World Dessert Champ Laurie Figone Shares Holiday Recipe

MADE IN PETALUMA: Savory Holiday Apple Tarts are sure to be a big hit at your next holiday gathering

Laurie Figone looking out over her familys ranch just outside of Petaluma
Laurie Figone looking out over her family’s ranch just outside of Petaluma, Photo By Ashley Collingwood

If you wish to learn more about Laurie check out our previous posts:

Also a great gift idea for Christmas this year is her NEW cookbook: Cooking with Laurie Figone

Click here to order her new recipe bookCooking With Laurie Figone Cookbook

Here is a great appetizer you can impress your guests with this year over the holidays.

Savory Holiday Apple TartsSavory Holiday Apple Tarts

Simple savory crunchy bites are sure to be a hit at your next gathering! Crisp bits of pesto coated apples paired with a creamy, smokey cheddar cheese filling.

Servings: 30
Cook Time: 3 Minutes
  • 3 TBSP pesto
  • 2 cups petite diced apples
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 2 oz. smoked cheddar cheese (Laurie prefers Spring Hill Jersey brand)
  • 1 TBSP butter, room temperature 
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp smoked paprika
  • 30 mini Phyllo pastry shells, prebaked
  1. In a small mixing bowl mix together diced apples and fresh pesto until apples are evenly coated. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
  2. In a small mixing bowl; beat cream cheese until smooth. Add shredded cheddar, butter, lemon juice and smoked paprika and beat for 1 minute. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
  3. Remove shells from the freezer. Preheat oven to 350′. When oven is heated; place shells on a baking sheet and fill each one with 1 tsp. of the cheese mixture. Bake for three minutes; or until warmed through and puffed. Remove from oven and spoon 1 TBSP. of the pesto apples on top of each tart.
  4. Serve.

Highlights of the 2015 Petaluma River Craft Beer Festival

While Petaluma and Sonoma County have been known worldwide for wines and dairy products for many years, they are now building up a reputation for artisanal breweries as well.

The third annual Petaluma River Craft Beer Festival was held on September 12 along the Petaluma waterfront in historic downtown Petaluma to celebrate this growing culture. Patrons of the event strolled along Water Street, tasting various beers, ciders, and foods while viewing the river and listening to local bands Randy and the Special Agents and Sugar Moon.

Throughout the event, 20 local breweries showed off their fine brews, as well as a few cider, mead, and kombucha producers. To accompany all the delicious drinks, local food companies and restaurants brought everything from mac-n-cheese to tacos to pizza. For a list of participating vendors, click here.

Festival goers may have noticed the signs of autumn approaching in the slight winds and the chill in the air, but it certainly didn’t stop them from enjoy the festivities. Member of the Petaluma Valley Rotary Club and 2014 Citizen of the Year, Libby Fitzgerald noticed the general cheer of the event and said, “I’m having such a good time just watching everybody … It’s a mellow crowd, I love it. Everybody’s having such a good time. I think that’s my joy.”

The festival was put on by the Petaluma Area Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club of Petaluma Valley and was run by volunteers, allowing all proceeds from to go back to the community, river projects, and local non-profits. The event’s sponsors were Basin Street Properties, Morris Distributing, Petaluma Market, Wilibees Wine and Spirits, and Petaluma Creamery.


Petaluma Eats! at the 10th Annual Taste of #Petaluma

Check out the mouth watering sneak preview video of some new comers joining Taste of Petaluma at the end of this article.

Taste Of Petaluma (101)
Refreshing Salad with Ingredients from local farms, Photo By Laura Gouillon

Mention the words “budget your calories” in Petaluma on Saturday August 22nd and you might find yourself wishing you ate your words because the 10th annual Taste of Petaluma (TOP) will be in full swing!

Featuring 90 participating restaurants and local vendors in 47 locations, the festival aims to celebrate the authentic nature of Petaluma Eats while also fundraising money to support the local and professional non-profit Cinnabar Theater.

Taste Of Petaluma LogoLaura Sunday (aka Queen Cuisine), event organizer of the Taste of Petaluma, says TOP is a “culinary journey of our historic downtown Petaluma showing off restaurants, galleries, and shops. The town never looks better on that day.”

