Whether you are new to Petaluma, a Petaluma native, or are simply hankering for a walk around downtown, this weekend’s Taste of Petaluma is the perfect excuse to get out and enjoy the final days of summer.
Six years ago, I moved back to Petaluma, after living in various parts of the Bay Area for close to 20 years. Although I visited on occasionally to see friends and family, I hadn’t realized how much the downtown had changed since my childhood. The most significant changes (to me) revolved around food…lots of new restaurants had popped up. After a few walks through downtown, I had a list of old favorites, as well as new restaurants I wanted to try. The list was long, and very hard to prioritize because committing an entire meal to every restaurant on my list would not only drain my wallet, but would put serious pressure on my waistline. Lucky for me, during one of my treks downtown, I noticed a poster for an upcoming food event …the Taste of Petaluma, and knew that I had found a solution.
Six years later, Taste of Petaluma is still my favorite downtown event, not only because it gives me a chance to taste all the new restaurants downtown, but also because it gives me a chance to visit all the galleries and shops, all while joining in a very festive atmosphere. In fact, I liked that first year so much that I have volunteered at the event ever since.
Taste of Petaluma is about three things; 1) it gives Petaluma a day to brag about all the things that make this such a great town, 2) it lets restaurants show you the best they have to offer, and 3) it is a fundraiser for our local theater. In its 41st year, Cinnabar Theater relies on fundraisers such as the Taste of Petaluma, The Great Petaluma Chili Cookoff, and the CinnaCrab Feed to help keeps its doors open and offer affordable programs for our kids.
Taste of Petaluma showcases not only our downtown retailers, galleries, and restaurants but through their cooperation and sharing of space, even showcases restaurants that are located outside the downtown area. Without the camaraderie of the downtown shops and galleries, we could host the many non-downtown restaurants that we do. These are local shops that really get what Taste of Petaluma is all about.
In Theater Square you will find sweets at Velvet Ice, Petaluma’s premier gift shop. Lisa has a great flare for stocking her store with unique gift items, tasteful (and affordable) jewelry, and is helping to fill the gap left when Haus Fortuna closed its doors, only with a bit more of a local flare. At Taste of Petaluma she will be hosting Rocky Mountain Chocolate and Laloo’s Ice Cream. Also in Theater Square is Sole Desire, who will be hosting Beyond the Glory.
B Street Mercantile will be hosting McEvoy Ranch and Petaluma Coffee & Tea. This too is
another great gift shop. (They are on the corner of B Street and 4th Street, where Tuscan Gardens used to be.) If you need Petaluma t-shirts and hats, or country themed items, this is the place to shop.
On Kentucky Street, Copperfield’s will host Pongo’s Kitchen (great Asian cuisine) and Sheila’s Naturals, Sonoma Cutlery will host Tolay, Blush Collections will host Chef Ray (award winning food carving artist), Ethical Clothing will have Pub Republic, and last but not least, Yoga One will have Lydia’s Organics, Three Twins Ice Cream, and will offer 10 minute chair massages. Additionally, Mayfield and Blush will both have wine.
On the Blvd, Ohh La Loft will have Nick’s Cove, Robindira Unsworth will host Fit for a King Catering, and along with beer, Riverfront Gallery will host Casino 101.
Along with great food and music (there is entertainment spread around downtown throughout the event – they are listed on the menu) several locations are serving wine, including Gallery One (Clos Du Bois), Mayfield & Co. (serving Azari Vineyards/Corkscrew Wines, Enriquez Estate, Martin Ray Winery, and Adobe Road Wines), and Blush (serving Sonoma Valley Portworks with Forget Me Not cupcakes.)
If beer is more your thing, Taste of Petaluma has you covered, as one would expect from what is quickly becoming California’s brewing mecca. Lagunitas and Hen House will be on tap at the Riverfront Gallery and JJ will be pouring Petaluma Hills
Brewing on the patio area of Petaluma Pie Company.
This year’s menu looks as good as any I have seen in the past and includes your favorite restaurants, such as McNear’s, TAPS, Mi Pueblo, Velasco’s, Maguire’s, and Wild Goat Bistro, just to name a few, as well as Petaluma’s latest and greatest.
New restaurants, to both Petaluma and the Taste of Petaluma event are Speakeasy, Social Club, Pub Republic, Corkscrew Wine Bar, and Free Range Provisions. Free Range Provisions joins a long list of Petaluma restaurants that you will be able to sample before they have even had their grand opening. Their grand opening is on Thursday, August 29th, but will be serving specially for Taste of Petaluma patrons this Saturday.
Speakeasy – Chilled Summer Melon Soup with Prosciutto Crumble, Gewurztraminer & Basil Creme
Social Club – Applewood Smoked Pork Shoulder, Heirloom Tomato Salad with Basil and Mint.
