Sonoma: The Epicure Connection - the best squash soup I’ve ever eaten
That squash pear soup is the only dish I’ve ever awarded an A +
In my rating system that means “Beyond exceptional Food of the gods … If this was a person it would be (in alphabetical order) Buddha, Jesus or Yahweh … you get the idea. If this was a place it would be paradise.”
The frittata is also one of the best I’ve had.
This is a wonderful little shop that in addition to its menu of soups, salads, sandwiches and pasta sells wine, cheese and artisan groceries.
The website says it best. There is a “selection of artisan and farmstead cheeses, fresh raviolis from the Pasta Shop including Delice de la Vallee Raviolis, Sonoma County Dairy Products, Sonoma Valley Olive Oils, fresh canned preserves, organic meats from Gleason Ranch, Black Pig Bacon, full line of Jimtown products, Olive Oils, Jams” etc, etc, etc.
On Saturday there are waffles such as maple bacon or pumpkin. There is also an option of butter or jam tasting.
The menu notes the local products being used such as Cousteaux Bakery, Lunita Farm, Oakhill Farm and The Patch,
They also have lots of special events and workshops such as cheese making classes or appearances by cook book authors.
The shop formerly located on the Sonoma Highway moved in October to West Napa Street a half block from Sonoma Square.
Owner Sheana Davis makes everyone feel welcome from the lucky tourists who stumble into her shop to locals to chefs and artisans who drop in to chat. It is sort of the epicurean version of the great little SF cafes that drew in the Beat Generation mix of artists.
Her annual Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference draws authors, vendors and cheese makers from all over the United States. Her own cheeses are Delice de la Vallee.
Here's what I had over a number of visits rated from A+ to F -
A + … Squash Pear soup
A …... Frittata with dried cranberry spinach salad
B + … Creme de fromage, turkey and clove cranberry relish sandwich
B + … Black eyed peas with Kentucky ham soup
B + … Cassoulet
B + … Betsy’s Backyard wine
B - ..... Red velvet cupcake
B - ..... butter tasting
Service: B -
Ambiance: B -
Details about food I tried in first reply
The Epicurean Connection
122 W Napa St, Sonoma, CA 95476
THE EPICUREAN CONNECTION DETAILS
SQUASH PEAR SOUP: A + … Beyond exceptional Food of the gods
This was upgraded from an “A” when I learned it was vegetarian.
I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was made with the richest chicken broth. When I asked on my next visit, I learned it was vegetable broth made with caramelized vegetables … mind blowing.
Everything about this was amazing. It smelled so wonderful. There was deep squash flavor with a touch of sweetness from the pear.
All of the soups here are delicious.
FRITTATA WITH DRIED CRANBERRY SPINACH SALAD: A … Exceptional
I don’t even like frittata all that much but loved this one that was chock full of ham and cheese and almost bread-like, I’ve never enjoyed a frittata more. It was the lunch special that day. There were generous dried cranberries and super fresh spinach lightly dressed with vinaigrette.
CREME DE FROMAGE, TURKEY AND CLOVE CRANBERRY RELISH SANDWICH: B + … Very, very good
This open-faced sandwich used the wonderful crusty sourdough from Cousteaux Bakery spread with the house-made creamy cheese. The slightly thicker than deli slices of turkey tasted fresh-roasted. I hate anything with clove, but love this relish that was tangy, spicy but not overwhelming.
BLACK EYED PEAS WITH KENTUCKY HAM SOUP: B + … Very, very good
The thick rich soup was very satisfying. The ham was more for flavoring as there were no chunks of ham in it.
CASSOULET: B + … Very, very good
A rich and surprisingly spicy, hearty winter soup that will shoo the chill from your bones. It was more bean-based with small bits of duck.
BETSY’S BACKYARD WINE: B + … Very, very good
I asked for a good wine to compliment the turkey sandwich and this white was perfect. I’m not a wine person and forgot to note the winemaker. There are about a half dozen wines offered by the glass. The owner works with three local vineyards currently. There are also a few beers available.
RED VELVET CUPCAKE: B - ... Very good
Made by Scandia Bakery for the restaurant, the cupcakes use the creme de fromage in the frosting. They are beautiful cupcakes topped with a fresh raspberry.
BUTTER TASTING: B - ... Very good
The shop makes various flavored butters. Our taste was rose petal, cow/goat and blue cheese. It was served with slices of Cousteaux bread. The cow/goat was tangy. The blue cheese was very nice because the blue cheese didn’t take over.
Surprisingly, I liked the rose petal best. I’m not generally a fan of rose-flavored food which can be overwhelmed by a perfumey taste. This had lots of rose flavor but was balance by what I’m guessing was honey. I’m still thinking about how to use this butter.
The only negative is that I think the price of $9.95 was too much for three small scoops of butter and a few slices of bread.
SERVICE: B - ... Very good
It is counter service and the people are very nice and helpful. Pay at the register.
AMBIANCE: B - ... Very good
I’d put it much higher but I don’t want to raise expectations of more than it is.
There is a huge communal table with benches that run the length of the shop. One wall holds groceries and cookbooks. The other side a shop has a refrigerator case and a table of wine for sale. Paintings by local artists (I’m guessing) are on the walls.
I’ve never been there when it is crowded, so it has always been comfortable with interesting people dropping by such as a chef at a local Sonoma restaurant who chatted with the owner. A group of tourists on one visit were discussing local restaurant tips with the owner.
Sometimes it is a local or two enjoying lunch and reading one of the books or magazines strewn along the table.
This is a great place that I’m looking forward to stopping by whenever I’m in Sonoma.