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Shall we keep dining on Water Street in Petaluma?

Would you like to see Water Street dining continue after the pandemic? If so, the Petaluma Downtown Association is asking for our input through a survey, the results of which will be presented to the Petaluma City Council later this month. Visit surveymonkey.com/r/VWFQ53D to take part.

The three question/one comment survey can be completed in less than a minute. The questions are whether you are from the Petaluma area, whether you would like to outdoor dining and public events expand along Water Street, would you recommend the outdoor dining experience along Water Street, and what would make your experience along Water Street even better.

Personally, I think the Water Street dining experience is great and is exactly what downtown needs. I would like to see this expanded to some other streets, if it were feasible. However, I sure would like to see them remove those terrible cobblestones and replaced them with a similar looking, but much easier to navigate pressed concrete. Sure, I love the cobblestones of old Europe, but those are installed by true craftsman. As Marco from Risibisi pointed out in a recent conversation, the nostalgia gets lost when the end construction quality is lacking. (These are not original and were laid down when Water Street was renovated a couple of decades ago.) For Petaluma’s elderly, handicapped and high-heeled, Water Street’s cobblestones present a bit of a challenge, but certainly take nothing away from the great recent outdoor, waterside dining options. One of the silver linings of the pandemic has been Water Street’s outdoor dining, which many would like to see stay even once restaurants are back to full indoor capacity.

The Transhumance Festival will begin with a flock grass-eating animals moving through Petaluma. (ANDREW GOTSHALL/FOR THE ARGUS-COURIER)
The Transhumance Festival will begin with a flock grass-eating animals moving through Petaluma. (ANDREW GOTSHALL/FOR THE ARGUS-COURIER)

Transhumance Festival 2021

If the name doesn’t sound familiar, the imagines of a large flock of sheep being herded through downtown Petaluma might. For the past couple of years, the Transhumance Festival has been held out on Steamer Landing Park, kicking off the festivities with a goat herd walk through downtown Petaluma. Transhumance is the historic tradition of physically moving livestock through the seasonal cycles to new grazing lands. The word comes from “trans” meaning across and “humus” meaning ground.

The festival’s goal is to reconnect people with the land that feeds them and is spearheaded by Guido Frosini, owner of True Grass Farms (Valley Ford) and a member of the Grazing Collective. This event is free to all and normally includes a day of “cutting edge discussions on environmental ethics, regenerative agriculture and watershed health; as well as an art exhibit, live music, theater, interactive educational activities for youth, a local artisan marketplace, and locally-sourced and foraged food,” according to the website. However, this year’s even has been scaled back a bit as far as presentations and marketplace, but will still offer “an open forum to discuss how to create an inclusive culture of place, while expanding our ecological lexicon to help nourish and renew our relationships to animals, land, water, climate, and each other.”

This year’s event will be Saturday, June 12, with the sheep’s arrival at Steamer Landing Park scheduled for 9 a.m. Once they are comfortably grazing, at 10 a.m., festival goers can help walk goats on lead to City Hall where at Guido Frosini, Petaluma Mayor Teresa Barrett and Stephanie Bastianon of Friends of the River will speak. At noon, the goats and crowd will head back to Steamer Landing Park for live music from the Burnside Band. Guest are encouraged to bring blankets, chairs and picnic lunches. At 1:45 p.m. guest will be able to talk to herders/shepherds and meet the goats. The festival ends at 3 p.m. Visit sassyandgrassy.com for more information and for a mesmerizing 4-minute video showing a recent transhumance here on our Petaluma backroads.

Azari Vineyards in Petaluma.
Azari Vineyards in Petaluma.

Meaty treats for Father’s Day

Azari Vineyard (azarivineyards.com) has added charcuterie sampling along with the normal one-hour wine tastings, just in time for Father’s Day. Tastings are $20 for just wine, or $35 for meat, too.

“We've partnered with a local butcher shop to bring you some of the finest cuts of salty, sweet and savory meats that will undeniably bring out the best in each of our premium Azari Wines. Feeling spicy? Feeling herbaceous? Feeling smokey? Come taste with us.” I don’t know which local butcher shop they are working with, but from the looks of it, they are not messing around. This looks like some serious charcuterie and will go great with Azari’s riesling, chardonnay, pinot noir and shiraz.

Drag Brunch

We will have more information in next week’s Food & Drink section, but for those who already know they want to go, tickets are already on sale for the June 27 “Drag Me to the River” brunch and show being hosted by Grand Central Café to benefit Sonoma County Pride. On Eventbrite.com search “Drag Me to the River.”

Crooked Goat Brewing of Sebastopol may be eyeing a Petaluma location.(Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)
Crooked Goat Brewing of Sebastopol may be eyeing a Petaluma location.(Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

Crooked Corner?

Rumor has it that Crooked Goat Brewing of Sebastopol has its eyes set on downtown Petaluma, specifically “Cotija Corner,” also known to longtime residents as “Five Corners.” (Five Corners Automotive was once located here and just to add a bit of confusion, moved to a Petaluma Boulevard North location with no corners.) The old gas station sitting on the north corner of Howard Street and Western Avenue most recently was the home to the Cotija Mexican restaurant, prior to its departure in 2008 to move out to the Outlet Mall, before closing down all together.

