Sonoma Magazine BiteClub http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub Restaurant & Dining Reviews for Sonoma, Santa Rosa and the Wine Country Wed, 20 Jun 2018 18:51:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.6 http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/cropped-512_logo-150x150.gif Sonoma Magazine BiteClub http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub 32 32 Iron Chef debuting new Sonoma restaurants and bar http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/iron-chef-debuting-new-sonoma-restaurants-and-bar/ http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/iron-chef-debuting-new-sonoma-restaurants-and-bar/#respond Wed, 20 Jun 2018 18:51:01 +0000 http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/?p=38313

MacArthur Place is getting a whole new look and three spots to eat

The post Iron Chef debuting new Sonoma restaurants and bar appeared first on Sonoma Magazine BiteClub.

]]>

Though he’s a new face to the Bay Area restaurant scene, celebrity chef and coast-to-coast restaurateur Geoffrey Zakarian will soon open three new dining concepts in the town of Sonoma.

Zakarian’s hospitality group will head the food and beverage program at MacArthur Place Hotel and Spa as part of a $20 million overhaul of the historic property. Once a working ranch and vineyard, MacArthur Place was sold to IMH Financial in early October 2017.

Plans were announced this week for Layla, a bright indoor/outdoor Mediterranean restaurant that will replace the clubby Saddles restaurant. Executive chef Dana Jaffee left Saddles in May and the restaurant is expected to remain open for several more months during the transition.

In addition to Layla, Zakarian will also be envisioning The Porch, a grab-and-go cafe and market inside the hotel and a renovated bar with curated cocktails and an all-day menu. The Iron Chef has seven other restaurants including Lamb’s Club in New York City and in-hotel restaurants in LA, Florida and New Jersey.

Related Images:

[See image gallery at www.sonomamag.com]

The post Iron Chef debuting new Sonoma restaurants and bar appeared first on Sonoma Magazine BiteClub.

]]>
http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/iron-chef-debuting-new-sonoma-restaurants-and-bar/feed/ 0
Emeril Lagasse Pays It Forward for North Bay Fire Victims http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/emeril-lagasse-pays-it-forward-for-north-bay-fire-victims/ http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/emeril-lagasse-pays-it-forward-for-north-bay-fire-victims/#respond Wed, 13 Jun 2018 21:50:32 +0000 http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/?p=38282 Stephanie Choate and Brian Kish at Arista Winery for “Party at Dan’s” in June 2018. Photo: Allyson Wiley

Dan Kosta throws a party at his trailer for high-dollar donors to benefit fire relief

The post Emeril Lagasse Pays It Forward for North Bay Fire Victims appeared first on Sonoma Magazine BiteClub.

]]>
Stephanie Choate and Brian Kish at Arista Winery for “Party at Dan’s” in June 2018. Photo: Allyson Wiley

Winemaker Dan Kosta is used to being asked to donate to charity events. Over the years, his critically acclaimed wines garnered thousands for nonprofits, including celebrity Chef Emeril Lagasse’s charitable foundation in New Orleans.

Dan Kosta's Trailer at Arista. Photo: Molly Loubiere (ELF)

Dan Kosta’s trailer at Arista. Photo: Allyson Wiley

So when wildfires tore through Sonoma County last October and Kosta was among the thousands who lost homes, Lagasse — a longtime friend and business collaborator — was eager to find a way to give back to his friend and the Wine Country fire victims.

“So many of the winemakers, donors, sponsors, and friends who make the foundation’s fundraising efforts possible were affected by the California fires,” Lagasse said. “My wife, Alden, and I are grateful for their tremendous generosity year after year, and we’re honored to be able to pay it forward and give back to those in need in the Napa Valley and Sonoma regions.

“People just got on the phone and asked Dan to come to New Orleans,” Lagasse added. “Dan has never said no to us, ever, when we asked for his help with charity work. He’s done so much for us, and we take care of each other.”

On a lark, the two decided to auction off a one-night wine and dinner party at the 40-by-40-foot trailer that Kosta lived in for several months. The trailer was recently moved to Arista Winery for the party.

Chef Mark Stark and Chef David Zimmerman at Arista Winery for Dan's Trailer Party in June 2018. Photo: Molly Loubiere (ELF)

Chef Mark Stark and Chef David Zimmerman (Chef Dustin Valette, far right)  prepare a Low Country shrimp boil at Arista Winery for “Party at Dan’s” in June 2018. Photo: Allyson Wiley

Thus was born “Party at Dan’s,” a single auction package that raised a whopping $500,000 for Napa and Sonoma fire relief during Lagasse’s annual Carnivale du Vin in New Orleans last November.

High-dollar donors vied for a coveted spot at the Sonoma event, held last Friday at Arista Winery in Healdsburg. Many of the attendees were from the Gulf Coast, which has also seen its share of natural disasters. In total, the 2017 Carnivale du Vin raised more than $1.5 million for the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, which helps inspire youth through culinary, nutrition and arts education.

Kosta said it took just 10 minutes for attendees at the winter auction to donate half a million dollars to fire relief. “I donated $25,000 and asked people to follow my lead. For anyone who donated, we promised a party this June at Dan’s Trailer,” said Kosta. “They just really stepped up.”

With green hills, cleared rubble and recovery well underway this spring, it seemed time for a celebration, according to Kosta, who invited some of the region’s best chefs and vintners in the name of recovery and philanthropy.

Emeril Lagasse, Antonia Keller, Michael Mina, Brian Kish and Adam Sobel at Arista Winery for Dan's Trailer Party in June 2018. Photo: Molly Loubiere (ELF)

Emeril Lagasse, Antonia Keller, Michael Mina, Brian Kish and Adam Sobel at Arista Winery for “Party at Dan’s” in June 2018. Photo:  Allyson Wiley

The lineup included chefs Michael Mina, Dustin Valette (Valette, Healdsburg), Ken Frank (La Toque, Napa), Mark Stark (Stark Reality Restaurants) and Timothy Kaulfers (Arista Winery) along with winemakers from Darioush, Limerick Lane, Three Sticks, The Setting Wine, Riverain, Fleury Estate, Pride Mountain and AldenAlli (a joint venture with Lagasse and Kosta).

Others attending the event included musician Sammy Hagar along with Juliana Martinelli (Martinelli Winery), Michael Haney (Sonoma County Vintners) and Suzanne Pride Bryan (Pride Mountain Winery).

Kosta said he is not planning to rebuild a home in Sonoma County and that losing his home was freeing in some ways.

“It’s humbling. It shakes you up and you know the difference between what you want and what you need,” Kosta said. “You realize that happiness in life is a choice. It offers up perspective.”

At Arista Winery for Dan's Trailer Party in June 2018. Photo: Molly Loubiere (ELF)

At Arista Winery for “Party at Dan’s” in June 2018. Photo: Allyson Wiley

Though the party brought a festive vibe to the trailer last week, Kosta spent a less celebratory three months living in the space with his family. Kosta has since moved to a home in Healdsburg.

He says the time after losing his home changed him, helping him focus on helping others rather than worrying about his own possessions.

“I know that so many people suffered so much loss,” he said. “I’ve never felt so lucky, and I have so much empathy for those who weren’t as lucky,” he said.

Kosta now plans to sell the trailer and is looking forward to a new chapter in his life. “Home is where you’re at,” he said. “I like blowing in the wind right now.”

During Lagasse’s November charity auction, a 2015 The Setting Cabernet Sauvignon sold for $350,000, the most ever paid for a single bottle of wine.

The $500,000 raised by the Emeril Lagasse Foundation was split between the Community Foundation of Sonoma County and the Napa Valley Community Foundation. Both are working toward the long-term efforts of rebuilding communities after the fires. The Community Foundation of Sonoma County was unable to disclose which specific nonprofits received the funding from the Emeril Lagasse Foundation.

“It was my pleasure to help our friends when Sonoma County needed us,” Lagasse said. “We are still recovering from Hurricane Katrina 13 years later,” he added, with a nod to the home he lost in New Orleans. “We know how long it takes.”

