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Kathleen Hill: Sonoma, meet the ‘impossible burger’...


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What’s new at restaurants?

So many Sonoma residents lament that our restaurants never change, lack creativity and don’t care because tourists will always come. Many Sonomans venture out to Petaluma, Napa, Santa Rosa, Healdsburg, Calistoga and even San Rafael for variety or just something new to them.

So this writer set out to find out what new and exciting items our restaurants are putting on their menus to perk things up. Here are a few examples from those who responded.

Breakaway Café, which will soon become Mint & Liberty diner, now offers the “Impossible Burger,” which they say is “a plant-based burger which looks and tastes like a meat burger but is indeed made with all plants.”

Impossible Burgers are trending, even here. According to impossiblefoods.com, the folks who invented these meatless burgers, say the burgers contain: “all-natural ingredients such as wheat, coconut oil, and potatoes.”

According to the Impossible Foods site, “impossible burgers” are made with heme, an iron compound found in hemoglobin, which gives blood its red pigment. According to Impossible Foods, it “is a basic building block of life on Earth, including plants, but it’s uniquely abundant in meat.” They say heme is what makes meat “smell, sizzle, bleed and taste gloriously meaty. Consider it the ‘magic ingredient’ that makes our burger a carnivore’s dream.”

Food scientists and designers have come up with this “burger” that appears to be able to bleed without blood. In such burgers, synthesized soy-root heme is often added to veggie- burger patties.

Melissa Cameron, a partner in the Breakaway Cafe, says they now also offer a pork chop sandwich with spring onion dip served with potato chips and are making their own pasta, currently rapini and rigatoni with agridolce onions, chili flakes and white wine. Tuesday is pasta night featuring the weekly pasta.

At its bakeshop, formerly known as Crisp and soon to be renamed Honey & Moon, the Hahn team is making its own English muffins daily and working on fresh cinnamon rolls, saying “We will soon be using all organic flours and sugars.’ 19101 Sonoma Highway, Sonoma. 996-5949.

Cochon Volant BBQ Smokehouse owner and chef Rob Larman came out with a new WTF Burger, as he calls it, almost in contrast to all those Impossible Burgers. His is one-third pound beef topped with caramelized onion and cheddar cheese, topped with barbecued pork shoulder and 14-hour smoked brisket, his Sonoma BBQ Sauce, then topped again with his new house cured maple bacon, all on a potato bun from the Basque Boulangerie, and topped once more with a chipotle pork cake. Try to get your mouth around that! He is moving his Pork Friday discounts to the first Thursday from now on. 15350 Sonoma Highway, Sonoma. 509-5480. Cochonvolantbbq.com.

El Molino Central has added a huge seafood cocktail of shrimp, scallops, octopus and avocado, accompanied by housemade chips, as well as a local halibut ceviche with avocado and chips, ahi poke tostadas with chipotle, mayo and avocado, and a potato, cheese and greens tamale with creamy green sauce to its “Early Spring No. 2 Menu.” 11 Central Ave., Boyes Hot Springs. 939-1010. Elmolinocentral.com.

Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn’s poolside Water Tower Bar offers the Impossible Burger with Bibb lettuce, tomato, Dijon mayo on brioche bun and a taco salad, a falafel wrap, a salmon BLT with basil aioli on rosemary focaccia, as well as a new cocktail list. 100 Boyes Blvd., Sonoma. 938-9000.

Glen Ellen Inn Oyster Grill & Martini Bar offers a Crispy Blossom Trio appetizer stuffed with brie and a main course of wild king salmon on a bed of corn, nectarine, and tomato and cranberry bean salad – “spring on a plate.” 13670 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen. 996-6409. Glenelleninn.com.

Glen Ellen Star owner and chef Ari Weisswasser, always an innovator and purist, draws from the family farm for all sorts of new seasonal ingredients such as lettuces, amaranth, verbena, lemon balm, sorrel, Sun gold tomatoes, Padrone peppers, Fairy Tale eggplant, arugula, squash blossoms and squash, gooseberries and spearmint. Watch for soft shell crab tonight, June 1, and chicken fried abalone in the next few weeks, along with spring onion and clam pizza, as well as Calabrian chili crispy bacon and arugula pizza. 13648 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen. Glenellenstar.com.

