Savor the Best (Foods) of Lamorinda

Savor the Best (Foods) of Lamorinda

Moving through the tunnel doesn’t mean you can’t partake of the vibrant Bay Area food scene. There are plenty of delicious things simmering over here in Lamorinda’s kitchens, from handmade jams to artisanal bread. Whether you’re seeking something to spice up your own cooking or the simple comfort of a freshly baked loaf, the creative producers in our neck of the woods make the best kind of neighbors.


Beef it Up

Local ranch Alhambra Beef and Pears was formed by the merger of two ranches in the Alhambra Valley/Briones Agricultural Preserve. Family run, the ranch raises grass-fed cattle and sells on-site or at the Martinez Farmer’s Market. Alhambra also raises pigs and makes their own bacon, chorizo, andouille, bratwurst, and other sausage. With prices on par with local meat counters or below, it’s worth making the trip to stock the freezer. Big beef eaters in the family? Purchase a ¼ steer and get bulk pricing. Pick-up is by appointment only. 

Want your beef dry-aged? Johnson Farm will sell you a ¼ or ½, or whole steer. Cattle from Johnson is grass-fed, grain or hay finished, and often graded prime or choice. Johnson raises Berkshire heritage pigs and sells them by the whole or ½ cut to your specifications. Tack on a couple dozen of their farm-fresh eggs, and you’ll be frying up the best breakfast in town. 

Find the folks from Hansen Family Farms at the Livermore or Vallejo Farmer’s Market, or give Jim a call at 925 759-4378 to see if you can pick up some of their beef, pork, lamb, chicken, or eggs at their place in Clayton. Keep up with the latest by following the farm on Facebook.


Napa not Necessary

There’s no need to drive an hour or more for a wine tasting. Captain Vineyards in Moraga will happily accommodate you and your crew. Take a tour and finish with an assortment of their small-batch, slow barrel-aged vintages accompanied by artisanal cheeses and homemade steam- baked bread. Tours and tastings are by reservation only. More than ten drinkers? Give them a call for group pricing. 

Tucked into a neighborhood just across the road from BART in Lafayette, Deer Hill Vineyards has been producing wine for over 20 years. The vineyard is a two-time winner of the Chronicle’s San Francisco wine competition with their Cabernet and Sangiovese but also offers Chardonnay and Pinot. Owner Bill Scanlin has built a tasting room reminiscent of a cave at a small French winery, where he pours a variety of vintages alongside a board full of nibbles and bites. You can find several of the winery’s bottles at Diablo Foods, but buying from the source is so much more fun. 


Budding Bakeries 

Ten years ago, while living in New York, Yuri Yoshida went in search of high-quality, Japanese bread. When she came up empty, she began to bake on her own, seeking to perfect her kaku shokupan, a Japanese sandwich bread. Now on the West Coast, Yoshida found herself inspired by the pandemic of 2020 to play around with sourdough. The results were so successful that her friends begged to buy the breads, and Yuri’s Panya was born. Made with high-quality, primarily organic ingredients, the Japanese style and long-fermented sourdough breads are almost too beautiful to eat. Don’t let that stop you! The time spent on these loaves—three days for the sourdough—makes them exceptionally flavorful and flawlessly textured. For now, Yuri’s Panya is a home bakery with limited production. Find out what’s are available and place your orders at Yuri's Panya or visit her Facebook page to see what she’s baking up.


Boxing it Up

Having a socially distanced happy hour in your backyard and wishing for one of those camera-ready charcuterie boards you see on Pinterest? The team at My Sustainable Table can hook you up with one of their spectacular nosh boxes. Colorful curated combinations of fresh fruits and veggies and a multitude of hand-selected cheeses, cured meats, nuts, crusty bread and seasonal treats will impress even the most jaded of your foodie friends. Made-to-order, the boxes are available for 6 or 10 people or in individual servings (10 minimum) by emailing through their website. A huge supporter of local causes, the catering company even whipped some boxes up for hardworking hospital staff during the pandemic.  


Winning Walnuts 

If you’re putting your own cheese board together, take it up a notch with Noci Bella. Local producer Adam Harris was simply trying to concoct a late-night snack when he created his walnut terrazzo, and the rest is history. Handcrafted of California-grown nuts, pure clover honey, real maple syrup and sea salt, it complements just about any cheese and is gluten-free. For a healthy treat, grab a package of the chocolate-dipped variety, chop it into bite-sized pieces, and pop it in the freezer. Keep a couple of bars stashed away: beautifully wrapped, they make winning hostess gifts.  


