Memorial Day Weekemnd - time to gather family and friends for food, fun and music and where better than in the great outdoors at our favorite neighborhood farm? Suggested arrival time for Tara Firma Farm's 2nd Annual Pig Roast on Sunday, May 26th, 2013 is 4:30pm.
Special farm Tours start at 5pm and feasting begins at 6. Bring a potluck side dish or dessert to share. At $30 a person and no charge for kids under $12, save yourself the backyard bbq and join the feast at the farm.
"We’ll take full advantage of all the tomatoes, beans, squash, peppers and eggplant that flood our gardens and farmers’ markets in this growing season," says Kay. "Blanching, roasting, braising and sautéing them into a frittata appetizer, classic Italian soup, and selection of composed salads. Some for now and some for later."
Learn how to prepare wild salmon bellies, shortcakes oozing with berries, peaches and cream. These classes are designed to demonstrate many different ways to get started with summer cooking at home and to ease into your own kitchen stride.
"All with the added comradery and assurance in many helping hands," says Kay. "So we’ll take our sweet time, pause for refueling breaks, and then feast on the finishing line."
Yesterday's grocery shopping yielded a selection of local ice cream pints to stock up the fridge in preparation for my 18-year-old son's wisdom teeth extraction, today (all four). Armed with a basket of smoothies and yogurt and soups, in perusing the ice cream selection, I noticed that Straus Family Creamery had extended its product line with two new, gluten-free ice cream flavors in time for summer sales - Cookies & Cream, and Vanilla Chocolate Chip.
Cookies & Cream is, I hear from the folks at Strauss, the first and only certified organic, gluten-free version of this flavor on the market today.
Both flavors are available in pint-sized containers at a suggested retail price of $4.79 and join other organic favorites such as Mint Chocolate Chip, Caramel Toffee Crunch and Vanilla Bean, not just here in Sonoma County, but in grocery freezer sections throughout the Western United States.
“We are excited to make these two long-time favorite flavors at Straus Family Creamery,” said Albert Straus, President of Straus Family Creamery, “We combined classic recipes with the best local, organic ingredients, using cream and milk that come from the Straus Dairy and the six other family farms we work with. As we continue to expand our range of products, we are able to better preserve and support family farming in Northern California.”
Straus Family Creamery’s Cookies & Cream starts off as flavorful organic vanilla ice cream. Next, generous pieces of rich, gluten-free chocolate cookies are mixed in (made by Pamela’s Products in Ukiah, 80 miles north of the Creamery, in Mendocino County).
The new Vanilla Chocolate Chip flavor also features organic vanilla ice cream, made with the simple, all-organic,Non-GMO Project Verified ingredients of cream, milk, sugar, egg yolks and real vanilla extract. The ice cream is then blended with rich, chunky chocolate chips.
Straus Family Creamery has a strong commitment to organic integrity and sustainability. Because the creamery and the dairy work hand in hand, the entire production process is controlled, from field to bottle (or in this case, field to scoop!). High standards are met in every step of production. Straus Family Creamery consistently strives to reduce its carbon footprint, to reuse more than 90% of water used at the creamery, and to rely on renewable energy to sustain its operations.
The Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa invited all California wineries to participate in its inaugural First Blush California Rosé Wine Competition and now it's time to taste the winning wines.
With judging complete the public is invited to taste many of the award winning wines, while enjoying live music and small bites on Saturday, June 8th, 2013, at the First Blush Tasting, being held in Napa at The Meritage Resort and Spa from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Eighty nine shades of California rosé were entered into two categories: “Dry” and “On the Sweeter Side.” Professional judges blindly evaluated and judged all submitted wines based upon factors including: wine clarity, aroma, color and overall appearance, balance, acidity, structure, fruitiness and varietal typicity. Plus whether or not the entered wines would be well received by consumers.
Competition director was Bob Ecker, noted wine/travel journalist and wine judge, and each wine was judged by five judges with extensive experience in the wine industry. Judges included Petaluma local Christopher Sawyer - an internationally-renowned sommelier, wine journalist, consultant, and public speaker. Chris travels the world following trends in wine and participating as a judge in international wine competitions.
Top winner in the Dry Rosé category was Jelly Jar Wines, while the top award for “On the Sweeter Side” was given to Ménage à Trois by Trinchero Family Estates. Many of the award winning California rosé wines, including all that were awarded Double Gold and Gold will be served at the June 8, 2013 public tasting.
