It had been 8 years since the Gourmet Century last pedaled its way through Sonoma County and we were excited to bring this wonderful event back to the quiet rolling roads outside of Healdsburg. With a fantastic line-up of chefs, a beautiful route, and an excellent support team we felt that we were well prepared for the day. We were glad that we put in the effort, as it turned out our riders we just as enthusiastic. People were showing up before dawn to make the most of their day, in total over 350 riders set out from Alexander Valley Hall.
But first they would feast on our breakfast buffet spearheaded by Chris King’s Chris DiMinno and Robert McSpadden. Complete with Bowery Bagels and associated spread, breakfast burritos, yogurt, fruit, granola, and house made sweet and savory congee, guests left well nourished for the ride ahead. While some riders were wide-awake with excitement, those needing a little something to jump start their morning were treated to Nossa Familia espresso and drip coffee from Taylor Maid Farms.
After warming up their legs on their first stretch of the route riders found their way to Raymond Burr Vineyards, where chef Bill Corbett had prepared a wonderful squash-filled breakfast pastry topped with a drizzle of coconut frosting. With the bucolic view of the Sonoma valley stretching into the distance, riders snacked on this flaky and delicious pastry while feasting on the view.
From there it is was on to Arnot Roberts and chef Matt Accarrino’s curried BBQ chicken lunch which was paired with a wide assortment of deliciously refreshing salads. With another 30 miles to go and two more meals in front of them, the lighter lunch fare was just what our riders needed to balance out their efforts. Clif Bar nutritional products and Purity Organic drinks were available to riders as they feasted at the picnic tables and reclined on the picnic blankets spread out in the small park behind the winery. While the setting was perfect for a post meal nap, our riders remained hungry, and continued on their ride.
The penultimate stop was the wood fired pizza from Pizzeria Azzuro. With dinner only 15 or so miles away, riders had to be cautious not to over indulge in this deliciously prepared pizza. As it turned out, this was easier said then done, and the overwhelming aroma of one pizza pie after another enticed rider after rider to eat more and more. The best, however, was yet to come and if the meals throughout the day’s stops where any indication, then the dinner was sure to be something truly wonderful.
Upon arriving back at Alexander Valley Hall riders were greeted with a selection of refreshments to help them recover and prepare for the nights meal. In addition to sparkling water and soft drinks we had espresso from Nossa Familia, coffee and cold brew from Taylor Maid Farms, Sierra NevadaTorpedo Extra IPA and Pale Ale, and an amazing selection of wine that included 2013 Arnot Roberts Watson Ranch Chardonnay, 2012 Bouchaine Estate Pinot Gris Napa Valley Carneros, 2010 Bouchaine Carneros Pinot Noir Napa Valley-Carneros, 2012 Innisfree Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley. With the refreshments flowing conversation was buzzing throughout the crowd as dinner service began.
Our first seating started at 3:30 and guests were treated to this –
Robert McSpadden – Local farmers cheese with port wine braised figs
Michael Hanaghan – Five Dot Ranch meatball with sofrito and micro basil on crostini
Ari Weiswasser – Mixed chicory salad, garden persimmon, harissa spiced walnuts, blue cheese dressing
Chris Cosentino – Chicken liver bruschetta, autumn fruit, shaved brussels sprouts, giblet vinaigrette
Michael Hanaghan – Glazed beef short rib “pot au feu” with Round Pond Vineyard garden vegetables and puff pastry “croutons”
Assorted house-made Glen Ellen Star ice creams and florentine cookies
The menu speaks for itself.
While our first seating was enjoying their meal the rest of our riders passed the time chatting about the day, drinking wine and beer, and inspecting some of the amazing handbuilt bicycles that were on display from Cielo, Black Cat, Bruce Gordon, Steve Rex, Inglis & Retrotec, and Sycip. The sun set during the change in dinner seating and the evening progressed into a cool autumn night filled with the gleeful chatter of exuberant riders. With the end of our second seating we wrapped up the day sharing a few more drinks with our amazing guests. With such a beautiful day behind us we’re already looking forward to next year’s event and we hope that those of you who couldn’t join us this year can join us next year.
We wanted to make sure to thank all of those who donated their time and expertise in helping to make this event happen. In addition to the chefs and baristas mentioned above, we would like to thank Jennifer Kettman for going above and beyond in helping secure our event space. We would like to thank the Sonoma County Sheriff’s department, Carlos Perez and Bike Monkey, the Sycip family and extended family, Sonoma County Parks and Recreation, Curtis and Mitzi Inglis, Duncan Meyers from Arnot Roberts, Claire Benson, Erin VanWeelden, Chris Wells and NorCal Bike Sport, Nossa Famila, Taylor Maid Farms, Stumptown Coffee, all of our servers and kitchen staff, the Modus Sports Group, and Scot Nicol for his help in developing such an amazing route.
Check out the full photo gallery on our Flickr Page.