Have you heard about love languages? There are, apparently, five different modes through which people express their love: words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. Jay and I score pretty uniformly across the board with one exception. I approach gift-giving with the sentimentality and steadfast solemnity of a [former] English major, whereas Jay hasn’t always put weight in material symbols. Case in point: teenaged Jay once neglected to get me a birthday present on time. Just imagine how teenaged Julie reacted.
That experience was the only language lesson Jay needed, as he is now fully fluent (nay, practically a native speaker) in gift-giving. Among other things, one of Jay’s sweet presents to me this year was a day trip to Sonoma. I felt as though I were in a movie during our drive there: blue skies, green hills, windows down, wind in my hair. Once we got to the heart of Sonoma, we parked the car, brunched, and spent the rest of the day doing whatever we pleased. Perfect.
I’d been hearing about the restaurant stylized “the girl and the fig” for ages now, but its location an hour north of San Francisco presented a bit of a barrier. My birthday weekend, though, presented the perfect excuse to try it out. Jay and I made reservations for their Sunday-only brunch, but sadly came too early to be seated on their outdoor patio. We consoled ourselves with booze: a Syrah flight for Jay and a lavender mojito (with rum, lavender & rose water simple syrup, lime juice, and muddled mint) for me. To pair, we started with the refreshing salad of the season: grapefruit vinaigrette, toasted walnuts, pickled parsnips, and shaved radishes.
I’d been scoping out the menu for some time, so I knew I had to try the girl and the fig’s duck confit. Tender, shredded meat, smothered with a fried egg and smoky pepper coulis, sits atop a goat cheese and roast shallot-infused polenta… oh yes.
We also shared an order of the salmon eggs benedict, featuring house-made English muffin and Florentine mornay and served with a side of amazingly crisp, deeply golden-brown potatoes. The kitchen accidentally used classic ham instead of smoked salmon, so we got a nice hunk of fish on the side as apology — perfect for our picnic later. Either way, the variety of textures and flavors made this a total palate pleaser.
I couldn’t resist getting a half-order the toasted banana bread, drizzled with dark chocolate, butterscotch syrup, whipped vanilla butter, and Maldon salt. As I’m physically incapable of having brunch without French toast, I’d been hoping that this dish would be a good facsimile, but it really was exactly what was stated: a decadent slab of egg-less carbs. Delicious, but likely not a repeat order. Our real dessert was a lavender crème brûlée with wild flower honey, featuring all the hallmarks of a perfect broiled custard: crispy caramelized crust, smooth and creamy interior, subtly-flavored sweetness… divine.
A square of greenery sits in the middle of downtown Sonoma, lined by shops, tasting rooms, cafes and restaurants — a perfect place to spend an afternoon. After our meal, Jay and I spread out a picnic by the park pond (though we could hardly eat, we were so stuffed!) and soaked in some sun for a bit. We spent the rest of our time walking around a few shops, including notables:
- Global Heart Fair Trade: a store with a wealth of imported goods (including home wares and musical instruments) and a big, human-rights-minded heart.
- Readers Books: an adorable book store with a fantastic selection of cookbooks and a gorgeous outdoor terrace in which to read them.
- Sunflower Caffe (not pictured): clearly a local favorite, serving up a great selection of bites and brews with seats both indoor and outdoor.
- Tiddle E. Winks Vintage 5 & Dime (not pictured): an old-fashioned candy shoppe stuffed to the gills with sweets and knick knacks — a place to bring kids if they can resist the siren song of sugar.
We ended the day at Basque Boulangerie and Cafe. In front of the store was a lovely older gentleman who’d introduce himself to passersby as the bakery’s ambassador and hand out coupons for free cookies. Jay and I grabbed drinks and sat at a sidewalk table, nibbling on breadsticks until we were ready to leave at our leisure. As I lounged there in the late afternoon sun, I realized what a true gift Jay had given me: time.
the girl and the fig
110 W Spain St, Sonoma, CA 95476
Basque Boulangerie and Cafe
460 1st St E, Sonoma, CA 95476