An Occidental Adventure

Last Friday evening my sister, Gwen and I headed west in search of Gerard and his infamous giant paella pans. This search was sparked when I read an article about the Occidental Bohemian Farmers Market. It mentioned Gerard\’s Paella as being one of the vendors. Paella, I love paella.  I checked out Gerard’s website. The photos were enticing. I could almost smell and taste the paella. We just had to go and try some.

And, so the adventure began as we traveled the Bodega Highway towards the setting sun, dreaming of the giant pans of paella that awaited us. Arriving, we found the little town of Occidental bustling with shoppers and couldn’t wait to check it out.

The market included about eighteen vendors; farmers with their fruits and vegetables, ranchers with meat,  sellers of prepared foods, several crafts people and a couple of  community service groups, all lined up in two tidy rows along the main street.

We slowly made our way up one side of the market to the end, watching carefully for Gerard and the giant paella pan. Then, down the other side enjoying chatting with farmers and tasting samples. No giant paella pans anywhere. Was I mistaken about him coming to this market? By chance, we ran into a friend of my sister’s and she asked about Gerard and guess what. He wasn’t going to be there that night. WHAT? I came all the way from Sacramento and he’s not going to be here. My dreams of paella for dinner that night were not to be. And, so with my paella dreams dashed, we headed towards the car, stopping only at the mushroom grower to buy some of his incredible shitake mushrooms.

Now what do we do for dinner? Running into Gwen’s friend again we asked for recommendations and she gave us several. We chose to drive to Graton, just down the road, and try the Underwood Bar and Bistro, which has outdoor dining, and a small plates menu.  As we sat outside, enjoying a glass of wine, we read through the menu.  It all sounded so good. We finally decided on a selection of several small plates, including a lovely roasted beet, endive, walnut and feta cheese salad and Hoisin glazed baby back ribs with a Napa cabbage and mango slaw. It was the perfect ending to the evening.

As for Gerard and his paella, we’re not going to give up. We’ll be going back to Occidental for another try. The market is open through October.

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