Related Images:

[See image gallery at www.sonomamag.com]

The post Emeril Lagasse Pays It Forward for North Bay Fire Victims appeared first on Sonoma Magazine BiteClub.

]]>
http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/emeril-lagasse-pays-it-forward-for-north-bay-fire-victims/feed/ 0
Finding Real Deal Sushi at Sake 107 in Petaluma http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/finding-real-deal-sushi-at-sake-107-in-petaluma/ http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/finding-real-deal-sushi-at-sake-107-in-petaluma/#respond Wed, 13 Jun 2018 19:03:01 +0000 http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/?p=38269 Five piece nigiri at Sake 107 in Petaluma. Heather Irwin/PD

Sake 107 sets a standard for sushi that's far above average in Petaluma

The post Finding Real Deal Sushi at Sake 107 in Petaluma appeared first on Sonoma Magazine BiteClub.

]]>
Five piece nigiri at Sake 107 in Petaluma. Heather Irwin/PD

You don’t fall in love with sushi at an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet. Sadly, however, it’s often the first spot many Americans encounter the wacky idea of eating raw fish on a pile of rice.

And no wonder people run screaming from those dried up, horrifying, evil little bits of nastiness. That’s like comparing Little Caesar’s to a fresh wood-fired pizza made with 00 flour, fresh mozzarella and basil by a trained pizzaolo. No contest, because when you start with the bad stuff, there’s little impetus to actually try the good stuff. Strawberry Hill Boone’s Farm ain’t prepping you for the wonders of a single vineyard Flowers chardonnay.

Five piece nigiri at Sake 107 in Petaluma. Heather Irwin/PD

Five piece nigiri at Sake 107 in Petaluma. Heather Irwin/PD

What’s tragic is that a buttery piece of fiercely fresh tuna belly or fresh salmon handled by a trained sushi chef can be an absolute game changer. It’s also very rare and worth seeking out. We’ve found just that at Sake 107 in Petaluma.

Open nearly a year, the buzz has steadily grown for Chef Eiji Ando, a Hana Japanese alum who has dedicated his life to the craft. It’s awe-inspiring to watch the flicking of his hands as he shapes the seasoned rice and fish into a single perfect bite, and perfect isn’t a word we use lightly when it comes to nigiri. God help you if you are gauche enough to dunk it in soy sauce.

Ando watches me instinctively pour soy sauce into a dish, saying everything by saying nothing.

“No soy sauce?” I ask a bit sheepishly. Honestly, I’m a dunker, because I eat a lot of cheap sushi.

“No soy sauce,” he says, gingerly brushing on a special concoction of soy, sake and rice vinegar atop the fish. No bright pink ginger. No wasabi (they actually have real wasabi should you request it).

Tuna tartar on shrimp crackers at Sake 107 in Petaluma. Heather Irwin/PD

Tuna tartar on shrimp crackers at Sake 107 in Petaluma. Heather Irwin/PD

The umi masu (bright orange ocean trout from Scotland) is a single perfect bite because of what it isn’t — it isn’t fishy or vinegary; it isn’t overly chewy or drowned in salty soy sauce.

The rice is precisely seasoned, without too much or too little, blending into the background rather than sucker-punching you in the tastebuds.

Instead, this bite of nigiri is a cloud of umami covered in an unctuous ocean breeze, assuming that were even possible, but frankly it should be.

No soy sauce is lesson one. Hatcho miso is lesson two.

Made in Ando’s home prefecture of Aichi (smack dab in the middle of Japan), hatcho miso is a dark fermented paste made only with soybeans. Aged two summers and two winters under literal tons of rocks, its used as a base for soup as well as sauces.

Unlike more familiar miso, hatcho has been made at just two factories in Aichi the same way for 650 years, using 200-year old casks and a whole lot of manpower. It adds a slightly bitter, salty flavor to foods that is unlike other more nuanced miso.

Ando’s signature Miso Katsu and Asari-hatcho miso soup are both stellar representations, and it’s a flavor you won’t soon forget.

The third lesson: Sake shouldn’t set your throat on fire.

Tedorigawa sake at Sake 107 sushi and sake bar in Petaluma. Heather Irwin/PD

Tedorigawa sake at Sake 107 sushi and sake bar in Petaluma. Heather Irwin/PD

We’ve had some really cheap sake and some of the world’s most expensive sake, and the good stuff is worth the price.

At $12 per glass, Tedorigawa Yamahai Junmai is a softly assertive representation that will have you rethinking why you never got more into sake.

With a simple menu focused on fresh fish and produce, along with family and vegetable-foods (shrimp tempura, agedashi tofu, chicken teriyaki, garlic eggplant), Sake 107 doesn’t take itself too seriously.

But don’t let Ando’s easy manner fool you, because he’s a real-deal chef who knows his way around a piece of fish — raw or otherwise.

Best Bets

Five Piece Nigiri, $21: Put yourself in the chef’s hands. Personally, we wish we’d doubled or tripled that. There’s not a stinker in the bunch, but don’t miss the Hokkaido uni, ocean trout (umi masu), sake (salmon) or maguro (big eye tuna).

We want so badly to love saba — a marinated and pressed mackerel — but its a strong flavor that takes some getting used to. If you’re into it, Ando has a special off-menu roll he’ll make for you.

Hamachi Umeshiso Age, $12: A small plate with a sort of yellow tail, pickled plum and shiso sandwich fried in tempura batter. The combo of light fishiness, sour plum and astringent shiso wrapped in crunchy batter is a home run.

Hamachi umeshiso age, yellow tail with pickled plum, shiso tempura and green tea salt at Sake 107 in Petaluma. Heather Irwin/PD

Hamachi umeshiso age, yellow tail with pickled plum, shiso tempura and green tea salt at Sake 107 in Petaluma. Heather Irwin/PD

Tuna Lily, $13: A little gimmicky, but a stunning plate of ruby tuna tartare cupped in puffed shrimp crackers.

Miso Katsu, $20: A signature dish and personal favorite of Ando, this is serious comfort food. Kurobuta pork is fried in panko and thinly sliced, with a hatcho miso sauce poured atop the pork, creating a fragrant steam that will have you trying to eat the super hot pork way before its ready for your craw. I have the blisters to prove it (but worth it).

Melts in your mouth roll, $17: Sushi rolls and I don’t get along. I generally find them horrifying, filled with fried nastiness, covered in bad rice and doused with four kinds of sauce. This isn’t that. Daring Ando to overcome that kind of distaste, he threw out a signature roll made with spicy tuna and salmon sitting on a pool of homemade ponzu sauce. I’m still not a spicy tuna fan, but the roll had me at homemade ponzu. This citrusy soy sauce makes what could be cloyingly rich into something with depth and character.

Overall: Seriously awesome sushi and izayaki in downtown Petaluma that reminds us of what great Japanese food can really taste like.

Sake 107, 107 Petaluma Blvd N., Petaluma, 241-7580, sake107.com

Related Images:

[See image gallery at www.sonomamag.com]

The post Finding Real Deal Sushi at Sake 107 in Petaluma appeared first on Sonoma Magazine BiteClub.

]]>
http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/finding-real-deal-sushi-at-sake-107-in-petaluma/feed/ 0
Chef Anthony Bourdain Dead at 61, Lives On in the Memories of Sonoma County http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/chef-anthony-bourdain-dead-at-61-but-lives-on-in-the-memories-of-sonoma-county/ http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/chef-anthony-bourdain-dead-at-61-but-lives-on-in-the-memories-of-sonoma-county/#comments Fri, 08 Jun 2018 16:30:32 +0000 http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/?p=38214

Locals share what the celebrity chef, host and food writer meant to them.

The post Chef Anthony Bourdain Dead at 61, Lives On in the Memories of Sonoma County appeared first on Sonoma Magazine BiteClub.

]]>

My phone started blowing up at 8:30 this morning. Chefs aren’t known for their early morning tweets, but when Anthony Bourdain, the patron saint of offal and raconteur of all things edible is found dead in a French hotel room, news travels fast in Sonoma County.

