Welcome to the thirtieth post of the Great Writing Challenge of 2012.
Five days a week for six months, I will be given a topic to write about. The stipulation: it must be 250 words (or more), and positive in tone.
If you would like to suggest topics for me to write about, please email me at TheRebeccaProject [at] gmail [dot] com.
I always had a sneaking suspicion that Sonoma was the poorer, younger sister of the Napa Valley. But not anymore.
On Saturday, Sam the Canadian and I spent the day up in wine country, relaxing after Sam’s tough week sitting the Cal Bar exam. It was a balmy 22 degrees C/ 73 degrees F: a marvellous winter’s day for a trip up north.
One of the things I love about living in the Bay Area, is the ability to do almost anything you could think of within a few hours drive. We have multiple world-class wine regions and culinary hotspots in a shade over an hour out of the city. And the quality of the food and wine in the area is phenomenal. There’s something about the weather in Northern California that makes everything taste so pure.
As soon as you arrive in Wine Country, everything moves at a much slower pace. There’s a real emphasis on artisanal, slow food using local products. Care and thought is paid to combinations and pairings. The weather cooperates, and even in winter, you can sit outside in the sunshine and soak up the ambiance of the vineyards.
Lunch was our main splurge, and The Girl & The Fig came with such high praise from Sam. She had eaten there in Summer and was he was keen to return to see what they offered on their winter menu. By the time she had said “cheese plates”, I was in!
We wrangled a seat in the bar, and watched the world as we sampled some of the region’s finest food and wine. First up, we paired the white wine with the goats cheese plate.
Goats Cheese Plate
Three cheeses with three selections of local & imported artisan goat cheese, fig cake, compote, spiced nuts & baguette.
We were served Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog (from Humboldt County, CA), Jeune Autiz (Loire Valley, France) and Fleur Vert (Perigord, France). I fancied the latter, and it went perfectly with the fig cake. The flavour of the Cypress Grove was stronger, but harmonized well when paired with the fig compote.
We cleansed our palates with the Fig and Arugula Salad.
Fig & Arugula Salad
Laura chenel chevre, toasted pecans, Mano Formate pancetta, toasted pecans, fig & port vinaigrette.
I had neglected to read pancetta was part of the ingredients, so I ate the salad minus the pancetta. Sadly, no photos of the salad – we had already started in on the wines and the good conversation.
For our Petit Plats, we ordered two dishes to share, and it is something I highly recommend at The Girl & The Fig.
Chicory, apple & celery salad, apple cider vinaigrette, matchstick frites made from kennebec potatoes with tarragon aioli
I ordered the quiche lorraine and it was amazing. The quiche was incredibly creamy, and the handmade crust had just a hint of sweetness.
When at home, I tend to stick to the same dressing for salad, so I really appreciated the nuances of the apple cider vinaigrette with the quiche, and the fig and port vinaigrette with the starter salad.
Mano Formate Coppa Baguette
Brie cheese, red onion confit, arugula, Mano Formate pancetta
Sam’s choice was the baguette. It was a treat, and I remain enamoured with the red onion confit. It had a natural sweetness that complimented the brie, and played well off the white wine we paired with it.
The bar area was great for people watching. Patrons passed through where we sat to dine out in the courtyard bathed in sunshine, some sat at the bar sipping fig-flavored apertifs, and others came in to purchase the range of local and international cheeses and fig hand creams.
I really enjoyed my experience at the restaurant, and I look forward to taste the menu in a different season. Suddenly, with just one meal, my concept of Sonoma has been completely altered.