Sonoma: February 2008 Archives

Pigs & Pinot

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By Robert Farmer


One could spend a lifetime enjoying Wine Country only by its events. The calendar year is jam-packed with themed events that were created to spotlight and celebrate the many and diverse aspects of Wine Country. All wine regions have them, and some are of course more alluring than others. Others still speak to certain people on an acute level. And those nice-market events are where you can find your personal Valhalla.

One such event for me in particular is Pigs & Pinot at the Hotel Healdsburg (800-889-7188; Now in its third year, this descriptively titled weekend-long event is the brainchild of chef Charlie Palmer, whose Dry Creek Kitchen is one of the great destination restaurants in California Wine Country. Pigs & Pinot, as you have by now likely surmised, is a celebration of the flavor combination of pork and pinot noirs--Palmer's professed favorite food and wine varietal pairing. The weekend is comprised of a gala dinner, wine and food pairings, and seminars and parties related to all things pork and pinot noir. It's at once decadent and educational--one of the most innovative culinary-themed events in the region. Attendees will be treated to samples of more than 50 pinot noirs from some of the top producers in Sonoma County and the world. The wines are paired with such pork delicacies as charcuterie, homemade sausages, pates, and one-off creations from chef Palmer as well as well-known chefs from San Francisco, New York, even France.

Guests are also invited to check out "swine and wine" seminars and a demonstration-style cooking class. Essentially, when the weekend is over, you'll know about all there is to know about the pairing. And, you might also need to hit the gym. Hotel Healdsburg conveniently has one, and they are also offering special weekend packages for the event. The extravaganza begins Friday, March 14th, and lasts through the weekend. And to make it even more worthwhile, proceeds from the event benefit Share Our Strengths and Healdsburg's St. John's School.

Big Praise for Small Scale Dining

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By Courtney Cochran

Last year Healdsburg diners hit the jackpot when hot spot Ravenous moved from its digs next door the Raven Theater into a more spacious spot across the street, expanding its own business while leaving room for new favorite Ravenette in its pint-sized former location.  The new micro eatery - which seats no more than a dozen or so diners comfortably - has quickly won the hearts of locals who care more about delicious, simply prepared food and friendly service than they do about Michelin star ambiance.

But don't get us wrong - there's still plenty of ambiance at Ravenette, it's just more of the unstudied, bistro-around-the-corner type than the professionally airbrushed motif you see at some of the big-ticket spots.  And when it comes to food, Ravenette positively soars with an unfussy menu emphasizing seasonal ingredients prepared in small plates fashion.  Don't miss the decadent desserts made in-house, and wash everything down with a bottle from the short but well-edited wine list or a favorite from your own cellar.

All this, and you can catch a flick next door when you're done.  Two thumbs up, way up!

Ravenette * 117 North St., Healdsburg, CA 95448 * (707) 431-1770