Learn to grill with Seared, Stemple Creek Ranch

Stemple Creek Ranch has been offering free webinars with guest chefs recently, but this Sunday’s is really something special. As one of the first local restaurants to feature Stemple Creek Ranch’s proteins on their menu, Chef Joe O’Donnell of Seared is intimately familiar with Stemple Creeks’ high quality, something for which his customers keep flocking back to his restaurant. Chef Joe and Stemple Creek Ranch owner Loren Poncia will discuss grass-fed beef, techniques for grilling and will even create something on-air for viewers. There will also be a Q&A session. Visit Stemple Creek Ranch’s Facebook page for a link to register for this free webinar on Sunday, Oct. 17, at 4 p.m.

Chef Joe grew up here in Petaluma, the son of famed Ken O’Donnell, owner of McNear’s. Joe attended St. Vincent’s and upon graduation, moved to Arizona, where he studied at Cordon Bleu. After working at some restaurants in Arizona, he returned home and worked at both Eos (San Francisco) and Sushi Ran (Sausalito) before landing back in Petaluma, helping to revamp McNear’s menu, as well as overseeing the opening and kitchen operations at Seared. Since opening in 2013, Chef Joe and his restaurant have won numerous Petaluma People’s Choice Awards, including Best Steak, Best Seafood, Best Restaurant and Best Chef, and have definitely won the hearts and stomachs of many a Petaluma diner.

The first time I ever had Stemple Creek was an excellent burger I devoured at Seared years ago. I knew it was good but was not familiar with the ranch until someone confirmed that part of the reason why it was so good was because it was made with Stemple Creek ground beef.

For those looking to get their hands on Stemple Creek Ranch meats so they can play along with the webinar (or simply to grill up a great dinner on their own), visit for their farmers market locations (Marin Civic Center) and to order online. We regularly get their ground beef from Petaluma Market, and when looking for dry-age, grass-fed, bone-in ribeye steaks for our Basque txuleta dinners, we always order direct from their website. We also recently tried their bacon for the first time, adding it to a bean recipe, using our first subscription shipment of heirloom Rancho Gordo Beans and could not have been happier with both. Stemple Creek also now offers an excellent honey.

‘Afternoon of Food and Fun’

For an in-person ranch/food experience, Fallon Hills Ranch has just announced ticket sales for their upcoming “Afternoon of Food and Fun” at their 1995 Gericke Road location, west of Petaluma. “Enjoy a beautiful afternoon at Fallon Hills Ranch where you can take in the spectacular scenery of the property, learn about our ranch and family history with a guided ranch tour by Kevin Maloney, then indulge in a Fallon Hills Ranch dinner with Fallon Hills Ranch offerings and wine from Boisset Collection (DeLoach, Buena Vista, Raymond and JCB).”

Tickets are available through their Facebook page, with pricing for both kids and adults, for this event – Saturday, Oct. 23, from 3 to 6:30 p.m. Ticket sales end Oct. 18, so grab yours now. And for a great selection of pasture-raised beef, lamb, pork, chicken and farm-fresh eggs, plus custom sausages (their Boerewors is our favorite) you can either visit Fallon Hills at area farmers markets (Marin Civic Center) or order directly at Currently, all boxes are 21% off with promo code CLARE21.

We were lucky enough to attend one of these ranch tours and dinners a few years back and thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon, always learning something new from fifth-generation farmer/rancher Kevin Maloney. If you are looking for a fun and safe outing for you and the kids, this is certainly it with the bonus that you will all get to learn more about our local ranchers and where our local high-quality meats come from. To read more about our experience, check out the Argus article at

Petaluma eateries earn accolades


At least two of our local restaurants have garnered recent recognition on one of the San Francisco Chronicle’s “best of” lists. There may be more, but as I don’t subscribe, someone is going to have to tune me in. Of course, we already know that Petaluma has the best food in the Bay Area, however, it is still fun to see others discovering us for the first time and giving credit to El Roy’s (210 Edith St., plus multiple local food truck locations), which made it onto the “Best Burritos” in the Bay Area according to the S.F. Chronicle. The “Chron” makes special mention of El Roy’s super burrito, which they list as coming “Mission-style,” a term that describes one of three main styles of Mexican-American burritos. Chronologically, the first was the “simple” burrito, containing beans, rice and meat. Next was the Mission-style burrito, which gained popularity in the 1960s in San Francisco’s Mission District. These are larger than the simple burrito and come wrapped in a steamed tortilla, which helps make the tortilla more pliable for stuffing with extra rice and other goodies. Finally, in the 1980s, the California burrito came into its own and tends to differ from the other two in that it focuses more on cheese and the inclusion of potatoes.


