As you can see in my post just below this one, I recently wrote about the El Dorado Kitchen (EDK) at the Sonoma Inn for Edible Marin and Wine Country magazine. A forager of edible flowers I am but I had never tried day lily or purslane and very much wanted to. Today, I gathered a few friends and made the trip to downtown Sonoma to experience this unique salad. Chef Justin knew I was coming and, though the day lily harvest is much-delayed this year due to our late rains and cool spring temperatures, found just enough to create one salad.
Prepared exactly as printed in Edible, the salad was a vision of just-around-the-corner summer with the fire-hued day lily petals perched on top of the purslane, mâche and frisée and surrounded by a pool of raspberry dressing and fresh berries. The texture was exactly as Chef Justin had described it to me ~ day lilies have a light flavor with a bite similar to rose petals while purslane is dense and crisp like celery. Every bite was as flavorful and fun as the one before and I was sad to take the last bite. (The sparkler in the photo is a Roderer Blanc de blanc.)
But onward soldier! House made charcuterie enlightened my palate with an array of potted, pressed and wrapped meats partnered with acidic-sweet accompaniments for balance: garlic and ginger-infused pork pavé (little squares) topped with candied kumquat and sweet-hot jalapeño, duck pastrami with coriander-scented sauerkraut, and ham hock rillete with pickled onion and black pepper marmalade.
Our choices for the rest of the meal were more pedestrian ~ two tuna niçoise salads, steamed mussels and the day’s pasta special; gnocchi with asparagus, oyster mushrooms and bacon. None disappointed but the creamy sauvignon blanc broth under the mussels had the entire table dipping their bread and French fries into the bowl to sop up the golden-hued elixir. (Washed down with generous glasses of Etude’s pinot noir rosé and Pellegrini Russian River Unoaked Chardonnay.)
Now almost three hours into our meal, we were happily coaxed into dessert by our kind server, Caroline. Ice cream cookie sandwiches (“the cookies are a little cakey so they don’t break” said one friend) and a not too tart, softly sweet, how did they make that creamy? raspberry-blackberry sorbet duo hit the spot on this 80 degree afternoon. after we moved ten feet over to the shade of the outdoor lounge , coffee and more wine followed. We were disinclined to move off the EDK patio. Ever.
On a sunny holiday weekend afternoon, the El Dorado Kitchen surprised and delighted with fresh flavors in both greens and cured meats and delivered a satisfying California-American menu. Ensconced in a hotel, the restaurant is open daily for lunch until 2:30 but stay through the afternoon and enjoy the bar snacks and drinks on the patio.