At a Mini Taste of Petaluma, I had the chance to preview some of the good eats that will be featured at the event, including samples from new Petaluma restaurants Sonoma Spice Queen and Sauced BBQ & Spirits, in addition to Bistro 100. Here are sneak previews and backgrounds on these three amazing venues participating in this weekend’s celebration.


Petaluma Eats! Yes we do. Laura agrees.

Laura Gouillon
From Laura Gouillon’s LinkedIn Page

This morning I ran across the video below called Petaluma Eats by a former Petaluma High School student, , who obviously understands the Petaluma culinary landscape well.  She does an excellent job capturing local foodie scene in a fun and creative way.

Hopefully this post will also shine light on this bright young Petaluma videographer. Also you have to admit it goes really well with our Petaluma Eats! column.

Petaluma Eats from Laura Gouillon on Vimeo.

Welcome to the quaint city of Petaluma, California!
Explore the deliciousness of this city’s downtown through its great eating spots.

Created for the Weekend Challenge:


VIDEO: Our Favorite #Petaluma Chef Cooking Ribs For KTVU Channel 2

Man those ribs look good!  Got to try it. Petaluma’s Laurie Figone cooks ribs for news anchor Gasia Mikaelian who holds up a bottle of Petaluma Hills beer while the camera man tries to grab the beer from her.  The World Food Dessert champ continues to show Gasia how to make a red white and blue dessert with a scoop of Petaluma’s Haverton Hill Creamery sheep milk ice cream.

Give a minute for the video to load on the screen.

Here are other related stories about Laurie Figone World Dessert Champion:

Everybody Eats: The Petaluma Bounty Farm & Farmers Market Benefits

Bounty Farm Manager Lennie Larkin.  Photo courtesy of Petaluma Bounty
Bounty Farm Manager Lennie Larkin. Photo courtesy of Petaluma Bounty

I finally met Lennie Larkin at the Petaluma Farmers Market in Walnut Park last Saturday.

She was tending to the Petaluma Bounty Farm’s spot at the west side market that runs from 2 to 5 pm at D Street and Petaluma Boulevard North.

Now that June has arrived and the Theater District Farmer’s Market has begun on Wednesday evenings (4:30 – 8 pm), Petaluma has three farmers markets open to the public through August, including its year-round east side market at Lucchesi Park on Tuesdays (10 am – 1:30 pm).

Daughter Emma and I bought some beautiful red leaf lettuce Lennie had grown at the farm and talked with her about what they’ll be harvesting next this season, before we moved on to Revolution Bread and picked up a loaf of their fantastic Rustic Italian.

b-side farm logoLennie’s in her third year now as Petaluma Bounty’s farmer, and like most small-scale farmers it’s a job that requires a diverse set of skills and talents. She’s a fundraiser, tour guide, staff manager, educator, supervisor, coordinator, vendor and more, all while planning crop rotations and tending soils. Oh, and she’s got her own busy little flower farm operation as well – B-Side Farm.

I’d intended to say hi to Lennie for quite some time, and express my gratitude for her stewardship of Petaluma’s remarkable little urban agricultural and community institution. It’s been such a joy to see the farm evolve and grow under her supervision, its diminutive, productive 2 ½ acres feeding our community’s bellies while stimulating minds and nourishing souls. This will be the farm’s eighth harvest, with the organization soon entering its tenth anniversary year and now operating under the umbrella of the Petaluma People Services Center.

Petaluma Bounty Farm sign.  Photo by Christopher Fisher.On what was once some fairly ill-treated, barren land, generously donated by the Stonitsch family, the Petaluma Bounty crew and hundreds of friends and volunteers continue to grow nutritious crops and community with each passing season, while practicing regenerative agricultural methods that feed the farm’s soil and help ensure productivity in the future.

Tomato tasting at the Petaluma Bounty Farm.  Photo courtesy of Petaluma Bounty.
Tomato tasting at the Petaluma Bounty Farm. Photo courtesy of Petaluma Bounty.

