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Just in time for spring, Charlie Palmer's Dry Creek Kitchen has added a casual outdoor annex, the White Oak Grill, serving lunch Fridays through Sundays.

Located in a courtyard between the restaurant and Hotel Healdsburg, the grill offers a locally driven menu, based around seasonal summer ingredients.

Appetizers range from Alaska Halibut Ceviche to Wild Mushroom Salad. Entrees include Oak Grilled Duroc Pork Belly and Black Angus Skirt Steak. Desserts range from Grilled Pain Perdue with Rhubarb Compote to Housemade Ice Cream and Sorbet.

Crisp, summery Sonoma County wines and a blend of creative cocktails, such as a Rhubarb and Lemon Verbena Shrub Cocktail, round out the menu.

The prix fixe menu includes three courses (appetizer, entree and dessert) or two courses plus one drink, for $32. Dry Creek Kitchen is located at 317 Healdsburg Ave. 431-0330. charliepalmer.com/dry-creek-kitchen.

<strong>SANTA ROSA: Tea and a new novel from Steve Jobs' sister</strong>

Copperfield's Books presents Mona Simpson, the award-winning author of the novel "Anywhere But Here," at 2 p.m. May 18 as part of its "High Tea" series at the Tudor Rose English Tea Room.

Simpson, the biological younger sister of the late Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs, will talk about her latest novel, "Casebook," the tale of a young boy's quest to uncover the mysteries of his unraveling family.

Tickets are $55, including an array of tea sandwiches, scones and tea; and a copy of the hardcover book. To reserve, go to <a href="http://copperfieldsbooks.com" target="_blank">copperfieldsbooks.com</a>. The Tudor Rose is located at 733 Fourth St.

<strong>HEALDSBURG: Taste Alexander Valley opening celebration</strong>

The annual Taste Alexander Valley tasting weekend May 17 and 18 kicks off with an opening celebration at 5:30 p.m. May 16 at Asti Winery in Cloverdale, the historic home of Italian Swiss Colony.

The outdoor celebration will feature reserve and library wines from throughout Alexander Valley, plus hors d'oeuvres and small plates prepared by Josh Silvers of Jackson's Bar & Oven in Santa Rosa, Jeff Mall of zin Restaurant & Wine Bar in Healdsburg and Carlo Cavallo of Meritage Sonoma in Sonoma.

From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 17 and 18, more than 25 wineries will host individual parties, including live music and entertainment to enhance the wine and food offerings.

For the first time this year, the growers are introducing a new series of events called Private Access Alexander Valley, featuring more personalized, in-depth wine exploration in intimate settings.

For example, Francis Ford Coppola winery will be offering a Tasting in the Dark sensory experience by Petaluma native Henry "Hoby" Wedler.

Weekend passes are $65 in advance or $75 at the door. Tickets for the opening celebration are $95 in advance only ($140 for celebration and weekend pass.) To reserve, go to <a href="http://alexandervalley.org" target="_blank">alexandervalley.org</a>.

The Private Access VIP passes, allowing each guest access to their choice of two VIP experiences, are available to ticketed guests only. Packages range from $50 to $65.

<strong>SANTA ROSA: Wines & Sunsets at Paradise Ridge</strong>

Starting May 14, Paradise Ridge Winery will launch its popular Wines & Sunsets in Paradise at the winery on Wednesday evenings through Oct. 22.

During the weekly event, guests are invited to enjoy Paradise Ridge wines, live music and food from gourmet trucks on the outdoor patio.

Advance tickets are $8 per person. To purchase, or find out more details, go to prwinery.com. Groups are limited to no more than eight persons.

Paradise Ridge Winery is located at 4545 Thomas Lake Harris Drive, off Fountaingrove Parkway. 528-9463.

<strong>PETALUMA: Chili cookoff Saturday at the fairgrounds</strong>

The Great Petaluma Chili Cookoff, Salsa and Beer Tasting 2014 will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday at Herzog Hall in Behren's Park at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds.

