Sonoma Magazine BiteClub https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub Restaurant & Dining Reviews for Sonoma, Santa Rosa and the Wine Country Fri, 16 Nov 2018 22:42:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/cropped-512_logo-150x150.gif Sonoma Magazine BiteClub https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub 32 32 Where to Do Thanksgiving Dinner in Sonoma County 2018 https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/where-to-do-thanksgiving-in-sonoma-county-2018/ https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/where-to-do-thanksgiving-in-sonoma-county-2018/#comments Wed, 14 Nov 2018 21:40:25 +0000 https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/?p=39360

Keep the focus on family and let someone else do the cooking (hint, we are).

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There’s so much to give thanks for this year, especially here in Sonoma County. We say keep the focus on family and let someone else do the cooking (hint, we are). Then you can spend all your time thinking up ways to give gratitude to those you love.

By the way, Sonoma County celebrates Thanksgiving on Nov. 22, so time is running short. Click through the above gallery for some favorites to check out. (Remember that most require reservations/pre-order, so act now.)

Biteclub Pick-Franchetti’s Thanksgiving Buffet: If for no other reason than the Mashed Potato Station, I’m picking this as my top choice for eating out this holiday. Breaking all the rules, they’ll have not only mashed potatoes but cauliflower and sweet potatoes with toppings of cheese, gravy, chives, bacon, gravy, green onions and marshmallows (natch). Restaurant carving station includes coffee crusted tri-tip and herb-roasted turkey with cranberry persimmon agrodolce and mushroom thyme gravy. Other sides include sausage stuffing, green bean casserole (with a modern twist), braised red cabbage and apples, roasted veggies with cinnamon, cranberry, and nuts, apple salad with apple vinaigrette. Dessert choices are as simple as, well, pie — pumpkin and apple. $59 for adults, $20 for kids 6-12. Seatings at 3, 3:30, 4:40, 5 and 6p.m. Reservations by calling 707-526-1229, franchettis.com.

Bay View Restaurant & Lounge in Bodega Bay is offering an a la carte menu including traditional roasted turkey, pumpkin ravioli, butternut squash soup, braised lamb shank and lobster fettuccine. Traditional desserts including pumpkin pie are offered, too. 1pm-8pm, 707-875-2751, 800 Highway 1, Bodega Bay, innatthetides.com. (Photo by Alvin Jornada)

Central Market in Petaluma is offering a three-course meal with numerous options, including a wine pairing, Dungeness crab pumpkin chowder, House Smoked McFarland Springs Steelhead Trout, Local Heritage Breed Turkey and wild mushroom pot pie along with boiled Virginia goobers, rosemary onion bread and plenty of desserts. $70 for adults, $105 with wine, $25 for children. 707-778-9900, 42 Petaluma Blvd N., Petaluma, centralmarketpetaluma.com. (Photo by Christa Jeremiason)

Coast Kitchen in Jenner offers a 3-course menu with ocean views guaranteed. Appetizers include shrimp bisque, squash salad and roasted oysters. Entrees have the ever-popular turkey done “Roulade” style along with white bass, tagliatelle and braised beef short ribs. Sides for the table: Brussels sprouts, parmesan mashed potatoes and brown butter sweet potatoes. For dessert try spiced creme brulee, pumpkin cheesecake in a jar or chocolate hazelnut mousse bar. $65 per person. 707-847-3231, inside Timber Cove Inn, 21780 Highway 1, Jenner, coastkitchensonoma.com. (Photo by John Burgess)

Depot Hotel in Sonoma is offering a 4-course menu starting with corn chowder and a salad. Entrees include slow-roasted Mary’s Free Range Turkey, poached filet of salmon, spinach and ricotta ravioli (vegetarian), or boneless beef short ribs. For dessert, select cheesecake from Scandia bakery, pumpkin pie, or a chocolate torte. $58 for adults, $25 for children. Seatings from noon to 7p.m., 707-938-2980, 241 1st St. W., Sonomadepotsonoma.com. (Courtesy photo)

Dry Creek Kitchen’s Chef Scott Romano will once again serve a stunning three-course menu. Starters include King salmon tartare, Davero Farm raviolo, ancient grain salad.  Main courses include Classic B&N Ranch Turkey, caramelized diver scallops, hazelnut crusted Opah, Laura Chenel Goat Cheese Agnolotti, 48-hour amaretto and orange-glazed veal. Three dessert options are available alongside local cheese, sorbet and ice creams. $72 for adults, $35 for children. 707-431-0330, 317 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, drycreekkitchen.com. (Courtesy photo)

El Dorado Kitchen Chef Armando Navarro’s three-course Thanksgiving includes starts of burrata and huckleberry sauce, roasted chestnut soup, crab cakes. Mains are roasted free-range turkey breast, Petrale sole, pumpkin ravioli with brown butter sauce, and braised beef short rib. Desserts are lemon pudding cake, season pie, molten chocolate cake. $65 for adults, $35 for children. 1pm-7pm, 707-996-3030, 405 1st St. W., Sonoma, eldoradosonoma.com. (Courtesy photo)

The fig café in Glen Ellen is offering a 3-course prix fixe menu for $45 ($20 for kids). Starters include their signature fig & arugula salad, fried Brussels sprout salad, and cream of cauliflower soup. Main course options are roasted turkey breast, pot roast, pan-seared flounder, and mushroom risotto. Dessert options are profiteroles or chocolate budino. 707-933-3000 x 13, 13690 Arnold Dr., Glen Ellen, thefigcafe.com. (Photo by Chris Hardy)

The girl & the fig in Sonoma is serving a four-course Thanksgiving meal featuring roasted apple and celery root bisque, pear salad, roast turkey breast, sautéed flounder, smoked short ribs and glazed cauliflower with truffle pesto. There are three dessert options: Chocolate pecan pie, pumpkin cheesecake crisp and brown sugar braised apples. $60 for adults with a $18 wine pairing option and $20 for children. 707-938-3634, 110 W Spain St., Sonoma, thegirlandthefig.com. (Photo by Christopher Chung)

Gravenstein Grill is serving a 3-course feast with butternut squash soup, salad, Willie Bird turkey, or vegan pumpkin stew. Classic sides of herbed focaccia stuffing, green beans alandine, Yukon gold mashed potatoes. Bob’s Famous Rum Cake and pumpkin cheesecake for dessert. $55 for adults. 707-634-6142, 8050 Bodega Ave., Sebastopol, gravensteingrill.com. (Courtesy photo)

