Though we’re a long way from the time when doctors prescribe two bites of dark chocolate and a kale smoothie as cure for what ails us, the idea of food as medicine is being taken seriously. So seriously, in fact, that two new Santa Rosa restaurants are banking on the idea that body-friendly food can be as mainstream as McDonald’s.
The idea of eating foods, herbs and spices to heal ourselves is as old as mankind. The Egyptians used honey to heal wounds, the Chinese swallowed cardamom to alleviate indigestion, and Greeks were given garlic to increase their stamina and strength. Somehow we’ve forgotten this ancient wisdom, choosing convenient processed foods over the whole foods our bodies crave.
Women like The Pharmacy cafe’s Kim Bourdet, and Mary Kern of Seed to Leaf Organics are reviving those healing traditions with food that’s not only good for you, but deliciously satisfying.
The Pharmacy Cafe
“Food is our medicine,” says Bourdet, a former Gap Kids executive who co-owns The Pharmacy Cafe (990 Sonoma Ave., Santa Rosa, thepharmacysonomacounty.com) with Chef Jennifer McMurry. It’s no accident that Bourdet took over a historic pharmacy near the intersection of Brookwood and Sonoma. The gabled roof and floor-to-ceiling windows create a warm, sunny vibe that resonates with Bourdet’s bubbly personality. At this point, there are no tables or chairs, no real space for eating other than a small stand-up counter that runs the length of the front windows. Instead, this is grab-and-go food to take home or back to the office.
“People don’t understand what’s in their food and drinks,” said Bourdet, who once worked at Petaluma’s Della Fattoria. “A lot of times people really want to eat the right thing, but they don’t know where to get it.”
The simple breakfast and lunch menu features whole, locally- sourced foods that make as few stops as possible between the farmer’s hands and your mouth.
Beyond the farm to table philosophy, Bourdet and McMurry are making the large, open kitchen part of the experience for diners. “There’s an energy that happens between the front and back of the cafe. You see who’s preparing your food and the products they’re using,” said Bourdet.
This isn’t rabbit food, mind you. McMurry, a pastry chef who ran the popular Viola Pastry Boutique and Cafe in Montgomery Village, uses her traditional culinary skills to create healthier versions of familiar foods — egg salad, carrot cake, chicken noodle soup or a Croque Madame ($11) with Llano Seco bacon, bechamel and an over easy egg.
This isn’t diet food, just nourishing dishes that don’t rely on heavy doses of white sugar, salt, white flour and pale, commercial eggs for flavor.
A favorite drink is the ginger turmeric lassi, ($9) made with homemade almond milk (the leftover almond flour is used for baking), fresh ginger, bright yellow turmeric (a spice thought to have anti-inflammatory properties), yogurt and honey. The Pharmacy’s lassi is a spicy, earthy, slightly sweet power-up for the day, rather than a cup of icy regret.
We’re also fans of simple open-faced sandwiches that use Eli Colvin’s hearty rEvolution breads, Pug’s Leap goat cheese, organic pea shoots or brilliant yellow eggs from White Whale Farm. Even better is a hearty gluten-free carrot cake with soft cream cheese between the layers.
Most Popular Stories
Passenger killed in Windsor crash
Friends remember Malbec as natural winemaker
Malbec, local winemaker, killed in Napa car crash
Teens swept out to sea at Bay Area beach
Kelp forest vanishes on North Coast
You May Like
4 Cards That Charge $0 In Interest Until 2017 On Balance TransfersLendingTree
If You Owe Less Than $625k, Use Obama’s Once-In-A-Lifetime Mor…LowerMyBills
Why Aren’t Homeowners In California Taking Advantage Of Solar Pa…SolarForHomes
15 Super Easy and Simple Breakfast Recipes for Kids Parenting
Save room for McMurry’s brilliant Meyer lemon curd meringue ($6) and salted caramel chocolate pot de creme ($6) — rich desserts worth a splurge.
“Food is a healer, holistic medicine,” said Bourdet. “We’re not trying to preach anything. We just want to give people options.”
The Pharmacy also sells a selection of olive oils, beans, crackers and other Wine Country products. Bourdet hopes to add classes about nutritional cooking and intimate dinners in the near future.
Seed to Leaf
You’re about to fall in love with the acai bowl, the breakfast of true nutrition champions. Made with the Brazilian berry its fans say is an antioxidant as well as a weight management aid, the icy smoothie is topped with fruit, nuts, sprouted buckwheat granola, coconut and bee pollen.
These “Bliss Bowls” at Seed to Leaf Organics (25 Old Courthouse Square, Santa Rosa, seedtoleaforganics.com) are among the plant-based dishes that make eating raw, vegan food an adventure rather than a chore.
Owner Mary Kern turned to a vegan, raw food-friendly diet after frequent trips to pollution-dense China left her feeling constantly sick. She believes that exposure to high levels of mercury and lead were to blame, but a diet focused on plants was key to feeling better. And though all of the items on the menu at Seed to Leaf are vegan, she prefers the term “plant based” as a more inclusive word.
With her son, Nathan, she launched a menu that includes the morning acai bowls along with cold pressed juices, “living entrées” that include tacos made with spiced walnut meat and cashew cream, a black bean walnut burger ($14) and one of our favorite things on the menu, the barbecued Jaque with pulled jackfruit, sautéed onion and cabbage slaw on a gluten-free bun.
Don’t miss the banana crepes ($7), dehydrated bananas wrapped around coconut cashew cream, with whipped coconut cream, berries and bananas.
But the simplest things are the most crave-worthy here. Gluten-free toast with fresh avocado, vegan mayonnaise, sea salt, pepper, microgreens, lemon and olive oil ($7) that’s more filling than the meatiest fast food burger and a thousand times better for your body. Beans and greens with Rancho Gordo heirloom beans and dark greens in a lemon turmeric broth ($8).
And, the best morning boost we’ve ever had, the “Golden Latte” with espresso, coconut oil, turmeric, black pepper, honey and almond milk ($6) that’s meant to improve metabolism and energy. If nothing else, it tastes like sunshine in a cup.
While science, nutritionists, the USDA and food companies continue to wage war over what’s on our plates, maybe the best medicine is just to eat what we can pronounce, what’s closest to nature, and what feeds our souls.