Bourdain, 61, died after an apparent suicide. Best recognized for his CNN travelogue, “Parts Unknown” and groundbreaking kitchen tell-all, “Kitchen Confidential” the news of his passing reverberated through the culinary world, eliciting farewells from former President Barack Obama, close friend, Chef Eric Ripert, food writer Ruth Reichl and thousands of others in the food world who extolled his rogue approach to eating.

Ari Weisswasser of Glen Ellen Star, who once served Bourdain at Restaurant Daniel in New York, was one of the first in Sonoma County to post his thoughts on Instagram, saying “You told me that when they ban foie gras, you would make sure we always had a source. Rest In Peace brother.”

Ari Weisswasser’s Instagram post

“I got a text from my brother in New York this morning about Bourdain, and I thought it was a prank,” said Weisswasser. He recounts the dinner where he served Bourdain–one filled with exotic ingredients that included wild doves, boar, hare, doves and the legendary ortolan. The tiny bird is eaten whole with a napkin placed on the diner’s head so God won’t see the shameful and decadent thing you’re doing. “They did the whole napkin thing,” said Weisswasser. Seriously.

“After dinner, he came to the kitchen and asked to bum a cigarette. Obviously, he chain-smoked and he had cigarettes with him, but I think it was just a way for him to break the ice and meet the cooks,” said Weisswasser, who was just 23 years old at the time. “We spent a good 30 minutes with him and I think he felt more comfortable with us than all the big names in the room.” With all the fuss about the foie gras ban in California at the time, Bourdain told the cooks that he would always find a supply for the delicacy for them, should they need it. It made an impression on the young cook.

“I think we can all relate to him in some form. On your way up in the kitchen, it’s a grind, it’s never-ending. His books described it perfectly, and I think anyone who has worked in a kitchen like that can relate to the pressure, the heat, the relief after dinner service,” he said.  “No one does this for the money, and you need that immediate gratification that puts a smile on your face and brings you back the next day,” Weisswasser said.

Known for his bad boy persona and proud middle finger to anything he found sycophantic, Bourdain rose to the public consciousness in 1999 with a New Yorker essay about the horrors and wonders of a restaurant kitchen. Bourdain was the first back-of-house cook to tell the world what really happened behind the swinging doors with gut-churning descriptions of his time at New York’s Brasserie Les Halles and other restaurants, and trust us, it wasn’t pretty.

Following up with the seamy, un-put-downable Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly in 2000, Bourdain chastised diners who ordered fish on Monday (it’s been sitting around since Friday, he claimed) or bellied up to a steam table brunch buffet, like rubes (grossing us all out that it was mostly leftovers). 

But his candor and punk-rock attitude also inspired a generation of chefs. “Reading Kitchen Confidential as a line cook was a game changer,” said Chef Heather Ames, a longtime chef at Skywalker Ranch who currently works at Cardinal Newman High School.

Bourdain was always the anti-celebrity chef, poking fun at anyone he thought lacked the real chops to be telling the rest of us how to cook. The Food Network’s Guy Fieri and Sandra Lee were favorite targets, though any misstep in the food world was fodder for his sharp wit. Emerging at a kinder, gentler moment when clean-cut faces like Emeril Lagasse, Alton Brown, Rachel Ray and Paula Deen ruled the Food Network, Bourdain ripped open the curtain to show us the bloody entrails behind the scenes.

For Jesse Mallgren, executive chef at the Michelin-starred Madrona Manor in Healdsburg, the news of Bourdain’s death hit especially hard. Bourdain has an 11-year-old daughter who he doted on, but now leaves behind. Mallgren himself lost his father at a similarly young age.

You never know what demons other people have. As someone who lost his father to suicide, this one hits close to home. So sad…” said Mallgren on his Twitter feed on Friday. Mallgren was a fourth-grader when his father took his own life, causing him years of pain and confusion. “I still don’t understand it,” he said.

I’m a chef, too, and I can see how someone would want to escape from everything, but being on the other side of it, and seeing personally, I can’t imagine doing that to your kid, to the people you love. It was pretty difficult as a kid to understand why your dad would do that,” he added.

Mallgren’s son, who is the same age he was when his father died, was top of mind Friday morning, “I feel so responsible for my kids I can’t imagine doing that to them. How miserable are you that you would do that?”

Mallgren acknowledged that the kitchen can be a mecca for people who aren’t always comfortable in traditional jobs. “People who don’t always like talking to people gravitate toward the kitchen. You can hide behind the pans and put your head down in the back of the house. Those kinds of likeminded people work with you. There’s a great camaraderie among cooks and they understand each other,” Mallgren said.

“It doesn’t matter how famous you are, we’re all basically the same. We all have our problems,” he added.

Others in Sonoma County recounted inspiration from his books and travelogues. “He was funny, irreverent, roguishly handsome, a great storyteller…I loved his series as it evolved into being more about the people and country with food as the connection,” said Condra Easley, co-owner of Sebastopol’s Patisserie Angelica

In 2010 when Bourdain came to Santa Rosa at the (then) Wells Fargo Center with Eric Ripert, I felt a mix of awe and the impish desire to poke the tobacco-stained, boozy bear, writing:

“I just can’t quit Anthony Bourdain. He’s a smug, foul-mouthed, boozy nihilist. He’s a poster boy for the schticky celebrity chefs he routinely skewers. His kitchen-cred is admittedly questionable, he’s not shy about where women belong, and the whole Quentin Tarantino channeling Hunter S. Thompson gets a little grating after 40 episodes or so.

Yet we, his brooding followers, can never get enough of King Tony’s bad boy antics and alcohol-fueled adventures. As the Patron Saint of Egoist Chefs, Dean of Maliciously Delicious Tweets and Railer Against Food D-Baggery, we eagerly dissect every episode of No Reservations and now, The Layover. We cheer as countless Kitchen Dimwits, Culinary Poseurs, food writers, and, well, most of the Food Network fall upon his sword. Huzzah!” 

During public questions at the event, I challenged Bourdain to explain his feelings on the then-foie gras ban in California, a sticky wicket in the food world if there ever was one. What shocked me was his answer. Instead of throwing out some thoughtless quip studded with f-bombs, Bourdain seemed actually frightened about the whole subject. He said that after numerous run-ins with animal activists, some of whom had threatened his family, he felt that maybe it just wasn’t worth fighting about. I nearly fainted with surprise — but honestly, I think that behind the bravado, Bourdain had the same weaknesses and worries as the rest of us.

“The shock is like a punch to the gut. His work was like a rare jewel, Treasured and coveted. His simple style of questioning his hosts about their lives, their joys, their foods is something I share with the culinary classes. Could watch him interview a blank slate and it would interest me. His daughter is the one to be considered in this situation.” – Marie Ganister, instructor and academic coordinator, Windsor High School.

As someone who has worked closely with many folks in the restaurant industry, I know also first-hand the addictions and mental illness that are rife in creative professions. Bourdain made no secret about his mercurial ways and proclivity for hedonism. 

“I’m still here — on my third life, or maybe fourth. Who knows? I should’ve died in my 20s. I became successful in my 40s. I became a dad in my 50s. I feel like I’ve stolen a car – a really nice car – and I keep looking in the rearview mirror for flashing lights. But there’s been nothing yet,” he told Biography in 2016.

It’s sad and horrible all around, and the man who cut through all the bullshit of celebrity chef-dom and gave us a window into the steamy life of a kitchen drone is gone. No doubt he’d think all the love letters, back-patting and smarmy goodbyes are ridiculous. But somehow deep down, I think he’d also appreciate how many of us he inspired while running from the lights.

Need help? Reach out. Please. 