John Ash & Co. Executive Chef Tom Schmidt’s three-course menu includes several vegan and gluten-free options for families with special dining needs. The first course includes vegan wild mushroom soup with thyme cashew cream, French onion soup, squab terrine, spicy ahi tuna tartare, and salads. For the main course, guests can select butternut squash penne, diver scallops with gulf prawns, oven roasted turkey, sea bass, Devil’s Gulch Langley Pork Chop, and a grilled filet mignon. Pastry Chef Casey Stone will serve chocolate cremeux with brown butter granola, spiced pumpkin creme brulee, pear cranberry crumble. $75 for adults, $38 for children. 800-421-2584, 4350 Barnes Rd., Santa Rosa, vintnersinn.com

Step it way up with Madrona Manor’s six-course meal of Osetra caviar and egg, Dungeness crab soup, truffle risotto, roasted white turkey meat with cippolini onions, black truffles, celery root, chevril and pain perdu, a confit dark meat of turkey with juniper, potato puree, sage and turkey bordelaise, and a “Flavors of Thanksgiving” dessert. $150 for adults with optional $80 wine pairing. 707-433-4231, 1001 Westside Rd., Healdsburg, madronamanor.com. (Courtesy photo)

Santé at Fairmont Sonoma will host their decadent, annual Thanksgiving grand buffet, complete with ice sculptures and live music. The sampling of the buffet: Foie gras parfaits, housemade pickled veggies, charcuterie, antipasti, local and imported cheeses, a NY Bagel and smoked fish station (!), chilled seafood and oyster station, a carving station with Diestel turkey, suckling pig and salt-crusted halibut, pumpkin risotto, stuffed clams, shrimp and grits, candied yams with housemade marshmallows, truffle mac and cheese grain, organic wood fire breads…breath… pine nut gingerbread tosca, petits fours, orange curd tartlets, apple charlotte, pumkin custard tart, cinnamon rice pudding and a whole lot more. $135 for adults, $50 for children, free for children 5 and under. 707-939-2407, Inside the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, 100 Boyes Blvd., Sonoma, santediningroom.com.

Spoonbar in Healdsburg offers a 3-course meal with creamy cauliflower soup, roasted chestnut and pear ravioli, country fried turkey with smoked Gouda mac and cheese or roasted turkey breast for the more traditional eaters. Cinnamon sugar beignets and pumpkin Panna Cotta for dessert. $65 for adults, $35 for children. 707-433-7222, 219 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, spoonbar.com.

MARKETS

Lucky’s: A la carte options including every turkey option available (Mary’s, Diestel, Butterball, Jennie O etc.), rib roast and hams and turkey and ham meals, with dessert, to serve 6-8 people starting at an astoundingly low price of $49.99. luckysupermarkets.com

Oliver’s Market: A la carte protein and a full meal option for 6-8 ($129.99), which includes a California-raised Diestel turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, veggies, cranberry sauce, rolls, pie and more. oliversmarket.com

Raley’s: Offer’s a complete Diestel turkey dinner for 6-8 for $109.99 including stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato gratin, baby broccoli, cranberry sauce, raleys.com

Whole Foods: Offers à la carte (pick up a pre-cooked or raw turkey or freshly made lump-free mashed potatoes) or order a full meal to feed 4-12, including Diestel turkeys (raised in Sonora near Yosemite), ham and prime rib options. Though not cheap (an organic turkey meal for 8 can cost $159), they serve up humanely raised proteins and organic veggies. Also great choices for a vegetarian or vegan Thanksgiving meal.  wholefoodsmarket.com

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3 Big Restaurant Openings in Sonoma County https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/3-big-restaurant-openings-in-sonoma-county/ https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/3-big-restaurant-openings-in-sonoma-county/#comments Tue, 13 Nov 2018 17:28:31 +0000 https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/?p=39348 Burger with kimchi at Mint and Liberty in Sonoma. Courtesy photo.

See where we'll be eating in the next couple weeks as more restaurant open in Santa Rosa, Sonoma and Sebastopol

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Burger with kimchi at Mint and Liberty in Sonoma. Courtesy photo.

Mint & Liberty Open: Exploring regional favorites from across the country, Mint & Liberty Modern Diner is already gathering buzz. On the extensive menu, Executive Chef Michael Siegel (Bix, Betelnut, Shorty Goldstein’s) brings together pierogi and baked beans (North) with enchiladas (Southwest), sprouted lentil salad (West), Shrimp Gumbo (South), matzoh ball soup and egg salad on Challah (East). There’s also an all-day breakfast menu, burgers (we’ll take the one with pork belly and kim chi slaw immediately) and family-style entrees (whole roasted chicken, clambake, SF-style cioppino) after 5p.m. Owners James Hahn and Mila Chaname also own Sunflower Caffe, Honey & The Moon Bakery and Chename wines in Sonoma. 19101 Hwy. 12, Sonoma, mintandliberty.com. Open daily from 8a.m. to 9p.m.

Bibi’s Becomes Mercato: Bye, bye Bibi’s Burger Bar; hello Mercato Pasta and Produce. Pivoting away from their downtown Santa Rosa burger concept, Chandi Hospitality Group has hired Chef Nevin Patel (who a couple weeks ago opened Indian concept restaurant, Bollywood, in downtown Santa Rosa) to spin up a sort of Eataly-light. Based around freshly-made pastas and sauce, along with a market selling local produce and other goodies, Mercato soft-opened on Nov. 9. Also on the menu, vanilla gelato, garlic bread, salads and arancini. We’ll have more details next week. 630 Third St., Santa Rosa, mercatopastaandproduce.com.

Also on the radar, The Farmer’s Wife (6760 McKinley St., Sebastopol) which opened in early October and serves up owner Kendra Kolling’s gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches along with soup and pastries. Kolling, who has been a farm-market and festival staple for years, lost her Kenwood home in last year’s wildfires, but bounced back with the new cafe. She’s also eyeing some bigger projects in the future, but for now her little spot in the sunlight of the Barlow seems just about right for a farm-fresh sandwich melt and warming tomato soup.

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A Secret Tea House in Healdsburg With Homey Japanese Cuisine https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/japanese-teahouse_healdsburg/ https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/japanese-teahouse_healdsburg/#respond Mon, 12 Nov 2018 18:41:37 +0000 https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/?p=39332 Bento Box with chicken Katsu at Taste of Tea in Healdsburg. Heather Irwin/PD

Healdsburg teahouse is a quirky combination of homestyle Japanese cuisine, teas and relaxing spa.

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Bento Box with chicken Katsu at Taste of Tea in Healdsburg. Heather Irwin/PD

For three years, I haven’t quite known what to do with Healdsburg’s Taste of Tea. A combination restaurant, tea house, spa and retail location on North Street between a winery tasting room and the Raven Theater, it kind of defied explanation.

Mochi at Taste of Tea in Healdsburg. Courtesy photo.

Mochi at Taste of Tea in Healdsburg. Courtesy photo.

