You see, I'm on the eve of departure from my home of 4 years. I've given notice at my job in the City and have decided to make a big change: I'm moving to Petaluma, the gateway to the SF North Bay's vibrant farming community. I've taken a job at Central Market, a popular sustainably-focused restaurant, literally front and center on Petaluma Boulevard North and Western Avenue. Across the street is the Mystic Theater, built in 1911 for Vaudeville acts, where these days one can see wildly varying musicians such as G Love and Special Sauce, The John Corbett Band and even Camper Van Beethovan. The historic integrity of Petaluma is alive and well in the architecture downtown, the gorgeous Victorians on the westside, and the farms and ranches within a mile of town center that provide many Bay Area chefs with their organic riches.
Back to Sausalito though. As I sat outside its newest and hippest cafe', CIBO, soaking up some Christmas Eve rays at a patio table, and sipping on Blue Bottle coffee, brewed to order and served in a fabulous Heath Ceramics mug (can't get any more Sausalito than Heath), I pondered my decision. I wouldn't call it regret, but I began to have a longing, a "shit, I should have done this more often" sort of feeling. Started by the Ancona family of Angelinos (a longstanding southern Italian restaurant a few blocks up) CIBO is such a gem: Metallic orange banquettes line its walls, whiter than white formica tables contrast with rough exposed brick and displays of housemade jams, compotes and cookies tastefully packaged for sale. I pondered the idea that if I had spent more time here instead of jumping into my car to get to work, perhaps this town would have successfully entranced me. My wonders were further evidenced when the super cute Chef personally delivered a perfectly toasted Chicken Panini: chicken, apples and Pt Reyes blue, pressed and heated together into melty goodness. The pickled carrots, red bell pepper and celery garnish, deliciously crunchy, spicy and vinegar-ey added a high note of contrast to the sharp blue while simultaneously clearing my palate. I know, washing this all down with coffee, which I hardly drink anyway (except for here at CIBO), has echoes of my parents, but it was only 12 noon, and there was a slight chill to the sunny December air, and it was Blue Bottle, for Chrissake!