episode 45 :: sonoma, the heart of food


Thanks to recommendations from Charles at One Hundred Miles, we recently had a food experience that blew our minds in Sonoma Valley. People call it wine country, but I think it’s high time we start calling it food country. They think differently there. They think local, fresh, in-season, and it’s a way of life. It’s the way of my life, actually. I’m jealous of anyone lucky enough to live there.

We visited Bovolo, a breakfast/lunch place known for “slow food, fast” (hence the snail on their logo) – a restaurant so unassuming, it’s located at the back of a bookstore. We also discovered that it’s proprietors, John Stewart and Duskie Estes, not only have a second restaurant (ZAZU, where we ate dinner later that night), but make their own bacon and salumi, from the right kind of pigs – farm raised on sustainable farms, with no drugs, antibiotics, or PEDs. It was more than we could have possibly asked for.

play_audio Listen to episode 45 now.

In this episode:
• Gourmet Magazine ceases to exist, sadly, but Diary of a Foodie lives on (for now)
• Breakfast at Bovolo Restaurant
• Bacon from Black Pig Meat Company
• My next project – home cured and applewood smoked bacon, and dry-cured salumi
• Wine tasting at Pedroncelli Winery
• Dinner at Zazu Restaurant + Farm (yes, Farm — we parked next to rows of herbs and greens)
• Negative Food Bloggers who seem to have an agenda need to STFU
• Dinner at Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc
• Our personal tour of the incredibly small Bouchon Bakery in Yountville
• Special thanks to listeners who have recently sent emails
• Vote for My Life as a Foodie in the 2009 Podcast Awards
• Halloween’s around the corner, and next episode will be extra special

Took a lot of photos. Here’s a slide show:

Charles at One Hundred Miles
Bovolo Restaurant
Black Pig Meat Company
Zazu Restaurant
Ad Hoc
Bouchon Bakery
Pedroncelli Winery
Black Pig Salumi Antipasti Recipes


  1. Phil, I love your passion when you discover new places and new food. It makes me feel like being there to experience it myself. You always sound so excited, as if you’ve just discovered food for the first time or something.

    Love the show, always.

    ~ L

  2. Hi Phil!

    My husband and I ate at Ad Hoc this past Spring, on your recommendation, then the following night at Bouchon!!! What a wonderful trip.

    My husband said his steak and frites at Bouchon were some of the best he’s ever had. I had lamb that night. We had a really lovely hanger steak at ‘ad hoc’. It was only by chance that we had that served to us since we didn’t know what it was going to be when we made our reservations.

    We were at Point Reyes just a few days later, but for cheese from the Cowgirl Creamery and then on to Tomales Bay for fresh oysters. You are right. These are places that are unlike anywhere else. I can’t wait to go back.

    Can’t wait for your Halloween show!

  3. Interesting trip you had to food country (I mean wine country). Always great to discover new places. It goes to show that you can’t judge a book by its cover from the sound of the place, it sounds like an old place converted to a new place.

    I agree with your stance on bloggers being critics, and the anonymous commenters always irk me. Why hide? That’s bush league. And if I’m going to spend a lot of money on dinner, I’ll usually go by word of mouth only anyway. You can’t get that money back if the food sucks, and if you don’t go out that often anyway it’s a waste if the meal ends up short of your expectations.

    When I make it out to Cali I hope to get out that direction and check out the places you mentioned. And I really can’t wait to hear about your home-cured bacon.

  4. Oh I’m jealous! It has been way too long since I’ve been to the wine country…. must get there. Thanks for letting me live vicariously through you Phil! 🙂

  5. Wow! What can I say? I loved every passionate re-lived minute of your trip on this podcast… and I am so glad to know someone else who experienced first hand the wonders that are Bovolo and Zazu. If there was a way for me to live up there (again) I would – and I’d be eating at those restaurants often. It means a lot to me that you appreciated the completeness of what they do – sourcing ingredients, in the kitchen, socially, on and on. I can’t wait to go back up. Next time I’ll be checking out Ad Hoc and Bouchon. Thanks for the unending shout outs – VERY much appreciated. Glad to have you as a friend and a fellow foodie.

  6. […] $49 menu never disappoints us when we visit.  As I’ve said twice on the show before (here and here), it’s like eating a home cooked meal prepared by a top-tier kitchen […]

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