First off you don’t (as I mistakenly thought), eat tea sandwiches while getting a green tea foot soak. As much as that sounds amazing, it’s not a thing. You can, however, drink a tea and sake cocktail while eating an authentic bento box in the cafe. You can drink tea while getting a foot soak in the spa room. You can simply eat from their expanded menu — from miso soup and wakame salads to pork ramen, curry noodles and donburi — and schedule a one-hour tea exploration session with a tea docent afterward.

Basically, the combinations are endless. Just make sure to get a foot soak in there somewhere.

Skewers at Taste of Tea in Healdsburg. Courtesy photo.

Skewers at Taste of Tea in Healdsburg. Courtesy photo.

The reason Taste of Tea has come back on my radar is the authentic Japanese comfort food created by owner and executive chef Nozomu (Nez) Tokugawa. The Classic Bento ($18) includes meticulously prepared offerings of pickled sea vegetables, miso soup, small bites of sashimi and chicken katsu, all served in a lacquered bento box that looks and feels like a small gift rather than a simple lunch. Specials like the katsu changeup, but teriyaki beef and chicken as well as fried tofu are always on the menu.

One of Nez’s signatures is Miso Ramen ($14) made with vegan kombu broth — a traditional ramen base. Topped with bbq pork, a shoyu-marinated egg, bamboo shoots, and nori, it’s a bowl of warmth and deeply satisfying flavor. Noodle and rice bowls include yakitori, donburi, and sweet Japanese curry. Though not always available, ochazuke (a grilled rice ball served with green tea and pickled plum) is a simple Japanese rustic soup that uses tea in place of broth, worth checking out. For dessert, ginger rice pudding with candied ginger and fruit ($5) is a sweet way to finish, perfect with your last sips of tea.

Bento Box with chicken Katsu at Taste of Tea in Healdsburg. Heather Irwin/PD

Bento Box with chicken Katsu at Taste of Tea in Healdsburg. Heather Irwin/PD

With one of the most extensive loose leaf tea menus in the region — there are at least 80 — prepare to spend some time perusing the choices. Tea flights ($15) include three 8-ounce pots if you can’t quite decide or want to taste with a friend. Japanese Matcha is served straight ($5), or can be jazzed up with vanilla syrup, coconut milk or even turned into a sort of Bloody Mary mixed with tomato juice, cilantro sugar and celery ($7).

Beer and sake are available, but we were especially excited about the Marteani drinks ($7), alcohol-free cocktails that blend flavored teas with mint, cranberry, mango and other ingredients for a refreshing alternative.

Overall: Taste of Tea isn’t your typical teahouse, but a one-stop relaxation spot to fill up and wind down.

Taste of Tea, 109 North St., Healdsburg, 707-431-1995, thetasteoftea.com. Open Friday through Tuesday from11a.m. to 8p.m., Monday and Tuesday to 6p.m., closed Wednesday and Thursday.

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Sonoma County’s 8 Best Craft Spirit Tasting Rooms https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/sonoma-countys-8-best-craft-spirit-tasting-rooms/ https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/sonoma-countys-8-best-craft-spirit-tasting-rooms/#respond Wed, 07 Nov 2018 20:06:03 +0000 https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/?p=39304

Whiskey, vodka and gin flow freely from these spiritmakers. Now you can visit their tasting rooms.

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Sipping vodka cocktails in the Hanson Distillery tasting room in Sonoma, one thing is clear: Wine tasting rooms have never been this fun. Don’t get us wrong, because the hundreds of wineries from Petaluma to Cloverdale have a good thing going, and this is, after all, Wine Country. But a handful of enthusiastic local spirt-makers are creating artisan vodka, gin, whiskey and liqueurs that are putting something other than wine on the local tourist maps. And my tasty cucumber vodka gimlet with edible flowers is (literally) proof of that.


Walking past huge copper stills at the heart of the family-run distillery, it’s hard to figure out where the myriad pots, towering condenser columns and spiraling metal pipes start and end. Inside one kettle, patriarch Scott Hanson points to a half-way point where wine is slowly heated and sent into columns as steam. In fact, Hanson’s vodka is — appropriately — made of grapes, giving it a different flavor profile than traditional potatoes or wheat. It also makes the finished vodka gluten-free (though there’s some debate as to the fact that all distilled spirits undergo a process that makes them gluten-free).

Inside two blue barrels, Scott’s son, Brandon shows how they naturally flavor their lineup of mandarin, ginger, cucumber and yes, habanero vodkas with actual fruit and produce. Permeable bags of fragrant Hawaiian ginger are pulled out of one barrel, trailing the unmistakably peppery sweet smell. It’s hard not to just dive in and swim around inside for a little while.

It’s all in the family, with brothers Chris, Darren and sister Alanna all taking a role in the production. “The boys got me into it,” says Scott Hanson. “The vodka space is dominated by ’nightclub’ vodkas. We wanted to do the opposite of that. We were looking for something more creative.” The Hansons also share space with the multi-generational Ceja family, who help them with the winemaking process that precedes the distilling.

“We cater more to the culinary world, to chefs and mixologists,” said the senior Hanson. Each of the flavors, including limited seasonal releases like boysenberry and espresso, are designed to complement cocktails. The habanero vodka, for instance, adds a spicy-but-not-too-spicy kick to bloody Marys, featured at Disney resorts and a reputed favorite of Walt himself.

In the tasting room, visitors can choose from a tasting of the complete Hanson vodka line in addition to craft cocktails like a Moscow Mule with a kick, spinning the traditional ginger beer and lime drink on its head with the aforementioned habanero vodka; dirty martini or strawberry lemonade infused with their original vodka. Cheers to that.

Want to visit? The tasting room is at 22985 Burndale Rd., Sonoma, tours and tastings available daily by reservation at hansonofsonoma.com. Prices range from $15 for a sample of their organic vodkas, $20 for tasting and a craft cocktail, and $35 for a VIP tour and tasting. A caviar and vodka tasting is in the works.

In addition to Hanson, here are some other great distilleries with tasting rooms you’ll want to check out.

HEALDSBURG

Alley 6 in Healdsburg. Courtesy Photo.

Alley 6 Craft Distillery: This tiny tasting room is worth seeking out if you’re a whiskey fan. Their Rye Whiskey is gaining serious traction on the awards-circuit, made with malted barley from Germany, and makes for a pretty spectacular Old Fashioned. We’re also pretty taken with their single malt whiskey, made in traditional copper alembic pots, aged in American White Oak barrels and available in the tasting room only. Their Harvest Gin, made with viognier wine pomace from local wineries results in a complex and tasty gin. Want something a little different? Owners Krystle and Jason Jorgensen (a longtime Stark’s bartender) love foraging around Healdsburg, and make a distinctive and delish candy cap mushroom bitters as well as a spiced peach liqueur made with peaches from Dry Creek Peach farm. Walk-ins welcome Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and by appointment Monday through Friday. 1401 Grove St., Unit D, Healdsburg, 707-484-3593, alley6.com.

