The Recently Passed Holiday
Yesterday was an Official Holiday in the Wark home.
Yesterday was "Fruits Of The Land Day"; our family’s annual and formal recognition of just how lucky and blessed we are to live in a place that delivers such an amazing array of really good eating and drinking. Though we haven’t petitioned the state or federal government to officially recognize this holiday, it’s not out of the question. But for now, we celebrate this important day by taking our annual tour around West Sonoma County looking for REALLY YUMMY THINGS to take home and feast on.
If the only thing that fell into the Fruits Of the Land category in Sonoma was our diversity of vineyards and wines, we’d still be in good shape celebrating this unique holiday. But there is so much more.
We start by heading west to Sebastapol where we go straight to the orchards (the one’s that are left) and
grab our box of Gravenstein apples. These are the most wonderful apples, perfect for eating and even better for pie making. You can still find orchards in West Sonoma that have a little stand set up that allows you to pick up a box of just plucked Gravensteins and move on. Traveling the rest of the day with the aroma of these apples wafting around the car is wonderful torture.
We then head toward the ocean. Along the way we stop at places along the road that make products from their own plantings such as Kozlowski Farms where we stock up and the most ridiculously good jams, sauces and other condiments that seem perfectly suited to satisfy the most decadent whims we possess. They won’t last long. We’ll be done with the pumpkin butter, blackberry jam, chipotle-blackberry sauce and and apple butter by the end summer.
We like to stop in Duncan Mills where a collection of funky stores have replaced whatever industry originally spawned this little community along the Russian River and just a short ride from the Pacific. While the family looks through the boutiques, I head over to the wine shop that specializes in West Sonoma wines. I have to pick up one wine. It’s the law and a requirement of the Fruits of the Land Holiday. This year I chose the 2007 Rochioli Sauvignon Blanc. It used to be my favorite SB, but haven’t had it in three or four vintages.
Just past Jenner, where the Russian River meets the Pacific there
always sits a little truck on the side of the road where a little man sells little packages of just-smoked wild pacific salmon. It has a sweet, smoky flavor, is beautifully oily and spells us until we get to our lunch spot.
By this time we are ready to drive down to Bodega Bay where the Sandpiper awaits us. This restaurant sits well off the main highway and down by the bay. It’s a bit of a dive. But here you can get outstanding claim chowder, fried local oysters, wonderful fish and chips made with locally
caught fish and you don’t have to pay the prices of the tourist restaurants further down the road on the south side of Bodega Bay.
We fill up at the Sandpiper because we’ll need our energy to decide exactly which flavors of salt water taffy
we are going to pick up at the candy-striped salt water taffy store down the road. Once that task is over, Cliff walking and beach roaming is next. There’s nothing like filling up on deep fried fish and salt water taffy then finding a perfectly sloped rock upon which to rests your ass and watch the ocean while the splash of the waves throws mist up on you and the sun hits your face.
I need this rest because the real work of the annual Fruits of the Land tour is next. We are off to find wild blackberries. We never know where we’ll find just the right patch. We’ll drive our applely-smelling car all over the west-Sonoma backroads looking for an accessible black berry patch. The patch can’t be on the main roads because you get blackberries that taste of car exhaust. Usually we find just the right patch down a
side road and encroaching just enough on someone property to make us work a little faster gathering our bowls of berries because we always have in the back of our mind that some shotgun wielding berry lover will come out of their house and start shooting in protection of their berries.
The final devotional that attends to the Fruits of the Land Holiday happens when we arrive home. Still in our berry stained clothes, we make PIE! Apple and Blackberry.
We peel, wash, kneed, mix and cook. By around 8pm we have in front of us beautiful pies, still warm, that we feast on while appreciating the fruits of our lands.
Sonoma County is pretty special place.
Don’t forget the place that had the best sourdough baguettes in the world when we stopped at Wild Flour Bread Bakery on the Bohemian Highway. Oh…and the sticky buns…….yummy!!!!