Santa Rosa has its fair share of bookstores, and each has a different personality. Treehorn suits me best. Rarely do I pass by the downtown storefront and not peek my head in to see what’s either new, rare or on sale. Sometimes I just sit and absorb the smell. The smell of old books. It’s primarily a used book store, and each volume lining the towering shelves has soaked up the smell of a different home. Put together, they create a wonderful aroma of other people’s houses embedded into book paper. I always check to see if any Black Sparrow Press printings have arrived in the poetry section, and drool over first-edition copies of classic novels. Their calendar sale can’t be beat, and it goes on usually through January—I’m hoping to replace my antique food advertisement calendar with something more modern this year. —Nicolas Grizzle
Since my parents drink coffee like there’s no tomorrow, fresh-roasted beans make the perfect gift. Last year, it was a can of my favorite Taylor Maid Coffee - a delicious Goat Rock Blend. This year, I’m going to add a can of Bella Rosa Coffee to the mix because they’ve got some darn tasty beans. Smooth, with low acidity, these are coffees for most any palate. The family-owned, Santa Rosa based company’s all organic and fair trade blends include Italian Espresso, Four Seasons, and my favorite, Roaster’s Reserve.
You can find the custom-roasted beans at stores at Oliver’s Market, Community Market, Fircrest in Sebastopol, Share Exchange, Redwood Empire Farmer’s Market, or at the Bella Rosa Café, which opened in September 2013.
The café sells canned and bulk coffees, “at a steep discount off regular in-store prices” according the company’s website. Bella Rosa Café. 5491 Skylane Boulevard, Suite 140, Santa Rosa. 707. 542. 6220.
If you really want to make a big impression, spring for a gift membership in BeerCraft’s Craft Beer of the Month Club. For $162.95, they’ll receive, by mail, 3 bombers (22oz or 750ml) of hand-selected, high quality craft beers delivered right to their doorstep. Check out the store’s website for more information. Now that’s one thirst-quenching gift idea.
BeerCraft also hosts free tasting nights on Thursdays from 6pm-8pm.This month’s featured brewery is Speakeasy Ales and Lagers on Dec. 12. Beer Craft is located at 5704 Commerce Blvd., Rohnert Park. 707. 206. 9440.
“Whoa, I think that was Nick Offerman,” said my friend. I didn't see the guy, so I asked who that was, because I thought it might be a friend of a friend that I had maybe met once or something. I didn’t recognize the name because I’m used to hearing a different name in reference to the mustachioed man’s man: Ron Swanson, the character on TV’s Parks and Recreation. I don’t watch the show but am familiar with the character because I’m a young person with Internet access. But I didn’t believe my friend, anyway, because why would such a big star be getting a cup of coffee at Acre in Petaluma?
So, we did what any reasonable people would do: waited outside the shop, drinking our coffee, trying to decide if it was him or not. In our five minute not-stalking-just-enjoying-coffee sit down, I asked my friend what he would do if it turned out to be the actor. A photo would be too much to ask, and he didn’t want to be “that guy” anyway. Maybe just say “hi” or something. We didn’t come to a conclusion when he exited the shop, so we did what any reasonable people would do: waited a minute then followed him downtown.
Turns out it was him, which we confirmed inside Chick-a-Boom Vintage Clothing when the clerk was even more excited to see Mr. Offerman than my friend was. Apparently he was in town promoting his book, and his wife wanted to do a bit of shopping (of course, this is third-hand store clerk knowledge, not an official news source like TMZ or anything). So I did what any reasonable person would do: tried on a tuxedo jacket and walked around the store, giving Mr. Offerman a respectful nod I caught his eye. My friend and I then left and walked around town some more, talking about how cool it was that we just “met” Nick Offerman. We are dorks.
All through the month of December leading up to Christmas Day, we'll be posting testimonials to North Bay businesses we love in Sonoma, Napa and Marin Counties, the types of places that come immediately to mind when someone says "Name a local business you can't live without." Think of them as positive reviews by people you know you can trust—people who've lived and worked here for years.
Just as we did last year with our 25 Days of Shopping Locally project, we'll feature different businesses on our homepage every day. These are absolutely not paid advertisements; they're simply the types of places that come immediately to our writers' minds when someone says, "Name a local business you can't live without."
When small businesses thrive, we all benefit. This December, get out there and shop locally.
-Gabe Meline, Editor
Day 1: BeerCraft
Day 2: Bella Rosa Coffee Company
A familiar sight at farmers markets around the North Bay, Gleason Farms offers pasture-raised poultry and other meats that taste better than anything found in a grocery store. But the Sonoma County farm, like many other family farms these days, is facing some tough times. Money problems turn into family squabbles, and the death of two parents in six months increases the stress. Sounds like a dynamite movie plot, and it is—sort of.
