shelves with pantry items

Straight Out of The Jar: Sonoma Chefs Are Cooking Up Addictive Pantry Items

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There’s no denying it — we eat well in Wine Country. Whether dining outdoors or picking up take out, our local restaurants have continued to wow us during the pandemic. Even on those days when we’re trying to make magic happen in our own kitchens, we can turn to some of our favorite local chefs for inspiration — and a little help.

Chefs like Sondra Bernstein, Duskie Estes and Liza Hinman are busy creating pantry items such as olive oil, barbecue sauce, jams and salted fig caramel that help us all look good in the kitchen. Click through the above gallery for details. And remember: Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. These days, every home cook deserves some extra love.

Spinster Sisters

Chef Liza Hinman, owner of The Spinster Sisters restaurant in Santa Rosa, offers a rainbow of jams in the Spinster Pantry line. Three of the jams — the apricot, plum, and “Ollie’s Tree” or “Ollie’s Pluot" — are made with fruit from Dragonfly Farm in Healdsburg. Hinman and Dragonfly Farm co-owner Carlisle Degischer have been friends for years. Hinman named the "Ollie's Pluot" jam for Degischer’s son, Oliver. The jam is made with fruit from his favorite tree.

pantry itemsSpinster Pantry jams range from $11 to $12.50 per jar. Additional varieties, including fig + orange jam, apple butter, and maple olive oil granola, are also available. Purchase on The Spinster Sisters website or from the Dragonfly online farm stand.

girl & the fig

Sondra Bernstein of Sonoma’s wildly popular the girl & the fig restaurant offers a fun variety of pantry items, ranging from dried fig compote to sea salt chocolate chunk cookies, in her online figstore.

bottle of sauce and cooked greens on plateThe fig balsamic vinegar from the girl & the fig ($12 for 8.45 fl oz) can be used in marinades and salad dressings. You can even try drizzling it over ice cream.

sea salt in jarsSondra Bernstein of the girl & the fig recommends home cooks sprinkle her citrus sea salt ($10) on fish and scallops. 

caramel in jar and sticky bun in backgroundPour it over ice cream, eat it with apple slices, or simply grab a spoon and eat it straight from the jar. The salted fig caramel ($12) is a favorite of restaurateur Sondra Bernstein and her family. “I just sent my mom six jars,” said Bernstein. “It’s like I bought her a new house.”

chocolate chip cookiesSea Salt Chocolate Chunk Cookies from the girl & the fig ($15). 

Farm to Pantry

Duskie Estes, celebrity chef and executive director of Farm to Pantry, worked with an army of dedicated volunteers to glean 1,500 pounds of olives in 2020. With help from Dry Creek Olive Oil Company in Geyserville, olives that otherwise would have gone to waste were pressed to create No One Left Behind 2020 Extra Virgin Olive Oil. 

olive oil bottlesA 375 ml bottle of No One Left Behind 2020 Extra Virgin Olive Oil can be yours with a $100 donation to Farm to Pantry. The nonprofit is committed to "rescuing food that would otherwise go wasted and getting it to people in need." Those who donate $500 to Farm to Pantry receive six bottles. The special bottling is available while supplies last. 

Big Bottom Market

Guerneville’s Big Bottom Market co-owner Michael Volpatt offers a number of customer favorites through his restaurant's online store, including a baking mix for the popular Big Bottom Market biscuits.

Guerneville’s Big Bottom Market biscuits made Oprah’s annual ‘favorite things’ holiday shopping list in 2016. The same biscuits served at Big Bottom Market are available as a mix ($9.99) to make and bake at home. 

bottle of bbq sauceBig Bottom Market BBQ Sauce ($8.99) is used on the restaurant's pulled pork biscuit. You can whip up pulled pork at home or try it on another hearty dish like ribs. Big Bottom Market also recommends using it on roasted vegetables. 

jar of mustardThe Creole Style Gourmet Mustard ($8.99) is used to make one of Big Bottom Market’s most popular sandwiches, the Cubano. 

By: Dana Rebmann