great bread is worth a drive


My friends know what a gluten whore I am and have been telling me for years about this little bakery in a little town out in west Sonoma. I know I know, gluten is the devil and all, but this girl likes just a little bit of devil. And the devil always knows where to find me. So Sunday Steve and I drove the second half of his Giro Bello route and I could not have been happier to drive through the tiny town of Freestone and right to the doorstep of the mythic Wild Flour Bakery.

Opened in 1998, owner Jed Wallach makes bread 4 days a week and sells only at his Wild Flour Bakery….no deliveries, no wholesale, no second location and no credit cards. It is everything I have ever heard. The bakery is designed around the bread, and I use the term ‘designed’ very loosely. There’s a brick oven on the far wall, tables for bread making, racks for bread cooling, and bakers moving constantly around the kitchen either making or selling bread. The walls are painted with whimsical murals of birds and, somewhat oddly, an elephant. But the main design element is the bread. All of the day’s breads are sampled at the sales table, so you can decide before you buy (choose whatever is hot from the oven). They start the day with 4 breads and a scone, and over the course of the day add the rest of the day’s menu of about 2 dozen items plus coffee. My gluten free hubby (I know, sad) loved his gluten free cranberry scone. I snuck a bite and it was absolutely delicious…not in the least bit second rate. We brought home 2 loaves: the Egyptian, a sticky delicious sweet loaf full of figs, pears and candied ginger and warm still from the oven; and the Wild Flour signature wheat round which is perfect with a bit of butter and nothing else. Seriously, it is lunch all by itself.

Out back of the bakery is the Wildflower Garden which itself is worth the hour drive from my front door. Sunday was a beautiful day, so we took a stroll and enjoyed the garden along with the bees and hummingbirds. The rows and rows of raspberries bode well for the future of scones. Enjoy my pictures, then choose a day and make the drive. Around the corner from the bakery is a cheese shop which we didn’t stop for (as we were already running quite late for a wedding!)….so next time, bread and cheese. I may never come home.

Enjoy the rest of your week!

a devilish hot weekend


Have you been up to the northern reaches of Sonoma County in the last, say, 6 years? Hubby is doing a 100 mile bicycle ride through wine country in a few weeks (the Giro Bello ride to benefit the Rotary Club’s charities if you want to join him), so yesterday we drove about half the course and ended up in the tiny little town of Geyserville. The ride is gorgeous through vineyards, farms, winding country roads and rolling hills with rest stops at a couple of wineries. Not sure I could enjoy it as much on a bicycle, but beautiful from our air conditioned car!

By the time we arrived in Geyserville it was late afternoon. We’d worked in our garden all morning then jumped in the car to check out his route…lunch hadn’t seemed important at the time. So at 4pm in 100 degree weather I was verging on ‘hangry’ as my good friend Patty says. Hungry and angry. Hubby is gluten free, so the deli wasn’t an option, the cafe was closing for the day, and Diavola was two doors down and serving a limited menu. I don’t speak any Italian, but I know diavola and I think I was channeling her, so it seemed like a match.

Diavola opened in 2008 under the tutelage of Chef Dino Bugica who hailed from nearby Santi (now closed). Bugica’s love of salumi stems from years spent in Italian butcher shops learning the trade. At Diavolo they make their own salumi as well as some amazing pizza. The restaurant consists of a front room where the pizza oven takes center stage with the bar on one side and tables on the other. At the front end of the bar is the chef’s table over which hang meat hooks holding the curing house made salumi. Kind of like the ducks in the window in Chinatown but way better. We were seated in the second dining room, just off the main room. And lucky we were….the heat was stressing the building’s power and intermittently shutting it down along with the lights and air conditioning…it was nice to be away from the pizza oven, pretty as it is!

After powering down a litre of ice water and all of the delicious skinny breadsticks they brought when we sat down, we relaxed enough (barely) to look around and see what a cute place Diavola is. Brick and plaster walls, old fir flooring, a (fake) tin ceiling and rustic furniture. Kitchen towels as napkins are always a favorite of mine…whenever we travel that’s what I collect. Loving anything spicy, we chose the Inferno pizza…roasted red peppers, tomatoes, basil, provolone, mozzarella and spicy peppers. We didn’t even need to add the spicy house made oil provided at each table. In our haste to get food on the table, we forgot to ask our server for gluten free crust, so lucky me I got to eat more than my share while my hubby nibbled at a slice or two muttering ‘stomach be damned’ under his breath. We also shared their mixed green salad which was anything but typical. Mixed greens with pine nuts, gorgonzola, radish, bacon and fried fava beans which were amazing. It was all dressed in a slightly sweet vinaigrette. I could totally eat a whole bowl of the fried fava beans and happily not share a single one.

I’m looking forward to driving the second half next weekend and finding another undiscovered (by me) treasure….I clearly need to get out more! And if we by chance end up at Diavola again, we will make sure it is during lunch or dinner when we can enjoy the full menu and maybe even sit on their adorable patio. Presuming it isn’t 100 degrees.

Have a great week…I hope you get to explore something new,

Diavola Pizzeria/Salumeria
21021 Geyserville Avenue, Geyserville
open seven days a week, lunch and dinner