A la carte: Food news, events around Sonoma

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SONOMA COUNTY: Winter Wineland Season

The 23 annual Winter Wineland is Jan. 17 and 18. This a great opportunity to meet winemakers, taste limited production wines, new releases or library wines at wineries not generally open to the public. Some wineries will offer food pairings, and all wineries will have something on sale for the weekend. Tickets for the event, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days, are $45 for the weekend and $35 for Sunday only. More than 140 wineries in Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River valleys will be participating. For more information, visit


SONOMA VALLEY: A tasty season of the olive

The 2015 Sonoma Valley Olive season kicks off with all kinds of tastings, workshops and competitions.

Martini Madness returns to MacArthur Place Hotel at 5 p.m. Friday, with 10 local restaurants competing for the best olive-inspired martinis. Tickets are $45, including appetizers and martini tastes. VIP tickets of $95 include a three-course dinner at Saddles. 933-3183. 29 E. MacArthur St.

Other highlights include the all-new Olive Bash at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 16 at the Sonoma Valley Inn’s Krug Event Center. The evening includes Sonoma wine and olive-inspired bites prepared by the Sonoma Valley Teen Services with Rocket Catering, and bossa nova music. Tickets are $25, to benefit the Sonoma Valley Teen Services. 550 Second St. W.

The Feast of the Olive Dinner, a collaboration between local chefs, winemakers and olive oil producers, will be held at 6 p.m. Jan. 31 at Ramekins Culinary School, 450 W. Spain St. Tickets are $150. For more information, go to


SEBASTOPOL: Find feast for St. Anthony at Zazu

Zazu Kitchen + Farm in Sebastopol will celebrate the Feast of St. Anthony on Jan. 16 to 18 with a special menu featuring housemade charcuterie and pasta, plus lots of pork products.

The feast begins with Sam’s Chicharrones + Dippers and a choice of starters, including Coppa Di Testa with pickled Grapes and Mustard Seeds. It continues with a choice of entrees, such as Mostaciolli Noodle with Ragu, followed by a “Smork” (s’mores and pork) dessert: a Chocolate Dipped Housemade Marshmallow, rolled in bacon and served with graham crackers.

The cost for the dinner is $55, not including beverage, tax or tip. Zazu Kitchen + Farm is located at 6770 McKinley in the Barlow Center of Sebastopol. Reservations: 523-4814.


GLEN ELLEN: All you need to know about olives

Don Landis will give a workshop on how to de-bitter olives at 11 a.m. Sunday at B. R. Cohn Winery.

Landis will discus the history of the olive, the varieties of olives, and three ways to de-bitter them: the Greek-style brine method, water method and dry salt method, all done without lye. A tasting of cheese and crackers follows.

Participants can roam through the winery’s 120-year-old olive orchard and receive a discount at its gourmet marketplace. Cost is $20 and RSVP required: 800-330-4064, ext. 124. 15000 Sonoma Highway. For more information:


ST. HELENA: A taste of Abruzzo at Greystone restaurant

Guest chef Viola Marcelli will take over the Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant in St. Helena Jan. 21 to 25, bringing a “Taste of Abruzzo” to the Napa Valley.

Abruzzo, located of the coast of the Adriatic Sea in Italy, is known for its simple yet hearty meals sourced from the sea and the mountain farmers, including Marcelli’s family, which owns a bio-agritourism farm, La Porta dei Parchi.

The farm raises sheep and goats, and the family produces its own ricotta, pecorino and caciocavallo cheeses, as well as bronze-cut pasta, honey, olive oil and mosto cotto, a grape juice used as a sweetener in desserts.

Marcelli will prepare special dinners from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Jan. 21 through Jan. 24, and a brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Jan. 25.

The Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant is located at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone campus, 2555 Main St. Reservations: 956-1010.


NAPA VALLEY: Dig into a tasty Truffle Festival

La Toque chef/owner Ken Frank will serve as the host chef of the fifth annual Napa Truffle Festival Jan. 16 to 19 at various venues throughout the Napa Valley.

Guest chefs include Riccardo Agostini of Ristoranti il Piastrino in Pennabilli Rimini, Italy; Robert Donna of Al Dente Ristorante in Washington, D.C.; and Tony Esnault of Church & State in Los Angeles.

Activities include truffle cultivation seminars and orchard tours, winery lunches and cooking demos, a wild mushroom forage and and marketplace event.

The festival’s highlight is the Truffles & Wine dinner on Jan. 17 at La Toque in Napa, prepared by the master, Michelin-star chefs.

In addition, La Toque will debut its 33rd annual All Truffle Menu this Friday, featuring fresh, black winter truffles in every course. It will be available nightly through the end of truffle season, typically in early March. For reservations: 257-5157.

Packages and individual tickets to the Napa Truffle Festival are available at


YOSEMITE: Take a holiday with Wine Country chefs

Yosemite National park has launched a new series of Chefs’ Holidays at the historic Ahwahnee Hotel, featuring many chefs from Wine Country and beyond.

The eight sessions in January and February include three- and four-day weekends that include a chefs reception, cooking demonstrations and tours, and a Chefs’ Holiday Gala Dinner in The Ahwahnee dining room.

Session 2 on Jan. 14 to 16 will feature Brian Streeter, executive chef of Cakebread Cellars in Rutherford; Sarah and Evan Rich of Rich Table in San Francisco; and March Smothers of Glen Ellen, a food explorer and author.

Session 6 on Jan. 28 to 30 includes Peggy Smith and Sue Conley of Cowgirl Creamery in Petaluma, along with Cal Stamenov of Marinus at Bernardus Lodge in Carmel Valley and “Top Chef” Season 5 winner Hosea Rosenberg of Blackbelly Catering in Boulder, Colo.

Session 8, a tribute to TV’s Rockin’ Women Chefs, will feature “Next Iron Chef” contestant Duskie Estes of Zazu Kitchen + Farm in Sebastopol, along with pastry chef Elizabeth Falkner and “Top Chef” contestant Ariane Duarte of CulinAriane in Montclair, N.J.

For package pricing and reservations, go to


CALISTOGA: Got Your Passport?

Calistoga’s Winter in the Wineries Passport runs through Feb. 8. The passport, at $50, offers a chance to visit 14 wineries in and around Calistoga and schedule one tasting experience at each. You can also score discounts at area restaurants, stores and inns. For more information, visit

Compiled by Staff Writer Diane Peterson, who can be reached at 521-5287 or, and Peg Melnik, who can be reached at 521-5310 or

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