If you make your way down 5th Street in Downtown Santa Rosa, you might stroll by Flower & Bone. This preservation-centric, small batch restaurant is not your typical Bay Area eatery. Owners Dalia Martinez and Jason Sakach started Flower & Bone shortly after the major success of their first restaurant in the arts district, The Naked Pig.
The quaint cafe at the crux of the arts district, known for locally-sourced breakfast and lunch gained popularity quickly and soon Dalia’s preservation program outgrew the space. She calls her program “Full Circle Preservation,” and they live and practice it every day.
Just about everything they serve in both restaurants is urban foraged and grown locally, usually gifted or traded with neighbors in the area. The inspiration for their program came from a trip they both took to Armenia. Their taxi driver pulled over in a village they were passing through and began to knock on a neighbor’s door in frustration, while he gathered rotten fruit that had fallen all over the street and in their yard. He was demanding to know who was responsible for the waste. Neighbors gathered around the tree to help gather the fallen fruit and it was clear to Dalia and Jason that they were recognizing the disgrace in the waste which Dalia tells us, is what the whole region of Central Asia is good at.
Back at home in Sonoma County, it got them thinking about their own economy, and how they could help to bring those ideas to their community. Dalia only preserves in the season when the fruits and vegetables are available and taste their best.
When we visited Flower & Bone, Dalia insisted that we go visit her favorite apple tree. It’s an apple tree in her family’s front yard in the Junior College neighborhood, a neighborhood with “good bones,” just like their restaurant. Dalia forages from this tree for her preserves and they taste especially sweet and nostalgic to her as she grew up with this tree.
Her Full-Circle Preservation Program looks a little something like this:
- Forage apples locally.
- Slice apples and keep the cores, stems, and leaves.
- Cook down the apple slices and make a compote.
- Throw cores, stems, and leaves into a jar with sugar to make her “hooch.”
- Spread the compote onto a baking sheet and make dried fruit leather.
- Use the hooch to make refreshing cocktails.
- Let the hooch ferment into vinegar and make salad dressings.
- Any restaurant scraps or gifted fruits and vegetables that are not edible go into a compost and used to fertilize an herb and flower garden for the restaurant.
This idea is not new, but not frequently practiced which is why we were quite moved when Dalia explained that “Each piece of fruit I feel this obligation to treat in some way, and not let it rot.”
Jason and Dalia’s hopes for their restaurants and contribution to the community is that they help culturally urbanize Santa Rosa, while also preserving its agrarian roots in a clean and sustainable way.