In the bagel department, Petaluma actually nabbed two mentions in a recent “Top Bagels” article in the Chronicle. Topping the list is the Bagel Mill (212 Western Ave.), where they give credit to owner Glenda Dougherty (great name for a baker, right?) for her attention to detail, which starts 36 hours prior to the bagels hitting the display case when she grinds flour on her own in-house stone mill.

Petaluma’s Ethel’s Bagels, available at farmers markets, by direct order (, and at periodic pop-ups, such as a recent Friday stint at Grand Central Café (226 Weller St.) also made the list, with special mention that owner Nicolas Abrams adds both Lagunitas beer and organic malt syrup to the bagel boil water, which adds maltiness to the flavor.

As we learned when interviewing both bagel makers for prior Argus articles, neither Bagel Mill or Ethel’s claims to make a strictly New York-style bagel, although most of the New Yorkers we know seem to love them just the same. Both bagels start with a sourdough starter, which is not standard for NY bagels, but adds an additional dimension that California’s seem to appreciate. Both makers also boil their bagels before baking, which is what helps make them retain a slightly crispy outside while remaining chewy on the inside. Because of the addition of extra malt during his process, Ethel’s might actually be classified at a Montreal-style bagel, although the original recipe comes from Nicolas’s New York grandmother. (See the original Bagel Mill article and Ethel article on the Argus website).

Michelin Milestone

The final “best of” honor is a huge one, not just coming from one of our local newspapers, but comes from the Michelin dining guide. For the second year in a row (we aren’t going to count 2020), Stockhome earned a Bib Gourmand award from the famed restaurant guide. For those who may be familiar with Michelin stars (they award a rare few restaurants worldwide with one, two and three stars, based on a complex number of criteria) but the Bib Gourmand, first off, it is named after Bibendum, the name of their friendly Michelin Man mascot. No, I had no idea either that he had a name, other than “the Michelin Man.” As mentioned on their website, the Bib Gourmand is not a consolation prize to a star but is “…a just-as-esteemed rating that recognizes friendly establishments that serve good food at moderate prices.”

As mentioned in a column from a few weeks ago, Stockhome’s owners recently shuttered their fancier San Francisco restaurant Plaj, a victim of the changing restaurant scene brought about by the pandemic. The good news for Petaluma is that this means Chef/Co-owner Roberth Sundell is going to be here at Stockhome fulltime, which means we are likely to see even more creative specials coming up. In talking with the Sundell’s during a recent visit, and enthusiastically inquiring if these means more specialty dinners, they confirmed that they are definitely excited to concentrate on Stockhome and expand on the local dining experience. And because they were able to bring some of their staff with them from Plaj, unlike many of our other restaurants, which are suffering from an extreme shortage in staff, Stockhome’s service remains top notch.

Free ice cream!

Alec’s Ice Cream, true to their promise of always keeping Argus readers abreast of their specials, contacted us to give us a heads up that they will be offering an ice cream giveaway to trick-or-treaters on the afternoon of Oct. 31 at their 1st Street factory. Stay tuned for more details once they are available. In the meantime, we pick up our pints of Alec’s excellent ice cream at both Charley’s Wine Country Deli and Petaluma Market. I rotate through which of the five flavors are my favorite because they are all so good in their own right. Right now, it’s the lavender honey blueberry. I am not normally a fan of lavender, but this one is not overdone, and has so much honey that I simply can’t resist polishing off the whole pint in one sitting.

Sax’s Joint honors a vet

From the feel-good-files, Alice Kilgore was kind enough to share to the I Love Petaluma! Facebook group a recent experience she had at Sax’s Joint that we feel is worth sharing. Thank you for sharing, but a special thanks for caring about our veterans.

“I took my 92-year young Veteran friend out to breakfast. He served over 30 years in the military that included three wars. We decided to go to Sax’s Joint for breakfast. Not only did the owners and employees along with several customers thank him for his service but when it came time for our bill, they also took care of our bill. He was in the hospital for over a month. This was a special day out and about for us. Sax’s crew you went above and beyond for Don today. He was over the stars happy! We left you all then went and laid flowers on his wife’s grave. Couldn’t get the VIP smile off his face. Small town Petaluma business with class showing a true hero some love. We will be back and just can’t thank you enough. He’s heard about your place and used to take his wife there when it was Marvin’s over 30 years ago. He felt the love as he also did some reminiscing. This is Petaluma pride at its finest!”

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