Zagat rates the top American restaurants
The Zagat Survey has released its guide to America's Top Restaurants 2011, which includes ratings and reviews of the 1,552 top restaurants country-wide.
In the San Francisco Bay Area and Wine Country, the top restaurants are: Gary Danko of San Francisco, French Laundry of Yountville, Cyrus of Healdsburg, Sierra Mar at Post Ranch Inn of Big Sur, and Acquerello of San Francisco.
Tracking the trends, the guide surveyed more than 153,000 avid diners and revealed that the weak economy continues to cut into dining habits.
Surveyors report eating out less frequently (3.1 times per week, down from 3.3 times before the recession), being more attentive to prices (39 percent), eating in less expensive places (33 percent) and cutting back on alcohol, appetizers and desserts (17 to 21 percent).
"The percent of meals eaten out and taken out has steadily decreased from 52 percent pre-recession to 47 percent this year," said Tim Zagat, CEO of Zagat Survey. "These changes are subtle yet powerful when looking at long-term behavior."
In the last few years, many chefs bowed to the economic times and opened casual eateries. This year, there was a return to opening pricey restaurants, proving that high-end dining is far from dead.
Tthe San Francisco Bay Area and Wine Country enjoyed a new surge in high-end restaurants. In downtown Napa, Masaharu Morimoto opened Morimoto.
In San Francisco, Tyler Florence opened Wayfare Tavern, Corey Lee opened Benu, Melissa Perello opened Frances and Michael Mina opened RN74.
The 2011 America's Top Restaurants Guide is on sale at major bookstores and retails for $15.95. zagat.com.
Sunset calls Goldfield Winemaker of Year
Dan Goldfield has been named "Winemaker of the Year" by Sunset Magazine. The winemaker of Dutton-Goldfield Winery in Sebastopol is one of the two finalists from the Russian River Valley. The other is Bob Cabral of Healdsburg's Williams Selyem winery. The third finalist is Christophe Baron of Cayuse Vineyards in Walla Walla, Wash.
"I was thrilled and honored to win this prestigious award, especially considering the other two finalists," Goldfield said. "It was wonderful to have two of the three from Russian River Valley and that my fellow nominees were from such esteemed brands."
Goldfield has been making wine since the 1980s, and his career has included work at Schramsberg Vineyards in Calistoga, La Crema in Windsor and Hartford Court in Forestville. The Dutton-Goldfield Winery, founded in 1998, is a partnership between grape grower Steve Dutton and Goldfield. The longtime colleagues and friends say they recognized they had a shared vision to craft wines that express their vineyards. Their aim is to make wine that reflects their cool coastal region.
And now come the mushrooms
Get down to earth with fabulous fungi during the Wine & Mushroom Festival on Thursday through Nov. 13 in Mendocino County.
You can forage for chanterelles, porcinis and hedgehogs — or let other people do the picking and just go along for the delicious ride.
Don't miss the Skunk Train's Wine & Mushroom Train ride on Saturday. Trains will leave from both the Fort Bragg and Willits depots and offer mushroom treats and award-winning wines, a mushroom cook-off and a presentation by world renowned expert Eric Schramm. The ride home includes dessert port and chocolate truffles. Tickets are $125, to benefit hospital services in Mendocino County. To reserve: 459-3047 or howardfoundation.org.