Young and Yonder Tasting Room.

Young & Yonder Spirits: One of the sleekest tasting rooms, Young and Yonder recently moved their operations to tony Healdsburg, offering an alternative to wine tasting rooms around the square. Run by Josh and Sarah Opatz, their H.O.B.S Gin is a seriously hot commodity at local craft cocktail spots, made with Russian River water and a number of local botanicals. Fans of foraging, they’ve also released Fellows & Foragers Absinthe, made with classic herbs like anise and wormwood, ginger and tarragon. You can also taste their small-batch Stave Robber Bourbon, aged in oak for less than a year, and Persian lime vodka. Thursday through Sunday, noon to 6 p.m., 449 Allan Court, Healdsburg, 707-483-8077, youngandyonder.com.

PETALUMA
Sonoma Coast Spirits: Citrus Basil and Jalapeno Lime flavored vodkas were named Oprah’s “Favorite Things” for July 2018. Based in Petaluma, Jill Olsen teams with her husband, Doug, to recreated family recipes for tasty infused vodkas, which also include sweet ginger and espresso, along with ready-to-drink craft cocktails and Zinfandel grappa from Howell Mountain. Tasting room open by appointment,1333 N. McDowell Blvd., F, Petaluma. sonomacoastspirits.com, 707-331-0718.

Griffo Gin

Griffo Distillery: Master Distiller (and Physics Ph.D.) Michael Griffo doesn’t leave anything to chance when he crafts his small-batch gins and whiskeys. According to Griffo, he uses “formal analysis and fabrication of innovative still-controls” for his distilling process, which means this ain’t moonshine, but balanced spirits. Michael and wife Jenny run the Petaluma distillery with “Betty” the 250-gallon copper pot still. The tasting bar is open Thursday and Friday from 4-8p.m. and Saturday, Sunday from 12:30 to 6 p.m. Tours are also available. 1320 Scott St., Suite A, Petaluma, 707-879-8755, griffodistillery.com.

SONOMA

Prohibition Spirits. Press Democrat

HelloCello/Prohibition Spirits: The first of a wave of bonded distilleries in Sonoma County, Prohibition Spirits’ Fred and Amy Groth paved the way with the most unlikely of spirits — Hello Cello Limoncello di Sonoma. Their sunny citrus liqueur is made with thousands of lemons at community “peeling parties” each year, an ode to the summery Italian spirit. They’ve expanded their repertoire to include Hooker’s House whiskey, Sugar Daddy Rum, Jack’s Gin, Chauvet Brandy and a handful of specialty bottles including Nocino Black Walnut Liqueur and Grappa. The tasting room is open daily at Cornerstone Sonoma daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with 3 tastes for $10. 23570 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, 707-933-7507, prohibition-spirits.com.

SEBASTOPOL

Spirit Works

Spirit Works

SpiritWorks: It’s all about going sloe at this Sebastopol distillery. Made with owner Timo Ashby’s family recipe their signature Sloe Gin has a stunning ruby color, infused with a relative of the plum (sloe berries) that adds just a hint of sweetness. SpiritWorks barrel-aged Sloe Gin gets a rest in white oak barrels, adding depth and layers to the liqueur, available in limited quantities. Tours include plenty of licks from their Boston Terrier, Bandit. Tasting room open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., no reservation required, $18 for six tastes. Tours are Friday through Sunday at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., $20 per person and require a reservation at spiritworksdistillery.com, or 707-634-4793. 6790 McKinley St. No. 100, Sebastopol (at the Barlow).

WINDSOR

Sonoma Brothers

Sonoma Brothers: First-responder twin brothers Christopher (a firefighter and paramedic) and Brandon Matthies (a police officer) have created some of the county’s most-loved small-batch bourbon as a side-hustle. You’ll see their distinctive bottles at better bars, including gin, vodka rye whiskey, and apple brandy, all made at their small Windsor distillery. Located in the aptly-named Artisan Alley, you can do double or triple duty by visiting the tasting rooms of several breweries and cideries nearby. Tasting room hours are daily by appointment, 7759 Bell Road, Windsor, 707-888-2120 or sonomabrothersdistilling.com.

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Landmark Sebastopol Bakery Sold https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/landmark-sebastopol-bakery-sold/ https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/landmark-sebastopol-bakery-sold/#respond Tue, 06 Nov 2018 17:46:52 +0000 https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/?p=39288

Patisserie Angelica's pastry magic will go on with a new team.

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Patisserie Angelica, the iconic Sebastopol bakery headed by sisters Condra Easley and Debbie Morris has been sold. Chief Baker Condra said last spring she was ready to retire and will be heading abroad. Whispers of the sale were rampant at the recent Heirloom Turkey Sunday Supper where Easley was featured as the dessert chef.

The great news: Sonoma County’s Jennifer Bice (formerly of Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery) and Gergana Karabelov of Mommy’s Yummy’s will be taking over.

“The legacy continues! We are passing the torch to these amazingly talented and creative ladies!#patisserieangelica #sebastopolbakery#nongmoandorganicallyfocused #localbusiness#keepitlocal #keepitsustainable #industryleaders@gerganakarabelov @jennifer.bice” read a Facebook post for Patisserie Angelica.

It’s a win-win for the 24-year old bakery that was founded in Santa Rosa and moved to Sebastopol more than a decade ago. With a focus on local, sustainable and organic ingredients, it’s been a go-to for wedding cakes and pastries for years.

Jennifer Bice sold Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery in Dec. 2015 to Swiss company Emmi. More details to come.

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Want to Eat Free Donuts for a Year? Head to New Krispy Kreme in Rohnert Park https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/want-to-eat-free-donuts-for-a-year-head-to-the-new-krispy-kreme-in-rohnert-park/ https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/want-to-eat-free-donuts-for-a-year-head-to-the-new-krispy-kreme-in-rohnert-park/#comments Fri, 02 Nov 2018 22:50:35 +0000 https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/?p=39265

Warning to drivers on Highway 101 near Rohnert Park — you may be severely distracted on Nov. 6 as the scent of freshly baked glazed Krispy Kreme donuts fills the air once more.

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Warning to drivers on Highway 101 near Rohnert Park — you may be severely distracted on Nov. 6 as the scent of freshly baked glazed Krispy Kreme donuts fills the air once more. That, or trying to figure out why hundreds of people are wrapped around the former El Torito on Election Day. Hint: They’re waiting for a chance to win a year of free donuts.

At precisely 6 a.m., Sonoma County’s newest donut shop throws open the doors. The first 25 guests in line get 365 days of glazed, chocolate-covered, strawberry-filled goodness gratis. The next 75 get a mug. Past that, you’ll have to settle for the satisfaction of buying fresh donuts for your grateful co-workers.

