Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Oct 23, 2006 11:52 PM

Farms, japanese food and Sonoma county

We went for the weekend to Sonoma county to visit some farms in the area (as background for my dissertation...) We used the guidebook put out by the county "Farm Trails". Great informative publication with addresses, hours, product info...

We visited several farms including Tierra which is farmed by Wayne who spent an hour showing me the most deliciouis beans from Italy, heirloom pumpkins (one with seeds you can eat without shelling which I roasted last night with his chipotle powder), tomatos and pickling cucumbers. Then there was Walker apples where I tasted sevral varieties including a delicious Braeburn and a winesam. Willie bird (not a vegetable or thesis related but I got my favorite smoked turkey necks). Joe Matos Cheese and Marin french chees co had some interseting double creme and a mild blue. Kozlowsky for all sorts of apple butters and jams.

As for restaurants we had one very memorable meal: Japan Cafe on Courthouse sq in Santa Rosa. I was set for disapointment and it turned out to be original, amazing local produce, perfect service...
The special was a vegetarian hotpot with freeze dried tofu and shitakes. They gave me a raw egg to eat it with just like in Japan!!!! The Chicken teriyaki had homemade sauce, much less sweet than usual. There was a veg sushi plate on the next table that looked like a garden of delights. We also had the salad of pea shoots with sunflower seeds in a citrusy dressing. crispy and refreshing. And a green tea icecream that was creamy and light but alas did not taste like tea at all even with the tea powder sprinkeled on top.

Great time of the year to go and visit. We stayed at the historic Hotel La Rose and were given vouchers for some wine at thei restaurant. Breakfast included with some very decent scones. Accross the street there is a very popular cafe that had live music and a nice hot chocolate (Ghirardelly, but not bad).

Actually, speaking of hot chocolate there was also a cafe in Sebastopol that had incredible french hot chocolate and pumpkin gelato on the main street. Forgot the name (Chocolat?) Worth a detour.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The cafe in Sebastopol is probably La Dolce V. Here's a report by Melanie that links back to another report.

    I kid on the board about being guided by 'the food gods' when a parking place opens in front of a joint. A few weekends back I was in Sebastapol with Screamin Mimi's ice cream as my destination. I overshot it and had to double back.

    The first time I drove by La Dolce V and saw the gelato sign. Took a wrong turn ... again in front of LDV. Parking place in front. Third time I circled, a car in front of me stalled in front of LDV. I had to back up INTO the parking space to get arond the car ... and yet I still didn't take it as a sign to stop in this place. Then I got home and decided to see if there was anything about it on Chowhound and found all of Melanie's great reports.

    I may just start to actually believe in signs from the food gods.

    1. I visited Tierra Vegetables farmstand on Friday and took a few pictures that you might recognize.

      Thank you for checking out Cafe Japan. I've walked past, looked at the menu a few times, and even though the organic nabeyaki udon calls to me, I've not made it in the door yet.
      Cafe Japan
      98 Old Courthouse sq
      Santa Rosa, CA 95404
      (707) 566-7650

      Glad you made it to La Dolce V. Despite its national reputation as a chocolatier, it's a low-key and relatively undiscovered place in Russian River Valley. Addition of the gelato counter has made it an even sweeter discovery.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Thanks for the great pictures! The pumpkin you pictured was described by Wayne the farmer as a "sky with the moon and the stars"!!!

      2. I think the picture is of a Cherokee heirloom watermelon called 'Moon and Stars'.

        2 Replies
        1. re: peashoot

          Moon and Stars is one of rworange's "pets", and I like to photograph these melons whenever I see them. Can't believe I forgot to ask for a sample of the cut ones.

          My quick snapshot of the farm's growing area itself didn't really give as much of a sense of being on the urban boundary as I'd wanted. It's squeezed in between a residential subdivision and the freeway.

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Yeah, I appreciated the picture. It looked like a beauty. I was hoping to get to the farmstand to get some peppers and buy one personally ... but so far haven't had the time.

        2. Friday I stopped at Tierra vegetables farmstand, browsing in dim light at 5pm. It will continue with the 5 day a week schedule until after Thanksgiving, then reverting to only Fri & Sat. There was a surprising amount of summer-ish produce available, e.g., Seascape strawberries, tomatoes and fresh chilis. But fall has arrived in full force and some gorgeous purple cauliflower, kale by the pound, and other autumnal veggies are available too. I also bought dried chilis and smoked sweet onions.

          Here are photos of two types of no-name hot peppers I purchased (then roasted over mesquite and put in the freezer for a rainy day).

          Tierra Vegetables
          651 Airport Blvd, Santa Rosa, CA 95403

          12 Replies
          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Did they still have the pink, blue and green polenta or the 20 varieties of beans. I have a report I need to catch up with in addition to about a dozen other Sonoma farms.

            Those smoked onions are one of my favorite things ever ... ever ... in the Bay Area. I've buy them whenever they are available at FP. Was glad to see it at the stand.

            1. re: rworange

              I saw some brown paper sacks marked cornmeal but I didn't focus on them. I've seen reference on the web calling the smoked onions, "vegan bacon". The beans had all been put away at the time I was there, but Evie asked me if I wanted any. Not this time but sounds like there's a lot available. The website is current as of Nov 10.

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                It was the kelly green ear of dried corn that caught my eye. It was so pretty and I never saw one that color. When I asked if it was edible that's when they explained the brown sacks of polenta. It would be really cool in a Christmas dish. The blue ear of corn was navy blue. They sell the polenta at Ferry Plaza but not the beans.

                1. re: rworange

                  It's been a couple years since i've shopped Tierra's stand at FP (since I can go to the farm easily), but the beans were for sale at that time.

                  ETA: I forgot to mention this, Rosso's mobile wood-burning pizza oven will be at the farm on Wednesday (11/18) making pizzas in the fresh air. I'm so bummed that I can't be there. Hope others check it out, can't get fresher ingredients on your pie than that.

                  Rosso Pizzeria & Wine Bar
                  53 Montgomery Drive, Santa Rosa, CA

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    Dunno. I have never made polenta at home and I wanted to think about whether I was going to buy some, so I asked if they sold it at FP. When I asked about the beans, since I've never noticed them at FP, I was told no. However the CUESA website does mention beans.

                    1. re: rworange

                      P.S. On Wed Nov 18th they will have Pizza Pie Under the Sky from 3-6 Rosso's pizza with roasted veggies right from the field.

                      1. re: rworange

                        at the Farm Stand this afternoon - no rain today!

                        1. re: Cynsa

                          my fave was the butternut squash pizza - all were delicious, hot and blistered to perfection... I tasted pizza slices with apple... potato... clams... pesto...butternut squash

                          1. re: Cynsa

                            Pizza + blue corn Polenta and more... lettuce with beets and mandarin orange segments... roasted chiles and tomato sauce for the polenta

                          2. re: Cynsa

                            Nice photos. How was the food? Did they serve the colored polenta?

                            1. re: rworange

                              molto bene — yes, the blue corn polenta was creamy and a light blue-gray in color...for $15 - all you can eat pizza, polenta & tomato sauce, salad greens and beets, roasted chiles - al fresco -

                              1. re: Cynsa

                                Thanks for the pizza report. I was at the stand the day after and Evie told me that they're already planning another one. It was very popular and easy to pull off.

                                Lots of new crop beans for sale, $6.60 per pound. We bought produce to make ribollita. This batch was so luxurious, my friend named it Cosmo il Gran Duca di Ribollita.