Gina Dallara: November 2007 Archives

Wonka World, Circa Now

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By Courtney Cochran

Next time you’re looking for something sweet in northern Sonoma County, stop into retro fabulous Powell’s Sweet Shoppe on the plaza in downtown Healdsburg.  The candy emporium boasts floor-to-ceiling displays of every kind of confection imaginable, including both new and vintage brands.

Treats aside, the sweetest part of the experience has to be the uncanny sense of nostalgia that’s felt in every nook and cranny of the store.  From the color palate-like bins of brightly hued saltwater taffy to the old-fashioned soda fountain and excellent selection of retro kids’ toys (cap guns, anyone?), the place fairly oozes small town America, circa way back when.

Fortunately for sugar fans, there’s no need to go back in time to partake of Powell’s bounty.  The only obstacle keeping visitors from sheer confection bliss, in fact, is the spot’s sometimes steep prices, a reminder that we are, in fact, in the here and now.  

Powell’s Sweet Shoppe * 322 Center St., Healdsburg, CA 95448 * (707) 431-2784 *

Oyster Me

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By Courtney Cochran

 When it comes to wine country chic, Rocker Oysterfeller's Kitchen + Saloon in the newly renovated Valley Ford Hotel's got it nailed. From the oversized teak rockers on the porch to the bespoke bar made of redwood salvaged from a Bodega Bay boathouse, the spot strikes just the right chord between folksy sophistication and rural charm.

But the real story at the year-old western Sonoma County eatery isn't the décor, it's the spot's to-die-for dishes, all of which come with a healthy side of the kitchen's signature Southern flair. Locals can't get enough of the Rosie Organic Fried Chicken, garnished with ale-and-gravy-topped potatoes, while the ridiculously rich Mac N' Cheese takes honors for the most lusted-after offering. And, given the resto's plum location just minutes from Bodega Bay, it's probably no surprise that the oysters rock (pun intended). Mop up the namesake arugula, bacon, cream cheese and cornbread-dusted Rocker Oysterfellers with a warm corn-jalapeño biscuit, then rinse it all down with a bottle from the well-edited wine list, rightly comprised almost entirely of Sonoma County selections.

Fortunately for the overindulgent, rooms at the adjacent hotel start at just $120 a night.

Rocker Oysterfellers @ Valley Ford Hotel * 14415 Coast Highway 1 * Valley Ford, CA * (707) 876-1983
* * Open Nightly Tues-Sun & for Brunch Sun