A former Krispy Kreme on Santa Rosa Ave. closed several years ago without much explanation, dimming its “Hot Now” sign to the consternation of fans. Replaced by a Starbucks, most were mollified, if not thrilled. Krispy Kreme has been satisfying the national sweet tooth since 1937, and fans know that when the red neon sign is on, that means warm donuts are ready for eating.

If you’re headed over on Tuesday, the location is 5090 Redwood Dr., Rohnert Park.

George Barahona contributed to this article. 

Related Images:

[See image gallery at www.sonomamag.com]

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Gone But Not Forgotten: Closed Sonoma County Restaurants We Miss https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/gone-but-not-forgotten-closed-sonoma-county-restaurants-we-miss/ https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/gone-but-not-forgotten-closed-sonoma-county-restaurants-we-miss/#comments Fri, 02 Nov 2018 18:00:15 +0000 https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/?p=38636 Bistro Ralph: A lot of folks took this one hard, lamenting the end of chicken paillard, shoestring fries and chicken livers from the historic Healdsburg spot owned by Ralph Tingle. Replaced by Brass Rabbit.

From Arrigoni's to Zin here are some of our favorite Sonoma County restaurants from the past.

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Bistro Ralph: A lot of folks took this one hard, lamenting the end of chicken paillard, shoestring fries and chicken livers from the historic Healdsburg spot owned by Ralph Tingle. Replaced by Brass Rabbit.

Restaurants are a reflection of every community. Part gathering spot, part arbiter of local tastes and part entertainment venue, where we eat out says everything about who we are. And with changing tastes and changing times, they come and go, leaving behind memories for all who visited.

Here are some of the most popular Sonoma County restaurants that are gone, but not forgotten.

Related Images:

[See image gallery at www.sonomamag.com]

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10 of the Best Sushi Spots in Sonoma County https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/10-super-sushi-spots-in-sonoma-county-you-cant-miss/ https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/10-super-sushi-spots-in-sonoma-county-you-cant-miss/#respond Wed, 31 Oct 2018 14:29:19 +0000 https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/?p=39228 Five piece nigiri at Sake 107 in Petaluma. Heather Irwin/PD

We raise a chopstick to some of Sonoma County's most stellar sushi restaurants. Hold the soy sauce.

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

Sushi is the one food I think I could eat every single day and never get tired of. Raw fish atop vinegared rice is the pinnacle of simplicity, but one of the most difficult things to make well. I tend to be fairly forgiving, however. Click through the above gallery for 10 of my favorite sushi haunts — some upscale, some moderate, some very affordable. Because you never know when a sushi craving will hit! (Click here for zen gardens and places to stay in Sonoma County).

What are some of your favorite sushi spots? Let me know in the comments below.

Related Images:

[See image gallery at www.sonomamag.com]

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Tyler Florence’s ‘Uncrushable’ Captures the Fire’s Aftermath in Poignant, Painful Movie https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/tyler-florences-uncrushable-captures-the-fires-aftermath-in-poignant-painful-movie/ https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/tyler-florences-uncrushable-captures-the-fires-aftermath-in-poignant-painful-movie/#respond Wed, 31 Oct 2018 03:09:46 +0000 https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/?p=39226

A year after the horrific fires the pain is still raw, but documentary shows healing, hope

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Capturing the most intimate moments of despair and heroism during the 2017 wildfires, celebrity chef Tyler Florence’s ‘Uncrushable’ looks unflinchingly at a cross-section of Sonoma and Napa disaster survivors bonded by loss. 

Shot over three weeks as Wine Country still smoldered, it’s a time capsule of the shock and grief that was just beginning for so many.  It’s a movie we all wish never had to be made, but a year later, it’s a poignant memoir of survival that Wine Country, and specifically Sonoma County, can be proud of.

Grateful Table setup Still from ‘Uncrushable’ by Tyler Florence.

Though most of us are more familiar with Florence’s upbeat persona on Food Network shows like “The Great Food Truck Race” and “How to Boil Water, the one-time “sexiest chef alive” was able to pull off a film with gravitas, courage and hope.

Financially backed by Visit California, the state’s tourism publicity machine, Florence was tapped to direct and shoot the entire documentary in late October and early November while simultaneously coordinating a fundraiser dinner for 300 on the Napa-Sonoma county line. No sweat.

“I wanted to tell the story about what was happening while it was still going on,” said Florence, who screened the film for several hundred Sonoma County residents Oct. 19.

Tyler Florence at a neighborhood gathering after the fires. Still from ‘Uncrushable’ by Tyler Florence.

A Marin resident for the past decade, Florence was deeply moved at the situation affecting so many of his neighbors. The movie culminates in Florence’s Grateful Table dinner.

“I made this movie for our neighbors here in California. I wanted to tell a story about the community, about hope, and those that rose above it and pulled themselves up from the ashes,” Florence said.

“Everyone loves Sonoma. Everyone loves Napa. I wanted to tell a beautiful story.”

At the screening earlier this month, muffled sniffles and sobs from the audience spoke to the rawness still felt by so many.

“Uncrushable” is being screened in various cities, and has already shown in New York and Toronto to sold-out audiences according to Florence. The documentary will be shown twice during the Napa Valley Film Festival (Nov. 7-12), and Florence will host a VIP dinner and screening at Robert Mondavi Winery on Nov. 9 with proceeds going to ongoing rebuilding charities.

Still from ‘Uncrushable’ by Tyler Florence.

“As someone who talks for a living, I got a chance to just listen. It was harrowing and breathtaking at the same time. Now, 365 of days of putting that disaster in the rearview mirror, hopefully, we’re in the position where we’re healing,” he said.

Among those Florence interviewed for the movie was Peter Lang, owner of Safari West. Lang is credited with saving more than a thousand animals at the preserve with little more than garden hoses.

With flames encircling him, and his own home burning, Lang, 76, is a natural storyteller and steals the show with his unbelievable tale.

“Bravery was the biggest takeaway. You realize how difficult it is, what’s important when you have nothing left. I just wish we could have interviewed more people,” said Florence.

Note: The trailer to ‘Uncrushable’ may be extremely triggering. California Hope and many other agencies provide free counseling to anyone affected by the wildfires.

