If you follow me on social media, you may already know that last week I took a glorious trip to California with my bff Sofya to visit the third leg of our tripod, the recently relocated Paige (miss you already, girl!) We spent a good amount of time in Paige’s new city, San Francisco – eating Tartine’s ham and cheese croissants and drinking rooftop margaritas at El Techo – but also drove up to Healdsburg, a town about one and a half hours outside of San Fran. Healdsburg, a city in in Sonoma County (aka “wine country”), is known for its rolling hills of grape vines and olive trees, quaint wineries, and abundant sunshine. Heaven, basically.
For lunch, Paige was excited to take us to SHED, a stunning structure that’s equal parts marketplace and cafe with its own nearby farm – a more laid-back counterpart to the northeast’s Stone Barns Center, if you will. SHED’s kitchen goods shop has a selection not unlike Food52‘s – I’m talking gorgeous ceramics, a small but mighty selection of cookbooks, covetable [over-priced] linens, and so on. They also sell fun pantry items like jams and mustards, as well as fresh produce. The space also features a coffee bar and a takeaway counter with house-made charcuterie, cheeses and salads.
The SHED cafe is the pièce de résistance of the whole operation. The dining room is adjacent to a glass garage door, which remains open to let the gorgeous weather in. There is a subway-tiled ‘fermentation bar’ with house-made kombucha and shrubs on tap, as well as a wood-burning pizza oven. Open from breakfast through dinner, the cafe’s daily-changing menus – created by Michelin-starred Chef Perry Hoffman – feature seasonal ingredients from local producers in a sophisticated way.
Looking at the reasonably-priced menu (most plates are $10-20), I expected to have a delicious cafe lunch. What we ended up getting was an innovative high-end meal – more of a dining experience, really. Since we were a group of five, we got to sample a large portion of the menu, which included: farro verde with fresh peas, morels and Parmesan ($14); an heirloom grain waffle ($12); creamy polenta with a soft-poached egg, asparagus, pickled ramps and baby arugula (n/a); buttermilk biscuits with sausage gravy ($15); and a seasonal vegetable frittata ($9). The food was painstakingly arranged by Chef Perry himself, which was a pleasure to watch through the open kitchen.
Ready for a midday wine
Basking in sunshine and cool rosé throughout lunch, I could not believe how affordable the beautiful meal was and became envious of California’s bountiful produce… which made me question, “What the hell am I still doing in New York?”
Dang, California. Touché.