Boy, did I food party! on a lot of wheat over the Labor Day weekend. Cheese too.
I visited Guerneville / Monte Rio (eastern Sonoma county). It's a terrific river community and a perfect weekend get away. Guerneville is a funky town with fun shopping and people watching opportunities. I hadn't been in years ? and it was worth a return trip. Leave the Bay Area by 7AM and get there by 9AM. Stop at River Inn Grill ? voted "best breakfast" in town.
Or take the "bakery tour" out to Occidental and Freestone. In Occidental, try a fluffy Blueberry Quinoa Muffin at breakfast hot spot - Howards Station Cafe. It was impossible to get a seat, so I suggest the walk up window for a quick coffee and pastry. You don't want to eat too much anyways because after that munch, head 3.5 miles to Freestone and continue the wheat-fest (biking is the real way to travel around here by the way). First, stop at Freestone Artisan Cheese for a charming creamy experience and combine your local finds with the amazing breads at Wild Flour Bread. With scones in hand, (Asiago Crimini Mushroom Swiss, and Nectarine Blueberry White Chocolate) we enjoyed delicious breakfast #2 surrounded by the bakeries lush backyard garden.
Wild Flour has been adding garden goodies into their brick oven-baked breads for 16 years. They also have a chef who comes in daily to feed the smiling workers with whatever is left from the harvest. As one satisfied staff member told me, "We just can't eat amazing bread all day long."
That weekend, we also enjoyed "Friday night happy hour for locals" at Sophie's Cellars, a quaint wine bar hosted by two fun guys who make you feel right at home, and make sure you know they are gay (no, I wasn't hitting on them). For $6, help yourself to a rich buffet of artisan cheeses, breads, fruits, salami and home-smoked salmon patties, then sit back on the sunny deck with a local wine (this is wine country), meet some locals, and enjoy being out in the middle of basically nowhere.
Tsk, tsk you might be thinking. With everyone gluten free these days, how can anyone still write about bread and bakeries? Well, I can eat a little wheat, I just don't eat too much of it. Wild Flour does offer gluten free options should that be your preference. But personally, I think that in a couple years we will realize it's not just wheat, but all processed flours and foods that make our stomachs bloat. Replacing bastardized wheat with bastardized rice will catch up with us ? sooner or later. But that's a Food Party! subject for another time.
That is, unless you bring gluten free to this week's potluck.
Howards Station Café
3611 Bohemian Hwy, Occidental, CA 95465
Freestone Artisan Cheese
380 Bohemian Hwy, Freestone, CA 95472
Wild Flour Bread
140 Bohemian Hwy, Freestone, CA 95472
20293 California 116, Monte Rio, CA