North Bay Suicide Prevention 24-hour hotline: 855-587-6373

NAMI Sonoma County warmline: 707-527-6655

Sonoma County Psychiatric Emergency Services: 707-576-8181

For information on Sonoma County support groups, call 707-527-6655 or go to namisonomacounty.org

 

Related Images:

[See image gallery at www.sonomamag.com]

The post Chef Anthony Bourdain Dead at 61, Lives On in the Memories of Sonoma County appeared first on Sonoma Magazine BiteClub.

]]>
http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/chef-anthony-bourdain-dead-at-61-but-lives-on-in-the-memories-of-sonoma-county/feed/ 7
Will Sonoma County Soon Have One of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants? http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/will-sonoma-county-soon-have-one-of-the-worlds-50-best-restaurants/ http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/will-sonoma-county-soon-have-one-of-the-worlds-50-best-restaurants/#comments Fri, 01 Jun 2018 18:45:07 +0000 http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/?p=38148

Less than two years old, Sonoma County's Single Thread is on the way to restaurant history

The post Will Sonoma County Soon Have One of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants? appeared first on Sonoma Magazine BiteClub.

]]>

WHAT’S MORE IMPRESSIVE THAN A MICHELIN STAR? Having the team of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants take notice of your restaurant after just 18 months.

SingleThread restaurant and farm has received the Miele One to Watch award for 2018, usually a precursor to a spot in the top 50 in subsequent years. According to organizers, the award “celebrates emerging global talent and recognizes a restaurant that is outside the main 50 Best list, with strong potential to rise up the ranking in the near future.”  The fledgling restaurant received two Michelin stars in 2018.

Husband and wife team Kyle and Katina Connaughton (he’s the chef, she’s the farmer) opened in late 2016 and is a bespoke dining experience (emphasis on “experience”) located just off the Healdsburg Square.

Focused on micro-seasonal ingredients with strong Japanese influences, the restaurant’s attention to detail, precision cooking techniques and commitment to using products from their small farm at just the moment of peak perfection has attracted the attention of both critics and serious gastronomes. The 52-seat dining room has an open kitchen that’s nearly silent during service, with at least 11 courses that are both culinary and artistic masterpieces.

Other recent winners of the One to Watch Award include restaurants in Barcelona, Sydney and Cape Town, along with San Francisco’s Saison in 2014.

“We are so proud to bring this recognition to Sonoma Wine Country and to continue to share what we love about this beautiful place with our guests,” said Kyle, who is a strong advocate for the county and recently raised more than $500,000 for Sonoma County fire survivors.

Related Images:

[See image gallery at www.sonomamag.com]

The post Will Sonoma County Soon Have One of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants? appeared first on Sonoma Magazine BiteClub.

]]>
http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/will-sonoma-county-soon-have-one-of-the-worlds-50-best-restaurants/feed/ 2
Santa Rosa Omelettes Travel Nearly 6,000 Miles to South Korea http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/santa-rosa-omelettes-travel-nearly-6000-miles-to-south-korea/ http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/santa-rosa-omelettes-travel-nearly-6000-miles-to-south-korea/#comments Fri, 01 Jun 2018 17:50:21 +0000 http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/?p=38131 Diners at the opening of Don Taylor Omelette Express in JeJu City on JeJu island in southern Korea. Santa Rosa restaurateur Don Taylor was on hand for the opening. Courtesy: Facebook

Local restaurateur brings goodwill, Snoopy and the famous #7 to South Korea

The post Santa Rosa Omelettes Travel Nearly 6,000 Miles to South Korea appeared first on Sonoma Magazine BiteClub.

]]>
Diners at the opening of Don Taylor Omelette Express in JeJu City on JeJu island in southern Korea. Santa Rosa restaurateur Don Taylor was on hand for the opening. Courtesy: Facebook

Santa Rosa breakfast icon Don Taylor’s Omelette Express has gone international!

The local restaurateur was on hand in JeJu City, on the remote South Korean island of JeJu on May 17 to open Don Taylor’s Express. The cultural eggs-change with Santa Rosa’s “Sister City” isn’t as random as it might seem — Taylor has been a longtime ambassador bridging the 5,772 mile divide with plenty of good will, a brass Snoopy statue in 2011 and now his famous #7 Omelette (spinach, bacon, mushroom and mozzarella). Santa Rosans may recognize JeJu’s reciprocal gifts of the pudgy grandfather statues near City Hall — protectors against angry demons.

The restaurant opening, however, is more than just tasty grub for the locals to enjoy. The restaurant is a training ground and financial resource for a single mothers’ home on the island. Taylor opened his first training cafe four years ago with the Dr. Im AeDuk, founder of the AeSuhWon Sisters’ Heights Center for Single Mothers and the two have become friends and collaborators over the years. 

“Four years ago, we opened a training Omelette Express at the Aesuhwon center with a goal of opening an Omelette in JeJu to benefit the center and single moms.  The grand opening on May 19th was the result of years of work and a wonderful contribution to JeJu Island,” said Taylor.

How about a cultural exchange of Korean food in Santa Rosa sometime soon, Don?  Hint, hint.

Related Images:

[See image gallery at www.sonomamag.com]

The post Santa Rosa Omelettes Travel Nearly 6,000 Miles to South Korea appeared first on Sonoma Magazine BiteClub.

]]>
http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/santa-rosa-omelettes-travel-nearly-6000-miles-to-south-korea/feed/ 3
Barf, dead fish and booger flavored candy makers introduce two new flavors! http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/barf-dead-fish-and-booger-flavored-candy-makers-introduce-two-new-flavors/ http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/barf-dead-fish-and-booger-flavored-candy-makers-introduce-two-new-flavors/#respond Fri, 25 May 2018 20:58:08 +0000 http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/?p=38124

Can you even handle eating a jelly bean that tastes like rotten fish?

The post Barf, dead fish and booger flavored candy makers introduce two new flavors! appeared first on Sonoma Magazine BiteClub.

]]>

Every year, Jelly Belly Candy Company comes out with new flavors for their horrifyingly awful BeanBoozled game.

Disgusting flavors like boogers, spoiled milk, barf and dead fish are paired with more delicious flavors that, from the outside, look identical. For instance, rotten egg has the exact same yellow and white shell as buttered popcorn; tutti-fruitti’s evil doppelganger is stinky socks.

The fun, for 14-year-old boys and adults with a masochistic streak, is daring someone to eat the beans not knowing if they’ll get a mouthful of delicious peach flavor or wretch-inducing barf flavor.

This year’s nasty additions: Stink bug/toasted marshmallow and dirty dishwater/birthday cake.

Previous flavors have included baby wipes, moldy cheese, skunk spray, lawn clippings, pencil shavings and Minion fart.

 

The new Bean Boozled game from Jelly Belly. Yum or yucko?

The new Bean Boozled game from Jelly Belly. Yum or yucko?

All we can think of is who the poor testers are who have to figure out of the canned dog food flavor is really dog-food flavored enough, or if, you know, it needs more liver and chicken necks to really live up to the name.

The beans will hit shelves this summer, so be prepared if your kids try to pawn off a yummy peach jelly bean on you.

 

 

 

Related Images:

[See image gallery at www.sonomamag.com]

The post Barf, dead fish and booger flavored candy makers introduce two new flavors! appeared first on Sonoma Magazine BiteClub.

]]>
http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/barf-dead-fish-and-booger-flavored-candy-makers-introduce-two-new-flavors/feed/ 0
7 Great Hole In The Wall Spots To Try in Sonoma County http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/7-great-hole-in-the-wall-spots-to-try-in-sonoma-county/ http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/7-great-hole-in-the-wall-spots-to-try-in-sonoma-county/#comments Fri, 25 May 2018 20:39:44 +0000 http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/?p=38111 Thuan Phat Banh Mi Sandwich in Santa Rosa (Heather Irwin)

Offbeat eats for cheap in Sonoma County are worth sussing out. $

The post 7 Great Hole In The Wall Spots To Try in Sonoma County appeared first on Sonoma Magazine BiteClub.

