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Food, Wine & Friends  Page 97

Amy and Jesper ventured to Sonoma on Friday night, meeting Aviva and Pierre on a Saturday morning in January of 2006.  I joined the festivities after work and we had a couple of beers at Murphy's Irish Pub in beautiful downtown Sonoma.

Then we ambled to dinner.



This is a famous little restaurant and it was packed on a Saturday night (even in the 'dead of winter'!!).


The wine list is an enthusiastic collection of Rhne and Rhne-wannabes.  We started with a fat white from Rosenblum, a 2004 Marsanne.

Pierre opted for the Steak Tartare.

Aviva started with a Fig Salad.


Amy ordered some Matchstick Fries.


Pierre and Jesper.


Our second bottle was a Truchard Roussanne.  This was from the 2002 vintage and while still good, it's lost its youthful vitality.
The mussels were enhanced by a bit of Herbsaint, an American version of Pastis.  The mussels were outstanding.

We also got an order of Sweetbreads with Mushrooms...

This is another success story.

Our server was a wine-savvy young lady and took good care of our 1979 Jaboulet Hermitage "La Chapelle."

The birthday girl ordered some sort of pasta main course.
|
Delicata squash, currants, Roquefort cheese, arugula, candied walnuts, brown butter made for a rather rich dish.


Aviva did her best with the Pork Shanks...

Pierre took on the Arctic Char...

I selected the Cassoulet...

And by this time we were enjoying a peppery Syrah from New Zealand, Te Awa 2002.


Jesper was enjoying Duck Confit and an order of Mashed Potatoes...


We also had some nice desserts.

Amy then received some curious birthday gifts...


A birthday candle purportedly made "100% of Real Ear Wax"!!!

We then made our way up the road to Boyes Hot Springs and our rooms at the Sonoma Creek Inn.

If you're heading for wine country, this place is comfortable and one of the few places with a small price tag.
I'd suggest, if you're a late sleeper, bringing a sleeping mask/blindfolds and ear plugs, since the shades don't block out much sun and the few cars rolling by are audible.
Still, we recommend the place unless you have three or four hundred dollars to drop for a night's lodging.

Sunday morning, which came too quickly, saw an eye-opening coffee and nice pastry at this famous bakery.



Good breads.

We then drove over to Sebastopol in search of a few wineries.
We began the tour at the Pellegrini Family estate to taste their Cloverdale Ranch and Olivet Lane wines.

Here's what the old-time Pellegrini facility looked like:




It's a bit different today!


Owner Bob Pellegrini showed us around...he's often there as he enjoys meeting customers.

The see-through head on this barrels shows them when they need to stir the yeast sediment in making their exceptional Olivet Lane Chardonnay.

We saw their open top fermentation tanks, as well as their closed tanks.



We then drove over to Joseph Swan Vineyards.

Lynn Berglund poured some nice wines for us.

Our friends in Deutschland knew of our festive celebration and they called to say "Hello"...

The Dutton Estate was our next stop...

We then motored over to Marimar Torres' little bodega.

Despite having eaten a big dinner Saturday night, by 3pm on Sunday everyone was hungry again!

We were near Occidental, so we got a table at the Union Hotel for some "retro" Ital-American cucina.

They still bring diners a bowl of soup, salad, antipasti and bread...


Pierre dishes out some soup.
"C'est super, no?"

The homemade Ravioli are famous.

A Roast Duck dinner goes for $20.95.

Amy, who doesn't look any older, opted for a pesto pasta.

The Irish seem to enjoy most things that are green in color.

Aviva, meanwhile, was diving into the lasagna equivalent of Mount Vesuvius.

I had their roasted chicken...very nice, actually.

We enjoyed a bottle of Vietti 2004 Dolcetto D'Alba "Tre Vigne," a delicious red wine!

And after this lovely repast, we ambled around the village for a few moments before embarking on our rides back home to the Bay Area!

Happy Birthday Amy!

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