The 17th annual cookoff, to benefit Cinnabar Theater children's programs, includes beer tasting with many of the best breweries in the Bay Area, plus chili and salsa tasting.

Tickets for tasting chili and salsa are $25 adults, $10 kids under 12, free for kids under 5. Chili, salsa and beer tasting tickets are $40. <a href="http://greatchilicookoff.com" target="_blank">greatchilicookoff.com</a>.

<strong>HEALDSBURG: Wineries celebrate National Train Day</strong>

To celebrate National Train Day, the Hudson Street Wineries will hold an open house from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday with model train displays in the historic Roma Wine building, adjacent to the old train depot.

Participating wineries — Bluenose, Kelly & Young and Shippey Vineyards — will pour wines and serve cheeses and sausages.

Tasting fee is $10, which includes a commemorative wine glass; free for under 21. To attend, RSVP at 433-2364. 428 Hudson St.

<strong>SANTA ROSA: Food writer Ruth Reichl to talk about novel</strong>

Book Passage will present food writer Ruth Reichl as part of its "Intimate Meals with Famed Authors" series at noon May 21 at The Spinster Sisters restaurant.

Reichl, the former editor of Gourmet magazine and best-selling author of several culinary memories, will talk about her first novel, "Delicious!," set at a food magazine in New York.

Tickets are $95, including lunch, dessert, wine, tax, tip and a copy of the book. To reserve: <a href="http://bookpassage.com" target="_blank">bookpassage.com</a>. Spinster Sisters is located at 401 S. A St.

<strong>SONOMA: Mother's Day brunch at Ramekins</strong>

A Mother's Day brunch for the whole family will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday in the courtyard of the Ramekins culinary school.

The brunch, which features face-painting and crafts for the kids, will include waffles and omelets, fresh pastries and desserts, wine and cocktails.

Cost is $55 adult, $25 kids 11 to 18, free for kids 10 and under. To reserve: 933-0450. 450 W. Spain St.

<strong>ST. HELENA: Dinner at CIA features local chefs</strong>

The Culinary Institute of America and USA Today will present a dinner with five of Napa and Sonoma's best chefs at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the CIA's Greystone campus.

The evening includes a reception with the chefs, a five-course dinner with wine pairings and live entertainment. Three of the chefs graduated from the CIA in Hyde Park, N.Y.

Participating chefs include Mark Stark (Class of '84) of Stark Reality Restaurants in Sonoma County, Jeff Mall (Class of '95) of Zin Restaurant & Wine Bar in Healdsburg and Brian Bistrong (Class of '89) of Bottega in Yountville. Stephen Durfee and Bill Heubel, both of The Greystone Restaurant on campus, will also participate.

Cost is $135, plus tax and tip. To reserve, call 967-2367. 2555 Main St.

<strong>ST.HELENA: 15 teams to compete in Hall Cabernet Cookoff</strong>

The Hall Cabernet Cookoff returns to the St. Helena winery from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 18 with more than 15 teams of chefs competing with farm-to-table dishes.

This year's participating chefs include Tyler Rodde of Oenotri in Napa, Will Wright of Bounty Hunter Smokin' BBQ in Napa and Mark Dommen of One Market in San Francisco, among others.

Guests are invited to taste dishes from each chef paired with wine and vote on their favorite for the People's Choice Award.

Tickets are $65, with 100 percent of ticket sales to benefit local charities. To reserve, go to <a href="http://hallwines.com/cabernetcookoff" target="_blank">hallwines.com/cabernetcookoff</a>. The winery is located at 401 St. Helena Highway S.

<em>Compiled by Staff Writer Diane Peterson, who can be reached at 521-5287 or diane.peterson@pressdemocrat.com, and Peg Melnik, who can be reached at 521-5310 or peg.melnik@pressdemocrat.com.</em>

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