]]>
Thuan Phat Banh Mi Sandwich in Santa Rosa (Heather Irwin)

You know that one place that sells donuts and pho? Or that sandwich place with Tibetan dumplings on Monday your friend keeps talking about? Like most serious eaters, we love finding the weirdly wonderful, usually-ethnic strip mall joints and hidden culinary gems that offer up interesting and delish food for super cheap(ish).

Our quest for 7 offbeat, indescribably interesting hole-in-the-wall-type spots started with a molcajete facial at Taqueria Molcajetes (1195 W.  College Ave., Santa Rosa, 707-544-8280). For the uninitiated, molcajete typically refers to a large volcanic stone bowl that is heated to approximately the temperature of the sun. Meats, fresh cheese, cactus paddles, green onions, and seafood are mixed with a spicy chile stew and the whole steaming, sizzling, bubbling, furious thing is brought to your table. It will remain steaming, molten and bubbling for nearly a half hour as you are enveloped by a refreshing meat and vegetable-scented steam. You will be very tempted to touch the bowl with an adorable pig face just to see how hot it is. Do not do this. It is very hot. I have a blister on my pointer finger to prove that very point.

Molcajete Mixto in Santa Rosa. Offbeat eats in Sonoma County. Heather Irwin/PD

Molcajete Mixto in Santa Rosa. Offbeat eats in Sonoma County. Heather Irwin/PD

It’s taken months to finally get to Taqueria Molcajetes, but on my radar after several eaters sussed out their sizzling molcajetes. You won’t find advertising or sandwich boards, and no one has emailed me about their farm-to-table cuisine. The door is set into a dark and somewhat unwelcoming corner of the former G&G shopping center (it’s a Safeway now), Frankly, it’s hard to tell if the restaurant is open from the street. Inside the small doorway is a larger interior filled with throngs of people who come for their giant burritos.

I’m a fan of the molcajete, which here is easily enough for two starving linebackers or a family of 6 who are peckish. The popular Molcajete Mixto ($22) includes chicken, beef, pork, shrimp and nopales — pretty much everything but the kitchen sink, and there is a freakishly large amount of meat inside. The meal comes with fresh flour tortillas, beans, rice, salsa, guacamole and sour cream. If you break it down between four people, that’s less than $6 per person. With chips and the extensive salsa bar, you’ll go home full—and with glowingly refreshed skin.

Monday Momos

Sandwiches and bowls are the stock and trade of MoMo Cafe, frequented by nearby office park folks. But on Monday (and only Monday), the mom and pop deli serves up authentic momo — Tibetan-style dumplings filled with ground chicken, garlic, ginger and other spices. They’re cousins to potstickers, but these steamed and fried versions are a tasty treat to get over you start-of-the-week blahs. 385 Aviation Blvd., Santa Rosa, 573-0999.

Bulgogi at Bowl and Roll

You’ll be lucky to find a table most afternoons at this combination sushi roll, ramen and Korean barbecue spot. There’s nothing all that ground-breaking, with fried apps like agedashi tofu ($3.95), chicken kaarage ($3.95), dumpling ramen ($.8.95) Korean-style rice bowls and American-style sushi rolls with plenty of fried stuff inside. What we love, though, is the simple Korean BBQ bulgogi ($9.95), strips of steak marinated with soy sauce, garlic and sesame oil served white rice. You’ll easily have some leftovers when paired with a roll ($5 to $11) or app. Simpler than a sit-down restaurant, and phone orders accepted. 1331 Guerneville Rd., Suite Q, Santa Rosa, 595-3772.

Mango Shaved Snow Ice at Yo Panda

Oh. My. Snow. Hawaiian shave ice just got bumped off our list of favorite things. Similar, but entirely different, shaved snow is a Taiwanese-style dessert made with frozen low-fat milk shaved into impossibly thin stacked ribbons of flavor. Mango snow topped with fresh mangos and sugar syrup makes for a crave-worthy summer treat. 925 Corporate Center Pkwy, Santa Rosa, 522-1388.

Thuan Phat Banh Mi Sandwich in Santa Rosa (Heather Irwin)

Thuan Phat Banh Mi Sandwich in Santa Rosa (Heather Irwin)

Banh Mi at Thuan Phat

Still one of the best Vietnamese banh mi, and a $3.75 a steal of a deal. There is exactly one tiny table inside, so take a hint and get it to go. Looking too long at the polka dot walls will give you a headache anyway. 3020 Santa Rosa Ave., Suite H, 889-3966.

Tostilocos and Acai bowls at El Huerto Sonoma

This newish Sonoma storefront with healthy food as its main mission is run by a local farming family, offering fresh-pressed juices and acai bowls, along with seasonal granola and fruit bowls. What we love is the contrast of trendy avocado toast for just $4.75  and “skin glow” pressed juices along next to Mexican classics like Tostiloco (Tostito chips, mango, jicama, cucumber, peanuts, tamarind candy and lime, $7.50) and mangonada. 19213 Sonoma Hwy., Sonoma, 934-8791.

Flaming Cheese at Yia Yia, The Grateful Greek

Just-opened at the former Yanni’s Sausage Grill in Penngrove, this tiny cafe is a little bit Yanni’s and a little bit Greek and a whole lot awesome. We’ve been huge fans of flaming saganaki since, well, forever. It’s almost impossible to find locally, so Popi’s Flaming Cheese on a pita or Italian bread ($7.95) is pretty much the best grilled cheese you’ll ever eat. Plus it’s flaming. The restaurant delivers to the nearby Penngrove Bar, so there’s that little perk. 10007 Main St., Penngrove, 664-5442.

Related Images:

[See image gallery at www.sonomamag.com]

The post 7 Great Hole In The Wall Spots To Try in Sonoma County appeared first on Sonoma Magazine BiteClub.

]]>
http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/7-great-hole-in-the-wall-spots-to-try-in-sonoma-county/feed/ 5
Longtime Healdsburg Restaurant Closes, Blaming Years of Construction Nightmares http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/longtime-healdsburg-restaurant-closes-blaming-years-of-construction-nightmares/ http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/longtime-healdsburg-restaurant-closes-blaming-years-of-construction-nightmares/#comments Fri, 18 May 2018 18:23:56 +0000 http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/?p=38097

Cafe Lucia is the latest in a spate of restaurant closures in Sonoma County.

The post Longtime Healdsburg Restaurant Closes, Blaming Years of Construction Nightmares appeared first on Sonoma Magazine BiteClub.

]]>

Cafe Lucia is the latest in a spate of restaurant closures in Sonoma County. The 7-year-old cafe owned by Chef Manuel Azevedo and Lucia Azevedo Fincher announced it was throwing in the towel in an email that described a series of construction issues in Healdsburg as a significant reason for depressed business over the last two years.

“In 2016, everything changed for Café Lucia, seemingly overnight. The one-two punch of ongoing work on a traffic roundabout a half-block from our restaurant, and construction of a hotel and underground parking lot next door to us, limited diners’ access to and awareness of Café Lucia. We will never understand why the City of Healdsburg approved these projects for the same time period (as well as other construction work on the 200 block of Healdsburg Avenue), yet we pressed on despite major delays on the roundabout and hotel,” said the owners.

The restaurant also suffered a major business downturn, like many, after the 2017 wildfires. “We pushed through another winter, despite the increasingly difficult economic climate statewide, including increased minimum wages and taxes, and lack of affordable housing for staff at our small, family-owned business,” they said, adding, “…as we face a third season operating in a construction zone, we find ourselves without the financial or emotional reserves to continue.”

The sentiment echoes what many restaurateurs in the county say are ongoing issues with a lack of affordable housing, construction issues and a slow-to-improve economy after the fires.

The Portuguese-inspired restaurant was one of three restaurants owned by the family, including LaSalette and Tasca Tasca tapas bar in the town of Sonoma.

Other recent closures in Sonoma County include Sebastopol’s Vignette, Recherche du Plaisir sweet shop and Rosso Pizzeria and Mozzarella Bar in Petaluma. 

Related Images:

[See image gallery at www.sonomamag.com]

The post Longtime Healdsburg Restaurant Closes, Blaming Years of Construction Nightmares appeared first on Sonoma Magazine BiteClub.

