Recently, after spending three wonderful days with Clay's family, we drove back across the very hot Sacramento Valley, along the Carneros Highway which goes through a venerable wine growing region that borders Napa Valley to the south, and on to the Sonoma Valley where I stayed with my sister, whom I call Alwyn, for two days in a fabulous house in the hills outside the historic town of Sonoma. And the temperature continued to climb. Our days were spent in and out of the pool, which overlooked the valley, talking, talking, talking and thoroughly enjoying each other's company (that's me on the left with my sister on the right). We went out to dinner both nights: first to Della Santina's, then the next night to the girl and the fig, both in the town of Sonoma. Our food was exceptionally delicious in both well-known and award-winning restaurants, but because I have a hard time with photographing food in restaurants and don't consider myself a food critic, you'll just have to take my word for it. I heartily recommend both establishments, not only for their superb menus, but for ambience and service as well. If you're planning a trip to the Sonoma Valley, do call ahead to make reservations. You won't be sorry. Two days aren't nearly long enough when sisters are visiting and this time seemed especially short - so much more so when being treated to such a wonderful place - but Tuesday arrived and so did Clay to drive the both of us home. First though, taking advantage of our location, we stopped at The Fig Pantry in Sonoma, a deli, coffee fountain, food and gift store owned by girl and the fig restauranteur Sondra Bernstein . There I bought her cookbook, aptly named The Girl and The Fig Cookbook (read what others are saying about it here) and several jars and bottles of figgy things that will become part of future posts. Hungry from all that shopping, we popped into the deli side of the store and ordered sandwiches and a salad to go, giving Clay a taste of what he had missed. The signature grilled fig, toasted pecan, pancetta and goat cheese salad with a balsamic fig dressing (served at the restaurant also) was outstanding. The pastrami, red onion confit, and Vella dry jack cheese panini that Clay had and the grilled steak, arugula and black olive aioli panini that I had were both exceedingly satisfying. Add Fizzy Lizzy's Raspberry Lemonade and I was in heaven.
Filled to bursting, we headed up the road to Trader Joe's in Santa Rosa where I replenished my pantry with some of my favorite condiments and a few bottles of rose wine. For the summer, you know. Stay tuned.