Pub Republic – Crispy Pork Belly Taco – Pickled Onion, Papaya/Jicama Slaw, Radish (hosted at Ethical Clothing.)
Corkscrew Wine Bar – Pulled Pork Sliders & Chocolate Truffles.
Free Range Provisions – Signature Rustic Salad- Smoked Salmon, Farro, Lentil, Arugula, Kale, Walnuts, Apples with Lemon Vinaigrette.
I was lucky enough to be invited to attend a “mini-taste,” which is a chance for food writers to get an advanced preview of some of the offerings. Our tasting adventure started at Everest Indian with Chicken Tikka Kabobs (Chicken Breast, Red Onion, Broccoli, and Sweet Pepper) and Vegetable Tikka Kabobs (Red Onion, Scallion, Brussel Sprout, Carrot, and Sweet Pepper), and was spectacular. But then again,
Everest has become a Petaluma staple, a regular participant in Taste of Petaluma, and frequent contributor to Cinnabar Theater, and has always turned out great food, so this was no surprise.
Our next stop was Sugo Trattoria for Ciabatta Muffaletta Sandwich (made with in-house Spicy Coppa, Fennel Salami & Olive Tapenade), where owners Pete and Annette treated us to a sampling of all their delicious homemade cured meats. If you have read any of my blogs before you know that I am a huge fan of Sugo, and these muffalettas and cured meats confirm why.
Rosso was our next “taste” where we sampled their INCREDIBLE housemade Burrata and Chicken Wings w/ Cacciatore “Hunter Style” Sauce (braised Mushrooms, Tomato & White Wine.) I have had this many times yet will spend a Taste of Petaluma ticket at this location every time.
Our final stop was at Petaluma Pie Company for their newly created “Juicy slow cooked Pastured Pork paired with Rhubarb and Chutney enclosed in their famous buttery Pie Crust.” I’m not sure what they are slow cooking their pork in but it is incredibly moist and flavorful. Being our last stop, many of the other writers were already filled to the brim and could only sample a bite or two. Being a bottomless pit, I was able to take advantage of this and ate several of these incredible pies …before moving on to one of their sweet desert pies. On the day of the event, the slow cooked pork pie will be paired with beer from Petaluma Hills Brewery. This is always a
Our mini-taste covered only four of the 30+ locations that you can visit with your tasting tickets on Saturday. But be advised, only rookies show up without a plan. You will save yourself a lot of time and frustration if you print out the map and menu the night before the event and come up with a game plan.
Rewinding back six years, I should mention that I am still a regular customer at most of the locations I visited at my first Taste of Petaluma, and for the ones that I wasn’t fond of, I am glad that I was able to sample their food without committing to an entire meal.
The menu is extensive so visit www.tasteofpetaluma.org for the full list. Here are just a few items that caught my attention:
– Itty Bitty Chicken Burrito (High Tech Burrito)
– Niman Ranch Angus Beef, Gluten-Free Meatballs (Wild Goat Bistro)
– Moroccan Spiced Chicken Sliders with Tomatoes, Lettuce and a Chipotle Aioli (McNears)
– Mini Corn Sticks w/ Thai Sweet Chili Dip & Samurai Roll (Crab, Avocado, Unagi : fried w/ spicy mayo & unagi sauce) (Andy’s Sushi)
– Porcini Crusted Pork Tenderloin, Tuscan Wt. Bean Ragout (Petaluma Market)
– Beer Braised Beef Sliders with house-made Potato Chips (TAPS)
– BBQ Chicken Satay served with peanut sauce or Pumpkin Curry (Pongo’s – hosted by Copperfields)
– Salmorejo Basil Infusion w/ Spiced Marcona Almonds. A zingy cold Gazpacho Soup (Tolay – hosted by Sonoma Cutlery)
– Lydia’s Organics and Three Twins Ice Cream – hosted by Yoga One
– Local Rock Cod Ceviche, Avocado, Leche de Tigre, Cilantro (Nick’s Cove – hosted by Ooh La Loft)
– Crabcake Appetizers with a Roasted Red Pepper Aioli, sprinkled with Fresh Cilantro (Fit for a King Catering – hosted by Robindira Unsworth)
– Hot Smoked Salmon Canape w/ Lemon Dill Aioli. Beef Tenderloin, Balsamic Onion Confit w/ Point Reyes Bleu (101 Casino – hosted by Riverfront Gallery)
Tickets are $35 in advance and are available directly from the Taste of Petaluma website. Get your tickets early, map out your tasting strategy, and come downtown on Saturday to enjoy the best that Petaluma has to offer.