]]>
http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/longtime-healdsburg-restaurant-closes-blaming-years-of-construction-nightmares/feed/ 14
Is Paleo Chocolate the Next Big Thing? Sonoma Investor Thinks It Is http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/is-paleo-chocolate-is-the-next-big-thing/ http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/is-paleo-chocolate-is-the-next-big-thing/#respond Thu, 17 May 2018 19:22:10 +0000 http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/?p=38076

Chocolate without dairy? Who woulda thunk it. But a local food investment company is ready to commit.

The post Is Paleo Chocolate the Next Big Thing? Sonoma Investor Thinks It Is appeared first on Sonoma Magazine BiteClub.

]]>

The founder of Krave Jerky and SmashMallow thinks paleo chocolate has a bright future. 

Jonathan Sebastiani’s Sonoma Brands has invested in Hu Products’ artisan dairy-free chocolate bars, made with 70 percent stone ground, organic, fair trade cacao. In addition to (mostly) following Paleo diet standards, they are also vegan.

It’s what they don’t have, rather than what they do that makes the difference. The chocolates contain no GMOs, emulsifiers, soy lecithin, gluten, refined sugar, cane sugar or sugar alcohols. To sweeten the chocolate, Hu uses unrefined coconut sugar. Flavors include Almond Butter and Puffed Quinoa, Cashew Butter, Hazelnut Butter, Salty Dark Chocolate and Crunchy Mint.

While most of the chocolate bars conform to paleo diets, a few added ingredients are labeled “primal” rather than paleo.

Locally Sjaaks Chocolate in Petaluma creates vegan chocolate or “melk” bars. In Novato, Sacred Chocolate also has vegan chocolate products.

Related Images:

[See image gallery at www.sonomamag.com]

The post Is Paleo Chocolate the Next Big Thing? Sonoma Investor Thinks It Is appeared first on Sonoma Magazine BiteClub.

]]>
http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/is-paleo-chocolate-is-the-next-big-thing/feed/ 0
Pearl Restaurant Brings the Silk Road to Petaluma http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/pearl-restaurant-brings-the-silk-road-to-petaluma/ http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/pearl-restaurant-brings-the-silk-road-to-petaluma/#comments Mon, 14 May 2018 17:44:28 +0000 http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/?p=38049 Smoked trout and house ricotta with semolina flatbread at Pearl restaurant in Petaluma. heather irwin/PD

A middle east feast that brings a California touch to exotic, far-off flavors in Petaluma.

The post Pearl Restaurant Brings the Silk Road to Petaluma appeared first on Sonoma Magazine BiteClub.

]]>
Smoked trout and house ricotta with semolina flatbread at Pearl restaurant in Petaluma. heather irwin/PD

Here’s a fun way to liven up a dull party — ask the snooty guy critiquing the bacon-wrapped dates if he knows the three Grand Cuisines of the world. Chances are good he’ll come up short.

Though no one really knows who made the distinction between Grand and not-so-grand cuisines, it’s generally recognized in the food world that Chinese and French are two of the three. So what’s the third? Hint: It’s not Italian, Japanese or Indian either.

It’s Turkish.

A server shows McFarland Spring Trout salad at Pearl restaurant in Petaluma. heather irwin/PD

A server shows McFarland Spring Trout salad at Pearl restaurant in Petaluma. heather irwin/PD

We’re not talking kabobs and doner, but the sultan-approved dishes of the Ottoman Empire, which spanned from Eastern Europe, through Syria, Persia and through North Africa. From rosewater and pomegranate syrup sorbets to hummus, pita, lamb tagine and rich fish stews, the thread that tied all the dishes together were the exotic spices from the Silk Road and herbs including cumin, saffron, turmeric, cinnamon, pepper, ginger, cloves, fenugreek and sumac.

It also happens to be what makes Petaluma’s new Pearl restaurant such an exciting find. Inspired by the flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa (with a little Southern French and Spanish thrown in for good measure), chef/owners Brian Leitner and Annette Yang have transformed the former Luma into a sunny breakfast and lunch spot featuring their own interpretations of shakshuka, fresh pita, fattoush salad and braised meats like rabbit, brisket and lamb.

Buckwheat polenta and fish stew at Pearl restaurant in Petaluma. heather irwin/PD

Buckwheat polenta and fish stew at Pearl restaurant in Petaluma. heather irwin/PD

Brian, a Chez Panisse alum who owned a popular seafood restaurant in San Francisco and most recently an eclectic southern European restaurant in Portland, Oregon, returned to the Bay Area, and specifically Petaluma to escape some of the hubbub of city life. But Annette says they weren’t specifically trying to fill a niche by serving up food inspired by Israel, Syria, Turkey and Morocco.

“This is what we eat at home,” said Yang, who manages the front of the house — from bartending to seating and serving. “We like big, distinct and clean flavors with a light touch. It’s food that isn’t weighed down by butter and fats,” she added, saying Pearl is both ancient and modern in its approach to eating.

They aren’t obsessed, however, with recreating exact recipes. Dishes like their Moroccan Hangtown ($17), a pan-fried oyster with Merguez sausage, scrambled eggs and roasted peppers are more about a sense of place rather than being perfectly authentic. But hearty bowls from chickpea, fava and tomato stew are transportive, with warm spices and deep flavors reminiscent of faraway places.

“We are rooted in inspiration from an Old World culture and inspired by local ingredients,” said Yang.

Best Bets at Pearl:

We noticed that dishes do change slightly from week to week, depending on what’s in season, though you should be able to find favorites like shakshuka pretty regularly. The menu is divided into “smaller” and “bigger” plates, so depending on your hunger level, order accordingly. There is a brief but fascinating by-the-glass wine list, along with beer, sangria and a handful of coffee and low-booze tipples along with non-alcoholic avocado date shakes, fresh lemonade, warm ginger cider and not-your-usual iced teas.

Pearl is open for breakfast and lunch, so expect lighter daytime dishes rather than excessively heavy dinners.

Moroccan rice pudding wtih pink rie and rhubarb at Pearl restaurant in Petaluma. heather irwin/PD

Moroccan rice pudding wtih pink rie and rhubarb at Pearl restaurant in Petaluma. heather irwin/PD

Buckwheat Polenta ($7): This is polenta’s heartier, chewier, more rib-sticking cousin. Earthy, nutty and chewy, this version doesn’t contain corn, making a little closer to oatmeal than grits. Topped with a bloomy, soft cow’s milk cheese, this dish is hard to put down.

Israeli Breakfast ($12): This dish of hummus, labneh (a sort of cream cheese), fresh pita and fruit is so ancient that King David would probably recognize it. There’s a reason its lasted millennia — its light and delish, and the green hummus — made with parsley — is a vibrant change.

Braised Rabbit ($14): This lean, sustainable meat isn’t on everyone’s approval list, but cooked with fresh spring vegetables (asparagus, fava) and topped with apple allioli (a sweet, eggless garlic mayo-like spread) it’s the essence of the season.

Shakshuka with chickpea, fava and tomato stew at Pearl restaurant in Petaluma. heather irwin/PD

Shakshuka with chickpea, fava and tomato stew at Pearl restaurant in Petaluma. heather irwin/PD

Smoked Trout and House Ricotta ($9): Don’t leave without this one. Served in a jar, the combo of smoky, rich McFarland Spring trout (which has a salmon color) and creamy ricotta scream for Brian’s fresh semolina flatbread.

Shakshuka ($18): Another can’t miss. Chickpeas and favas swim in a ruby stew of tart tomatoes, topped with grilled Halloumi cheese. Tiny eggs are cooked into the dish, cooked in a wood-fired oven. You will need fresh pita topped with za’atar (a blend of herbs like sumac, oregano, hyssop and sesame seeds) to mop up the delicious mess.

