Featured Platypus Team Member – Alison Johnston

After years as a tour guide Alison is now our Director of Operations. She basically does it all and happens to also be Irish. So if you call us here in the office and hear an Irish brogue, you are lucky enough to be talking to Alison!

What is your first memory of wine?

My dad worked for Fiat Ireland and would visit Italy regularly. He filled up the boot of the car with wine for the ferry ride home. I was allowed an egg cup of wine with dinner from a very young age. Once I was able to frequent the pubs my beverage of choice became beer. It wasn’t until I became a tour guide for Platypus and HAD to drink wine for my job that I found a new passion for an old friend.

What is your favorite area restaurant?

I love Murphy’s Irish Pub on the Sonoma Plaza. Every Friday all the ex-pats in town get together. They have great music and fun trivia night. The Guinness is good too!

What is your favorite comfort food?

Dublin Coddle –  a traditional Irish Potato Sausage and bacon stew, here’s the recipe:


8 slices bacon, chopped into small pieces

1 pound high-quality pork sausages (see notes)

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 bottle Guinness beer (see notes)

2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces

2 large onions, cut into slices

4 cloves garlic, minced

4 tablespoons fresh minced parsley

3 bay leaves

1 teaspoon dried thyme

Fresh cracked black pepper

2 cups beef, ham, or chicken broth


  • Preheat the oven to 300°F.
  • Heat a large, oven-proof Dutch oven over high heat. Add in the bacon and cook until crisp, about five minutes. Remove the bacon to drain on paper towels. Leave the grease in the Dutch oven.
  • Add the sausages in, a few at a time (don’t crowd the pan), and cook on each side until just golden brown—no need to cook all the way through. Remove to a plate and continue with additional sausages. Remove to plate. When cool enough to handle. Slice into 1″ pieces.
  • Reduce the heat to low, and then whisk in the flour. Cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Then remove from heat completely.
  • Whisk in the bottle of Guinness (see notes if you’d like to not use beer).
  • Place half of the potatoes in the gravy, followed by half of the onions, half of the garlic, half of the bacon, half of the sausages, half of the parsley, the bay leaves, the thyme, and black pepper. Repeat layers with the remaining ingredients.
  • Pour the broth over the whole thing. Place lid on, and bake in preheated oven for at least 2 hours (see notes).

Notes: If you can find traditional Irish pork sausages (AKA: bangers), that’d be awesome, but honestly, any good-quality pork sausages will do. Use whatever you can find and you like (bratwurst, polish sausage, even good-quality breakfast sausage) Between the bacon, sausages, and broth, this dish is inherently very salty. Do not add more salt without tasting it first! I almost never add additional salt when making coddle.If you want to skip using the beer, just sub in 1 1/2 additional cups of whatever broth you are using.The coddle will be ready to eat after 2 hours in the oven, but it can easily stay cooking for 3-5 hours without any consequence. This isn’t a delicate dish. You don’t have to worry about breaking it.

“Picture: Family of Platypus Team Member Alison Johnston celebrating St. Paddy’s Day in true Irish fashion”.