Tickets are available from Cellar Pass for $25, a portion of each ticket sale will be donated to Napa’s Cope Family Center, a nonprofit that provides a full range of parent education and family support services, giving parents get the skills necessary to nurture a healthy and happy family.
Each ticket includes wine tasting from approximately 30 wineries, small bites from the chefs at The Meritage Resort and Spa, Fish Story, Silverado Cooking School and more, plus live music. Special rates are available for event attendees the night of June 8 at The Meritage Resort and Spa. Reservations can be made by calling (866) 370-NAPA. For complete information and tickets please visit http://themeritageresort.com/napa-valley-restaurants/june-wine-tasting-event.
Inaugural First Blush Award Winners:
WINNER – "DRY" ROSE CATEGORY - Jelly Jar Wines
DOUBLE GOLD AWARD - Curtis Winery
DOUBLE GOLD AWARD - Handley Cellars
DOUBLE GOLD AWARD - Jelly Jar Wines
GOLD MEDAL - Epiphany Cellars
GOLD MEDAL - Lucia Vineyards
GOLD MEDAL - Peterson Winery
GOLD MEDAL - Soban Estate
GOLD MEDAL - Proulx "Willow Creek Farm"
GOLD MEDAL - Pomar Junction
WINNER - "ON THE SWEETER SIDE" ROSE CATEGORY - Ménage à Trois
Journey to the edge of the world - without having to leave the county! West Sonoma Coast Vintners like to say that the end is their beginning. It certainly is a spectacular region within which to get lost in the cool climate wonders of Sonoma coastal wines for a few days. Especially if you are a wine connoisseur.
The 3rd annual West of West Wine Festival is certainly one to put on your summer to-do calendar. Centered in Sebastopol, the Festival kicks off with Welcome Dinners at wineries and homes around the county, hosted by member wineries on Friday night, August 2nd.
These dinners, ranging in price from $140 to $200 per person offer a rare and exclusive opportunity to dine with winemakers in their home or winery.
Saturday offers morning seminars, interviews and flight tastings, following by the first of two Grand Tastings on Saturday afternoon and the Whole Hog Feast Celebration in the evening.
After vineyards tours, the Grand Tasting tent reprises on Sunday afternoon for a second opportunity to taste through more than 40 outstanding coastal wines.
Guests are able to select from the Welcome Dinners line-up:
BANSHEE: An intimate dinner in the winery's new tasting room in downtown Healdsburg featuring one of area’s top restaurants and an array of Pinots and Chardonnay from its collection.
FAILLA: Join the Failla team for an “Al Fresco” Dinner located in the middle of its Olivet Road vineyard. Sit amongst the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines with friends while enjoying current releases and library wines of Failla, paired with a feast prepared by Chef Gary Penir.
FREEMAN: A global exploration of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. For the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay aficionado, enjoy with an intimate dinner for 16 guests at the beautiful and architecturally acclaimed vineyard home of Ken and Akiko Freeman. This special dinner catered by Chef Christopher Greenwald will be paired with wines from the Freeman portfolio as well as a special sampling of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from world’s best known producers and famed regions.
HALLECK VINEYARD: Sip wines on the deck while gazing across Sonoma County to Mt. St. Helena in distant Napa County. The five-course gourmet dinner will be paired with a selection of Halleck Vineyard wines. The menu will be lovingly prepared and served by the Halleck sons.
JOSEPH PHELPS: Enjoy an intimate celebration of Joseph Phelps 40th Anniversary and the winery's second decade of Sonoma Coast winegrowing at its charming Guest Center in Freestone. Join host Bill Phelps for a multi-course dinner paired with a selection of Phelps finest bottlings.
LITTORAI: An intimate, elegant yet casual dinner and tasting at the Littorai estate winery property with proprietors Heidi and Ted Lemon.
Saturday evening's Whole Hog Feast Dinner at the Barlow Events Center in Sebastopol starts with a pre-dinner reception featuring white and rose wines from the West Sonoma Coast and oysters from Hog Island Oyster Company.
Afterwards, seating for dinner highlights the best of Sonoma bounty prepared by James Beard finalist Steven Satterfield from Miller Union in Atlanta. Dinner wines will consist of magnums of Pinot noir and Chardonnay supplied by each of the members of the West Sonoma Coast Vintners. Feel free to bring something from your cellar to share if you're attending this memorable dinner. Tickets for this lavish dinner - $275 per person.
