Gina Dallara: October 2007 Archives

Seeing Stars

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By Robert Farmer

OK, so I couldn’t let this go by without acknowledging it. Because not too long ago in this space, I offered my humble insight into what I have long considered the most power-packed dining destination per square mile in the United States. And now my article about Yountville has proven prescient (if I may take a moment to strain my arm patting myself on the back) because recently the good people at Michelin Guides have concurred with my enlightened wisdom and bejeweled the tiny Napa Valley town with six — count ‘em, six!—stars. Impressive, right? Especially when you consider that you can walk from one end of the town to the other in ten minutes, while there are entire countries in Europe with no Michelin stars. During that ten minute walk you’ll of course pass the legendary French Laundry, which perhaps not surprisingly was re-awarded its three stars, accounting for fully half of the town’s star-count. But you’ll also pass Bouchon, Bistro Jeanty, and Redd, each of which received a star—Redd enjoying its first such accolade. But my recommendation of course is not to walk past this stellar collection of culinary star-power. It’s to go in and grab a table.

City Club

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By Robert Farmer

I like opening big wines and I like big wine openings. So I was fairly pleased to hear the news of the long-anticipated retail outlet of Cellar360 in San Francisco recently. This is great news for anyone who, like me, loves to shop for wine and who happens to live in San Francisco. The shop opened in mid October and is built into a local landmark—Ghirardelli Square, and delivers a little slice of California wine country to the water’s edge of the City by the Bay. Cellar360 is a wine fan’s Valhalla: a wine club and retail establishment with an ever-changing menu of more than 200 wines from around the world on continual offer—each presented with the solid backing of a knowledgeable and friendly staff who are quick to point out subtleties and discuss likes and dislikes with patrons of any wine experience level. And beyond wine, the 360 experience includes alfresco dining on gourmet charcuterie and artisan cheeses in the Square. The opening of Cellar360 also serves as a cornerstone in the ongoing and fast-evolving refurbishment of Ghirardelli Square, bringing the beautiful, historic landmark back to its rightful prominence in the City I love.

Just Paso the Time

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By Robert Farmer

I love little insidery things – tidbits that make me feel like I might have just a little more info than the next guy. Whether it’s true or not is usually not important, so long as that’s the way I feel. So it was six years or so ago when I made my first real trek through California’s central coast wine country and learned that the locals refer to Paso Robles simply as “Paso.” I didn’t ask and they didn’t tell. It was just something I picked up listening to them talk. Simple? Sure. Rather meaningless? Perhaps. But the upshot of the story is “Paso” is also shorthand for a great wine-producing region. There’s no better chance to find out for yourself than during Harvest Wine Tour, taking place later this month October 19-21. The jam-packed weekend features more than 100 individual events at about 90 wineries, and only the most energetic visitor will catch them all. Instead, plan ahead and map out your best personal itinerary, which might include anything from jeep tour to a grape stomp, or a food-wine pairing and a cooking class. Point is, there’s tons going on and it’s all part of the party in Paso. Now you’re on the inside. Check out for more.

Vintage Flair On the Square

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Travelers looking to add a touch of Euro charm to their wine country stay need look no further than the Ledson Hotel's Harmony Lounge on the square in Sonoma. With its marble-topped tables, dramatic iron and glass doors and abundance of outdoor seating, the spot recalls the charming sidewalk cafes of Florence and Paris. Inside, the Lounge is stylishly outfitted with a blend of beautifully crafted antique and reproduction furnishings, moldings, wood paneling and light fixtures. Grab one of the coveted seats by the towering fireplace to take it all in, or score a stool at the custom-made walnut and granite bar.

Affable bartenders keep guests entertained while they imbibe, and although libations are long on Ledson wines (the Lounge is owned by the same family behind nearby Ledson Winery & Vineyards), a handful of other options such as a delightful sparkler from Charles Heidsieck lend variety.

That's a little Brasserie Lipp thanks to Ledson, without the trans-Atlantic flight.

Open daily 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. - 480 First Street East, Sonoma CA 95476 - (707) 996-9779

Contributed by: Courtney Cochran