The Girl & the Fig sometimes offers crispy soft shell crab, chilled asparagus soup, grilled asparagus, heirloom radishes, cured rock shrimp crostini, and ever changing cheeses selections from their Salon du Fromage. 110 W. Spain St., Sonoma. 938-3634. Thegirlandthefig.com.

Park 121 at Cornerstone also has the Impossible Burger and is using Sonoma Mountain Beef, sustainably grown and humanely raised in Petaluma and Sonoma Valley, for all of its regular burgers. Owner and chef Bruce Riezenman has added gluten-free bread from Liberty 5 bakery in Petaluma and artichoke ravioli from Wine Country Pasta. Focusing on local ingredients, Park 121 gets tomatoes in season from the Patch for its BLTs, brioche buns from Full Circle Bakery in Penngrove, and cheese from Valley Ford, Bellwether Farms, Laura Chenel and many other sources. 23584 Arnold Drive, Sonoma. 938-8579. Park121.com.

Next Gen wines pour forth

Highway 12 owners Paul Giusto and Michael Sebastiani chose the perfect weekend to open their Highwayman tasting room at Cornerstone, an offshoot of their Highway 12 winery and tasting bar at the Corner Store.

Winemaker Sebastiani and San Francisco native Giusto met while both were working at Vicky and Sam Sebastiani’s Viansa Winery. Michael stayed making wine and Paul moved on to manage Lo Spuntino (where B&V Whisky Bar & Grille is), then owned by the Vicki and Sam family.

They formed Highway 12 Vineyards & Winery in 2003 and now produce more than 45,000 cases of wine a year.

Their new Highwayman tasting room at Cornerstone is a cool in both chill-space and temperature space, previously occupied by Keating Winery. Christian Daniels did the re-design, and tasting room manager Curt John and marketing director Cristina Bisio assembled the furniture and other accoutrements late last week to be ready for French Flea Market weekend. They even rushed to Friedman’s to buy green plants for décor. Gabe Leonard’s paintings draw guests into the room.

Specializing in “luxury” wines made with grapes from all along the Highway 12 route, Highwayman specializes in a 2014 chardonnay, their 2016 Trailblazer, a 2014 Proprietary Red, and a 2015 cabernet sauvignon ($38 to $55, less to Trailblazer Club members). Of course their favorite grapes come from Sonoma Valley’s Serres Vineyards and Sangiacomo Family Vineyards.

Sangiacomo Wines inaugural release party

The entire Sangiacomo family hosted a gorgeous party last Saturday in their Catarina’s Garden space off Watmaugh Road.

Angelo Sangiacomo received adoring guests at a shaded table and many reminisced over shared growing and community experiences.

For decades, after converting grandfather Vittorio’s pear orchard to vineyard, the Sangiacomos have been known for their thoughtful and sustainable growing practices and their care of vineyard workers, all making their grapes highly sought after.

Now “the kids’ – Mike, Steve, and Mia’s husband, Mike Pucci – are making Sangiacomo Wine. All of their wines are “proprietor-grown,” meaning they own all the vineyards their grapes come from.

The Sangiacomos hope to open a tasting room at the Home Ranch on Broadway in July. Sangiacomowines.com.

Carniceria tour

Our tour of Mexican butcher shops (carnicerias) and markets is June 8. Learn about cuts of meats and recipes, see walls of spices, try Mexican ice cream and visit a school salsa garden. We start with Mexican breakfast pastries and coffee at Ramekins. $70, includes pastries, lunch and ice cream at the end of the afternoon. Register at ramekins.com.


There was a misprint in my May 25 column – the one-story building that houses Sigh, Tasca Tasca, Perlé, and Outdora does indeed have its own parking spaces, including one for handicapped use.