Sunday, June 28, 2009

Willi's Wine Bar, Healdsburg

Last night we went to one of our favorite spots, Willi's Wine Bar in Healdsburg.

willi's winebar Healdsburg

Aside from a good wine selection, Willi's is known for it's oysters. In fact, the Healdsburg branch is really called "Willi's Seafood and Raw Bar". There is another Willi's, on the Old Redwood Highway in Larkfield that is "Willi's Wine Bar".

Willi's food is composed of numerous small plates. Tonight we focused on several of our favorites - spinach salad, calamari, hangar steak with chimichurri sauce, and my personal favorite - "Salt and Pepper Riblets".

On a warm night in Healdsburg it's great to try and get an outdoor table. Pro tip: Call in one hour ahead of time and put your name on the waitlist. Pro tip number 2 - get a spot at the bar and eat to your heart's content and meet some of the characters also in Healdsburg that night!

willi's bar

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

World Famous Hamburger Ranch & Pasta Farm - a Sonoma County Original

Saturday Night I cajoled my wife into a trip to Cloverdale to go to the World Famous Hamburger Ranch & Pasta Farm for some BBQ.

This place is great. An old roadhouse looking place on 128 just on the North tip of Cloverdale as you would head to Mendocino. We found it by happenstance on a cycling trip in Sonoma. I wanted to take my wife out on Dutcher Creek Road to give her a taste of a small hill that wouldn't have much traffic, then drop us into the Dry Creek Valley. Not knowing much about Cloverdale, I decided we should stay there. When dinnertime came, there were something like 5 places in the yellow pages. We passed on a Mexican joint, the pub was closed, so we ended up at the Hamburger Ranch.

Once there, we were greeted by "BBQ Bob" and his "lady", Joanne.

Bob has a grill outside where he was cooking up some ribeyes and salmon, and he has a smoker where he does his ribs ("I'm originally from Kansas City", he says). Bob Krucker is quite a character and chatting with him adds a lot to the experience had eating his BBQ. The meal also comes with the "BBQ Pasta", which isn't barbequed, it's just the moniker for the pasta they serve with the BBQ, I think a combo of the red and the white sauce. A good salad and some grilled zucchini finishes the meal.

We liked the place so much, we had the rehearsal dinner for our wedding there. I recommend the Baby Back Ribs. Go early enough that you can soak in the warm Sonoma County sun on the outdoor patio.

Did I say that the meal finishes with zucchini? Blasphemy! The finishing flourish is their special dessert - the Pumpkin Pudding Cake. Excellent stuff.

Stop by and visit Bob on your next trip to Wine Country! You'll be glad you did!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Seen at the Healdsburg Farmer's Market

Dueling Healdsburg Restaurants!

While suffocating in heavy Lavender scent - this weekend was the Lavender Weekend at the Healdsburg Farmer's Market, I spotted 2 chefs from the Dry Creek Kitchen surfing through the Farmer's Market, looking for a few key ingredients. I was pretty impressed that they would be going right to the source. The market is still just stretching its legs towards summer, but there were a few peaches available - a very few, the sold out almost immediately! A couple of zucchini and cucumber, but not of the likes we'll see in a month.

I turned around and saw the heavy hitter on the local culinary scene, Douglass Keane from Cyrus, lounging on a bench, and getting his picture taken for some sort of PR routine. I looked over and laughed, and said I forgot my camera or I would put you up on my humble blog as well!

I really liked the local chefs buying at the local market. Keane is also involved in the Healdsburg Bar and Grill which has a mighty fine burger. One thing I like about that place - they have half wine barrels lined up around their garden growing herbs - now that's local!

I didn't need to buy any lavender at the market today - we have plenty of our own...


And the Heirlooms are looming as well!

Heirloom tomatoes starting on Twitpic

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Love Farms - Healdsburg California

This past weekend we were in Healdsburg and made a stop at Love Farms. In fact we made two stops!

First, on Saturday we stopped at Love Farms' market on North Street in Downtown Healdsburg. Love Farms has grounds in Healdsburg on Grove Street and sells the produce in their little organic produce market on North. That's local produce for you!


While my wife fed our son, I ventured in to see what was for sale.


Mostly cabbage, carrots, and greens. There were two lonely tomatoes and a few baskets of cherry tomatoes. These were not the wretched refuse - they were the early comers from the tomato season which is approaching at full steam with it at 85 degrees today in Healdsburg!

Those big white blobs on the bottom shelf are Ostrich Eggs! They have an Ostrich at the farm and sell the gigantic eggs. Note - they are $25 a pop!


The friendly staffer posed in front of their sign and the noteboard for their CSA boxes. Love Farms sells subscriptions to their boxes, $20 for small boxes, $30 for big boxes, discounts for longer subscriptions. Sometimes you can pick one up at the store on Fridays.

We sauntered over to the farm. The owner Ron Love was there but looked very busy so I was a bad blogger and didn't interview him. I did take a (not very good) photo.


They don't sell produce at the farm but it is a nursery with some very good looking plants and a nice variety of small fruit trees. Next time you are in Healdsburg and are looking to make dinner with locally sourced organic produce, give Love Farms a try!