Sonoma County-based organic winemakers Chris Condos and Suzanne Haggins make a great North Coast dry Rosé that is a blend of Carignane, Grenache, and Syrah.
Their delightful Horse and Plow 2012 Rosé is hand crafted from the fruit of some of the oldest organic vines on the North Coast. Fruit grown in the Testa Vineyards of Calpella in Mendocino County is hand picked and crushed and fermented across the county border in Santa Rosa in stainless steel and French Oak.
I like to keep a couple of bottles of Rosé in the fridge in the warmer months and this lively vintage, with its notes of orange peel and summer fruits pairs with just about any sort of salad or light meal.
I picked up a couple of bottles at Whole Foods, Petaluma for around $15 each, which is a couple of dollars less than the online sales price.
On the pricier side, but closer to home - while out and about this week with friends, a bottle of winemaker Paul Clary's Clary Ranch Two Rock Vineyard 2006 Pinot Noir was a big hit over dinner at Petaluma's Central Market.
Clary Ranch Petaluma Gap made Pinots range from $39.50 to $47.50 and are available for purchase on the shelves of most upscale wine purveyors here in Petaluma, as well as online. For the Southern Sonoma County wine aficianado, Clary's award winning Pinots are well worth the money.
Petaluma-area-produced Laloos goat milk ice cream is Lactose friendly and with two family members who shy away from dairy treats, warm weather days remind me to stock up on a few cartons of this wonderfully creamy and tasteful, locally made ice cream.
Being a Rivertown Revival Fan and a frequent Wholefoods Shopper, I've marked my calendar for Wednesday May 15th for a grocery-shop-athon to boost the coffers of one of my favorite Sonoma County annual events. Now, in which aisle will we bump carts?
The seasonal, homemade jams, jellies, brandied cherries and spicy pickled beans that have become a popular amenity with guests at Nick’s Cove Restaurant, Oyster Bar and Cottages are now available as a new series of artisan food products available for purchase at this coastal destination,which was just selected as one of the “40 Best Food Lovers’ Hotels in America” by Bon Appétit magazine.
A collaboration by Executive Chef Austin Perkins and Pastry Chef Gillian Helquist, the jarred goods include the fruit jams served with room service breakfast pastries with flavors including Pomegranate, Guava, Triple Berry and Apricot Chardonnay ($8 for an 8 oz. jar); the Spicy Pickled Beans used in the Bloody Mary ($15 for a 16 oz. jar); and the brandied cherries and stout beer jam ($8 for an 8 oz. jar) used in the signature Marshall Manhattan. Made from the finest local and seasonal ingredients, these artisanal foodstuffs are the perfect gift to give mom, perhaps after treating her to a special Nick’s Cove brunch overlooking the pristine waters of Tomales Bay.
In celebration of Mother’s Day, Nick’s Cove will showcase the bounty of neighboring farms and fisherman on Sunday, May 12th, with a Mother’s Day Brunch. Chef Perkins’ menu combines classic dishes with a playful creativity inspired by the seasons, local coastline and the abundance of small farms and neighboring creameries.
Dishes include Butter Roasted Halibut with fingerling potatoes, lacinato kale, leek butter, parsley oil ($24); Dungeness Crab Benedict with arugula, avocado and hollandaise ($19); Quiche Lorraine with Pt. Reyes Toma, shallots, Nueske’s bacon and roasted potatoes ($14); Nick’s Dungeness Crab Louie ($24); and White Prawn Enchiladas with salsa roja, tomatillo sauce, cilantro crema and the option to add a sunny side up egg ($16). A fully stocked oyster bar showcases local Tomales Bay oysters and includes such classics as “Grilled Oyster ‘Nick’-erfeller” and “The Original Tomales Bay BBQ Oyster” (both $17 for six).
This special Mother’s Day menu is only offered for brunch on Sunday, May 12, 2013 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Reservations are strongly recommended. To reserve a table, call 415-663-1033 or visit www.nickscove.com. In addition to the restaurant’s extensive indoor seating, there is also a brand new dog-friendly waterfront patio and outdoor oyster bar which adds seating for 30 people to enjoy cocktails and oysters. The adjoining, dog-friendly Nick’s Cove beach is steps from the waterfront patio, and, weather-permitting, there will be bonfires lit every night for guests to enjoy while the sun sets.