peppers. The red salsa surprised me by being HOT rather than the mild sauce that usually accompanies pupusas. The taqueria and pupuseria is open Tuesday through Sundays at 3020 Santa Rosa Ave., Santa Rosa, 707-568-1241. I'll try it another pupusa in store to see if the execution is better.

I was thrilled to see Buona Sonoma here offering up free tastes or a cup for $3. The goods are kept colder in the portable freezer and a cup is packed sky high. The cantaloupe sorbetto is exquisite. i wasn't as taken with the "regular" dark chocolate, not nearly the depth and richness of the goats milk version.
More on Buona Sonoma Gelato -

Even more exciting was finding the Little Jimmy's Italian Ice cart. I went with the classic lemon ice and was very pleased with the delicate texture and zippy natural taste.
More on Little Jimmy's -

I closed out with my current obsession, Chef Mateo Granados, grabbing a peach agua fresca from his stand.
More on Mateo Granados -

Santa Rosa Downtown Market slideshow -

Ellen Roberts' 2003 post -

Stephanie's 2005 post -

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