Surrounded on all sides by dairies, farms, sea and orchards, the newish idea of only eating foods produced within 150 miles of where we live seems like a gimme. It’s an experiment popularized a few years ago by a group called “Locavores” and is gaining steam with the carbon-footprint set.
So, okay, 150 miles from most of Sonoma County encompasses everything south to Modesto and Watsonville (just barely); east to Placerville and north to about Red Bluff (but encompassing the bounty of Mendocino). It excludes much of the Central Valley’s produce and cattle, any seafood caught much north of Ukiah (Oregon, Washington) and well, the rest of the world. Where we get stuff like coffee, salt, tuna and the list goes on. Oh. Hmmm. It takes more than a village to feed a village, it seems.
But two former Napa chefs are stocking their new eatery, Green Grocer in Windsor, almost exclusively with food caught or harvested within 150 miles. Joe and Susanna Rueter opened the gourmet market in late July 2008 with 95% of their inventory coming from local sources. Currently they’re working with folks like Gary Blasi, Sayre, Amstrong, Golden Nectar and Bernier Farms. Joe almost apologies for the fact that some of his pork is from 167 miles away. And the coffee (duh) isn’t local, but its fair-trade. You get the idea.
But just being local isn’t the wow-factor here. Joe is a former French Laundry alum. His wife, Susanna worked in the kitchens of Auberge du Soleil. Their “take out” dinners include dishes like beef with seared foie gras and blackberry sauce. Joe makes his own terrines, ages his own meats and hawks burritos with duck confit for breakfast. For lunch, grilled panini of local ham, salumi and jack cheese (the Cubano) and fresh corn chowder. The menu changes up depending on what’s fresh and in season. Susanna bakes fresh berry and peach pies and tarts daily. Their lemonade is infused with rosemary.
You can see how “deli” doesn’t quite explain the concept.
The young couple are still settling into the shop — the wine area is still in development, as are weekly classes (tentatively set for Monday nights, but call ahead for details) and an area for cookware. Their enthusiasm, however, is catching. Windsor locals are fixtures at lunchtime, trying out Joe’s daily specials and chatting him up about what’s for dinner. So far, they haven’t been disappointed.
Local is good. Delicious and local is even better.
Green Grocer, 434 Emily Rose Circle, Windsor Town Green, 707.837.81138:30am – 8:30pm Monday – Saturday & 8:30am – 6pm on Sunday.