A Sonoma County Gift Guide for Foodies and Aspiring Chefs
From hands-on culinary classes to world-renowned Michelin-starred dining experiences and gourmet subscriptions, this list of gift ideas for foodies is sure to delight the passionate gourmand in your life.
Experiences make the best memories, and therefore, also make fantastic gifts. For foodies and aspiring chefs, no experience is quite as hands-on as a cooking class, especially when you not only get to learn from master chefs and experts but also eat the food that you prepare.
Relish Culinary Adventures
Relish Culinary Adventures in Healdsburg has been offering cooking classes and culinary demonstrations in Sonoma County for 18 years. The academy offers two different class experiences: Hands-on cooking classes and demonstration classes. These cooking experiences allow foodies to connect with the chefs, food purveyors, and winemakers that make Sonoma County a food and wine destination.
Hands-on classes allow students to cook a meal themselves under the guidance of a chef, whereas, culinary demonstration classes are led in an observation-style format with students seated at tables, facing the kitchen as well as high-definition cameras and TV monitors providing clear viewing to all class participants.
The majority of Relish Culinary Adventures’ classes include a complete meal, allowing students to enjoy every bite of the recipe prepared in class. Most classes last three hours.
A cheesemaking class makes a great gift for cheese-loving foodies (but then really who doesn’t love cheese, right?). Luckily, in Sonoma County, there are a couple of local business owners that enjoy spreading both their love of cheese and their expertise at making cheese with others.
Achadinha Cheese Company and Farm
Achadinha Cheese Company offers cheese-making classes on a number of pre-scheduled dates as well as for small groups that book in advance (you can select your preferred day of the week and number of people online via a form on the cheesemaking-class page). The next pre-scheduled class is scheduled for February 18, 2023.
Classes include a hands-on cheesemaking experience (expect to get your hands wet in a vat of curds and whey!) followed by a farm tour, cheese tasting, and lunch. Space in pre-scheduled classes is limited, but you can purchase classes in advance online or purchase a gift card so that your gift recipient can book his or her own cheesemaking class or farm tour (or just order a selection of cheeses).
The Epicurean Connection
Award-winning cheesemaker Sheana Davis breaks down the barriers to cheesemaking, making it accessible, easy, and fun with energetic, hands-on classes that teach people how to craft fresh cheeses that are ready to serve and enjoy within 90 minutes.
The Epicurean Connection’s hands-on cheesemaking classes include a pre-class artisan cheese tasting. Classes are normally offered weekly on Thursdays and Saturdays but Sheana also offers the option to curate a custom-class option for private groups. To book a class in advance, check the calendar on The Epicurean Connection’s website and/or call the shop directly.
Unparalleled Farm-to-Table Fine-Dining or Michelin-Starred Dining Experiences
If there’s one thing that a serious fine-dining foodie really appreciates it’s a multi-hour dining experience somewhere that not only offers phenomenal food but an unparalleled dining experience, where every ingredient, every plate, every touch (from the decor to the service to the cadence) has been expertly planned and curated to provide a multi-sensory experience that goes beyond just taste.
The following Sonoma County restaurants offer the kinds of dining experiences that are impossible to forget, making a gift certificate or meal here the perfect gift for someone special who you know will truly appreciate it.
SingleThread Farm, Healdsburg
In the heart of downtown Healdsburg, one of the country’s most accomplished chefs, Kyle Connaughton, along with wife/farmer Katina Connaughton, bring you a 3 Michelin-star and Green Michelin star dining experience. Dining experiences span hours and feature a 10-course tasting menu consisting of dozens of stunningly gorgeous and creative small plates that incorporate seasonal, local ingredients from the restaurant’s 25-acre organic farm as well as from other sustainable, organic purveyors.