 

With only a handful of homes rebuilt, hundreds of families continue to live in trailers, RV’s, tiny apartments or vacation rentals. Many have moved three or more times, with rebuilt homes a year or more away — if at all. Sonoma Family Meal continues to serve more than 80 of these families 1200 chef-made meals each week. Please consider supporting our ongoing work with a donation

Related Images:

[See image gallery at www.sonomamag.com]

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Lowell’s: After a Decade, Sebastopol’s Hidden Gem is Even Better https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/lowells-after-a-decade-sebastopols-hidden-gem-is-even-better/ https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/lowells-after-a-decade-sebastopols-hidden-gem-is-even-better/#respond Mon, 29 Oct 2018 20:17:21 +0000 https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/?p=39203 Mt. Lassen trout, cucumber, garlic aioli, arugula, radish,

Lowell's (formerly Peter Lowell's) makes us fall in love with their farm-focused dishes all over again

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Mt. Lassen trout, cucumber, garlic aioli, arugula, radish,

When Peter Lowell’s opened 11 years ago it was something of a novelty. Chef Daniel Kedan (of Backyard) and owner Lowell Sheldon brought a farm-to-plate ethic to Sebastopol that far surpassed the lip service of many restaurants and took seriously its vegan and vegetarian menu … and it was excellent.

Over the years, several chefs came and went, putting their own stamps on the menu. Some good, some not as good, but the restaurant (now simply named Lowell’s) settled in as a solid neighborhood spot.

Baked cheese with Revolution Bread at Lowell's in Sebastopol. Heather Irwin/PD

Baked cheese with Revolution Bread at Lowell’s in Sebastopol. Heather Irwin/PD

As a destination, however, the restaurant has recently been overshadowed by Sheldon’s newer project, Handline, which opened in 2016. With a budget-friendly price point, quick walk-up service, soft-serve ice cream and one of the best restaurant patios in Wine Country, there’s a lot to love.

So, on the cusp of Sheldon’s opening of a third Sebastopol business, Fernbar, in the Barlow, it seemed like a good time to get back to basics and see exactly where Lowell’s stands today. The answer: It’s better than ever.

Cauliflower with raisins at Lowell's in Sebastopol. Heather Irwin/PD

Cauliflower with raisins at Lowell’s in Sebastopol. Heather Irwin/PD

Ten years is a magical number for restaurants and one that few ever see. The fact that it’s impossible to even find accurate figures for the percentage of restaurants that survive a decade is proof enough. Roughly 30 percent of restaurants fail in a year (not the much-quoted 90 percent). Of those, about 60 percent will fail within five years, and 70 percent will be gone by 10 years, according to a joint study from Cornell and Michigan State University. That’s some pretty rarified air.

Eggs Benedict with roasted potatoes at Lowell's in Sebastopol. Heather Irwin/PD

Eggs Benedict with roasted potatoes at Lowell’s in Sebastopol. Heather Irwin/PD

Sheldon and his collaborators, however, have bucked trends seen as impervious to success — like buying higher-cost, farm-driven local ingredients and charging customers what they feel is a fair amount for their food costs. They work tirelessly on the restaurant’s farm, Two Belly Acres, which provides unparalleled seasonal ingredients to the restaurant.

King salmon with 'Farrotto', beet, fennel, cucumber, herbed yogurt at Lowell's in Sebastopol. Heather Irwin/PD

King salmon with ‘Farrotto’, beet, fennel, cucumber, herbed yogurt at Lowell’s in Sebastopol. Heather Irwin/PD

Perhaps most controversially, Sheldon has instituted a 20 percent automatic gratuity policy, something that has failed miserably for some restaurateurs, but helps pay staff a higher wage and offer health care.

“We enter our second decade with a more subtle understanding of our purpose,” says Sheldon. Sitting at the bar of Lowell’s on a Monday morning, he’s clearly proud of what the little Sebastopol space has accomplished and looking forward to what comes next. With a bit of gray now showing in his beard, Sheldon has weathered many storms over the last 10 years, now looking at life through the lens of a father and partner to Handline (and life) collaborator Natalie Goble. With Fernbar just months from opening, a collaboration between Sheldon and Chef Joe Zobel and Sam Levy of The Restaurant at Meadowood, he’s also become reflective of the restaurant that started the whole adventure.

Lowell Sheldon with partner Natalie Goble.

Lowell Sheldon with partner Natalie Goble.

“We at Lowell’s have always been forward-looking. As change becomes the norm in our town, we look to embrace and influence that change by keeping true to our agrarian roots,” said Sheldon. “We are a farming town. We dedicate ourselves to an awareness of the value that farms bring and to a continued commitment to support their existence. We are humbled by our history and inspired by our future.”

Best Bets

Lowell’s is a laboratory of seasonality, so things change frequently. What remains are the staples — a mushroom pasta may become a butternut squash pasta. Braised greens may get the addition of squash, and tomatoes may all but disappear as winter advances.

Also, Lowell’s has recently moved to an all-day brunch menu with favorites from breakfast and lunch along with a few newcomers, like a scone plate and ricotta pancakes.

Currently, chef Tim Payne and sous chef Jillian Druzgala head the kitchen at Lowell’s, and we’ll be seeing some additional menu changes coming soon.

Antipasti platter at Lowell's in Sebastopol. Heather Irwin/PD

Antipasti platter at Lowell’s in Sebastopol. Heather Irwin/PD

Antipasti Platter, $18: Yep, we almost choked, too, at the price for some seasonal veggies and cheese. Until a heavily laden board of roasted corn, spicy greens, a whole roasted garlic, potatoes, farro salad, farm cheese, beets and goat cheese, a slice of frittata, Revolution bread and lush bean dip was placed in front of us. Oh. Yeah, worth every penny. Easily a small meal or large appetizer for two or three.

Smoked Trout Tartine, $16: If you’re not a . Mt. Lassen trout fan, you will be. Mild pink fish atop an open-faced sandwich with cucumber, garlic aioli, arugula, radish and pickled onion on Revolution country bread. Fork and knife required, but its a fresh, light luncheon dish that’s not easily forgotten.

Pizza Mela, $18: Woodfired pizzas are a signature, lacking the bitter carbonization of other crusts. Chewy and light, we love the apple, bacon, caramelized onion pie with pungent Gruyere, prickly arugula and Parmesan.

Mt. Lassen trout, cucumber, garlic aioli, arugula, radish,

Mt. Lassen trout, cucumber, garlic aioli, arugula, radish,
pickled onion, Revolution country bread at Lowell’s in Sebastopol. Heather Irwin/PD

Bruschetta Uovo, $16: Lemony Hollandaise, Revolution toast, poached organic eggs and roasted tomato. Getting hungry thinking about this bad boy, with roasted potatoes and homemade ketchup.

Macrobowl, $17: Since opening, this vegan(ish) bowl has been on the menu. For what it is — red rice, heirloom beans, braised greens, root and fermented veggies — it’s good.

You can top it with an egg or short ribs, along with miso ginger sauce. Frankly, there are so many things I like better on the menu, but the rippingly hot stone bowl filled with such healthy goodies is pretty persuasive.