Persian Fish Stew ($20): I loved this a lot more than I thought I would, mainly because of the tamarind-fenugreek broth. Mussels, rockfish and shrimp are steamed in a brilliantly-flavored stock, muddling the briny seafood flavors and the aromatic broth. Served with a slab of Della Fattoria bread, it’s heavenly.

Moroccan Rice Pudding ($8): It’s almost too pretty to eat, though ours was a little soupier than the rice pudding we’re used to eating, the tart, spiced dish is worth trying.

Overall: Bright and exotic layers of flavor that pay homage to a world cuisine that’s often overlooked by Americans.

If you go: No tipping! All menu prices consider the cost of living wages for staff, along with the restaurant’s operating costs. There’s not even a line on the receipt to leave a tip! We love the idea of actually knowing what we’re paying for up front.

500 First St., Petaluma, 707-559-5187, pearlpetaluma.com. Open 9 a.m. to 3p.m. Wednesday through Monday. Closed Tuesday.

Related Images:

[See image gallery at www.sonomamag.com]

The post Pearl Restaurant Brings the Silk Road to Petaluma appeared first on Sonoma Magazine BiteClub.

]]>
http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/pearl-restaurant-brings-the-silk-road-to-petaluma/feed/ 3
Taco Lab in Windsor Thinks Outside the Shell http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/time-for-a-taco-truce-taco-lab-opens-in-windsor/ http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/time-for-a-taco-truce-taco-lab-opens-in-windsor/#comments Thu, 10 May 2018 18:34:28 +0000 http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/?p=38034 Sweet potato at Taco Lab in Windsor. Heather Irwin/PD

Global flavors in a taco? Open your imagination.

The post Taco Lab in Windsor Thinks Outside the Shell appeared first on Sonoma Magazine BiteClub.

]]>
Sweet potato at Taco Lab in Windsor. Heather Irwin/PD

Everyone has an opinion about tacos. Especially in California.

Carnitas versus carne asada, soft-shelled versus crispy, dribbled with sour cream and guacamole or simply dressed with a couple of radish slices, onions, and cilantro? Whatever you choose, one wrong order can land you in a minefield of food credibility. Family members have been known to come to blows–or at least throw out a few derogatory statements about someone’s mother — over how to eat this simple street food. Trust me, friends, I’ve even been on the receiving end of nastiness about my affection for overusing pico de gallo on tacos.

Frankly, we’re ready for a taco truce. Let’s stop our bickering over queso fresco and raise a cerveza to taco inclusion.

The recent opening of Taco Lab in Windsor is just the place to do that. It’s sort of a taqueria, but also an experiment in thinking outside the shell.

Owned by Superburger’s Bill Cordell, the casual spot just off the square features an ever-changing lineup of proteins that range from super-tasty carne asada and carnitas to globally-inspired flavors like Brazilian beef with chimichurri, Indian-spiced chicken, the meatless Imposter ground “beef” (it’s really good, promise), jerk chicken and other daily Protein Specials.

“Think of a menu without cultural borders, where the biggest rule is that it has to fit in a taco, burrito or bowl,” said Cordell. Inspiration comes from Mexico, Brazil, Puerto Rico, China, India and beyond, he added.

Instead of tortillas, choose from a burrito, burrito bowl, quesadilla, loaded baked potato or yam, or salad bowl. Each is $10 and include chips and salsa.

You can add various toppings to your “experiment”, from corn to queso. We also really liked the esquite, a street corn salad ($3.75) and are craving Taco Lab’s freshly made agua fresca, margaritas, and sangria.

The Lab opened May 1, and there are still a few R+D issues being ironed out, but the large outdoor patio and lineup of flavors is one experiment we’re willing to keep testing.

9238 Old Redwood Hwy, #128, Windsor, tacolabrestaurant.com. Open daily from 11a.m. to 8:30p.m

Related Images:

[See image gallery at www.sonomamag.com]

The post Taco Lab in Windsor Thinks Outside the Shell appeared first on Sonoma Magazine BiteClub.

]]>
http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/time-for-a-taco-truce-taco-lab-opens-in-windsor/feed/ 6
10 Sonoma Brunch Spots for a Mamalicious Mother’s Day http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/10-sonoma-brunch-spots-for-a-mamalicious-mothers-day/ http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/10-sonoma-brunch-spots-for-a-mamalicious-mothers-day/#respond Tue, 08 May 2018 21:10:47 +0000 http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/?p=38013

Mom deserves a day off from any cooking duties.

The post 10 Sonoma Brunch Spots for a Mamalicious Mother’s Day appeared first on Sonoma Magazine BiteClub.

]]>

Mom deserves a day off from any cooking duties. Take her out to one of these great breakfasts or brunches, serving delish dishes for Mother’s Day 2018. Click through the above gallery for details. Make sure to call ahead and check if there are still reservations available. Did we miss a favorite? Let us know in the comments below.

Related Images:

[See image gallery at www.sonomamag.com]

The post 10 Sonoma Brunch Spots for a Mamalicious Mother’s Day appeared first on Sonoma Magazine BiteClub.

]]>
http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/10-sonoma-brunch-spots-for-a-mamalicious-mothers-day/feed/ 0
BottleRock Napa Valley 2018: See Who’s Headlining the Culinary Stage http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/see-whos-headlining-the-bottlerock-culinary-stage-this-year/ http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/see-whos-headlining-the-bottlerock-culinary-stage-this-year/#respond Mon, 07 May 2018 17:07:14 +0000 http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/?p=37996 Tommy Chong, Chef Chris Cosentino, Cheech Marin and emcee Liam Mayclem the Foodie Chap at BottleRock 2016. Heather Irwin.

Snoop returns, Trisha Yearwood headlines and a couple of surprises in store

The post BottleRock Napa Valley 2018: See Who’s Headlining the Culinary Stage appeared first on Sonoma Magazine BiteClub.

]]>
Tommy Chong, Chef Chris Cosentino, Cheech Marin and emcee Liam Mayclem the Foodie Chap at BottleRock 2016. Heather Irwin.

Country star Trisha Yearwood is a Food Network star and New York Times best-selling cookbook author? Apparently we’ve been living under a rock, because Yearwood will be joining Chefs Giada De Laurentiis, Napa restaurateurs Masaharu Morimoto and Charlie Palmer, Dominique Crenn and Michael Voltaggio on the Williams Sonoma Culinary Stage at this year’s BottleRock.

Steph Curry joins Ayesha on the Williams-Sonoma Culinary Stage in 2017 at BottleRock. Will Bucquoy

Steph Curry joins Ayesha on the Williams-Sonoma Culinary Stage in 2017 at BottleRock. Will Bucquoy

For the last three years, the small culinary stage has been a star attraction at the Napa music festival, featuring big names like Martha Stewart, Snoop Dog and last year’s surprise appearance of the Warriors’ Steph Curry during wife Ayesha’s cooking demo. We also pretty much loved seeing Tommy Chong light up a couple years ago, too. The matchup of celebrity chefs and music, television, sports and movie celebrities has resulted in a oddly fascinating and eminently watchable lineup — often just to see the oddball antics. 

Other culinary stars appearing on the stage include Top Chef Jr. host Graham Elliot, Top Chef Richard Blais, Aarón Sánchez, chef/owner Johnny Sánchez, Travel Channel star Adam Richman, Top Chef Masters Hubert Keller, Food Network star Chef Duff Goldman, actress, host and cookbook author Tiffani Thiessen, and Bay Area favorite chefs Tony Cervone, Tyler Rodde and Aaron Meneghelli. KCBS “Foodie Chap” Liam Mayclem keeps the whole circus together as emcee.

Joining them onstage, look for a weird and wonderful gathering of names like Halsey, Snoop Dogg, actor/comedian George Lopez, Olympic Gold Medal Winner Shaun White, Mike D, Baseball Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr., MLB all-time home run king Barry Bonds, Harlem Globetrotters, boxing great and cookbook author Laila Ali (does literally everyone have a cookbook these days?) Michael Franti, Tré Cool of Green Day, Gary “Baba Booey” of The Howard Stern Show, E-40, Shakey Graves, future NFL Hall of Famer Charles Woodson, Warren G, NFL Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott, Rob Garza of Thievery Corporation, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Tank and the Bangas, Joe Kwon of the Avett Brothers, Dan the Automator, KTVU Sports Director Mark Ibanez, The Alive and City of Napa Mayor Jill Techel.

