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Apple Spice brings boxed lunch delivery to Petaluma

Apple Spice has announced a grand opening in the space formerly occupied by Giacomo’s. As we first shared last year, the owners of Giacomo’s said that some sort of delivery food company would be moving in and Apple Spice is it. Now, this may seem like an odd time to open a food-related business, but if leases were signed and plans laid out prior to shelter in place, the show likely had to go on. And in this case, Apple Spice might just be the perfect business to start during a SIP order, where essential businesses are looking for an easy way to feed staff.

The owner of Apple Spice reached out to me, which is always appreciated because Petaluma is a pretty big food town to cover. The franchise began in the Salt Lake City-area decades ago as a bakery and catering business, and now has shops across the country, although they are still pretty sparse here in California.

The concept is to offer businesses and individuals a minimum five-box lunch order or catering for 15 or more. Orders are placed online or over the phone for either take-out or free delivery, when scheduled in advance. Currently they are open Monday thru Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. They bake their own bread daily, with no preservatives. It’s used in the sandwiches fresh that day, as well as sold by the loaf, which is already a big hit. They also make many desserts from scratch including a Peanut Butter Yummy Bar, Apple Crumb Cake and Sour Cream Cranberry Bar.

The owner’s name is Waseem Khan and his family moved to California from Pakistan 40 years ago when he was only 16 years old. Back in 1997, he and his wife moved to Petaluma and have been here ever since. Waseem partnered in some other restaurant franchises in the area but then shifted to an opportunity on the East Coast. The family, however, didn’t want to leave Petaluma, so he looked for something closer to home. He purchased the North Bay franchise rights for Apple Spice, from Larkspur to Windsor, with his headquarters and original location right here in Petaluma. For menu and ordering visit applespice.com.

Reopenings

This week’s list of re-opens is impressive and encouraging. Central Market’s ovens are up and running and they have already started curbside service. Chef Tony let me know that his ever-evolving menu can be found on his website. As a big fan of cassoulets in general and Liberty Farm Duck in particular, his Cassoulet for Two ($30) caught my eye - “Liberty farm duck confit, lamb stew, garlic sausage, heirloom beans, curried chickpeas, cauliflower, squash, sugar snaps, crispy onions and preserved lemon yogurt.” He also let me know that last Saturday he offered a New Orleans menu, which many have been asking for recently, especially since the closure of Gator’s. Along with the regular menu, each night Central Market creates a different “meals for two,” which last Saturday was chicken sausage gumbo, pilaf, fried shrimp, hush puppies, Italian salad and brown sugar bread pudding.

Other big announcements included the reopening of What a Chicken. Although they have been selling at the east side farmers market over the past weeks, they are finally reopening the Washington Street restaurant for take-out. However, keep in mind that the parking lot is very small so be a pro and park on the street and walk over.

Aqus Cafe has always been a community hub and they did conducted a major pivot during SIP by hosting Zoom singalongs over the past few weeks. Although live music is still a ways off, Aqus is back with a robust take-out menu, offered every day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Two more opening announcement came from downtown’s Trattoria Roma and the east side’s Ohana Hawaiian Barbecue, located across the driveway from Staples.

Temporarily Closed

Fourth & Sea has closed up its longtime location at 4th and C streets. The last fish and chips order went out on May 15 and the sign has come down. Restaurant representative Ann Heatly posted that the business has thrived at the location for 19 years, “But we are at the age now when we are starting to think what our exit strategy from the restaurant might look like.” They do hope to possibly sell the business, but for that to happen, they would have to bring the building up to newer standards, even though they don’t own the building. “That building has been in continuous operation as a restaurant for 70 years! Bringing it up to current code would not be an insignificant expense.”

She concluded, “Although we don’t know right now exactly when or where we will resurface, we know we will.”

Spring in the Air

With dozens of restaurants reopening in the past couple of weeks, it sure does feel like change is in the air. Couple that with the county’s announcement that restaurant restrictions could be loosened soon, and it sure does give the impression that we are coming in on the home stretch.

Dine-in, whether inside the restaurant or on the picnic benches or tables out front, is still not allowed by the county order, so “re-open” isn’t quite where we’d like to see it, but hopefully soon. That said, I had two positive experiences yesterday right up that alley.

The first was when I was pulling out of the Petaluma Market parking lot and saw Hallie’s Diner owner Jennifer Cromwell (also known as Jennifer Braga to those who grew up in Petaluma) and her staff moving tables around out in front of her restaurant. I said hello from my car and she look up with a huge grin and said that they were testing out how many tables they could fit out front, obviously excited about the potential to soon offer outdoor dining.

Another conversation that same day was with Marco Palmieri, owner of Risibisi. His plan is to work with Seared and Cucina Paradiso to figure out some outdoor dining options out back of their restaurants on Water Street. We also struck up an immediate conversation in that we both are less than pleased with the terrible cobble stones that line most of Water Street. Ever since they were put in, they have been a trip hazard as well as being extremely unpleasant to drive over. It was encouraging to hear that a native Italian, where cobble stone streets have been around since the time of the Romans, feels the same way. As he pointed out, “after 2100 years of technological advances we still can’t manage to build cobblestone streets as well as the Romans did.”

