Flower Farm Café gains Tsuda’s menu favorites

Loomis destination to break ground on wine-tasting building
By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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For three years Tsuda’s Old Town Eatery has been the place to go for deli favorites in Auburn. Now owner Alexandra Carnahan has taken the concept to a new location. She’s has taken over the Flower Farm Café and also handles events catering at the Flower Farm in Loomis. “It’s something on my bucket list to own a bed and breakfast,” she said recently. In addition to the café, John and Annie Bowler’s Flower Farm includes a plant nursery, bed and breakfast inn and cottages. And there’s more on the drawing board. “Soon we will be breaking ground on a wine-tasting building,” Carnahan said. “That will be in the spring.” The addition will be next to the historic millhouse on the property. The Bowlers and Carnahan are partnering with Casque Winery for the tasting room. “It will look like an old barn,” Carnahan said. “It will host wine-pairing dinners and wine tastings. It will be a stop on the Placer wine trail.” The menu at Flower Farm Café is similar to Tsuda’s, but the look is totally different. “It’s like a cottage, not like a historical brick building,” she said. “It really has kind of a Napa Valley feeling. We do a ton of business down here — a lot of groups. Like today we have a group of 35 from Lincoln Hills. It’s very close (to the city) but you feel like you are a million miles a way.” Carnahan brings in the same organic Acme breads and the Boars Head meats that are customer favorites at her deli. “We bake all of our bakery items,” she said. “We have house-made soups and we also have the Temple hand-roasted coffees.” The café serves a breakfast and lunch menu. Carnahan describes the breakfast menu as café-style. “We do our steamed eggs on bagels. We have lox,” she said. As winter approaches, she’s seeing a big demand for soups. “Also very popular is we pull all our vegetables from the farm here and I have another farm in Penryn,” she said. “They love our vegetable lox bagel that has a Larrupin sauce (Swedish style dill mustard sauce). They buy tons of this stuff. It’s from the Larrupin Café on the north coast.” Customers can dine indoors or out. “We also have a bocce ball court and are putting in an additional bocce ball court,” Carnahan said. “Three times a week, we have teams that compete in bocce ball tournaments. There’s also an outdoor fire pit. We have wireless. People can relax by the pond. It’s really cool. It has a great, very calm feeling.” There’s an event bar with its own commercial kitchen that can accommodate up to 240 guests. The café can handle parties and special events up to 40 people. It’s a popular venue for rehearsal dinners and weddings, she said. Carnahan will have her annual tamale building party there on Dec. 7. “So far 70 people have signed up,” she said. “We’ll have live music, spirits and dancing, and (the participants) are going to learn how to make five different tamales and (they’ll) take 20 to 25 of them home.” There’s a package for women cyclists that includes a stay at the B&B, training sessions with professional cyclists, foothills rides and a spa treatment. Carnahan became acquainted with the Bowlers through their visits to Tsuda’s. “They just really loved the local organic products we use,” she said. For Bowler, Carnahan was a good choice to take over the café. “We honestly interviewed people because we knew we had an interesting spot with a lot of potential and we wanted someone to carry on the tradition of the Fishers and Patti Foust (who previously ran the café),” she said. “We wanted people who were compatible and we thought Alexandra and Jinny Richardson, the chef, were talented, creative, hard-working people who would continue to carry on (the) good work and expand it and make it continue to grow and prosper.” As a business woman in a tough business and a tough economy, Carnahan attributes her success in part to creating a friendly atmosphere for her customers. “I think it’s just keeping it real and making people feel like they’re not only getting something to eat, but they’re stopping in to see a friend,” she said. “We don’t want them to feel like they’re sitting at a table too long and not spending enough money. We’re trying to be more of that community focused environment.” Auburn resident Sue Dings has visited the café a couple of times since Carnahan took it over. “I had been there before with another group, the AAUW (American Association of University Women) past presidents and we enjoyed it. I wanted to show my friends the nursery as well as the café. Dings’ favorite dish is the Gouda Father. “It has fresh pears — that’s what I liked — Gouda cheese, a garlic sauce and toasted walnuts on a croissant. But I got it on rye bread,” she said. “They also have a nice little shop that has homemade items, potted plants and interesting things you can buy for gifts. Reach Gloria Young at --------------------- Flower Farm Café Where: 9280 Horseshoe Bar Road, Loomis Hours: 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily Phone: (916) 652-5661 On the web: Upcoming events: Santa and his elves to visit from noon to 4 p.m. the first three Saturdays and Sundays in December. Free Tamale building party, 6 to 9 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 7. Tickets are $45