Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Just about everything on Sonoma Plaza

Three years ago, I wrote about the historical attractions on Sonoma Plaza -- Mission San Francisco Solano, the Bear Flag Revolt, and Sonoma State Historic Park.  You can read further about Sonoma Plaza's history by clicking here.

 (Photo courtesy of Sonoma County Convention and Visitors Bureau.)

However, there's much more to Sonoma Plaza than history.  The Plaza is one of the best places to lunch in wine country.  There are a variety of restaurants, so you're bound to find a place to make you happy.  Many restaurants have gardens in the back for outdoor dining on one of the many warm, sunny days.  My favorite lunch spots include The Girl and the Fig for French influenced American food, Della Santina's for Italian cuisine, the Sunflower Caffe for sandwiches and salads, and El Dorado Kitchen for American food.  The Plaza is also home to one of the Bay Area's few Portuguese restaurants - La Salette.  I've yet to try it, so please comment below if you've dined there.

If you are staying on the Plaza and want to taste wine without driving, you're in luck.  There are at least 7 tasting rooms on or within walking distance of the Plaza.

Want to shop?  Sonoma Plaza has plenty to offer with a variety of stores.  Two of my favorites are Baksheesh, which sells fair trade items from around the world, and Lisa Kristine Gallery, home to fine art photographs taken around the world.

For more information on Sonoma Plaza and Sonoma Valley, visit the Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau's website:  www.sonomavalley.com.  If you would like to take a private wine country tour that includes a stop on Sonoma Plaza, contact Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or Rick@BlueHeronTours.com

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Seafood in Napa and Sonoma Wine Country

In yesterday's sister blog, "Rick's San Francisco Journal,"  I wrote about seafood restaurants in San Francisco. Today I'll write about seafood in Napa and Sonoma Wine Country.

In Sonoma County, the best seafood restaurant is Willi's Seafood and Raw Bar in Healdsburg.  Willi's features small plates of seafood that are meant for sharing.  Being a Baltimore native, I am very picky about crab cakes and I think that Willi's are the best in the Bay Area.  My wife summered in Maine when she was a kid and always craves a good lobster roll.  She thinks Willi's is as good as it gets in the Bay Area.

In Napa, you'll probably want to head for Go Fish in St. Helena if you're craving for seafood.  This is chef/owner Cindy Pawlcyn's third restaurant in the Napa Valley.  (The others are Mustard's Grill and Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen.)  The restaurant has cooked seafood, seafood-based salads, sushi, and a raw bar.

If you like oysters, you can head to Hog Island Oyster Bar in the Oxbow Market in the city of Napa for some raw and cooked oysters and clams.

Most restaurants in wine country have seafood dishes on their menus but if you want a restaurant that specializes in seafood your options are limited.