Scone plate at Lowell's in Sebastopol. Heather Irwin/PD

Scone plate at Lowell’s in Sebastopol. Heather Irwin/PD

Tagliatelle, $20: Depending on the night, you’ll get a variety of ingredients, but diving into little “boats” of pasta with roasted tomatoes, duck confit, herbs and breadcrumbs is intensely satisfying.

King Salmon, $32: Farrotto with beet, fennel, cucumber and herbed yogurt.

Overall: This longtime Sebastopol favorite is worth a return, having spent a decade perfecting their farm-to-plate classics that rarely fail to impress.

Lowell’s is located at 7385 Healdsburg Ave., Sebastopol, 707-829-1077, lowellssebastopol.com.

Related Images:

[See image gallery at www.sonomamag.com]

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‘Uncrushable’ is Painful to Watch, But A Heartfelt Love Letter to Wine Country https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/uncrushable-is-a-movie-that-should-never-have-been-made/ https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/uncrushable-is-a-movie-that-should-never-have-been-made/#comments Mon, 29 Oct 2018 17:44:06 +0000 https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/?p=39190

Tyler Florence captures the heartbreak and hope of the 2017 Northern California Wildfires in a new documentary

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Capturing the most intimate moments of despair and heroism during the 2017 wildfires, celebrity chef Tyler Florence’s ‘Uncrushable’ looks unflinchingly at a cross-section of Sonoma and Napa disaster survivors bonded by loss. 

Shot over three weeks as Wine Country still smoldered, it’s a time capsule of the shock and grief that was just beginning for so many.  It’s a movie we all wish never had to be made, but a year later, it’s a poignant memoir of survival that Wine Country, and specifically Sonoma County, can be proud of.

Grateful Table setup Still from ‘Uncrushable’ by Tyler Florence.

Though most of us are more familiar with Florence’s upbeat persona on Food Network shows like “The Great Food Truck Race” and “How to Boil Water, the one-time “sexiest chef alive” was able to pull off a film with gravitas, courage and hope.

Financially backed by Visit California, the state’s tourism publicity machine, Florence was tapped to direct and shoot the entire documentary in late October and early November while simultaneously coordinating a fundraiser dinner for 300 on the Napa-Sonoma county line. No sweat.

“I wanted to tell the story about what was happening while it was still going on,” said Florence, who screened the film for several hundred Sonoma County residents Oct. 19.

Tyler Florence at a neighborhood gathering after the fires. Still from ‘Uncrushable’ by Tyler Florence.

A Marin resident for the past decade, Florence was deeply moved at the situation affecting so many of his neighbors. The movie culminates in Florence’s Grateful Table dinner.

“I made this movie for our neighbors here in California. I wanted to tell a story about the community, about hope, and those that rose above it and pulled themselves up from the ashes,” Florence said.

“Everyone loves Sonoma. Everyone loves Napa. I wanted to tell a beautiful story.”

At the screening earlier this month, muffled sniffles and sobs from the audience spoke to the rawness still felt by so many.

“Uncrushable” is being screened in various cities, and has already shown in New York and Toronto to sold-out audiences according to Florence. The documentary will be shown twice during the Napa Valley Film Festival (Nov. 7-12), and Florence will host a VIP dinner and screening at Robert Mondavi Winery on Nov. 9 with proceeds going to ongoing rebuilding charities.

Still from ‘Uncrushable’ by Tyler Florence.

“As someone who talks for a living, I got a chance to just listen. It was harrowing and breathtaking at the same time. Now, 365 of days of putting that disaster in the rearview mirror, hopefully, we’re in the position where we’re healing,” he said.

Among those Florence interviewed for the movie was Peter Lang, owner of Safari West. Lang is credited with saving more than a thousand animals at the preserve with little more than garden hoses.

With flames encircling him, and his own home burning, Lang, 76, is a natural storyteller and steals the show with his unbelievable tale.

“Bravery was the biggest takeaway. You realize how difficult it is, what’s important when you have nothing left. I just wish we could have interviewed more people,” said Florence.

Note: The trailer to ‘Uncrushable’ may be extremely triggering. California Hope and many other agencies provide free counseling to anyone affected by the wildfires.

 

Related Images:

[See image gallery at www.sonomamag.com]

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Sonoma Restaurants: 5 Things We’re Excited About Right Now https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/sonoma-restaurants-5-things-were-excited-about-right-now-october-2018/ https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/sonoma-restaurants-5-things-were-excited-about-right-now-october-2018/#respond Fri, 26 Oct 2018 21:07:13 +0000 https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/?p=39180

Want to know what's hot on the Sonoma restaurant scene? We've got you covered.

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I loved eating my way through October. With new restaurants popping up throughout the county, it’s been a fun month for Sebastopol sushi, Santa Rosa’s newest pizza, and Indian cuisine, plus a surprisingly great burger in Sonoma.

Click through the above gallery for five food-related news Biteclub is particularly excited about this month. Want Sonoma restaurant news straight in your inbox? Sign up for our newsletter

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Here’s What You Missed At John Jordan’s Halloween Party in Alexander Valley https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/heres-what-you-missed-at-john-jordans-halloween-party-in-alexander-valley/ https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/heres-what-you-missed-at-john-jordans-halloween-party-in-alexander-valley/#respond Tue, 23 Oct 2018 05:58:19 +0000 https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/?p=39112

Denial on the Nile was this year's theme, but giving back is a big party of the fun

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It’s not every day you find yourself nose to nose with a live camel. If you do, here are a couple of facts: They are incredibly intimidating creatures with enormous feet and a fairly dry sense of humor. Also a fact: They have soft fur and they enjoy people taking selfies with them.

How do I know? There were two of them at the Indiana Jordan and the Lost City of Cab on Saturday, Oct. 20. at Jordan Winery.

Denial on the Nile Party at Jordan Winery, 2018. Photos courtesy of Will Bucquoy, Jordan Winery Facebook. More pix at https://www.facebook.com/jordanwinery/

Now in its tenth year, winery owner John Jordan’s annual Halloween parties have always been one of the best harvest Bacchanalia for the wine trade. They’re legendary. And did we mention the live camels? Apparently, that’s not the craziest thing to ever walk into one of these events.

Since 2008, the private Alexander Valley fete has hosted hundreds of costumed revelers from around the country for an over-the-top evening that marks the end(ish) of harvest. John Jordan also loves a good costume party. This year’s theme took its inspiration from Raiders of the Lost Ark, the original Indiana Jones movie, set among the pyramids of Egypt. Previous themes have included Star Wars, glampires, dark fairytales and pirates. It’s a highly coveted ticket.

Last year’s Halloween bash was canceled, so the 2018 gathering took on special significance for Jordan.