She was out of strawberries by the time we arrived, but Lennie was excited about everything the farm would be harvesting and selling in the weeks ahead: more strawberries, blueberries, many varieties of lettuce, kale, Asian greens and chard, cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes, onions, garlic, beets, herbs, and lots of flowers.

That little farmer to consumer conversation that happened between Lennie, Emma and I is one of the great and under-appreciated benefits of farmers markets. We all get to know each other a little better. I get to know who grew the food I’m buying and in what manner, and an assortment of additional social and economic benefits flow, including those which come from purchasing directly from local growers, who in turn tend to spend locally – a continuing cycle of mutual benefit.

Next time we’ll look at some of the programs the group pursues to improve access to nutritious, locally-grown food and to reduce food waste.

In the meantime, feast on some illuminating statistics:

Bounty By the Numbers

  • 11,280 – Pounds of sustainable grown fruits and vegetables harvested at the Petaluma Bounty Farm in 2014.
  • 480 – Number of Bounty Boxes of fresh produce provided free of cost to low-income P.L.A.Y. (Parents Love Active Youth) participants in 2014.
  • 1,755 – Number of farmers markets in the U.S. when the USDA first counted them in 1994
  • 8,392 – Number of farmers markets in the U.S. on June 1, 2015 according to the USDA
  • Over 40% of organic farming operations sell directly to consumers.
  • 27 – number of community groups engaged in service-learning at the Petaluma Bounty Farm in 2014.
  • 64% of farmers market vendors reported that they sell more produce, make more money, and have more customers because of incentives.
  • Over $5.3 million – Amount of CalFresh funds which flow into Sonoma County each month.
  • $9.6 million – Amount of economic activity generated by CalFresh in Sonoma County every month. Every federal dollar invested in SNAP generates $1.79 in economic activity.
  • Less than 1/10th of 1% – Amount of that $5.3 million which was spent at farmer’s markets, farm stands and community-supported agriculture (csa) programs in 2014.
  • 297% – Increase in Petaluma Bounty produce sales to low income and wholesale customers from 2013 to 2014.
  • 75% of SNAP recipients reported they had increased their purchase of produce because of incentives.
  • 1,600 – Number of vegetable starts sold or re-homed during Petaluma Bounty’s annual Plant Sale.
  • 3,562 – Volunteer hours donated to Petaluma Bounty in 2014.
  • Over 72.5 tons – Amount of fresh food harvested, recovered, and redistributed by the Petaluma Bounty Hunters gleaning program in 2014 to local non-profit agencies serving people in need.

pb-top-4photo-bannerPetaluma Bounty and the Bounty Farm need the community’s continuing support to thrive. Please donate time, money, or materials if you can. Spread the word. There is much more information to be found at Help Bounty make real its organizational motto – Healthy Food for Everyone. Help grow a local food system in which everyone eats, in which everyone has access to healthy, locally-grown food.

Get Your Restaurant Or Business Noticed at The 2015 Taste of Petaluma

Don’t miss this culinary event of the year

In our recent post, Introducing A New #Petaluma Company: about a company that helps put businesses on the map, it says “It is also very important to be actively engaged with your community and have that face-to-face interaction with potential customers.”  With that in mind we have the perfect opportunity for you to promote your restaurant or business to an enormous crowd of people who can become a potential customers for you in the future.

Taste Of PetalumaThe 10th Annual Taste of Petaluma is Saturday August 22 from 11:30AM to 4PM. Any restaurant or food vendor can participate at your own location, or be hosted at a shop or gallery. Click here to see the Petaluma Downtown Association’s recent email to members.

Three reasons why it is important for you to sign up now:

  1. There is going to be a lot of people there who like to eat out and want to sample your food.  If you are a restaurant or food vendor is this your audience?
  2. The people will be having a good time.  Can you think of a better time for you to share your brand and promote your business or store? 
  3. People in Petaluma love businesses who support their community – this event benefits the Cinnabar Theater.

