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Penngrove Market reborn

After a 2015 fire, it was questionable whether Penngrove Market would ever reopen. Well, during last week’s Penngrove Parade, we got a peek in the windows of the rebuilt space and it looks great. A set of couples is carrying the torch, and is asking for help from the general public by way of crowd funding. If you visit Penngrove Market’s Facebook page, you will find a link to their funding campaign, along with a great video that explains their plans.

From the looks of it, they plan bring back the market even better than before, focusing more on local produce and products. The space has also been reoriented, with big front doors opening onto a large covered area, which I imagine will house produce bins, and is facing the newly paved parking lot, instead of the street. It is easy to envision Penngrovians getting a market on par with Petaluma Market.

256 North under ‘new’ management

Although I recently wrote a feature article on 256 North, I’m revisiting them in this week’s column to put the rumors to rest. Over the past weeks, several people have come up to me whispering about rumors they’d heard about the partnership that brought us 256 North.

Simply put, Jan Rosen and her partner have split. Jan is running solo, and has infused a bit more “Rosen’s” influence into the menu and the staff. So, if you have been hesitant to visit because you weren’t sure what was going on, now you know. If you want the true Jan Rosen experience, which is one that many Petalumans remember fondly from such places as J.M. Rosen’s and the Salad Mill, 256 North is now uniquely a Jan Rosen property.

Not surprisingly, the food is better than ever. Jan has been in restaurants her whole life and knows how to run a kitchen. Most of our favorite items are still present, such as the Trio of Crudo, but the menu is more straight forward now that Jan is running the kitchen.

We had the waygu burger recently, and it was excellent. We also enjoyed an excellent martini and a glass of port, in a proper Ridel port glass, not those ridiculous little tulip glasses that port producers crush under their boot whenever they run across them. We were also pleased to see local favorite Keller Estate on the menu, and with very reasonable by-the-glass pricing.

Jan has also replaced most of the bar staff, which were affiliated with the prior partner, and sometimes didn’t quite get how to keep Petalumans coming back. The new staff is friendly and attentive, even to non-food writers.

As a side note, 256 North is now open for lunch. My suggestion? Get the burger. They also have a large banquet room, which is great for both large and small gatherings. We’ve attended several there already and have been treated to great food and service, along with a spacious area for mingling, or formal dining.

Farmstand reemerges

Unless you knew where to find her wonderful jams, Leslie Goodrich’s LaLa’s Urban Farmstand might have seemed like a bit of urban folklore. Although you didn’t need a password or a secret handshake, only the adventurous seemed to be able to find her little side alley farm stand, located in the heart of the downtown’s historic Brewsters Edition.

Always in a bit of a gray area when it came to operating retail sales at the former location, LaLa’s is now proud to announce that they have a new and permanent location in the little yellow house on East Washington Street, just west of Lumberjacks and the Payran intersection.

On Saturday, July 15, Leslie will hold a Grand Opening for LaLa’s Jam Bar and Urban Farmstand, with plenty of samples of every homemade jam you can think of, and even some you probably never would have, like apricot lavender or peach basil.

The jams are seasonal, so you’ll want to visit as soon as possible, because by the time you work through your first set of jams, all new flavor profiles will be available. Leslie will also carry as many other local products as she can fit into her little tasting room, which already includes Petaluma Toffee Company, Barber Cellars chocolate sauce, and spices from Sonoma Spice Queen.

Homebrew fest

I have been honored with a spot at the judges’ table at this year’s Sonoma County Home Brewer’s Competition, alongside my partner in crime, Andrea Pierotti, who not only won this year’s Petaluma People’s Choice award for Best Attorney, but is also a craft beer aficionado and beer attorney.

The competition will be Saturday, Oct. 7 from noon to 6 p.m. along Scott Street, which sits in front of 101 North Brewing Company, the main event sponsor. The lucky winner gets a chance to brew their winning beer at 101 North, with help from head brewer Joel Johnson, and will be distributed throughout the Bay Area.

Another major sponsor is TAPS, which holds the launch party later in the year, and carries the winning beer on tap at their downtown riverfront beer garden.

Entry is $25, with applications due by Sept. 7, although limited to 75 entrants, so don’t wait until the last minute. There is a special pre-brew party at Lagunitas for those who sign up prior to Aug. 7. Sign up at SonomaCountyHomeBrewersCompetition.com.

Bodega at HenHouse

We’ve been visiting the Bodega food truck just about every chance we get, which luckily is a lot as they regularly roll in to The Block. For a special treat, the Bodega will be wheels-down at HenHouse Brewing on Tuesday, July 18. Normally, I wouldn’t mention a brewery from outside Petaluma, but HenHouse started here and will always be a Petaluma brewery in our hearts. Check out the Bodega – CA on Facebook for a list of their upcoming venues.

Firefighters’ BBQ

Wilmar Volunteer Fire Department holds its 51st annual Chicken BBQ fundraiser on Sunday, July 23, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Holy Ghost Hall (also known as Portuguese Hall), at the corner of Bodega and Eucalyptus Avenue Lunch will include barbecue chicken, chili, salad, a roll and milk.

There will also be a no-host bar. Along with kids’ games, a silent auction and two raffles, including a trip for two to Hawaii, guests are invite to see and ride Wilmar’s new fire engine.

Wine with BBQ

I judged the Petaluma Active 20-30 Club’s Ribs for Kids event a couple of weeks ago and was thoroughly impressed with what our backyard chefs were cooking. For the second year in a row, Ana Keller brought herself and some of her great wine to our judging table.

Ribs and wine might not seem like a dynamic duo, but so far so good as Ana’s wines have gone excellently with the ribs. In fact, several of the judges’ first question upon arriving this year was, “Is Ana bringing wine again this year?”

Last year was Keller Estate’s rosé, but she didn’t feel this year’s vintage was quite right for barbecue, so she brought a wonderfully refreshing pinot gris. Other than port, I’m not known for getting seconds on wine, but when it’s a bottle of Keller Estate, I stick around to help polish off the bottle.

Japanese cuisine

Sake 107 has opened its doors at, you guessed it, 107 Petaluma Blvd. North. This is the former location for Hiro’s Sushi. According to readers who have dined there already, Sake 107 is looking to bring Japanese cuisine other than sushi to Petaluma, although to be fair, Gohan has been doing that for years on the north end of town.

I heard similar from the owners of Kitaru, the Japanese restaurant that went in to the old Andy’s Sushi location, next to Petaluma Market. What I do know about Sake 107 is that they have an extensive sake selection, and according to their website, their chef grew up in Japan, married a Sonoma County woman years ago and is looking to meld traditional Japanese cuisine with our local fare.

Bee friendly

Heidrun Meadery in Point Reyes Station will run another installment of their “Bee Experience” class on Sunday, July 23, from 1 to 3 p.m. If anyone knows about bees and honey, it’s a producer of honey wines, which is what mead is. Guests will also get a chance to taste Heidrun’s seasonal meads. Visit heidrunmeadery.com for more info.

(Contact Houston Porter at houston@avant-larde.com.)