Jack and I spent five nights in Rome last June and we absolutely fell in love with the Eternal City. We enjoyed walking along the cobblestone streets, taking in the history and architecture, feeling the energy of the city, and eating the amazing food. However, we had heard mixed reviews before our trip; most of our friends are fans, but others complained that Rome was too crowded and touristy. After experiencing the city first hand at the peak of travel season, I can see where one could come to either conclusion. My theory about the tourists in Rome is as follows: every major city is going to have sites that are crowded with tourists (think Times Square in NYC), but in Rome, these sites are spread throughout the city because they are ancient sites, rather than built around a city center. So, you’ll find yourself having a romantic stroll in a quaint Roman neighborhood such as Monti, with great restaurants, cafés, and shops, then – wham! – you turn a corner and you’re staring at the Colosseum, and there are tourists everywhere, locals selling cheap souvenirs, and restaurants that post pictures of their food on the menu. Once Jack and I figured this out, we were much less overwhelmed by the city, and we learned to just duck back down a quiet street when we didn’t feel like battling the tourists at the popular sites.
El Dorado Kitchen is our go-to spot on Sonoma Plaza. The food has been consistently good every time we’ve eaten there, and their mussels and french fries are some the best. We’ve always found it to be superior to its overhyped neighbor, The Girl & the Fig, which has let us down on multiple occasions. But EDK has always served us a solid meal.
We typically don’t spend as much time in the town of Sonoma as other parts of the county, but we try to stop by a couple times a year to pick up wine at Sonoma Wine Shop. SWS is right on the square, and sources wine from “ultra-small wineries in California, direct from the winery owner, winemaker, or vineyard owner.” We’ve been wine club members there for many years, and we continue to enjoy the variety of small production local wines at decent prices. The shop itself is a little hodge-podge, with fickle service, and staff that seems to turn over quickly. But despite these flaws, we continue to enjoy their wines!
We stopped by SWS this past New Year’s Eve for a quick tasting and to pick up a case of wine. Afterward, we enjoyed a tasty brunch at El Dorado Kitchen, which is located inside the El Dorado Hotel, right on the square. It is a large restaurant, great for a large group, and they serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Jack and I rang in the New Year here many years ago, and it was a mellow yet classy way to end the year.
On this visit, we started with the Steamed Mussels with white wine, créme fraîche, chickpeas, fines herbes (parsley, chives, tarragon, and chervil – often used in French cuisine), and country croutons, as well as the Truffle Fries with Parmesan and chives (a must-order every time we visit). The mussels were plump and steaming hot, and the truffle fries may be some of the most perfect french fries I’ve had.