Napa & Sonoma
Food Lover's Guide to Local Products & Local Dining
Rogers and Barbara Radcliffe Rogers
by Veronica Marian
epicurean guidebook, part travel narrative, Eating
Napa & Sonoma is fun to read and hard to put
down, offering a selective yet thorough collection of
restaurants, markets, cheese shops, organic farms and
wineries in Napa
and Sonoma. The best part about it is the casual,
inviting way in which the book teaches readers about a
diverse breadth of locally grown foods, wine and regional
For instance, we learn how wine barrels are made. Did
you know that it takes five cubic meters of log to make
one cubic meter of barrel staves, or that depending on
how toasted the wood is, the wine that will be kept inside
it will gather a different taste? At Seguin Moreau, visitors
can witness and learn about each step of barrel-making.
We also learn that for half a century, Luther Burbank
experimented with creating hybrid fruits and vegetables
which could grow in severe conditions and which would
increase the world's food supply. Among his inventions?
The Idaho potato and thornless blackberries.
While containing a wealth of fun historical information
on the area and the immigrants who transformed it, Eating
Napa & Sonoma remains a foodie's where-to guide.
Restaurant reviews feature the authors' favorite places,
from tiny diners to established restaurants. Farms (mushrooms,
oyster and potatoes) are also included, as are chocolate
and sausage makers, wineries and tours, reviews of the
best local farmers markets, mom and pop stores that sell
only mustard and regional cooking classes.
Every now and then, a side bar offers even more interesting
information about a related topic. You’ll learn
the difference between Sweetwater, Atlantic, Kumamoto
and French Hog oyster farms. One shocker was discovering
that the fortune cookie was introduced to China in 1990
as "Genuine American Fortune Cookies." It is,
however, believed that ancestors of the Chinese fortune
cookies existed in the forms of secret messages baked
inside mooncakes—these secret messages encouraged
a wide-spread uprising and led to the foundation of the
Ming Dynasty in the 1500s.
As for the actual reviews, they are concise, informative
and highlight just why that venue was deemed worthy of
inclusion in this volume. The authors, Juliette Rogers
and Barbara Radcliffe Rogers, clearly know and love this
part of California, as well as food and wine. They make
it abundantly clear that the selections that made it into
the book are particularly exceptional in their use of
the freshest, locally-grown produce, and are somehow emblematic
of the Napa and Sonoma area.