Its no secret that Sonoma locals take great pride in being an agricultural epicenter. Our varied microclimates, terrains and soils make our little slice of heaven the perfect home to many of our favorite farmers and artisan producers- oh yeah, AND grapes grow pretty well here too. In Sonoma we love our farmers’ markets- there is one happening somewhere in the county every day of the week. The Sonoma County farmers’ markets showcase everything from spring lamb to heirloom tomatoes and ground dried chiles. Local Press Democrat reporter Michele Anna Jordan often writes about the local farms and markets of the area. In one of her recent articles Michele talks about being in the kitchen after visiting a local market: “surrounded by ingredients that, as I touch them one by one, conjure images of farmers, ranchers and dairy men and women - and, of course, the winemakers - who tended to them” - pure poetry in our opinion. We’ll take you through a few different markets, what makes them unique and why visiting them on your next trip to Sonoma should be on your to-do list.
Whether you’ll be visiting Sonoma wine country on a Tuesday or a Saturday, you’ll find a farmers’ market happening somewhere. Healdsburg has a morning market each Saturday and an evening one on Wednesdays. Downtown Sonoma’s farmers’ market is every Tuesday- this is a popular one and parking can be an issue, so be sure to arrive early. On Thursday nights you can head to Windsor where the market has a family feel- the Summer Nights on the Green are a high point of our summer concerts. Just ten minutes from the Farmhouse Inn is the original Santa Rosa Farmers’ Market at the Wells Fargo Center. This market is one of the few that operates year-round with markets every Wednesday night and Saturday morning- you can find an updated vendor list from them every week on their website. One of the other year-round markets is in downtown Sebastopol, about 15 minutes south of Farmhouse Inn. Due to Sebastopol’s small size we encourage you to find parking just outside of downtown and spend the morning exploring the very unique town. Other markets include the very popular Tuesday market in Petaluma and the Sonoma Valley market on Fridays.
Each market around Sonoma seems to have its own personality. Up in Dry Creek Valley you’ll find the market heavily inspired by the Italian immigrants who came to the area over a century ago with offerings that include hand-made sausages, pizza dough, olive oils and much more. Out towards the coast you’ll see the influence of the cool climate in the wares being offered- fresh fish, sea salts and apples are just a few of the items you’ll see at one of the many Russian River markets. At Santa Rosa’s market you’ll find an almost even split between artisan farmers/ producers and gourmet food trucks. Gourmet food trucks and live music can often be found at many of the evening markets. The microclimates of Sonoma mean that we have a more varied offering than many other agricultural areas, and we’re just fine with that. As Michele Anna Jordan says of one local market: “It has the air of a street fair, with a lot of crafts vendors, prepared foods and entertainment…” The local markets have transformed into something special and are now a part of the local culture; each local has their favorite market and vendors, and of course a favorite time of year to go. You’ll see everyone from grade schoolers to local chefs (including the Farmhouse's own Steve Litke) at the markets each week.
What would a blog about farmers’ markets be without a recipe you can make for yourself? This is one of our favorites from Farmhouse Inn Executive Chef, Steve Litke: Fresh Pasta with Sungold Tomatoes, Arugula and Sweet Corn. We want to hear how your version turned out! Be sure to leave your comments and photos here. And the next time you’re visiting the Farmhouse we hope you make some time to swing by a local farmers’ market.
For more information on any of the markets mentioned or for a complete schedule be sure to contact one of our concierges. To stay current with the latest from Farmhouse be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. And if you need some wine country inspiration checkout our Pinterest and Instagram pages.
This recipe is deceptively simple. The key to this dish is in using the very best, most seasonal ingredients. Sweet tomatoes, sharp arugula, crisp corn and tangy cheese all combine into a truly memorable dish. This is a Farmhouse favorite summer after summer.
Fresh Pasta with Sungold Tomatoes, Arugula and Sweet Corn
1 ⅓ lbs fresh pasta
¼ c. extra virgin olive oil
8 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
3 pints Sungold tomatoes, sliced in half
3 ears corn, sliced from the cob
1 ½ t. chili flakes
salt and pepper
1 large bunch arugula, washed and de-stemmed
2 T. whole butter
4-6 oz. Vella Dry Jack Cheese (or as much as you like)
Drop pasta in salted boiling water and cook to al dente, about 4 minutes. Heat olive oil and garlic together. Cook garlic until slightly golden and a bit caramelized. Add tomatoes, corn, chili flakes and salt and pepper to pan. Cook for 1 minute. Drain pasta and add pasta to pan. Add a splash of cooking liquid to pan and swirl to emulsify. Add Arugula and butter and toss until fully incorporated. Check seasonings. Serve with cheese shaved over the top of each serving.