Feasting in Sonoma This Thanksgiving

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By Deirdre Bourdet

If you find yourself in Sonoma on November 25th this year, skip the stressful prep and aftermath of the Thanksgiving holiday, and focus on the feasting at one of these great local restaurants. From the rugged coast to the inland valleys, Sonoma has a wealth of delicious ways to give thanks.

Alexander's is perched right on the dramatic Sonoma Coast in the Timber Cove Inn, and enjoys panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean from the dining room. Their four course, $60 "Celebration of Cultural Heritage" menu begins with a wild mushroom soup paired with foraged local acorns. Next, a punchy salad of apple and watercress with guanciale, blood orange oil, walnuts, and marigolds freshens the palate before the bird of the hour arrives at the table. The turkey here comes in two parts--herb roasted breast and cocoa-confit leg--accompanied by an Okinawa sweet potato gratin, wild mushroom stuffing, brussel sprouts, and a house-made cranberry sauce. The meal ends on a sweet and shiny note with "laminated" pastry and a poached Suckle pear. Since the Timber Cove Inn is right there on site, dinner here is the perfect spot for an impromptu romantic getaway.
John Ash in Santa Rosa's classic Vintner's Inn also welcomes families with its decadent and enormous three-course Thanksgiving menu, which is $56 per adult, and $28 per child under 12.  Executive Chef Thomas Schmidt aims to have something for everyone with the menu, with no fewer than six options for starters and entrées, and three choices for dessert.  Will you start with the Cabernet-poached pear salad with candied Marcona almonds and creamy Cabernet dressing, or the seared Diver scallops over warm French lentil salad with roast pumpkin and Meyer lemon beurre blanc?  Creamy corn soup, duck confit cakes, and roasted beets also beckon.  Main courses range from wild mushroom ravioli with porcini sauce and Vella jack cheese, to grilled Gleason Ranch pork chops with maple sweet potato mash and a Jack Daniels-Dijon reduction, to olive crusted halibut with sous vide fennel and fingerling potatoes in a bouillabaisse broth... plus turkey from Bill Niman's ranch with all the fixins, of course.  Dessert offers caramel walnut pumpkin tarte, maple pecan semifreddo with butter pound cake and pear-cranberry compote, or a decadent Valrhona chocolate layer cake with ginger gelato, chocolate anglaise, and black sesame "glass."

Dry Creek Kitchen in downtown Healdsburg is also dishing up an outrageous array of homegrown Sonoma options in its three course Thanksgiving prix-fixe for $65 per person, served from 2:00pm to 7:00pm. First course options include classics with a twist, as well as wholly original options like seared ahi tataki with gingerbread croutons, pickled red onions and candied ginger vinaigrette, or the Diver scallop and slooow (60hr) cooked pork belly napoleon with pickled spaghetti squash and violet mustard gastrique.  Main courses cover the field from a Willie Bird turkey duo with sourdough gratin, to a vegetarian butternut squash ravioli in vanilla brown butter emulsion with sage; and from the bass with wild purlane and Meyer lemon emulsion to the Black Angus New York steak with yuzu butter, King trumpet mushrooms, short rib potato croquettes, and sauce Bordelaise. Dessert options also hit every craving, from artisanal cheeses and housemade ice creams and sorbets, through pumpkin chiffon pie, apple crisp, and right into the decadent bittersweet chocolate cremeux with malted milk chocolate ice cream, cocoa streusel, and chocolate sauce. Your toughest decision this Thanksgiving will be selecting the next course.

Estate in the historic Victorian home of General Vallejo's daughter just off the downtown Sonoma square brings an Italian family sensibility to its locally driven cooking. The four course Thanksgiving menu kicks off here with choice of soup or salad--Mano Formate prosciutto brodo soup with lacinato kale, pumpkin, crostini & Pecorino, or the apple chicory salad with Blu del Moncensiso and walnut vinaigrette, to be exact. Next up is the pasta course, either sugar pie pumpkin ravioli with cipollini onions, hazelnuts, vin cotto and sage brown butter, or the blue crab "rustichella" spaghetti with capers, chili oil, and wood-roasted San Marzano tomatoes. The main course (you're still hungry right?) offers you a roasted turkey roulade with black truffle polenta, marjoram gravy, cranberry compote and cavolo nero; or a semolina crusted white trout with faro, butternut squash, and agrodolce sauce; or a leg of lamb with olive oil puree, brussels sprouts, gremolata, and lamb jus. Dessert brings it home with your choice of pumpkin cheesecake with Amaretto sauce and candied pumpkin seeds, or apple crostata with spiced caramel and frozen limoncello mascarpone.  This tremendous table of food is yours for only $55 per person, and $20 for kids 10 and under.
 

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