I was out visiting a chef in Bodega Bay several months ago, and she had a selection of meats she was cooking up that were totally delicious and tasted so fresh, I had to know more. Chef Jodie Rubin directed me to Salmon Creek Ranch, which is located between the two villages of Bodega and Bodega Bay on the Sonoma coast. The ranch consists of 400 acres of rolling hills, pasture, redwood groves and forest, as well as a mile and half of Salmon Creek, a designated riparian habitat. Prior to becoming Salmon Creek Ranch, it was part of the dairy ranching business.
John and Lesley Brabyn purchased the ranch in 2007 and obtained CCOF (organic) certification for its pastures. The ranch is now home to grass-fed Scottish Highland and Angus cattle, free-ranging, cage-free, pasture-raised ducks, Kiko goats and Embden geese.
The Brabyns are from farming backgrounds, as John was raised on a dairy farm in New Zealand and Lesley on a ranch in Ventura County that dates back to 1886. Their daughter Jocelyn pitches in when she’s available. The family cares deeply for the environment and you can see their efforts if you tour their property. Farm tours are occasionally offered, depending on the weather, where you can walk along the creek as well as see a variety of animals in other parts of the ranch.
When you plan your trip to Salmon Creek Ranch, bring a cooler. You’ll find all kinds of culinary delights in their farm store, The Mercantile, including ranch meats, certified organic duck eggs, frozen Embden geese, honey from their hives, pet treats (when available) and other products, such as tanned goat hides and note cards.
One of my favorite parts of Salmon Creek Ranch is they are dog-friendly (for dogs on leash). To plan your trip, contact the Brabyns at 707-876-1808 or visit salmoncreekranch.com.
Goat Stew with Couscous
Created by Sheana Davis, The Epicurean Connection
2 pounds boneless goat stew meat, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
1/4 cup Sonoma County olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup white onion, chopped fine
1 cup carrots, cut into ½-inch cubes
1/2 cup dried chickpeas
2 cups vegetable or beef broth
1 cup canned diced tomatoes
Green onions and edible flowers for garnish
Place goat meat in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt, pepper, coriander, cumin, cinnamon and chili flakes. In a heavy bottom soup pot, heat olive oil over medium flame and add in the meat, garlic, onions and carrots, stirring to brown meat evenly. Sauté for 8-10 minutes, add in chickpeas, broth and tomatoes and simmer over low flame for 1 hour or place in crock-pot for 2 hours on medium. Taste, adjust seasoning and serve over a bed of herbed couscous. Garnish with green onions and edible flowers.
2 tablespoons Sonoma County olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
1 cup uncooked couscous
1 1/2 cups broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped fine
1/2 cup green onions, sliced thin
Over medium flame, in a small saucepan, heat oil and add in shallots; sauté 2 minutes or until tender. Stir in couscous; sauté 2 minutes. Add broth, salt and pepper and bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Cover, remove from heat, and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Stir in parsley and green onions. Serve with goat stew. Enjoy with a glass of Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.