I should have known that when my ultimate food friend, Melanie, invited me to her house in Cloverdale this weekend that the days would be filled with chowing my way through Sonoma County. When not hanging out at her house chatting by the fire and drinking delicious wine, we were cruising the county having nibbles and bites in Santa Rosa, Healdsburg, Cloverdale and the surrounding areas. I reported on Part I of my trip last week, which included Downtown Bakery, Willie Bird Turkeys and Matos Cheese Factory.
Friday night, we went to dinner at Scopa -- a small restaurant on the square in Healdsburg that focuses on Northern Italian dishes. Melanie did a great job of reporting on our meal on Chowhound, but a few highlights: deliciously light polpette with an addictive tomato sauce, perfectly textured papardelle with duck ragu, and a remarkable side of bread that we used to dip in anything and everything. We sat at the bar, which I would highly recommend. Scopa serves a small list of wines by the glass, but I would recommend skipping wine for a bottle of Pliny the Elder beer. Crafted by Russian River Brewing Company, this strong, double IPA has botanical overtones and a scent of elderflower. I daresay it changed my point-of-view with regards to beer, as I had never experienced the exact flavor combination I had in Pliny the Elder. William Brand's blog has more tasting notes about Pliny the Elder.
I had never been to the Santa Rosa Farmers Market and was excited to check it out on Saturday morning. This market is really the best of all worlds -- it's a small, mellow feeling market that attracts top-notch vendors. Those who attend the San Rafael market on Sundays will recognize several vendors: County Line for gorgeous vegetables, De Santis and their wonderful citrus, and Black Sheep Farm who used to attend the San Rafael market with their delicious meats. Middleton Gardens attends this market with their perfect vegetables -- farmer Nancy Skall is well known for selling to restaurants such as The French Laundry and Chez Panisse (you can read more about Middleton Gardens on Eggbeater).