In this age of “artisan everything,” no food is safe from an upgrade—and that’s not a bad thing. The latest childhood comfort to receive a makeover is the ultimate sweet bite. New from Sonoma Brands comes Smashmallow, premium marshmallows available in a variety of interesting flavors (root beer float, espresso bean, strawberries and cream, cinnamon churro, mint chocolate chip, toasted coconut and pineapple, Meyer lemon and chia seed). These fluffy bites of gourmet goodness—only 80 calories per gluten-free mallow—offer tantalizing opportunities to refresh familiar favorites: melt a few espresso bean smashmallows into a mug of hot chocolate, add a surprise to your next batch of rice cereal treats, liven up a s’more with cinnamon churro…or, you know, just eat them.
“The more I learn about the benefits of pickling and fermentation, the more I realize it’s what we all should be doing,” says Samantha “Sam” Paone, a chef who founded Golden State Pickle Works in 2014 with her husband (and fellow chef) Anthony. The couple moved to Sonoma County from Oakland in 2013 and found that “The term ‘Slow-noma’ really is true for outsiders. The pace of life here is so relaxed. I found myself pickling to fill time.”
Working in a commercial kitchen in Petaluma and using fresh, local and (whenever possible) organic and non-GMO ingredients, Paone creates artisan-fermented vegetables, fruit and thoughtfully crafted condiments. Her Allium Mayonnaise recently took double gold at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair, and her fermented green salsa and “kosher dill” radishes both took silver.
The ultimate goal is a storefront, where they can offer “everything—pickled vegetables and fruits, creative salad dressings and probiotic condiments.” For now, products are available at some farmers markets in Sonoma and Marin counties; Hudson Greens and Goods at Oxbow in Napa, the Made Local Marketplace in Santa Rosa and Fatted Calf in San Francisco; and via email or messaging from the website.
Dating from the 1800s and nicknamed “haymaker’s punch,” switchel is a heritage beverage, crafted from natural ingredients, that was often used by farmers to stay energized and hydrated during long harvest days (and nights). Fast forward to today and seek out Sonoma County-based Sisters Switchel, a delicious fusion of sweet honey, tangy apple cider vinegar and fresh ginger. It’s a bright, zingy burst of refreshment that’s the perfect alternative to plain water, because it contains electrolytes, water and carbohydrates—the perfect concoction for the 21st century, all-natural, local, “return to your roots” food and beverage movement.
Cows grazing along hillsides and in seaside meadows are a picturesque and familiar sight in Marin and Sonoma counties. Dairy farms have been a local presence for more than 100 years, but thes...