The wildfires of October 2017 ravaged the hillsides and woods at Flatbed Farm in Glen Ellen. They also burned down the big barn that served as a marketplace. Now, nearly a year and a half later, the farm stand at 13450 Highway 12 is back with flowers, eggs, fruits, vegetables, pastries and more.
Almost everywhere in the North Bay, farm stands have bitten the dust. It's too much work to be in the fields planting and harvesting and also standing and selling. Flatbed has a commitment to the community, and the community has a commitment to Flatbed. Locals shop there and swap stories Saturdays from 10am to 2pm. Tourists stop on the way to and from Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. They also take a slight detour to and from the town of Sonoma. Along with locals, tourists enjoy the scones and the muffins made by chef Amie Pfeifer, and stock up on Meyer lemons and blood oranges when they're in season.
In spring and then all summer long, the fields at Flatbed crank out an amazing array of strawberries, tomatoes, radishes and microgreens that are cultivated in the greenhouse and which are great for salads and sandwiches, or to devour by the mouthful. At Flatbed, food is medicine and it tastes good, too. Pfeifer, who lives during the week in San Francisco, brings her culinary magic from the city to the country.
"When I'm in my kitchen cooking, which I love to do, I think about the regulars who come to Flatbed and whom I hold in my heart," she says. "They keep me going." Pfeifer herself is a joy and worth a trip to the farm that's risen from the ashes and reinvented itself. flatbedfarm.com.—J.R.
If you are wearing your podcast selection thin and have been searching for some comedic medicine to improve your mental health under the suffocating onslaught of perpetually distressing news, the 'Barrel Proof Comedy Podcast' is your ticket. Barrel Proof Comedy seamlessly blends cultural commentary and conversation between two longtime friends who toss in the random whiskey fact, giving you plenty of chuckles along with booze trivia that's sure to help you stand out from NPR-consuming nerds. Hosted by Casey Williams and Steve Ausburne, comedians and self-proclaimed whiskey connoisseurs, this is the podcast you've been hoping for while biding your time listening to The Daily or Fresh Air. A recent episode discussed Blackened whiskey, created by Metallica, which has its own handpicked playlist playing while it ages in the barrel. The theory is that the sound waves vibrate the whiskey and effect variations in the way it ages. Throughout the episodes, you can enjoy humorous if random digressions such as this one: "I had my first prostate exam the other day. Have you had that yet?" "Have I had a prostate exam? Yeah, I've been getting them every year since I was 16. You haven't seen Dr. Craigslist? Dr. Pokey Tickle?" We could all use some healing laughter in our lives—maybe alongside a snort of hooch. barrelproofcomedy.com.—A.M.
The North Bay is not without places to relax. You can see a play, have a nice meal, even take a day trip into S.F. But each of these activities involves our shared bane: money and traffic. Hmpf! . . . rent's too high . . . can't afford to go anywhere . . . even if I could, the highway's clogged! Sound familiar? But there is a place you can go, a place where the traffic to-and-from is fairly light. It doesn't cost a dime, and being there, you suddenly remember why you'll never want to leave the North Bay. Bodega Head, where Sonoma and Marin counties' pastoral magnificence meets the Pacific Ocean. Standing 15 stories above the crashing waves, you can't help but stop and admire the view, which, on a clear day, extends down Tomales Bay to the south and Jenner to the north. Bring your walking shoes for a stroll around the head, or simply unfold the lawn chair and relax with a million-dollar view.—T.B.
My late Aunt Mary struggled a lot with health stuff in her last few years, and one of the things I learned as her screw-up nephew caregiver is that there are good and kind home healthcare providers, and there are not-so-kind home healthcare providers. The former are, of course, preferred—but home healthcare worker is a tough job that requires the health professional to have some real bedside armor going in. Especially since the bedside isn't in a hospital but in the ailing person's home—their sanctuary, their space. People don't want to give up on that without a fight, generally. And they don't really love it when you come in poking around for a vein. Aunt Mary was a lot of fun, but she was also a pain in the neck—yelling at the nurses, lashing out at the doctors. Well, she was in a lot of pain, and chronic pain will make a mean person out of anyone. It takes a special sort of empath to deal with a person in those sorts of long-term health straits, and I definitely have my limits in that department—oh, how we bring the pain to those we love the most—as do lots of people who are fretting over a sick parent or a struggling brother who's a veteran minus a leg, or an elder entering the twilight of Alzheimer's. Here's where Dr. Lucy Andrews enters the picture. She's the owner and CEO of At Your Service Nursing & Home Care, this year's readers pick for Best Home Care Service. Going in, I'm going to trust someone implicitly to look after me or my sick relative if that person is like Andrews, the former chair of the Sonoma County Commission on Human Rights. Head to Yelp, and the At Your Service testimonials are all of a positive and uplifting vein. These are good people. Kind people. I'm sending their brochure to my eldest nephew this week, with a note. "Dear Nephew: If I don't end up going out as we've discussed, in the manner of Fredo Corleone, please hook me up with these folks when the time comes. Signed, your loving Uncle." 1221 Farmers Lane, Santa Rosa. 707.573.1003. ayshomecare.net. —T.G.
Plastic straws are a hot topic lately, as big businesses like Starbucks and McDonald's move to eliminate their use. Today, 8 million metric tons of plastic straws enter the ocean each year, equivalent to about a garbage truck full of plastic going into the ocean every day. Additionally, sipping liquid through plastic straws can cause unintended health effects, most notably chemicals from polypropylene seeping from the plastic into the liquid. Equally noteworthy, regular sipping through straws can cause wrinkles known as "pucker lines"—and if we can't appeal to your sense of vanity, than all hope truly is lost. As businesses across the country ban or switch to eco-friendly straws, Sonoma County also enters the fight against plastic-straw waste (and premature wrinkles). Sip It Sonoma, created by ZeroWaste Sonoma County, is a grassroots effort encouraging the businesses and citizens of Sonoma County to reduce straw usage. The campaign advocates for restaurants to give patrons a straw only on request or, even better, to transfer over to reusable/eco friendly straws. Many businesses—Perch+Plow, Monti's, Amy's Drive Thru and Duke's Sprited Cocktails, to name a few—have switched to compostable or reusable metal straws. If you're still unconvinced, just check out the Youtube video of a turtle getting a straw pulled out of his nose—it will be your last straw.—A.M.