There are as many small, independent food and drink producers in Sonoma County as there are dreams, and that’s a good thing for all of us. Inspired by our plethora of flora and fauna, these artisans are on the road to hitting it big. Or at least making a splash in the local market. Either way, these producers and their products are worth seeking out at local grocers or through online stores.
Clearly there are hundreds of amazing artisans to choose from, but here are a few that have really piqued our interest.
Mama Baretta: Inspired by the delicious Italian cookies of her father’s bakery but concerned about her son’s many allergies, Debra Baretta began a baked goods business focused on gluten-free, non-GMO, organic, allergy-friendly foods her family and friends could eat without a guilty conscience or health problems. She has expanded to include scones, multi-seed breads, cookies, cupcakes and special occasion cakes. Selected products are available at Oliver’s or Pacific markets, and Saturdays at the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market at the Luther Burbank Center.
Revolution Bread: Stenciled imprints of a raised fist holding sheafs of wheat are a trademark of baker Eli Colvin, as well as a philosophy. Using whole grains including heirloom einkorn and emmer wheat, Colvin makes breads that have an Old World quality and rustic appeal that foodies love. Find Revolution breads at the Petaluma Eastside Farmers’ Market (501 N. McDowell, Petaluma).
Sonomic: This almost-vinegar made by Sonoma Portworks is far less acidic than vinegar, with a sweet, balsamic-like flavor. The idea is to drizzle it over salads or use it for cooking, but we love the idea of splashing a bit atop ice cream or even adding the light Muscat-based “Gold” Sonomic to club soda to make a sweet shrub. Available online at sonomaportworks.com.
The Great and Wonderful Sea of Change Trading Company: There are more than 400 types of edible seaweed in the ocean, and this Windsor-based company is hoping you’ll be willing to try at least a few of them — especially if they are encased in chocolate. Cole Meeker, his wife, Anastasia Emmons, and business partner Courtney Smith are the inventors of Sea Bakin, a salty snack available in flavors like Thai BBQ, maple and garden veggie (seriously addictive), as well as a new line of seaweed chocolate bars made with wild seaweed, dark chocolate and coconut sugar. Available at Community Market and online at seaofchangetrading.com.
Kefiry: Thousands of years ago, a shepherd filled his leather water pouch with cool, crisp water from a high mountain stream in the Caucasus Mountains. In the water were grains of kefir, which naturally fermented in the water, creating a beverage rich with the good bacteria we now call probiotics. At least that’s how the story goes.
Tom Boyd, owner of the Kefiry in Sebastopol, ferments and sells his naturally-fermented water kefir sodas, called Enlivened, along with frozen kefir pops. “We are the first live-cultured soda sold in America,” says Boyd.
Like dairy kefir, which has been popularized as a health tonic, water kefir is a fermented food that is thought to promote digestion and healthy flora in the digestive system. Unlike dairy kefir, water kefir grains are lactose free. But it’s a lot easier just to explain water kefir as naturally fermented soda that contains no alcohol and only a small amount of sugar. Flavors include Holy Basil, Dragon’s Blood (with hibiscus), lemon-ginger and Tulsi Kola (which tastes somewhat like Coke). Available at 972 Gravenstein Hwy. South, #120, Sebastopol and on tap at SHED, 25 North St., Healdsburg.