Liquor Laws

To help facilitate these types of upcoming changes, the agency in charge of alcohol sales licensing in the California has announced the “Fourth Notice of Regulatory Relief” this week, which will allow restaurants to expand their license’s foot print in order to accommodate more outdoor seating.

Memorial Day

Although not quite the dine-out holiday as Mother’s Day or Cinco de Mayo, a few restaurants have announced specific specials, including Pearl, Butcher Crown Roadhouse and Osteria Stellina, for those that might be out at the coast.

Pearl’s special is right on point with a “Memorial Day BBQ Kit.” Each will include a little gem and rhubarb salad with preserved lemon green goddess dressing, late spring veggie kababs with herbed tahini and buckwheat apricot strawberry shortcakes. But meat eaters do not despair as you will get to pick from several options in order to round out the kit. Options include flatiron steak (chili and garlic rubbed with charred spring onions and romesco sauce), lamb burgers (feta-studded patties, house-made buns and pickled fennel tzatziki) or local fish (herb-marinated and grape leaf wrapped, with chermoula sauce.) Everything will be prepped, marinated and portioned so all you have to do is grill. These kits are $60 each and easily feed two people. Order by 5 p.m. on Friday for Sunday or Monday pick-up.

For those looking to give their grill the weekend off, Butcher Crown Roadhouse has you covered. For the occasion, they have added slow-smoked Cuban mojo pulled pork to the Friday night options and on Saturday and Sunday are offering the “Trifecta.” This will feature a combo of tri-tip, piri piri chicken and the “Humm baby-back ribs.” The half order feeds four and the full order feeds at least six, if not more. And for those who have been missing Three Twin’s lemon cookie ice cream, BCR now offers a dessert add-on of Mariposa Ice Creamery’s Lemon Lemony Cookie Ice Cream, which I loved from the first time I tried it several years ago. With limited smoker capacity these pre-order meals sell out early so book ahead.

We are well into spring and fresh local salmon seems to be on everyone’s mind, and Osteria Stellina in Point Reyes has surfaced with an interesting special. Open for Memorial Day, the king salmon dinner comes with coconut clove basmati rice, soy-lime red mizuna salad, and ginger-brazed Shao Shan organic baby bok choy. Dinner for two is $56 and for four is $100, prepared and ready to finish in your oven. Wine and beer are 25% off. They are also currently offering their “Pizza for the People” donation special in order to help support the West Marin Community Services Food Pantry. Pizza donations are $17 per pie or a dozen for $200. Osteriastellina.com

Pescatarian

While we are on the subject of salmon, I couldn’t help but notice that starting this week, “Plaj is coming to Stockhome” with a four-course menu highlighting one of the San Francisco restaurant’s most popular dishes: caraway smoked salmon. Stockhome (Plaj’s sister restaurant) will offer Bodega Bay wild king salmon sourced from Anna’s Seafood. The meal starts with fresh-baked Swedish limpa bread, followed by an heirloom tomato burrata salad with buckwheat, onion and basil before getting into the main course of caraway smoked salmon with shaved fennel, English peas, avocado and butter potatoes. Dessert is peach crumble with granola crust and vanilla ice cream. Dinner serves two, is $90 and should be ordered in advance.

In other fish news, The Shuckery’s crew has really been going above and beyond. SIP seems to have had no affect on Chef Stéphane Saint-Louis’ creativity, which is coming through loud and clear in his current menu. From his excellent clam chowder to peach salad (caramelized peach salad, prosciutto, ricotta, pickled onion, pistachio, basil bourbon balsamic) to bay shrimp roll and fish and fried chicken Caesar sandwiches, The Shuckery is sending diners home with a true restaurant experience. A couple of items that caught my attention are the seafood cassoulet (prawns, clams, octopus, three-bean, fire-roasted tomato, carrot, pearl onions and cornbread) and the Liberty Farms Duck confit, available in both two- and four-person orders. These dinners start with local Liberty Farms Duck confit, along with honey marbled potatoes, roasted vegetables, house salad and sliced lemon cake with lemon mascarpone whipped cream and fresh cherries. And for the veggies in the group, The Shuckery even offers a vegetarian shepherd’s pie (mushrooms, peas, carrots, chard, pepper, potato, parmesan and a side of asparagus), which they suggest pairs well with their 2017 Carignan Zinfandel from Unturned Stone in Dry Creek Valley.

Sweet stories

In the ‘sweet stories’ category, Baskin-Robbins is again on our radar as owner Samantha Mahan came to the rescue when Lynne Gordon Moquete was looking place to store 75 pounds of donated steak meant for the local families her Una Vida helps feed locally (una-vida.org). I did not hear where the steaks came from but hopefully Cattlemens’ generous donation last week has started to get that ball rolling.

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