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Wine Country Food Video

Alice Waters of Chez Panisse

Writer Michele Anna Jordan speaks with Chef Alice Waters of Chez Panisse. They discuss Slow Food Nation and the "Victory Garden" in downtown San Francisco.

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Wine Country Food Pictures - Wine Country Restaurants

the fig cafe & wine bar - Glen Ellen, CA 95442, Sonoma Wine Country


the fig cafe & wine bar - Glen Ellen, CA 95442, Sonoma Wine Country the fig cafe & wine bar - Glen Ellen, CA 95442, Sonoma Wine Country

Dry Creek Kitchen - Spice Crusted Duck w/Baby Bok Choy & 5 Bean Casoullet


Dry Creek Kitchen - Spice Crusted Duck w/Baby Bok Choy & 5 Bean Casoullet Dry Creek Kitchen - Spice Crusted Duck w/Baby Bok Choy & 5 Bean Casoullet

Mosaic Restaurant - Forestville, CA 95436 - Sonoma Wine Country


Willi's Seafood & Raw Bar - Healdsburg, CA 95448 - Sonoma Wine Country


Wolf House - Glen Ellen, CA 95442


Zazu - Santa Rosa, CA 95401


Zin Restaurant - Healdsburg, CA 95448 - Sonoma Wine Country


Sonoma California - Carneros Restaurant


Farmhouse Inn Restaurant - Front Porch



Wine Country Food Blog

  • Kids in the Kitchen

         The kitchen is a good place for kids. Lucas loves cooking with me, though lately I confess that he has been all too eager to take on the role of guest. He sits at the counter as I fix him his favorite snacks, feta cheese drizzled with DaVero Olio Nuovo, white anchovies, pomegranate seeds, roasted pistachios and, sometimes, Gravenstein apple sauce.

         We were talking about cooking the other day and I suggested that he join me in the kitchen.
    “Well, Mimi,” he said, “only if I get to eat everything we make.”

         His love of the connection between cooking and eating--he’s seen me cook for others many times, so his emphasis on the eating of whatever we make is easy to understand--and the profound pleasure he takes in exploring new tastes has made me decide to enroll him in a cooking class.

         There’s one coming up on Monday at Relish Culinary Center in Healdsburg.

         As I wondered if I would drop him off and return home to Sebastopol for a couple of hours or hang out on the square in Healdsburg, I realized, Wow! This is a perfect thing for visitors to Sonoma County. Parents  drop off their kids--7 or older--at a cooking class and then have three hours to explore, driving, perhaps, to nearby wineries, farm stands and such, exploring downtown shops, indulging in a late lunch or lingering over a delicious cocktail or two.

         Someone could and should expand on this idea. I always feel sorry for kids who are schlepped from winery to winery with their parents. In most cases, they can’t even see over the counter. How about Sonoma County experiences for kids, too, something interesting they can do while their parents continue with their adult explorations?

         For now, Relish Culinary Center’s holiday treats cooking class is a great place to start. This was its sixth annual class, long enough, I think we can call it a tradition. A good one.

    Michelle Anna Jordan

  • Cyclical Dungeness Crab Season

         A couple of weeks ago I was conducting the final session of A Cook’s Tour of Sonoma, a class I teach, usually in the fall, for Santa Rosa Junior College. I developed the class years ago, after the publication of my first book, A Cook’s Tour of Sonoma.

         One of our destinations was the Spud Point Crab Shack, where we were to meet fisherman Tony Anello, who, along with his wife Carol, owns the cafe, for a talk about local fishing followed by lunch. The Crab Shack is famous for its  clam chowder and its crab cakes, though I am also quite fond of the Dungeness crab sandwiches.

         Tony, a third-generation fisherman whose family comes from Sicily, also owns the Annabelle, a wild salmon and Dungeness crab boat that caught my attention years ago. It reminds me of my first cat, or my first cat as an adult, I should say.  She was the runt of her litter, a tiny puff ball of black fur that I could hold in one hand. From the moment I spotted her in a box with her siblings outside Safeway in Petaluma I was in love. She slept on my pillow and road around on my shoulder while I cooked, cleaned and studied.      

         Her name was Annabel Lee, for the poem by Edgar Allen Poe. She was a delicate beauty who died too young, at just four years. Must life always imitate art?
    But I digress.

         When we pulled up in front of the Crab Shack, we were stunned to see a line of customers snaking down the street. I haven’t seen a line like this since the last time I ate at Swan Oyster Depot in San Francisco.

         We made the short walk to the Annabel, where Tony met us and began to explain the dismal crab season. The Annabel has not gone out yet this season and may not.
    But the situation is, perhaps, not quite as dire as you might think. Dungeness crab season is cyclical. Experienced fisherman can get a pretty good sense of what the next couple of years will be like based on the number of smaller crabs, those they must toss back, in any year’s catch. They knew this down year was coming.  Three years from now, 2011, should be a great year, Tony says.

         In a great year, crab pots, as the baskets that are lowered into the sea are called, contain 25 or more crab. A good year nets maybe 7 or 8 crab per pot. The pots are raised and crabs collected every couple of days throughout the season.

         This year, fishermen off Bodega Bay are getting half a crab per pot, which means that half the pots are empty when they are pulled up. That’s like nothing.
    Tony’s son has headed north to Crescent City, where the catch is a bit better. Tony says sometimes there’s an early spring spike and if there is, he’ll take the Annabelle out then.
    In the meantime, Tony is buying Dungeness crab from a distributor south of San Francisco to fill the nonstop demand at the Crab Shack.

         By the time we were finished listening, the lunch rush was over. Instead of 30 or 40 people in line, there were maybe 10. As I stood waiting to place our order--the class is mostly field trips and eating--an afternoon rush began and again the line snaked down the street.

         Crab cakes were sold out, of course. They always are by early afternoon, as Carol cannot keep up with demand, even though she is in the kitchen before sunrise to make them.
    I served my students--bowls of clam chowder, crab sandwiches and a few crab cocktails to share--who filled two of the tables outside the shack.

         The sun broke through the blanket of fog that had covered western Sonoma County all day and warmed us while we ate the voluptuous soup.  Ahh, I thought, this is the Sonoma County I so love.


Wine Country Food Blog Archive
Wine Country Food is a style similar to California Cuisine, with its focus on fresh ingredients, especially local and organic produce. But Wine Country Food also places an emphasis on pairing these delicious foods with the perfect wine that will that will bring both to a whole new level. Wine Country Cuisine is also an ethos. It’s about how we treat our farm animals, our soil, our fellow man, our planet. There are few acts that are as an integral part of our lives as is eating. So, how we perform this act is important. Wine Country Cuisine is about eating—and living—with joy and passion as well as with care and respect. Discover great Restaurants based on user reviews from across the web