With no solid confirmation yet, I do not know if Crooked Goat’s plans are just for the old gas station building or the big building behind it, but both have had Realtor signs on them for some time now. That said, about every six months I hear another rumor about what is going into this corner locale, from a seafood restaurant related to Fish in Sausalito to Acre Pizza, so only time will tell if this particular rumor is true.

Cotija chips and salsa

And while on the topic of Cotija Mexican, if you loved their chips and salsa, you can still get them from Carmela's O.G. Cotija Salsa and Chips by placing an order through the Facebook page. They normally offer home delivery once or twice a month here in Petaluma although as of late, it has been pick-up only from Jamison’s Roaring Donkey, usually by pre-order only.

National Donut Day

For those who missed out on National Donut Day (June 4), Dino’s Greek Food Truck, located at the Block – Petaluma, goes beyond national, bringing us an international “donut” experience with their Loukoumades, which are an ancient treat originally found in Greece, Turkey, Persia and Egypt. According to Dino’s Facebook post, “In Greece, they are considered the oldest recorded dessert and can be traced back to the first Olympic Games of 776 B.C., where deep-fried dough balls covered in honey were served to the winners as ‘honey tokens’.”

The homemade Ho-Hos from A Little Luster are flavored with chocolate and pistachio, as well as vanilla, rose and fruit. (HOUSTON PORTER/FOR THE ARGUS-COURIER).
The homemade Ho-Hos from A Little Luster are flavored with chocolate and pistachio, as well as vanilla, rose and fruit. (HOUSTON PORTER/FOR THE ARGUS-COURIER).

Persian pop-up

While on the topic of the eastern Mediterranean, Boro Baba (eatborobaba.com) held another Persian pop-up this past Sunday at La Dolce Vita and it was even better than last time, which I did not think was possible. The easiest way to describe this meal is: Epic. The Joojeh Kabob (saffron and yogurt marinated chicken) and Petite Filet Kabob (Stemple Creek Ranch filet) were incredible, reasonably priced and the accompanying basmati rice has enough flavor that I could dine on that alone and be perfectly happy.

The sides of Shirzai Salad (cucumber, tomatoes and pickled onions), Maast-o-Mousir (Straus Family Creamery yogurt mixed with Persian shallots and black garlic), feta with fennel and pickled baby almond salad and Noon Barbari (“bread of the barbarians”) all add flavor and texture. The third main, after the chicken and steak, was the real showstopper, even to this carnivore. The Khoresht Karafs was a celery stew with mushrooms, over Boro Baba’s incredible basmati rice. Meat and cheese will always grab my attention first, but I found that I could not stay away from the Khoresht Karafs and hope to see this on future pop-up menus.

The whole meal was incredible, however pièce de résistance had to have been the dessert from A Little Luster. It consisted of two handmade Ho-Hos – one vanilla, rose and fruit and the other chocolate and pistachio. They are listed as gluten-free but I simply cannot believe it because I have never had a gluten-free dessert like this. I survived on Ho-Hos throughout my high school culinary career (along with everything else from Hostess, washed down with copious amounts of chocolate milk and Coca-Cola) but these from a Little Luster on in a whole different realm. In dessert heaven, A Little Luster offers a whole line of Hostess desserts. (A Little Luster appears to be from somewhere in Sonoma County – their social pages aren’t clear about their location, so I assume they are a caterer.)

Boro Baba has not yet announced their next pop-up at La Dolce but I highly recommend following them on Instagram so you won’t miss another one of these incredible dinners. La Dolce Vita also announces it to their social media pages and if given enough warning, we’ll post it to these pages too.

The Fork is a farm-to-table restaurant at Farmstead Cheese Company in Point Reyes. (Victoria Webb/For The Argus-Courier)
The Fork is a farm-to-table restaurant at Farmstead Cheese Company in Point Reyes. (Victoria Webb/For The Argus-Courier)

The Fork reopens

The long-awaited reopening of our farms and farm tours is in full swing, with The Fork announcing outside tasting and culinary education. The Fork is part of Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese’s farm and when in full swing, is one of the best farm-to-table venues in the region. The current list of tours, as well as a chance to sign up for restaurant notifications, can be found at their website (pointreyescheese.com). For those interested in getting a heads up of when the restaurant will be reopening, you can sign up for their mailing list at the bottom of their website. Their periodic brunches and dinner are normally announced a couple of months out but sell out almost immediately, and for good reason. We have attended a couple of food events at the Fork and they are wonderful.

Wheels of goat cheese in the Achadinha Cheese Company aging room on the Pacheco Ranch, near Petaluma. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)
Wheels of goat cheese in the Achadinha Cheese Company aging room on the Pacheco Ranch, near Petaluma. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

More farmstead tours

In the world of cheesemaking, “farmstead” means that a producer raises their own animals and harvests their milk, instead of contracting with others. Achadinha Cheese Company is another local farmstead cheese maker, specializing in cow and goat milk cheeses, such as their excellent aged Cowpricous, Broncha Portuguese table cheese and Greek-style feta. The also offer curds, straight and herbed, as well as butter, fromage blanc and Kefir. The Pacheco family also offers tours and cheese-making classes through achadinhacheese.com.

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