The ingredients that make Sonoma wine country cuisine so tasty – locally-grown fresh produce, sustainably raised meats and artisan food products – also make it a natural choice for a healthy diet.
A great book, called The New Sonoma Diet, charts the natural whole foods, phytochemicals, micronutrients, and antioxidants that are naturally found in California coastal and wine country cuisine. Consider fresh produce, which packs in the most nutrients when it’s straight from the farm, rather than shipped across an ocean.
Think about free-range eggs, which have more calcium and nutrients when they are fresh laid from chickens enjoying natural foraged foods. And discover rich, lean beef and milk from cows, and lower-fat pork from pigs that live in pasture bliss.
Because such good foods have so much extra flavor, chefs don’t need to add in extras like heavy sauces. Fats, sugar, and salt can be minimal, because the base ingredients themselves sing so beautifully.
A light misting of olive oil and a sprinkle of herbs from the garden are all it takes to make salmon magical, and the most decadent dessert can be nothing but pristine ripe berries dolloped with unsweetened whipped cream. As for sipping, scientists do agree that a bit of top quality wine is good for the heart, and quality of life.
Here are two tasty suggestions that showcase pure, sumptuous Sonoma County simplicity:
Black Point Grill at the Sea Ranch Lodge, Sea Ranch
First, eat up the views. Overlooking a pastoral and rugged Sonoma seascape meadow, the spectacular ocean scenery from the dining room is a feast for the eyes.
Then, focus on your plate, which features internationally inspired California cuisine emphasizing the freshest local ingredients. At this restaurant, the daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu changes seasonally, and offers everything from casual tavern fare to more formal small plates, appetizers, and entrees paired with regional wines.
Don’t these sample dishes from executive chef Phillip M. Kaufman sound delicious? Sonoma duck tacos topped in queso fresco, cabbage, and sweet lime vinaigrette; organic baby arugula salad with pressed watermelon, toasted pine nuts, pears, and raspberry vanilla vinaigrette; a club sandwich layered with grilled ahi, daikon, avocado, applewood smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, and wasabi aioli on toasted whole wheat bread; or roasted Northern halibut with warm pineapple salsa and crisp parsnips.
Black Point Grill, 60 Sea Walk Drive, Sea Ranch, 800-732-7262
The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, Sonoma
Diners with specific dietary requests often may forfeit flavor and choice for their health, but with the Fairmont’s Lifestyle Cuisine Plus menu, this luxury hotel caters to guests with such concerns as diabetes, heart disease, and celiac disease, as well as those who simply prefer to eat macrobiotic, raw, and vegan diets.
The resort's chefs have been trained to prepare a delicious array of special allergy-specific meals and are even equipped with Nutritionist Pro by Axxya Systems, a cutting-edge calorie/nutrition analysis software for recipes.
In more palate-friendly terms, however, that means simply this: Dishes change often and seasonally, but you might feast on baked tofu with gluten-free bean noodles; raw zucchini, carrot, Portobello and cashew butter pave; Cornish crab cake and marinated cucumber-grapefruit salad with homemade aioli; and vegan chocolate ganache flan.
Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, 100 Boyes Blvd.,Sonoma, 707-938-9000