Ghosty Toast Redux

When I was a kid, I concocted the most amazing snack: toasted white bread smeared with butter, then topped with a healthy handful of sweetened shredded coconut. I called it "ghosty toast."

I was probably 7 or so and thought I was a brilliant chef.

I had totally forgotten about my ghosty toast until I went into the recently opened East Wind Bakery on Sebastopol Road. This Asian-fusion bakery had a wide range of things I wanted to try, like the steamed pork buns or the banana kaya cream tartlet, but it was the coconut croissant that caught my eye. After one bite, and tasting the combination of butter, flakey pastry and sweet coconut, I had flashbacks of my toast creation. So unbelievably good, and so happy that someone else had the thoughts to combine these amazing flavors, and much better than I had managed. Clearly, coconut was always meant to be layered inside a croissant. I quickly ate up the rest.

almost-eaten-coconut-croissant

I've been in a few more times, to get another coconut croissant, but to also try other things. I haven't quite decided if I prefer the red bean or the purple yam bun the best, but really enjoyed the sample earl gray milk bread the counter staff offered me. With its airy texture, I bet it would be great made into french toast. They also offer lunch service, with salads and sandwiches, as well as coffee and tea.

Many of the pastries and desserts are seasonally driven, as I could tell from the persimmon sponge cakes and galettes, so I know their menu will change regularly. I sure hope those coconut croissants don't go anywhere!

East Wind Bakery: eastwindbakery.com
3851 Sebastopol Road #109, Santa Rosa
Hours: Tue - Fri 8am to 4pm, Sat 9am to 5pm, Sun 9am to 3pm


Farm to Fermentation Festival

I delight in all types of homesteading skills: canning, sewing, cooking, and raising chickens, etc.

But until a few weeks ago, fermenting wasn’t something I gave much thought to.

Why the sudden interest? I went to the Farm to Fermentation Festival, held in Santa Rosa. Now in its 4th year, this festival is much more than the standard commercial food festival. It's a day-long celebration of all things fermented. A day filled with informative lectures and demonstrations covering a wide range of fermentation topics, such as “Your Digestive Health”, “Making Healthy Sodas,”, “Making Your First Batch of Kimchi” and “Making Miso at Home”.

I sat in on a few lectures. At “Small-Scale Lactofermentation” by Nicole Easterday from FarmCurious I learned how easy it is to ferment veggies using an airlock on a mason jar. In between lectures I browsed and shopped in the exhibit hall and checked out the latest fermenting wears. There were hand thrown pottery crocks and jugs, airlocks, books, culture kits and and more. Not to mention the new Kraut Source - an inventive stainless steel set of a press and water moat that fit on a mason jar.

My favorite part, no surprise, was all the samples! Local and regional vendors offered tastes of a wide range of fermented goodness. So most of the day was spent tasting cucumber pickles, kimchi, sauerkraut, cheese, bread, beet kvass, kombucha, wine, beer, mead and cider to name a few. I somehow resisted buying everything I tasted and came home with only a jar of very unique ‘cheriboshi’, which are fermented then dried cherries.

Armed with my new supplies and excitement, I’ve already started a jar of fermented salsa and have a plan for getting a jar of carrots started soon!


West End Market

I love farmers markets. Regardless of where I’ve lived, I’ve always made it a point to find my nearest market and try to visit once a week. Sometimes I need a specific thing, other times I just like to see what other people are growing.

With every visit I end up talking with either a fellow patron or farmer, and gain a new gardening tip or meal idea. When I travel, I make sure to seek out the local markets, as there is no easier way to explore local foods then by checking out the produce, meeting the people who grow it, and the people who shop there.

Thankfully, I don’t have to travel far to reach an awesome farmers market, as the West End Market is within walking distance to my home. Held on Sundays from 10-2, the West End Market takes place next to a city park in the middle of the historic West End neighborhood. Now in its second season, this is my favorite of Santa Rosa’s farmers markets because it is small enough to allow me to spend time talking to the farmers, or catching up with the other fellow shoppers, but large enough to provide everything that I need from my shopping trip. On most Sunday mornings, my husband and I walk down to the market with our dog Stella, and he hangs out with her at the dog park while I make the rounds, then he takes a turn. Sometimes, we then hang out on the lawn and listen the live music and share a ceviche tostada from Simply Ceviche, munch on a loaf of Revolution bread, or devour perfectly ripe strawberries straight from Handlebar Farms.

Started by residents and the West End Neighborhood Association, this market is a vibrant gathering place. The adjacent lawn is always set up with umbrellas and people hang out and picnic and kids run around chasing balls. Vendors sell colorful produce from handcrafted displays. Small scale meat producers chat with patrons about the best way to prepare a cut of meat. Delicious smells come from the variety of handcrafted soaps and candles, and shoppers taste honey and sample small bites of cheese. Neighbors meet and catch up, on hot days kids stand under the spray tent, and shoppers connect with their farmers. I came home from my last visit with a head of elephant garlic the size of a softball and two gorgeous plump eggplants, from Foggy River Farm. I’m looking forward to turning them into a tasty meal!

Running until December 14th, the West End Farmers Market is located at 817 Donahue Street, Santa Rosa. Hope to see you there!

WEST END PORTRAITS BY MICHAEL WOOLSEY


Bountiful Backyard Food Scene

When someone mentions the food scene, they are usually talking about a pop-up bakery, the newest ethnic restaurant or the coolest food truck. But Santa Rosa’s food scene goes much deeper than our awesome restaurants, we’ve also got it going on in our own backyards.

Located in one of the best regions for growing fruits and veggies, we are lucky enough to have plentiful and delicious produce year round. In fall, we savor pumpkins and apples. In winter, we enjoy tender greens. The spring is bright with freshly picked peas and sun-sweetened strawberries. But here in Sonoma County, our gardens grow and thrive, and the foods of summer really take the star.
In back or front yard food gardens, you’ll find tomatoes turning red. Stone fruit hangs heavy on bowing branches. Corn towers amongst sunflowers while the purple flowers of eggplants peek out from heavy leaves. Freshly harvested herbs get added to every meal. Garlic and onions cure outside in the shade. Blackberries glow like jewels in a wall of deep green.
And the best part of our town’s bounty, it builds community and makes you friends! Friends are invited over to help share the season’s bounty of squash. Neighbors hand bowls of Santa Rosa plums over fences. Jars of freshly made jam from Blenheim apricots are left on doorsteps. Bouquets of basil are brought into work to share with office mates. Eggs from backyard hens are given as a thank you to your acupuncturist or to your esthetician. People are committed to eating good food, and not afraid to share!
Check out what I've got growing in my backyard garden at forgottenskills.wordpress.com