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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.

The festival concludes at 1 p.m. Nov. 13 with the annual Wine & Mushroom Festival at St. Anthony's of Mendocino, a free event featuring wines, mushroom dishes and a Best Mushroom Soup contest.

For a complete schedule of activities, go to visitmendocino.com.


A Wild Pig Party at Michel-Schlumberger

Michel-Schlumberger Wines will hold its annual Wild Pig Party at 1p.m. Nov. 13 at the Healdsburg winery.

The menu includes a Whole Roasted Pig, Truffle Mashed Potatoes, Creamy Coleslaw and other seasonal fare.

Tickets are $50 and seating is limited. To reserve, call 433-7427. 4155 Wine Creek Road.


Wine and pizza shop opens at Oxbow

Ca' Momi Enoteca and Pizzeria has opened at the Oxbow Public Market in Napa, offering an authentic array of wood-fired pizzas, Italian pastries and classic Italian wines.

The restaurant, anchoring the southeast corner of the main market hall, is owned by partners Dario De Conti, Valentina Guolo-Migotto and Stefano Migotto.

The enoteca and pizzera will feature Ca' Momi wines as well as wines from small regions and producers in Italy.

The Oxbow Public Market is located at 610 and 644 First St. in downtown Napa. It is open seven days a week. For more information, go to oxbowpublicmarket.com or call 226-6529.


Kunde wines, Girl & Fig chef at Ramekins

The Kunde Family Estate and executive chef Chris Jones of The Girl & the Fig in Sonoma will present a demonstration cooking class and winemaker dinner at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 12 at Ramekins in Sonoma.

The evening will feature four of the estate-grown, sustainably farmed wines paired with a four-course dinner.

Tickets are $125. To reserve, go to ramekins.com. Ramekins is at 450 W. Spain St.


Vision's Mac McDonald at winemaker dinner

Mac McDonald, winemaker and proprietor of Vision Cellars in Windsor is speaking at a winemaker dinner Nov. 12. The dinner is in Bodega Bay at the Bay View Restaurant at the Inn at the Tides. The four-course dinner will be paired with Vision Cellars white wine, pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon. For reservations, call 875-2751. The dinner, which begins at 6:30 p.m., is $79 per person. The restaurant is located at 800 Highway 1 in Bodega Bay.


Wild game and wine at St. Francis Winery

St. Francis Winery & Vineyards in Santa Rosa is hosting a wild game winery dinner Nov. 13. The annual dinner highlights local game harvested from fields and streams by prominent producers. Winemaker Tom Makey will pair library selections with chef David Bush's appetizers and side dishes. The winery is at 100 Pythian Road. The dinner, which begins at 6 p.m., is $125 per person. For reservations, call (888) 675-9463.


Food and wine series at Ahwahnee hotel

The Ahwahnee hotel in Yosemite National Park will host its annual Vintners' Holiday series through Dec. 2, featuring 32 winemakers from all over the state.

Two-day and three-day packages at The Ahwahnee and Yosemite Lodge at the Falls include lodging, two tickets to a gala dinner, tasting seminars and admission to a "Meet the Vintners" reception.

Packages start at $996 for the Ahwahnee and $744 for Yosemite Lodge at the Falls. Individual tickets to the gala dinner may be purchased separately for $249.

For a complete schedule and list of participating wineries, go to yosemitepark.com/vintners.

You can reach Staff Writer Diane Peterson at 521-5287 or diane.peterson@pressdemocrat. com and Staff Writer Peg Melnik at 521-5310 or peg.melnik@ pressdemocrat.com.

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