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Portuguese flavors in Wine Country

Cafe Lucia, a new restaurant serving Portuguese cuisine with a Wine Country twist, opened earlier this month in the former Affronti space at 235 Healdsburg Ave.

Lucy Fincher of Healdsburg teamed up with her brother, chef/owner Manuel Azevedo of LaSalette in Sonoma, to open the restaurant. Jason Santos, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, serves as Chef de Cuisine.

The dinner menu includes Tasca tasting plates (3 for $16) that range from Boquerones (White Anchovies) to Pig's Ear and Parsley Salad.

Dinner starters ($13 to $15) include traditional dishes such as Sardinhas Assadas (grilled whole sardines) and Chourico Crusted Day Boat Scallops.

Entrees ($19-$26) range from a Portuguese Fisherman's Stew and to Feijoada Completa, the national dish of Brazil.

The lunch menu includes a wide range of tascas, starters, soups, salads and entrees, plus a choice of sandwiches ($11-$13), including a Dungeness Crab Pita "Melt."

Cafe Lucia is open daily for lunch and dinner. 431-1113. www.cafelucia.com.


Open house, caroling at Chateau St. Jean

Chateau St. Jean in Kenwood will hold a Joyeux Noel Open House this Saturday and Sunday, offering holiday wine flights paired with small bites, live caroling, a buche de noel and classic holiday movies.

The winery will be decked out in holiday trimmings and the winery's entry in the Sonoma Winery Gingerbread House contest will be on display for voting purposes.

The open house is free. 877-478-5326. chateaustjean.com.


Taste Sonoma pairing at St. Francis Winery

St. Francis Winery executive chef David Bush has launched new, seasonal pairings for Taste Sonoma, a multi-course food and wine experience that pairs small creative dishes with artisan St. Francis wines.

The winter holiday menu includes Seared Scallop with Fennel and Celery Root Puree with a Fennel-Tangerine Persimmon Salad; Pomegranate and Honey Glazed Winter Squash with Ricotta Agnolotti; Steamed Bun with Five Spice Pork Meatball and Cassoulet with Housemade Lamb Sausage and Duck Confit.

The pairing ends with some Rogue River Caveman Blue cheese, Poached Tart Cherries, Candied Walnut Toasted Walnut Bread and a Caramelized Pear and Almond Upside Down Cake.

The Wine and Food Pairings are served at a communal table and cost $38. Reservations are recommended and seatings are available on Thursday through Sunday.

To reserve, call 888-675-9463 or stfranciswine.com. 100 Pythian Road.


Passport celebration features 15 wineries

Calistoga's 4th annual Winter in the Wineries program has kicked off with a Calistoga Winery Passport that provides access to special tours and tastings at 15 wineries.

The passports, which cost $50, allow consumers to receive one tasting flight at each of the participating wineries, plus special offers at restaurants and lodgings.

The event runs through Feb. 10 and is sponsored by the Calistoga Chamber & Visitor Center, 1133 Washington St. To sign up, go to www.calistogavisitors.com.


French Laundry hires new executive chef

Chef Thomas Keller has named David Breeden, executive sous chef at Per Se in New York, as the new chef de cuisine for the French Laundry beginning next month.

Breeden, hired in 2005 as a chef de partie at the French Laundry, will come back to the West Coast to take the place of Timothy Hollingsworth, who plans to go out on his own as a culinary consultant.

Born and raised in Greeneville, Tenn., Breeden has worked at the Charleston Grill and McCrady's in Charleston. In 2007, he joined the team at Per Se.

"I am really looking forward to returning to The French Laundry," said Breeden, who is married to a Napa native and has a young son.

For more information about The French Laundry, go to www.frenchlaundry.com.


Water-borne St. Nick set for oyster bar arrival

Santa Claus will arrive by "water sleigh" at Nick's Cove Restaurant and Oyster Bar this Sunday, handing out treats from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Boat Shack at the end of the dock.

Children and their families can enjoy a complimentary hot apple cider and hot chocolate, and a photographer will be on hand to take photos with Santa.

Guests who bring a donation of canned food for the Marin Food Bank will receive a 15 percent discount at the restaurant throughout the day.

A special holiday menu and seasonal cocktails will be available throughout the day, along with executive chef Austin Perkins' regular menu.

Nick's Cove is located at 23240 Highway 1. 415-663-1033. nickscove.com.

Compiled by Staff Writer Diane Peterson, who can be reached at 521-5287 or diane.peterson


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