Creative Condiment 

Aioli, make way for Anne’s Toum (pronounced “too-m”)! This Lebanese garlic sauce is available in three flavors, original, za’atar, and lemon sumac and can be used as a spread, sauce, ingredient, or marinade. Fans call it “life-changing” and “seriously perfect on everything”. Produced from a family recipe using organic California garlic, lemon juice, and Lebanese spices, this condiment could be the key to a new you in the kitchen. Look for it in the vegan section near the cheese at our own local grocery, Diablo Foods, or at the Sunday farmer’s market in Moraga. 


Blooms with a View

The women at Bluma grow their flowers on a rooftop in the heart of Berkeley, supporting local pollinators and insects that feed on the nectar and pollen. The bonus? A whole lot of gorgeous blooms available for pick up or through a variety of subscription programs. Looking for a fun spot to throw a party or event? Bluma rents their deck by the hour and supplies tables, chairs, linens, tea, a tour of the farm, and an incredible view. 


Salad Days

Hidden away in a neighborhood in El Sobrante, tiny Cloverfield Farms grows just about anything that thrives by the bay. Pick-your-own organic produce is available in small quantities every month of the year. Come with an open mind; the assortment is determined by ripeness and availability. In November, you might find Persian Limes and Pineapple Guava, while December and January could bring Cara Cara Oranges, Rio Red Grapefruit, or Tango Mandarins. Pick up some Cloverfield honey and Black Point olive oil and dream of a winter fruit salad on the drive home. 


Sweets for the Sweet

Kids coming home from college? Surprise them with a dozen chocolate chip cookies from Kim Bettencourt. These legendary Lafayette favorites will make everyone happy. DM her on Instagram @beesweetercookiesbykim to order and pick up from her porch. 

Impress your friends with a flourless chocolate cake from @susiesbakedgoods (you don’t have to admit where it came from), or stock your freezer with her dough-to-go and have warm cookies anytime you wish. Susie also bakes up seasonal treats, including pies at Thanksgiving, cinnamon rolls, and sticky buns at Christmas, and decorated heart cookies and Valentine’s Day. Email her at [email protected] or send her a message on Instagram.


Let’s Jam

“Summer in a Jar” is the motto of local jam maker Marc Mergen’s JamAlula. Farm fresh fruit cooked in small batches in traditional copper pots, without preservatives, or pectin ensures that the essence of peak ripeness remains in each and every bite of jam. Flavors like strawberry, peach, apricot, and raspberry are available for purchase on their website, but be sure to check back for seasonal specials like Elephant Heart Plum or Mission Fig. 


Traveling Tapioca 

When the teens are clamoring for boba but you can’t motivate to get in the car, hop on Insta @mrsboba and place an order. Delivering flavors like milk tea horchata and taro directly to your door, this family-owned business can turn an ordinary weekday into an afternoon of armchair travel. While the kids suck down their matcha strawberry, grab yourself a green tea infused with guava dragonfruit and sip your way to the tropics. Served in PLA cups with fat paper straws, any of their drinks can be made dairy free and come with either lychee jelly or tapioca boba. They’ve got a two-drink minimum. Not to worry—everyone in the house will want their own. 


Get Your Buzz On

So good their 2020 stock sold out; sweet sisters Sophia and Cecilia’s locally made S&C honey is now available for preorder on their website. When they’re not busy at school, these two busy beekeepers take care of six hives producing organic, eco-friendly honey right in Lafayette. Keep up with their progress and find out when the honey’s back on the shelves at Diablo Food by following them on Instagram @lafayettehoney

Founder of the Mt. Diablo Beekeepers Association, Steve Gentry’s eponymous honey can be found at retail outlets around the bay as well as farmer’s markets in Orinda, Moraga, Walnut Creek, and San Ramon. Steve’s Bees also sells bee pollen, a mixture of flower pollen, nectar, honey, enzymes, bee secretions, and wax proven to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. 

Looking to get buzzy? Beeopic in Walnut Creek can help you get your own apiary going. Supplying queens and nucs to aspiring beekeepers, the company is an excellent resource for information on all things bee-related. Got allergies? Try their honey and pollen from bees, which forage on local wildflowers, reported to help inoculate against local allergens.

More than a decade ago, Hollie Lucas Alcalay transformed a half-acre weed patch into a thriving organic herb farm. Also in the bee business, Hollie’s Homegrown produces honey infused with herbs, spicy pepper, and rose petals. Stop by her charming shop at the corner of Mt. Diablo and Moraga Road for farm-grown products, vintage glassware, and hand-crafted, locally made gifts. While you’re there, ask for a taste of the wine Hollie’s dad makes in Santa Barbara County. As if that’s not enough, the shop sells live plants as well as an assortment of herbal teas, herb infused oils and vinegars, and seasoning salts in innovative flavors like chimichurri and citrus ginger. Find out what’s cooking on Facebook and Instagram @HolliesHomegrown

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