“Last year, life as we knew it for thousands of people had changed, and we didn’t feel like celebrating. This year, Halloween at Jordan is back,” said Jordan in a video introduction for the event. Jordan’s Foundation is contributing funds to Rebuilding Our Community (ROC) Sonoma, a non-profit organization working with fire survivors who have a long road to recovery.

Denial on the Nile Party at Jordan Winery, 2018. Photos courtesy of Will Bucquoy, Jordan Winery Facebook. More pix at https://www.facebook.com/jordanwinery. PS, that’s me on the right with Shana Bull and Landon McPherson. 

Instead of an invitation for Indiana Jordan and the Lost City of Cab, Jordan spent three months making a 12-minute parody film of Raiders of the Lost Ark for guests. The professionally-produced short was developed, shot and edited by the in-house marketing team and includes with mummies, skeletons, dancing Pharaohs, Jordan defying flying corks of doom and a version of the unforgettable plane scene. Jordan’s version includes golf carts, bad German accents, a vintage motorcycle, a very large gun, some very large bottles of wine and a very large man with a bad skull cap. The video ends with Jordan flying his yellow Piper J-3 Cub airplane over the Sonoma Vineyards. Yes, that happened.

Denial on the Nile Party at Jordan Winery, 2018. Photos courtesy of Will Bucquoy, Jordan Winery Facebook. More pix at https://www.facebook.com/jordanwinery/

Welcomed by the camels, along with Jordan and his staff, this year’s invitees included 375 mummies, Pharaohs, Cleopatras, archeological adventurers, belly dancers, camel riders, black cats, at least one gold cobra, The Bangles and some people in very confusing costumes who may or may not have understood the theme of the party, according to organizers,

Guests are mostly wine industry and hospitality professionals hailing from around the country who are fans of the Alexander Valley vineyard’s top-shelf cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and Champagne (a joint project with Champagne AR Lenoble in France).

Denial on the Nile Party at Jordan Winery, 2018. Photos courtesy of Will Bucquoy, Jordan Winery Facebook. More pix at https://www.facebook.com/jordanwinery/

Festivities throughout the night included a professionally-overseen archery range, a dance floor in the barrel room, mountains of food (including raw oysters and caviar) a fair number of scantily-clothed people painted gold and Jordan himself appearing in several costume changes. Restraint isn’t really a thing at a John Jordan soiree.

“I love this event,” said Jordan late in the evening, as sleepy princesses, warriors, and the undead made their way toward shuttles.

Denial on the Nile Party at Jordan Winery, 2018. Photos courtesy of Will Bucquoy, Jordan Winery Facebook. More pix at https://www.facebook.com/jordanwinery/. Yep, me again, but with the camel. See how bored he looks?

Unless they were invited to the after party. But that’s a whole different story.

You can contribute to Jordan’s $25,000 ROC fund, simply by watching this video before November 1, 2018. Every video view means a $1 donation to Rebuilding Our Community Sonoma County, said Jordan spokesperson Lisa Mattson. 

Note: No camels were mistreated during the evening and had very patient professional handlers. Okay, the one-humped camels had to deal with some very irritating people who wanted to ride them, but that was quickly shut down. In truth, the camels seemed pretty bored with the whole thing.

Also, I don’t go to a ton of parties (this was my first year at Jordan, but the chance to wear a belly dancing outfit (thanks, Janina) and a ton of gold glitter was hard to say no to.

Related Images:

[See image gallery at www.sonomamag.com]

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Former Fremont Diner Owners Explain Boxcar Fried Chicken & Biscuits https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/former-fremont-diner-owners-explain-boxcar-fried-chicken-biscuits/ https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/former-fremont-diner-owners-explain-boxcar-fried-chicken-biscuits/#comments Thu, 18 Oct 2018 21:56:36 +0000 https://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/?p=39103

A landmark location is given new life just months after closing, but what happened anyway?

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Over the last couple of months, I’ve been asked a lot about why the Fremont Diner abruptly closed last June and when they will reopen. A lot. You guys are relentless.  So I went straight to the source.

Deviled eggs at Boxcar Fried Chicken & Biscuits in Sonoma. Heather Irwin/PD

What I can tell you for sure is that the restaurant quietly reopened in early September. They’ve entirely revamped the menu and given the spot a new name — Boxcar Fried Chicken & Biscuits and so far the slimmed-down concept focused on fried chicken seems to be working. Yelpers even seem to be (mostly) happy.

After the June closure, owners Erika and Chad Harris said the wildly popular diner on the outskirts of Sonoma had simply been a victim of its own success over the last 10 years.

“It was incredibly successful to those who visited, but the model was hard to sustain,” owners said. With small children at home, ongoing staffing hurdles and long hours, they decided to get back to their roots.

Interior at Boxcar Fried Chicken & Biscuits in Sonoma. Heather Irwin/PD

“Boxcar came from a desire to get back to the beginning. We wanted to scale back our menu and make it more manageable for the kitchen to execute in a consistent and quick fashion,” said Erika Harris, who emailed her thoughts to Biteclub. Though we talked briefly in person and by phone, she said she preferred to send a written statement to explain the changes. 

“We chose to focus on fried chicken because we felt that it was an item that most people didn’t make at home and we just love fried chicken,” she added. Walk-up service has also returned. “As a family with three kids, we appreciate being able to get a meal quickly.”

Hush puppies at Boxcar Fried Chicken & Biscuits in Sonoma. Heather Irwin/PD

For customers, it is certainly a simpler experience — and on an early visit, pretty darn fast. Everything comes in paper or plastic containers neatly arranged on paper-covered aluminum trays. Plastic silverware, paper napkins, and no fuss. Service is walk-up, and they’ll call your name when the order is ready, rather than table service.

Pecan pie at Boxcar Fried Chicken & Biscuits in Sonoma. Heather Irwin/PD

The menu includes Fremont Diner’s top hits of the past with a few new additions. The buttery biscuits and honey are actually better than ever, the hush puppies with remoulade are addictive and they’ve still got the most authentic pimento cheese west of the Rockies (we think). The deviled eggs aren’t ironic here, they’re just delish little noshes with mustard seeds. We got downright weepy at the dab of molasses mixed with butter for a true Southern biscuit experience.

Interior at Boxcar Fried Chicken & Biscuits in Sonoma. Heather Irwin/PD

You can still get fried chicken platters in Nashville Hot, buttermilk or salt and pepper, as well as in sandwich form. The Golden Boy is a standout with juicy fried chicken, pimento cheese and a soft bun. Minor bummers: The fried pies were out when we stopped by and the sweet baked beans weren’t quite as soft as usual. Also, they’re only open weekdays currently but will be expanding weekday hours and adding Saturday service soon. Being an icon takes time, and we’re willing to wait.

2698 Fremont Dr., Hwy 12, Sonoma. Open 11am-3pm weekdays, boxcar-friedchicken.com.

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