In Search of Summer: Sonoma

There are (finally) reports confirming what anyone who’s been in San Francisco for the past three months already knew: this is the coldest summer in over 30 years. In fact, I object to even using the word ‘summer’ to describe these dreary months; it’s an insult to summer to even be associated with it.

This picture really says all you need to know about San Francisco weather. I took this about a week ago on my way into work. And yes, this woman is wearing a winter jacket. I saw someone today in ear muffs, while another person sported a woolen cap with ear flaps.

I spent much of these wintery months begging Mr. WholeHog to move somewhere outside this seemingly permanent fog bank, to leave SF for somewhere you could see the sun once in a while, somewhere where you didn’t wear wool in August. When that didn’t work, I opted to leave town every possible weekend, often heading to Sonoma.

Maybe this eight month winter we’ve had in SF has gone to my head, but I’ve been obsessed with Sonoma lately.

For one, it has Primavera mexican food. But in Sonoma, Primavera food isn’t just available on Saturday mornings, it’s available every day (from 7am-7pm no less) at their new restaurant, El Molino Central. After the Scribe camping trip, we went to El Molino for breakfast and then came back for lunch.

As well as serving delicious, mostly-locally-sourced Mexican food, El Molino Central also serves Blue Bottle coffee — a big plus for Sonoma, since so many areas that have better weather than SF often have wretched coffee. (Is it any wonder that between breakfast and lunch at El Molino, Mr. WholeHog and I started looking at real estate?).

On our second in-search-of-summer journey to Sonoma, we went to the Fremont Diner, a retro diner right on Highway 121 as you’re heading towards Napa. I’d probably driven past it many times without even noticing it, but I won’t make that mistake again.

The Fremont Diner combines two of my favorite things: vintage decor and locally-sourced food. We sat outside on their bright aqua picnic tables and ate fried chicken, ham on a biscuit and a peach salad.  The diner also has milkshakes in must-try flavors like salted caramel (although the one we had was a tad watery). You might opt to do order a slew of milkshakes and have a shake tasting in lieu of wine tasting.

This is a glimpse inside the Fremont Diner.

Too often the wine country comes off as a poor imitation of Italy or France, and part of what makes places like the Fremont Diner  and El Molino Central so refreshing to me is that they aren’t trying to be anything other than what they are: casual places to get good food — and, if you’re lucky, a solid dose of sunshine.

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