It’s Summer, and the Eating is Easy

Cheese and fruit spread from Jimtown Store is the perfect winery snack. Photo courtesy Jimtown Store.

“Pic-a-nic baskets.” The talent for scoring such goodness is what made Yogi smarter than the average bear. Because sometimes, there’s little better than a meal enjoyed outdoors, unpacked from a pretty hamper and spread out on a tablecloth on the grass. Cold fried chicken, potato salad, chocolate cake… mmm, classic.

Yet if cooking isn’t your deal, or you want to eat a bit healthier, options aren’t hard to find. Sonoma chefs are busy whipping up great foods, already prepared to-go or made-to-order with just a quick phone call ahead.

Traverso’s Gourmet Foods, Santa Rosa

With its spiffy new store at Fountaingrove Village, the selection of edibles has gotten even bigger and better for this longtime favorite destination. The boutique shop has been a Santa Rosa fixture for more than eighty years, with one of the County’s most impressive selections of domestic and imported food, wine, and liquors. The sandwiches alone are a marvel to behold, and you can build-your-own from nearly three dozen meats, a dozen cheeses, eight breads, and 16 toppings. Or, let the deli pros craft one for you, such as the hot, gooey chicken Parmigiano, a delicate caprese, toothsome pulled pork, or traditional egg salad. This is also where you can old-style sammy treats, like baloney, beef tongue, liverwurst, and salami. Don’t forget that perfect bottle of wine, from an impressive line of local boutique and hard-to-find labels.

2097 Stagecoach Road, Santa Rosa, 707-542-2530,

Oliver’s Market, Santa Rosa and Cotati

Locally owned and operated, this chic grocery specializes in local products, most of which are artisan and some of which are exclusive to the stores. On-site bakeries make mouthwatering cakes (yes, chocolate), cookies, pastries and more, for desserts that demand front-and-center display on your red-and-white checker tablecloth. The delis brim with hot entrées made by staff chefs, grab and go meals (fried chicken, indeed), fresh salads, homemade soups, and sandwiches on fresh-from-the-oven French bread. Plus, for a more international nibble, each store has a taqueria and a sushi bar. Baked-to-order pizza is another option, a prepared cheese platter is a must, and the wine, beer and spirits department stocks gorgeous quaffs from all around the world.

560 Montecito Center, Santa Rosa, 707-537-7123. Also 546 E. Cotati Avenue, Cotati, 707-795-9501, and 461 Stony Point Road, Santa Rosa, 707-284-3530,

Pearson & Co. Fine Food To Go, Santa Rosa

More than 35 entrees, salads, soups, sandwiches, pastries and desserts are prepared daily, conveniently packed for take-out. Try the lovely B.L.A.T. (applewood bacon, avocado, tomatoes, pesto mayonnaise and mixed greens on toasted whole wheat), a hot ham & cheese panini layered with Black Forest ham, Jarlsberg and Dijon on focaccia, and a rainbow of salads such as golden beet and carrot, avocado and jicama, or a combo served with soup du jour. Heartier appetites can enjoy chicken enchiladas, old fashioned meatloaf, or Dungeness crab and rock shrimp cakes with lemon caper aioli. There’s good reason, by the way, that a popular dessert is called Astonishingly Delicious Chocolate Pudding.

2500 Mendocino Avenue, Santa Rosa, 707-570-3700. Also 2759 4th Street,

Santa Rosa, 707-541-3868, and 3925 Old Redwood Hwy., Santa Rosa, 707-566-5422,

Still hungry? Here are some other favorites for a fancy fill-up:

The new Woodruff’s in Sebastopol

The newish Fresh in Santa Rosa

The wonderful Main Street Deli in Sebastopol

The classic Jimtown in Healdsburg

The classic Dry Creek General Store in Healdsburg

The classic Sonoma Cheese Factory in Sonoma

The classic Angelo’s Wine Country Deli in Sonoma

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