Recently re-opened after a 10-year hiatus, Cyrus’s new location off Highway 128 in the Alexander Valley offers an entirely new experience as well as panoramic views. The “Dining Journey” at Cyrus starts with an invitation into the Bubbles Lounge, where guests enjoy tastes delivered from the kitchen while sipping libations, enjoying the lounge or exploring the gardens and taking in the vineyard views. The dining experience then moves to the kitchen table where guests can observe the chefs preparing their courses and have a direct line of vision into the kitchen before guiding guests to their personal tables. Guests enjoy their meal at their personal table, with views of the Alexander Valley before finishing the night in the Chocolate Room.
Reviews since Cyrus’s opening have been stellar, recementing the restaurant as one of the top culinary destinations in California. In December 2022, Cyrus earned a Michelin star.
Recently named as one of the best 25 restaurants in the United States by Esquire Magazine, Animo is one of the hottest new restaurants in Wine Country, making it the perfect place to take a foodie who loves to try all of the newest restaurants in town. Animo doesn’t have a website, so if you’d like to book dinner here as a gift for someone, you’ll need to make a reservation through an online reservation platform. (Note: The restaurant books up relatively far in advance but also has occasional openings for less popular times that allow last-minute bookings.)
Farmhouse Restaurant, Forestville
The six-course menu with wine pairing experience at Farmhouse Inn’s restaurant is among the best dining experiences in Sonoma County, making it the perfect gift for that special someone in your life if that special someone is a foodie.
Fueled by ingredients straight from proprietor Joe and Catherine Bartolomei’s ranch or discovered by the chef during daily farm stops, the Farmhouse Inn’s menus are constantly changing, relying exclusively on what is freshest in Sonoma County.
A Gift Card to a Favorite Restaurant
Whether your foodie prefers tapas, multi-course fine-dining experiences, French food, seafood, focused, casual, or formal dining, a gift card to a favorite restaurant is always a good idea.
Almost all local Sonoma County restaurants offer gift cards, but here’s a list of a few local favorites to get you started.
- Bird and the Bottle (Santa Rosa)
- Grossmans (Santa Rosa)
- Stark Steak and Seafood (Santa Rosa)
- The Spinster Sisters (Santa Rosa)
- Table Culture Provisions (Petaluma)
- The Shuckery (Petaluma)
- Cucina Paradiso (Petaluma)
- Estero Cafe (Valley Ford)
- Barndiva (Healdsburg)
- Guiso Latin Fusion (Healdsburg)
- The Matheson (Healdsburg)
- Vallette (Healdsburg)
- Willi’s Seafood and Raw Bar (Healdsburg)
- Bravas Bar de Tapas (Healdsburg)
Monthly subscriptions or subscription boxes also make great gifts. Not only does a subscription give you the opportunity to purchase something for a foodie that they might not purchase for themselves (such as a premium monthly chocolate subscription) but it can also provide culinary inspiration. From a sustainable, organic, high-quality meat subscription, to chocolate, cheese, and organic produce subscriptions, there’s something that the foodie in your life would love to receive weekly, monthly, or quarterly deliveries of.
Sonoma Meat Company’s Meat Box
Sonoma Meat Company offers a variety of monthly subscription options that include shipments of high-quality, sustainably raised, locally butchered meats. Options include monthly shipments of sausage, bacon, pasture-raised chicken, or a medley of different kinds of meats (i.e. the “grill master” combo, pork-free meat-medley).
William Cofield Cheesemakers’ Cheese Club
William Cofield Cheesemakers’ cheese club includes a box of cheese shipped directly to members’ doors every quarter. Shipments include all of Cofield’s cheeses plus a new "guest cheese" every shipment.
Volo Chocolate’s Club Volo Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Subscription
Volo’s Bean-to-Bar chocolate subscription includes a shipment of four, six, seven, or nine bars of the company’s award-winning, artisan, bean-to-bar chocolate on a monthly basis.
Local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) boxes also make great gifts. These fresh-produce boxes have become quite popular as the benefits of eating local and organic become better known. Receiving a CSA box doesn't just provide the best local produce of the season, but it also supports a local farmer, keeping Sonoma County a thriving agriculture destination.
Written by Brooke Herron