Favorite food:You know when you read a menu and you basically have no choice but to order one of your “regular” dishes? I fall into that trap often. If two of my favorite menu items are listed then I usually force my husband to get the other one, and share. Lucky for him, I have really good taste in food, ha! My regular go-to items include: oysters (raw), gnocchi, lamb, duck, pulled pork sandwich, crab cake Benedict, and anything with excessive amounts or unusual use of avocado, chipotle mayo, aioli or goat cheese. Oh, and I have a moderate to strong obsession with savory ice cream and cocktails, ideally together.
Best of the Bay Area “Top 11” List:As the Sonoma County correspondent for the SacFoodies, here is my list of all-time favorites in the North Bay and vicinity. If you know of a good place in my neck of the woods please tell me, I want to try it!
- Best Meatball Sandwich: Zoccoli’s Delicatessen in Santa Cruz. They have a lot of tempting items on the menu, don’t let them steer you off course: get the meatball sandwich and sit on the sidewalk tables for top-notch SC people watching.
- Best Deep Dish Pizza: Zachary’s Chicago Pizza in Berkeley. It has a well-deserved reputation and worth the 30 minute wait for the pizza to cook.
- Best Overall Pizza: Mary’s Pizza Shack, Sonoma-based, but various locations around the Bay Area. I’m obsessed with their ranch dressing as much as I am the Totos combo.
- Best Coffee: Blue Bottle locations always call my heart, and lately I’ve been getting my fix at Cornerstone. Get a cup and wander their (free) outdoor garden exhibits.
- Best Macaroons: Bouchon Bakery in St Helena. Always a variety of flavors, but don’t miss the vanilla.
- Best Ice Cream: I’m usually not a fence rider on important decisions but I honestly can’t decide between The Penny Ice Creamery in Santa Cruz and Humphry Slocombe in San Francisco. Expand your ice cream horizons at both establishments.
- Best Oysters: If you’re going to eat your oysters raw, and you should, go to Hog Island. A convenient location at Napa’s Oxbow Market is fabulous, but the experience at their Marshall Farm is something to put on your foodie bucket list. Tip: bring your own fixin’s and go in the middle of the week because it gets crowded.
- MicroBrews: Lagunitas Brewing Company. Check out their unassuming brewery in Petaluma and go on the tour. It’s located in a weird industrial park. Just do it, and thank me later.
- Best French Bread: I have two staples: Basque Boulangerie in Sonoma and Costeaux French Bakery in Healdsburg.
- Best quesadilla: La Bamba food truck in Boyes Hot Springs. I’ve been going here for 15 years. Never disappoints.
- Best Breakfast: Sweet Potato Hash with chipotle hollandaise sauce at Community Café in Sonoma. Yum.
Favorite dining experience of all time: My favorite dining experiences are usually in my own kitchen, typically with a few friends and a bottle of wine. Nothing fancy, just cooking, drinking, and talking. Sometimes it’s a build-your-own sushi party, other times is a simple BBQ cook out. That is my heaven. I love cooking for people, trying new recipes and challenging my culinary skills. Sometimes a success and sometimes not, but my kind family always eats with a smile.
Earliest food-related memory from childhood: I loved sushi as a kid. I remember people being surprised by that.
Funny foodie memory: In high school my girlfriends and I actually put a lot of time and effort in starting a petition to get a certain type of ranch dressing on the menu at the cafeteria. We wanted ranch from Mary’s and didn’t understand why they would source it from anywhere but the best in town. Funny thing is, we got A LOT of signatures from students and teachers. #foodieproblems
Favorite family recipe: Oma’s pan fried abalone.