Sadly, if you don’t already have tickets to the three-day event, May 25-27, you’re out of luck, since they’re long sold out. You can enter Williams Sonoma “Ultimate Trip To BottleRock” Sweepstakes which includes deluxe accommodations at Napa Valley’s Silverado Resort and a pair of three-day passes to the festival. Or just watch your friends’ Instagram accounts to see what you’re missing.

If you’re wondering, the nosh lineup is pretty much the same as previous years, with a handful of additions and includes: Morimoto Napa, Bouchon Bakery, Estate Events by Meadowood, La Toque, Mustards Grill, Oenotri, Torc, La Taberna, Cole’s Chop House, The Q Restaurant and Bar, Bounty Hunter Wine Bar & Smokin’ BBQ, Angéle, Boon Fly Cafe/FARM, Goose & Gander, Bistro Don Giovanni, Tarla Mediterranean Bar & Grill, Redd Wood, Miminashi, Napa Palisades Saloon, Stone Brewing Co., Southside Café, Jax White Mule Diner, Taqueria Rosita, Il Posto Trattoria, Eight Noodle Shop, Kara’s Cupcakes, Bui Bistro, Foodshed, The Farmer’s Wife, Ristorante Allegria, Ben & Jerry’s and Sweetie Pies along with food trucks from around the Bay Area.

Related Images:

[See image gallery at www.sonomamag.com]

The post BottleRock Napa Valley 2018: See Who’s Headlining the Culinary Stage appeared first on Sonoma Magazine BiteClub.

]]>
http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/see-whos-headlining-the-bottlerock-culinary-stage-this-year/feed/ 0
Slurp All You Want at Ippinn Udon in Santa Rosa http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/slurp-all-you-want-at-ippinn-udon-in-santa-rosa/ http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/slurp-all-you-want-at-ippinn-udon-in-santa-rosa/#comments Mon, 30 Apr 2018 22:23:21 +0000 http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/?p=37980 Tofu udon with birds nest veggies, pumpkin, prawn tempura at Ippinn Udon and Tempura in Santa Rosa. Heather Irwin/PD

These chewy Japanese noodles are made from scratch in the store. See how.

The post Slurp All You Want at Ippinn Udon in Santa Rosa appeared first on Sonoma Magazine BiteClub.

]]>
Tofu udon with birds nest veggies, pumpkin, prawn tempura at Ippinn Udon and Tempura in Santa Rosa. Heather Irwin/PD

Move over ramen, it’s udon’s turn in the spotlight.

The thicker, sassier noodle cousin to ramen, udon are chewy, slippery strands of cooked wheat and water that beg to be sauced, souped and slurped. Served hot in winter and cold in the summer, they’ve been a Japanese staple for nearly a thousand years — far longer than the two-hundred or so years since the introduction of ramen from China. Though, to be clear, nobody puts ramen in a corner.

It’s just that this simple homey dish is so, well, simple. While ramen lovers argue over the types of broth particular to the many variations of ramen noodles, how to make the ramen, and the specifics of each prefecture’s style, udon is classically served with dashi broth (a briny broth made with seaweed and shrimp flakes), some scallions and a soy dipping sauce — and that’s it.

Not that we’re exactly udon experts, but a brief lesson from newly-opened Ippinn Udon & Tempura owner Frank Wu helped to dispel some of the mystery of this very Japanese experience. The Mendocino Avenue shop he recently opened with collaborators Teng Yushu and Mason Lin is a sort of upscale cafeteria experience where you order a type of udon — from simple kama udon to cross-over dishes like spicy beef or curry udon noodles — then slide the tray past a variety of tempura, grabbing (with tongs of course) whatever tickles your fancy.

“ People are already familiar with ramen. We wanted to introduce udon to this region,” said Wu who, along with his business partners, hails from China rather than Japan. A businessman through and through, Wu saw the popularity of udon bars in San Francisco and wanted to bring the first to the North Bay. He is already planning a similar fast-casual concept for sushi in the nearby Big Lots shopping center.

Interior at Ippinn Udon and Tempura in Santa Rosa. Heather Irwin/PD

Like all the staff, Wu wears dentist-like face shields to keep things nice and sanitary. It’s like a personal sneeze guard, and more than a little funny when you try to figure out how the contraption stays on.

Ippin Udon & Tempura has been in development for nearly two years, and business partner Teng Yushu spent a month enrolled in “noodle school” in Kagawa, Japan learning the art of udon noodle making.

Part of the instruction is how to keep their $50,000 Yamato udon machine in good repair, since there’s no way to get a quick service call from across the ocean.

Interior at Ippinn Udon and Tempura in Santa Rosa. Heather Irwin/PD

The nondescript appliance sits by the window, quietly chopping noodles for hours.

It’s a fascinating process to observe, as Yushu fires up the noodle maker that does everything from mixing the flour and saltwater mixture to kneading, rolling and cutting the noodles.

In less than 5 minutes, three balls of rested dough (they rest about 18 hours after kneading) have gone through rollers with increasing pressure to get just the right thickness. The dough is carefully folded, then fed through a chopper, where ribbons of udon noodles fall onto a tray.
They’re almost immediately tossed into a vat of boiling water, where Yushu stirs the noodles constantly with a large wooden roller. Watching the noodles twist and turn in the boiling pot is hypnotic.

Udon and Tempura at Ippinn Udon and Tempura in Santa Rosa. Heather Irwin/PD

Udon and Tempura at Ippinn Udon and Tempura in Santa Rosa. Heather Irwin/PD

After about six minutes, he scoops the noodles into a cloth net, shocks them with cold water, swirling the noodles to release starch.

They’re shocked in ice, and twisted into small ropes to later be portioned into bowls.

Wu is carefully monitoring what udon dishes work, like the spicy beef, and which are less approachable. Like California rolls, which are a uniquely American invention, giving traditional recipes a little wiggle room tends to bring more folks to the table.

As the weather warms, they will be serving cold udon noodle dishes as well.

Overall: It’s best to approach Ippinn with a sense of curiosity and enthusiasm because there are things on the menu even seasoned foodies won’t immediately recognize. A welcoming and explanatory staff make the adventure fun, and student-friendly prices make it a quick grub stop that almost anyone can appreciate. Slurping welcome!

Best Bets

Curry Udon, $6.99: A creamy coconut milk broth with bits of beef, noodles and (optional) cilantro. It’s an easy introduction to udon that marries Indian and Japanese cuisine. A favorite.

Kama-Age, $4.99: Served in wooden noodle bowls (kama), this is the most classic udon dish. Noodles, clear broth, grated daikon and a soy-based dipping sauce. Light, bright flavors and super simple.

Tofu udon at Ippinn Udon and Tempura in Santa Rosa. Heather Irwin/PD

Tofu Udon $5.49: Sweet fried tofu skin, fish cakes, egg and a dashi base. A great lunch bowl.
Tonkatsu Udon, $7.99: Pork belly chashu with pork broth. The most popular udon, it’s super rich and hearty.

Tempura: Udon’s best friend, tempura are frequently dipped into the broth. Selections change daily, but expect things like panko-breaded and fried pumpkin, fish cakes, prawns, potato croquettes, and vegetable nests. They range from .60 to $1.70 for each piece. Pumpkin is our favorite.

Ippinn Udon and Tempura, 1880 Mendocino Ave #D, (near Mombo’s Pizza) Santa Rosa, 707-521-9911, ippinnllc.com

Related Images:

[See image gallery at www.sonomamag.com]

The post Slurp All You Want at Ippinn Udon in Santa Rosa appeared first on Sonoma Magazine BiteClub.

]]>
http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/slurp-all-you-want-at-ippinn-udon-in-santa-rosa/feed/ 8