It happened to us many times. We discovered some fantastic perishable item – cheese, meat, seafood, veggies, fruit – while out traveling around for the day and didn’t have a way to get it home.  We tried snuggling the item up next to other cold goods but that didn’t always work.  Finally, my husband had the brilliant idea of keeping a cooler in our car.  Now our foldable cooler from Petaluma’s Artisan Cheese Festival lives in the back of our SUV along with a stroller, beach toys, a soccer ball, blankets, and an explosion of reusable shopping bags.  I’m not sure how much stuff we’re going to be able to keep back there but the cooler will stay. 

Trying new foods goes hand in hand with traveling and exploring local markets is a great way to discover new treats.  By market I mean everything from road stands and small grocery stores to farmers’ markets and gourmet shops.  Exploring markets is something we enjoy.  It is a habit we picked up living overseas.  You would be amazed how entertaining a grocery store can be in a foreign land.  In Sonoma County the goods might not be as unusual but you are almost certain to find some great local products.  We hardly ever visit Occidental without perusing the Bohemian Market and leaving with a couple pounds of Panizzera sausage.  On a visit to the Valley Ford Market we discovered two delicious cheeses: Valley Ford Cheese Company’s Estero Gold and DeBernardi Diary’s Two Rock Valley Aged Goat Cheese.  At the time these cheeses weren’t available as far as Petaluma.  Now, we can happily find them at Petaluma Market and our local Farmers’ Markets.  And, speaking of farmers, don’t forget the farm stands and dairies where goods don’t get any fresher and you can buy direct.

There is nothing better than coming home from a day of exploring and serving up the food you found along the way: crab from Bodega Bay, bread from Freestone, cherries from somewhere on Stony Point Road.  It brings a whole new level of satisfaction to the day.  Next time you are out and about stop to check out the markets, stands, farms and dairies in Sonoma County.  And, don’t forget the cooler!