As I noted in my last post, I'm fresh off a three week tour of California. Over that run I've put some 2,000 miles on a (borrowed) Chevy Volt all while visiting sustainable farms and food producers along the way. And what an honor it was. I spent time with some really amazing people including Sondra Bernstein and her crew from the girl & the fig, the fig cafe and ESTATE, all located in Sonoma Valley.
Sondra and her business partner Chef John Toulze have been defining Sonoma cuisine for over a decade now, and from the looks of it, they aren't planning to slow down anytime soon. This is probably best punctuated by their latest cookbook, Plats du Jour-- though calling it simply a cookbook is a gross understatement. Sure, the book is filled with out-of-this-world recipes and mouth-watering photos but...it's the details about their journey creating a biodynamic farm that's truly fascinating. And this isn't just some vanity project, their plot shares land with Imagery Estate Winery--a biodynamic vineyard located in Glen Ellen--and the little sister of Benziger Family Winery, this country's first certified biodynamic vineyard and winery. The Benziger family isn't just serious about biodynamics, they've pretty much defined it for generations to come. Patriarch Mike Benziger is really an agricultural genius.
Pictured below are Sondra and Chef John at the Imagery Estate farm. The beets that Sondra is holding made their way into a very tasty beet and carrot juice cocktail enjoyed by us later that day. But Sondra admits, they haven't gotten it all figured out just yet. This is a learning process. For example, the farm is booming with leeks at the moment and therefore, so is the menu at all three restaurants (oops!). Next time around they will pace out their plantings to better balance the menu.