The Wine Country Online

  The Jimtown Store Cookbook: Recipes from Sonoma County's Favorite Country Market
by Carrie Brown, John Werner and Michael McLaughlin

HarperCollins, New York (300 pages, $32.50 Hardcover) ISBN: 0-06-019702-1

Living life with zip, zest & zeal in Sonoma's Wine Country

One sunny afternoon in 1987, Carrie Brown and John Werner discovered Jimtown, an abandoned country store surrounded by the vineyards of Northern California's Alexander Valley. After restoring the dusty, 100-year-old landmark, they created a vibrant community store whose lusty, abundant food is now generously shared in The Jimtown Store Cookbook: Recipes from Sonoma County's Favorite Country Market (HarperCollins Publishers, April 1, 2002).

The recipes   from seductive soups to dazzling desserts   are inspired by three resources: the bounty of Sonoma County's agriculture and local purveyors; family recipe archives; and the authors' experiences sampling food from Argentina to Zanzibar.

Michael McLaughlin, co-author of the best-selling Silver Palate Cookbook, collaborated to bring it all together in 150 full-flavored recipes for everything from Deviled Eggs and Corncob Chowder to Duck Burgers and Meyer Lemon Blueberry Pie.

"We honor our favorite recipes by making them even better than remembered," explains Carrie, "and at the same time share new dishes that, we like to say, come from around the corner and around the world."

In addition to celebrating stylish-yet-casual entertaining, the cookbook profiles some of Jimtown's Sonoma County neighbors, including a family that grows roses for organic rose water and a corporate executive who gave it all up to grow sorrel and asparagus. Six "Sonoma Seasons" describe a year in the life of the vineyards, gardens, flora, and fauna of the Alexander Valley.

"Our customers recognize a 'Jimtown sensibility' in our store and in our food," notes Carrie, a former decorative artist in New York and San Francisco. "Both evoke a sense of the past without being nostalgic. We have a sense of style and a sense of humor; we're rustic yet sophisticated. For us, that includes cooking seasonally, grilling and eating outdoors whenever possible, and sharing our expertise with those who share our passion."

Featured in "Martha Stewart Living," "House & Garden," and "USA Today," and on the Food Network's "Ultimate Kitchens" and HGTV's "Country at Home," the Jimtown Store has become a wine-country destination. Locals and visitors alike can enjoy Chicken Tamale Pie on the vine-covered patio or pick up Brie and Chopped Olive Sandwiches for a picnic. Also available are Jimtown's own line of fresh condiments and numerous forgotten treasures   from wax lips and balsa-wood airplanes to a selection of antiques that Carrie and her late husband, John, collected during their many travels in the U.S. and abroad.

Carrie Brown is the owner of the landmark Jimtown Store in Sonoma County's Alexander Valley. Carrie and her late husband John Werner resurrected the 100-year-old community store surrounded by vineyards eleven years ago. With the help of her parents, antique collectors Charles and Caroline Brown, Jimtown continues to flourish today as a vibrant family business serving rural residents and travelers as an authentic destination for good food, real coffee, and friendly conversation   an oasis in the vines.

Carrie Brown with husband/co-author John Werner
Prior to opening Jimtown, Carrie, a graduate of the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, worked as a decorative painter in San Francisco and New York, as well as exhibiting her fine artwork on both coasts. Jimtown reflects Carrie's artistic sensibilities and her wider worldview by incorporating recipes and cultural artifacts collected on trips with John from Argentina to Zanzibar. A California native, Carrie also lived with her family in Caracas, Venezuela when she was a child during the 60's. She developed a deep appreciation for Latin American food and culture, and continued to pursue these subjects at art institutes in San Miguel de Allende and Patzquaro, Mexico during the 70's.

Carrie is an intuitive cook with a special love for baking that was inspired by her grandmother Luella's perfect pies. Carrie's Jimtown Store is known for its lusty country cooking, which reflects the abundance of local ingredients, and also for its reinterpreted "better than remembered" American desserts. Carrie's Jimtown kitchen has developed a line of fresh condiments based on its signature sandwich spreads and hors d'oeuvres, which are sold throughout the country under the Jimtown brand. Carrie recently completed The Jimtown Store Cookbook for HarperCollins, released April 1, 2002. The book includes 150 of Jimtown's earthy, full-flavored recipes with a special emphasis on stylish, casual entertaining.

In the late 90's, Carrie and her husband John worked as food consultants for Bath and Body Works in Columbus, Ohio developing a "Blue Ribbon" food program for Bath and Body Works Home Stores. Carrie and John crisscrossed the country in search of local authentic American foods, and met with small producers, many of whose products were based on family recipes. The idea of curating a collection of honest, "best ever" foods made with quality ingredients is a Jimtown tradition that governs the choices available on the store shelves today.

Carrie's passion for collecting is evident in the antique lunchboxes and rockets and robots made by local schoolchildren on display in the store, as well as in the vintage cookbooks, dog portraits, and "outsider art" in Carrie's home. She lives with her dogs Patty Lewis and Moses on the Jimtown property in a quirky cottage surrounded by a wild garden of 8-foot cardoons, herbs, love-lies-bleeding flowers, and fruits and vegetables. The home and store are both manifestations of a singular Jimtown vision   rustic yet sophisticated, and full of personality and life.

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