Morgan Schmidt-Feng is directing a documentary about the 150-year-old, 5th generation farm, using footage gathered over four years, showing the rise, fall and rebirth of this farm and this family. It’s called “Risking Everything,” and the trailer sure is compelling. It’s a microcosm of what’s happening to farms across the country, in a way, and the local aspect makes it that much more compelling for the North Bay audience.
By the way, here’s an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to finish the movie.
A visit to the grocery store wine section inspired this week’s Swirl column about the Red Blend wine category. Wine brands with dessert-themed names that clearly telegraph “sweet wine here” have been all the rage lately, to wit: “Cupcake,” “Layer Cake,” “Red Velvet” and “Cherry on Top.” And then I saw a label that just cuts to the chase with “Sweet Red Wine.”
BNA Wine Group, which Swirl visited recently, prefers the nudge-and-wink of its pie-themed labels. Besides, it turned out some of the wines, made by wine industry insider and St. Helena small-town hero Tony Leonardini, have more going for them than a trendy name. Here’s a full review of the BNA wines:
2012 “Bandwagon” Monterey Unoaked Chardonnay ($17.50) There’s a saline freshness that keeps it lively through lingering, peanut brittle and golden apple pie flavors. Crisp enough on the palate, but a bit hot rather than thirst-quenching, with a lingering sensation of sweetness.
2011 “Butternut” California Chardonnay ($17.50) Just reeks of heavily toasted oak, what else to say. It’s like someone took a barrel of Rombauer, a Napa Chardonnay that’s generally viewed as the gold standard of the toasted oaky, buttery Chardonnay style, set it on fire and watched it burn for kicks. But that’s an observation, not a criticism: this is a popular wine, and Leonardini works with a consultant to keep it consistent. It’s a deep gold hue, has got sweet, buttery, kettle corn flavor, and slobbery viscosity.
2012 “Nanna’s Shortcake” Lodi Zinfandel ($17.50) It’s a dessert, but the aroma keeps it interesting. Raspberry syrup leaps out of the glass, accented with spicy clove and Pier 1 furniture aromas. Flavors of soft, sweet, strawberry and raspberry jam, such as from little breakfast packets.
2012 “Humble Pie” Cabernet Sauvignon ($17.50) There’s a reason the Central Coast is big on Chardonnay and Pinot: Central Coast Cab used to have a bad reputation. But there’s no funky green pepper aroma here. Their sleight of hand does not involve wine additives, says Leonardini, but calculated deployment of oak, and a fair amount of “flash détente,” a super-heating and cooling procedure that’s “Great for color, weight and a bit of the aromatics.” Pumice stone, pencil lead at first whiff, then a sort of “berry medley” breakfast snack bar character. Dusty raspberry-vanilla. Smooth, easy drinking.
2011 “The Rule” Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($24) Also with the pumice and pencil notes. Stony black fruit, with some sweetness on the backend, competing with sturdy tannin. Incense aromas crop up after a time.
2010 “Volunteer” Cabernet Sauvignon ($31) Deeper still, Stygian dark. Black currants and chocolate nibs in a puddle of blueberry sauce; German chocolate cake in a bitter union with burnt fruitcake, mashed under the heel of a leather boot. Now we’re talking serious Cab. Rich and smooth, with grippy tannin. Black olive savory notes with some air, and a day later it did not fall apart, but was improved—something I cannot say for the “red blends” from this week’s Swirl.
Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo will not face a felony charge from his Aug. 20 arrest for trying to break into a woman's bedroom at 3am wearing only his socks and underwear, according to paperwork filed today by prosecutor Cody Hunt of the Napa District Attorney’s Office. Instead, he faces a single misdemeanor count of "peeking," which carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
“My client is relieved that Efren Carrillo is finally being brought to justice,” says Rosanne Darling, the lawyer for the unidentified victim in the case, “but she is disappointed because… the charge seems inadequate for what she went through that night.” Speaking today on the phone, she added that her client was “terrified” and says, “this has changed her life forever.” Darling also notes that the rumor of a relationship between Carrillo and her client, romantic or otherwise, is “simply rubbish.” They were neighbors, she says, but “barely know each other.”
Darling, a prosecutor with the Sonoma County District Attorney’s office before leaving this summer for private practice, sounded disappointed with the charges as well, especially after so many delays granted to the prosecutor to allow him to gather evidence to build his case. “There are homicides that are filed quicker than this,” she says. “As a former prosecutor, if all you’re bringing is a misdemeanor charge, it seems odd that it would take you three full continuances to come to this decision.”
The Napa DA’s office, which was assigned to the case by the state Attorney General, has a conviction rate of almost 84 percent for felonies in the past three years, and over 90 percent for misdemeanors in the same period. According to statistics from the Grand Jury Foundation, that’s among the highest in the state, and near the top of all counties in the Bay Area.
Carrillo does not have to register as a sex offender, despite being found wearing only his underwear and socks at 3am. He will be formally arraigned tomorrow morning.