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Just walk to the next course

Go on a culinary adventure during the fourth annual Healdsburg Strolling Dine Around, a progressive dinner held at 20 restaurants on four evenings in December.

For the four-course meal, diners build their own itinerary by choosing where to eat each of the four courses (appetizer, first course, entree and dessert).

"It's a golden opportunity for people to enjoy Healdsburg while experiencing cuisine from around the world," said event coordinator Lori Moore, who expects 400 diners to sign up this year.

Among the participating restaurants are several newcomers to the Healdsburg scene, including Cafe Lucia, Taverna Sofia and Bravas Bar de Tapas.

The Strolling Dine Around will be held on Dec. 5 and 6, 12 and 13. There are three start times: 5:30, 6:15 and 7 p.m. The dining experience is expected to last three hours, with each course lasting 45 minutes.

Cost is $89 a person, including tax and tip, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting the Healdsburg Shared Ministries Food Pantry and the North Coast Consortium Program.

Wine will be available for purchase at participating restaurants, and guests may bring their own bottle, but a corkage fee may apply.

For a complete listing of the participating restaurants and what each will be serving, go to www.healdsburg.com. The event is sponsored by the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau and the Wine Road Northern Sonoma County.


Olives take center stage at events

Now that the grapes are in, it's time to celebrate the olive harvest.

The annual Blessing of the Olives will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday at the historic Mission Sonoma in Sonoma.

The event, which kicks off the annual Sonoma Valley Season of the Olive, includes live music, speeches and hot chocolate.

The Olive Press will hold a special Open House from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at its Sonoma location, 24724 Arnold Drive. There will be free tasting of oils and vinegars and tours of the facility. To schedule a tour, call 939-8900.

For a complete schedule of events, go to www.olivefestival.com.


Dine out to benefit HIV/AIDS efforts

The 11th annual Dining Out for Life, a benefit for Food For Thought Sonoma County AIDS Food Bank, will take place Thursday at 80 Sonoma County restaurants from Bodega Bay to Sonoma.

When you dine out at a participating restaurant, a percentage of the price of your meal will benefit an HIV/AIDS service organization in your community.

Reservations are recommended. In addition, you are asked to let restaurants know that you are going for Dining Out for Life when you make a reservation.

For a list of participating restaurants, phone numbers and types of meals that will be served (breakfast, lunch and/or dinner), go to www.diningoutforlife.com/sonomacounty.

Diners also have the chance to win prizes in a drawing. And if you donate $25 or more in the raffle envelope, you will receive a

"20 percent off Tuesdays" card for 2013 at the participating restaurants.

Last year, the annual fundraiser raised more than $125,000 for AIDS service organizations.


Burbank Home open house

The Luther Burbank Home & Gardens will hold its annual Holiday Open House from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the historic property at the corner of Santa Rosa and Sonoma avenues.

The famed horticulturalist's Greek-revival home will be decorated inside and out for the holidays in Victorian style. Guests are invited to tour the home, then stop by the working greenhouse for spiced tea and fresh-baked cookies.

The Carriage House Museum & Gift Shop will be open, offering local gifts for the gardeners and history buffs on your list.

Admission is $2 for those ages 12 and over. Parking is free at First and D streets. lutherburbank.org.


Shed project makes key hires

The Healdsburg Shed, a market, cafe and events center scheduled to open in February in downtown Healdsburg, has hired Kenneth Rochford as its general manager and Niki Ford as culinary director.

Shed owners Cindy Daniel and Doug Lipton describe the pair as a "lively, creative dream team that will realize our vision of Shed, a place where people eat, gather, stock up and learn."

A native of Scotland, Rochford has worked in the wine business since he was 18 and served as general manager of Medlock Ames winery.

Ford worked for six years in the cafe and restaurant at Chez Panisse in Berkeley.

The vision for Shed is to serve as a modern grange, where locals and visitors can gather to eat and learn.

"We will be sourcing and selling quality food or regional provenance as well as beautiful, enduring tools for the kitchen and garden," Daniel said.


New cocktail menu at John Ash & Co.

John Ash & Co.'s Front Room Bar & Lounge has revamped its cocktail menu for the holiday season, featuring classic cocktails as well as drinks with a new twist.

