Since arriving in Sonoma County, I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve heard or read, “The Bounty of the County.” It’s just way too many times to even calculate; it’s a lifestyle, not a slogan.
This Sonoma County lifestyle is not just about wine, either. Although grape growing is a primary industry, and immediately comes to mind when you hear “Sonoma County,” there are pockets in Sonoma County where our food supply is also very important. For instance, when you drive up Highway 101 from the south, or if you travel down the freeway from further north, when you hit Petaluma, there’s no doubt that there’s our dairy capital. Your nose knows. Along with that one are all of the chicken farmers in Petaluma… Dairy and eggs are a staple. (I buy my freshly laid eggs from a neighbor less than a half a mile from where we live, in suburbia, no less.)
Sebastopol is our salad bowl, in many respects. The first Farmers’ market experience of my life was in Sebastopol, long before I moved out here. I had a scheduled visit to California, to see if I could live here. The first place I was taken for a meal was Chinatown. Enough said? In our travels, we ended up in Sebastopol.
- Upon arrival in Sacramento, we immediately drove from Sacramento to Chinatown and stayed in San Francisco overnight.
- The next day, we drove to Santa Rosa, stayed overnight, and drove around Sebastopol, Healdsburg, and Napa.
- Then, we went back to Sacramento, stayed there overnight and met with Jose’s bosses from the Fuller-Jeffrey Group.
- Next we drove to Lake Tahoe for an overnight, and went to Chico the next day.
- Our final destination was to travel from Chico down to Monterey (overnight), Carmel, and Santa Cruz (overnight); all in the course of six days.
I got more than a snapshot of the opportunities that were going to exist for us. In all truth, it was Sonoma County that was at the heart of California’s quality fruits and vegetables being grown. Here, there’s a sense of Mother Earth and living sustainably. It’s not a feel for chemical fertilizers to boost productivity, or insecticides as a way to battle Mother Nature. I’m not saying that this is Organicland, by any stretch of the imagination. What I am saying is that there is more social consciousness in this area, so it does exist in a more abundant nature.
This is greatly to my liking. I came to the right place, of all of the options that were set before me. Luther Burbank had a lot to do with this way of life. This horticulturist came from Massachusetts, as are some of my roots. From the Luther Burbank Website:
Striving to pioneer new and better plants, Burbank used techniques such as grafting and hybridization to introduce more than 800 varieties. One of his first successes was the Burbank potato, a disease-resistant cultivar. A later variation, the Russet Burbank, became the potato most commonly used for making french fries.
So, the Bounty of the County comes out a lot, as I said. Recently, Jose and I were having dinner with one of our dearest friends Corinne Reichel. She’s native to California, so she knows the ins and outs of her area. She’s greatly enriched the quality of our lives, since meeting her and working with her at Belvedere Winery in our early arrival days. Jose and I have joined the Vineyard Club [above], at her invitation. We were just there yesterday with our grandchildren, celebrating a birthday. Our grandchildren are having the same advantage that I had, my children had, and now my children’s children are having… A waterhole to visit for picnics and swimming and playing…
Corinne lives in that area, on the edge of a mountainside. A solar lap pool is hers for the swimming, as well as her lovely home. Jose and I went there for dinner a few nights ago. We had a swim first, then the three of us created our dinner. It was such beautiful representation of the Bounty of the County that it inspired me to write about it as a way of life. It’s very Mediterranean in feel… It is what it is.
Dinner, which came from us all, and then some… This food was so simple that it might be hard to imagine how delicious it all was, because it wasn’t dripping with sauces from all over the place. The original flavors were not disguised in anything but their own juices, representing the bounty…
- When in the Healdsburg area, Big John’s Market is where we buy organic pork tenderloin. This was our protein, and Jose is always on the grill cooking up something delicious.
- Corinne added fresh figs that had fallen from a nearby tree, wrapped in prosciutto, and also grilled.
- I made a salad with organic veggies, with the cucumbers coming from our garden, tomatoes coming from Corinne’s garden, and newly picked, juicy peaches from her tree…
- Zucchini was grilled to perfection, also from her garden.
- A corn salad was given to us by her friends Darryl and Carol from the night before with organic corn. (Have you tried buying organic corn this season? It doesn’t seem to exist, as it’s now all genetically modified. So, this was my first corn in 2014.)
- The cheese cake was purchased at Big John’s. (This specialty food story is locally owned and operated. Just yesterday I was thanking the owner – a husband and wife team – for being there and I didn’t know what we’d do without her store.)
The Wine was an import, and that’s the fun part of it all. Even though we’re surrounded by wine in Sonoma County, we’re also surrounded by people who market wines for sale, and they come from all over the world. Having access to world class wines from other regions expands our horizons, and also lets us know how lucky we truly are in the process.
- 2013 Adelante Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina
- The cooler climate Malbec was simply delicious. With typical notes of blueberry and blackberry, the figs especially were a delicious food and wine pairing. Jose’s grilled pork was also very deliciously paired with the wine.
- What totally dumb stuck my palate was that I also very much enjoyed the wine with my salad. This was how I started my meal, so I wasn’t going to wait to enjoy the wine until I had my entree. I had, however, used a really delicious olive oil and that oil and vinegar combination didn’t interrupt the flavors. In fact, it was enhanced. (I’ve come to abhor salad dressings with all of the added chemicals and dried this-and-that flavors… So, it’s always oil and vinegar for me… Simple and the most delicious)
- This Adelante Malbec is touted by its growers, and I will attest to it, as pure Malbec. There was structure, the fruit was in total balance, and the touch oak aging contributed that lovely spice that we adore in a great wine.
- The Bounty of the County was pure magic.
There are so many options in this area of ours, that if you’re not enjoying a local wine, you’ll be enjoying what a friend of yours has left behind for you to try. In this case, it’s our friend Darryl Miller, of D.A. Miller Brand Building. The meal seamlessly came together… all ingredients in some way contributing to the Bounty of the County from life in the wine zone…