Cookbooks published by restaurants give a glimpse into the tastes, techniques and worldviews of their chefs and owners.
Such books generally come out once a restaurant becomes an institution, famous enough to attract readers. Santa Rosa’s four-year-old Spinster Sisters is a lively, culinary oasis in the city’s South of A arts district that now has a book out, too—but it’s not what you might expect.
Instead of offering a collection of recipes, author Lizzie Simon created
The Spinster Sisters’ Guide to Sonoma County as a book full of tips, recommendations and insights, out of conversations with the restaurant’s staff and customers, and its neighbors and suppliers.
“Oftentimes, travel coverage focuses on the luxury market, which is frankly way beyond the realm of most people, including 99 percent of the people in our book,” says Simon.
Simon and her husband, Eric Anderson, a Santa Rosa native and one of the restaurant’s founders, live in New York City but visit Santa Rosa often. A writer for the Wall Street Journal and American Theatre, Simon fell in love with the area and the restaurant over time, and interviewed all parties involved over a month-long stay that was fueled by dinners and lunches at Spinster Sisters. “I wrote the book in exchange for free food,” she jokes.
The main motivation for the guide is an upcoming Spinster Sisters inn, currently in development above the restaurant. “I wanted to figure out a way for future guests to connect both with locals and with exceptional experiences in Sonoma County,” says Simon.
The result is an insider’s guide from the perspective of Sonoma County’s leading tastemakers and foodies. Among them: Spinster Sisters head chef Liza Hinman; winemakers like Duncan Arnot Myers from Arnot-Roberts winery, Eric Sussman from Radio-Coteau, and Kelly and Noah Dorrance from Reeve Wines; Sonoma County Meat Company’s Jenine Alexander and Rian Rinn; Weirauch Creamery cheesemakers Joel and Carleen Weirauch; Moonlight Brewing Company’s Brian Hunt; and Flying Goat Coffee’s Phil Anacker. Each specialist recommended local favorites in their category, from small-batch wines to secret creameries and biking trails.
“It was important to try and represent the diversity and multitude of people who come together to make the restaurant what it is,” says Simon. “You’re getting recommendations from people who are experts, and it puts a human face, many faces, really, to the county.”
‘The Spinster Sisters’ Guide to Sonoma County’ is available at the restaurant, 401 South A St., Santa Rosa or at thespinstersisters.com ($15).