Cosmopolitan fans may want to sip Celebration, a blend of Grey Goose Poire, St. Germain Elderflower liqueur and cranberry and lime juices, finished with a drunken poached pear.

You can also warm up with a hot toddy, such as the Drunken Pumpkin Latte spiked with Pinnacle Vodka.

The new small-plates menu features dishes such as fried calamari with Thai basil dipping sauce and Grilled Point Reyes Toma Cheese Sandwich with Tomato Bisque.

The Front Room is open from 3 to 11 p.m. Friday through Sunday, 4 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday. 4330 Barnes Road. vintnersinn.com. 527-7687.


Plenty of crab at Valley Ford Fire

The Valley Ford Volunteer Fire Department will serve up an all-you-can-eat crab feed from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday at the Valley Ford School House.

The dinner includes fresh crab, green salad, pasta and French bread, with beer, wine and soft drinks available.

Tickets must be purchased in advance at the Valley Ford Market or Post Office. Tickets are $40 adults, $20 children 6 to 12. 14855 School St.


'Pigskin and Pinot' at Siduri Wines

Siduri Wines will celebrate its annual Holiday Open House with a day of "Pigskin and Pinot" from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Siduri Wines in Santa Rosa.

The Siduri and Novy's starting lineup of vineyard designate pinot noirs and syrahs will be served alongside grilled sausages and a flight of college football games.

There will be all-star growers on hand and special pricing. Siduri is located at 981-E,F Airway Court. 578-3882. siduri.com.


Holiday crafts at Coppola

Francis Ford Coppola Winery will hold a festive Holiday Crafts program for families from noon to 3 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday in December.

Starting this Saturday and Sunday, you can make snowflakes and snow globes, decorate cookies and create unusual gifts. All ages are welcome.

Cost is $5 per person. No reservations needed. For more information, call 857-1471. 300 Via Archimedes.


Tea and bites at Dry Creek Kitchen

Charlie Palmer's Dry Creek Kitchen has launched a new holiday tradition this year with a Saturday afternoon Holiday Tea in the Fireplace Lobby Lounge of the Hotel Healdsburg.

The Afternoon Tea runs from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturdays through Dec. 23. Guests will enjoy chef Charlie Palmer's new custom tea blends, sparkling-wine cocktails and dessert wines, plus an array of savory tea sandwiches, sweet scones, coddled cream, house-made jams and classic desserts from the Dry Creek Kitchen.

Cost is $28 for adult tea service and tea bites; $37 for tea service, tea bites and holiday wine; $14 children for beverage and tea bites.

Reservations: 431-0330.


Private tours available at Inman

Check out a private tour and tasting with pinot noir buff Kathleen Inman at Inman Family Winery in Santa Rosa. The tasting room is open Thursday through Mondays at the Olivet Grange Vineyard, 3900 Piner Road. Here you can taste the Inman wines while taking in the view of the vineyard. The hours for the tour and tasting are between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. and the fee is $10. For more information, call 293-9576.


Have a holly jolly trolley ride

Ride out the Christmas spirit in the Sonoma Valley Holiday Wine Trolley which is not only decked with lights but also belts out classical holiday music.

A tour on Thursday shows you the historic landmarks through Sonoma Wine Country from the late 1800s through the 1930s. You'll stop in at four premium wineries and the fee is $99 for the tour, which runs from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. You'll begin by gathering at the historic Sonoma Plaza at City Hall, 1 The Plaza in Sonoma. For more information, (877) 946-3876.


HopMonk opens third location

Dean Biersch has opened his third HopMonk Tavern in the North Bay, this time in the Vintage Oaks Shopping Center in Novato.

Like the other HopMonks in Sonoma and Sebastopol, the new location features fresh beers on tap, an appealing menu of upscale pub grub and ample parking.

The Novato location also boasts The Session Room, with a new sound system and stage for shows of up to 200 people, or seated shows for 115.

The new restaurant seats 145 inside, with 80 more seats in the outdoor beer garden boasting fountains and a fire pit. Beer dinners with pairings by Chef Billy Reid will be offered in the Beer Garden.

The HopMonk Tavern is located at 224 Vintage Way. hopmonk.com or (415) 892-6200.

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.

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