Five ways your business can benefit from the Taste of Petaluma:

  1. Listing on event map that each guest receives which includes your name and item(s) being served.
  2. Official Website with URL link to your website.
  3. Press and Radio – ads, articles and interviews – Positively Petaluma will be there – will you?
  4. Full page event ad with your listing in the Cinnabar Theater program
  5. Bring visibility to potential new customers to your place of business

If you haven’t heard of, or participated before, here are some highlights from last year: Video: 2014 Taste of #Petaluma a Great Success

Adrian Grenier at 2014 Taste of Petaluma
Actor Adrian Grenier’s Photo Posted On His Facebook Page

Also you never know when there may be an unexpected BONUS!  Last year actor Adrian Grenier made an appearance which led to us interviewing him.  This interview was read and shared by thousands on social media Positively #Petaluma Interview With Actor Adrian Grenier. Why is that important? He mentioned the restaurants in Petaluma he likes to eat at.  Our site got tons of clicks on the restaurants’ websites. This is better than advertising. It’s social envy of your restaurant. Maybe your business too can score an unexpected bonus this year.


Petaluma is becoming the culinary destination (see our post Video: KRON 4 News #Petaluma a Culinary Destination).  KRON 4 News Petaluma Becoming A Culinary DestinationWhen it comes to food, beer and wine there is no better place to be than Petaluma.  It’s the very reason we started a segment on our website called Petaluma Eats!  This event is a culinary journey around downtown showcasing Petaluma’s finest food, beer and wine.  

Here are important links for you to get involved today and take action now:

Entry Information

2015 Taste of Petaluma Entry Form For Food

2015 Taste of Petaluma Entry Form For Wine or Beer

Print, complete and send the above forms and fee:

  • Mail: Cinnabar Theater, Attn: Taste of Petaluma. 3333 Petaluma Blvd. No., Petaluma, CA 94952
  • Fax to : (707) 763-8929 or email: [email protected]
  • Phone: (707) 763-8920 with a credit card any weekday between 10 AM to 2:30 PM

For more info or to email entry form: Laura Sunday [email protected] (707) 477-9944

Share this with someone you know by clicking on the social media icons below.

Interview with Taps Chef Abe Asay Grand Champion of the 2015 Great Petaluma Chili Cookoff

Don’t miss Chef Abe’s Award Winning Chili Recipe at the end of this interview

This year’s Great Petaluma Chili Cookoff was the best attended in its 18 year history.   There was 1050 attendees, 40 challenger teams, 26 breweries which is the highest participation in every category since inception.   In our post VIDEO/PHOTOS: Winner’s of the Great Petaluma Chili Cook-Off we highlighted this years winners.  The Grand Champion this year was Taps under the supervision of their Chef Abe Asay who was awarded a Golden Ticket to enter the 2015 World Food Competition in Florida.  This week we sat with Abe to learn more about him AND he agreed to share his award winning recipe to Positively Petaluma readers.

Wayne: Was this the first time you have won in the Chili competition?  

Abe: No, we have won first place in the Restaurant category 2 or 3 years in a row?

Wayne: How long have you been a chef at Taps?  

Abe: I have been here since they started – it will be six years in September.

Wayne: Where you a chef prior to Taps?  

Abe: Yes I was a chef in Orange County at a restaurant called the Cafe Mezzaluna.

Wayne: Is that where you are originally from?  

Abe: No I am a native of Petaluma.

Wayne: Where did you you get your inspiration to become a chef?  

Abe: My parents and grandparents liked to cook – and they always cooked good food.  We grew our own vegetables.  I also was part of the 4H club and learned how animals are raised.

Wayne: When was the first meal you cooked?

Abe: I was about 7-8 years old and it was Thanksgiving Day.  I remember my grandmother and grandfather telling me I better not try cook anything outside our traditional Thanksgiving dinner.  They told him “No fancy stuff”.


KSRO Radio Interviews Sunday and Porter Great #Petaluma Chili Cookoff

Steve Jaxon radio broadcaster for KSRO interviewed Petaluma’s Laura Sunday and Houston Porter.  Sunday tells how the Great Petaluma Chili Cookoff started and Porter, a Positively Petaluma contributor, will be supervising the event from oversees.  During the interview they tasted some chili from a few contestants – you will have to watch to video to find out. Also they announce the “Golden Ticket” that will go to the Grand Champion this year.