By Michele Anna Jordan
Ten years ago, when Michele Anna Jordan's A Cook's Tour of Sonoma was published, Sonoma County was still a well kept secret, overshadowed by Napa, it's small but better-known neighbor to the east. "In a very true sense," says author Michele Anna Jordan, "the book was ahead of its time." The little secret—a 1,560 square mile agricultural and viticulture paradise—which the book centers around has been discovered. Sonoma is increasingly acknowledged as the epicenter of the California food and wine universe.
As national and international attention focused on Sonoma with increasing intensity and scrutiny, Jordan understood the clear need for what she describes as a sequel to the first book. A Cook's Tour of Sonoma was a tremendous success. "People would not let the first book die," Jordan explains. "Whenever I made an appearance for a subsequent book, invariably there would be someone in the audience asking when I was going to update A Cook's Tour of Sonoma. I finally said to myself, "Okay, enough already! I'll do it!"
The New Cook's Tour of Sonoma is the much-awaited sequel. What ties the new book to the first is Jordan's lyrical narrative voice and her continuing love and fascination with the region she calls home. "My motivation then", says Jordan, "was similar to my purpose now, to celebrate and honor this remarkable land and those who have made a commitment to nurturing it and preserving its bounty."
With 150 recipes, over 90% of which are new, and sixteen pages of gorgeous color photographs, The New Cook's Tour of Sonoma offers a detailed glimpse of the county's back roads, coastline, orchards, and farms.
The New Cook's Tour of Sonoma introduces readers to farmers and artisans who have helped create the region's current success. Readers will explore such places as the Redwood Hill Farm Goat Dairy, with its hand-crafted goat's milk cheeses. Meet the colorful Ig Vella and his historic Vella Cheese Company housed in a turn-of-the-century brick brewery which Jordan calls a "must-see destination if you're anywhere near Sonoma." and Rocky the Range Chicken or his sister Rosie, who became the first certified organic chicken in the United States. These are just a few of the characters that give Sonoma its flavor; Jordan introduces you to dozens.
The New Cook's Tour of Sonoma also tells the story of the evolution of a cuisine. "The new cooking in Sonoma County became a microcosm of what it was in California," Jordan explains. "A patchwork quilt of influences, shaped by the classic dishes, tastes, prejudices, and traditions of European settlers...The unifying thread and the golden needle, as it were, that stitched these remarkable influences together was the fertile land itself; the long growing season and remarkable bounty of California are reflected in the miniature in Sonoma County."
Because visitors are discovering the Sonoma of today, in the new volume Jordan pays particular attention to the land's history and unique personalities that created the foundations that have made this contemporary abundance possible. Jordan also explores the county's 11 viticultural areas, or appellations, in detail, and offers wine recommendations for all the recipes.
As the first volume did, The New Cook's Tour of Sonoma offers tours to satisfy almost every interest. "A Gardener's Tour of Sonoma" takes you to a garden of rare and unusual orchids, a farm of carnivorous flowers, a rare plant nursery, and a world-famous rose garden. "A Wild Sonoma Weekend" includes a hot air balloon ride and a visit to Safari West, a four-hundred-acre wildlife sanctuary. History buffs, antique collectors, and kids all will find intriguing adventures in this detailed chapter. There's even an exploration of the rich Hispanic culture of Sonoma. These tours, Jordan feels, "represent the grand diversity of the place I call home."
Jordan's recipes in this new book are as diverse, sophisticated, and accessible as those in all of her books. From Spicy Apple Chowder and Golden Beet Risotto to Slow-Roasted Chipotle Pork, Russian Egg Potato Salad, and White Peach Gallettes, The New Cook 's Tour of Sonoma is packed with the unique flavors of a place. Yet Jordan's inviting cooking style places these flavors within easy reach of everyone, including the novice home cook.
Whether you spend time in Sonoma or just dream about it from the comforts of your own home, The New Cook's Tour of Sonoma will bring it to life with recipes and stories from a region of the country increasingly recognized as America's Provence.
With Sonoma County increasingly in the limelight, the release of this sequel is perfectly timed. Jordan has responded to readers demands with new stories and recipes from the heart of Sonoma to people everywhere.
Michele Anna Jordan is the author of thirteen cookbooks to date, as well as hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles. She hosts two radio shows, the weekly "Mouthful" and the bi-weekly music show "Red Shoes Rodeo," both airing in Sonoma. Jordan writes a weekly column, "Seasonal Pantry," for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, and is North Bay restaurant critic for the San Francisco Chronicle. She has received numerous awards for both her cooking and her writing, including a James Beard Foundation Award and a Julia Child Cookbook Award nomination.
The New Cook's Tour of Sonoma
By Michele Anna Jordan
Sasquatch Books, 2000
320 pages, full color photographs
Information provided by the publisher.
This page created June 2001
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