September 20, 2013

September 20, 2013
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The seasonal BLT at Twist with heirloom tomatoes on a Nightingale Bakery rosemary roll. Photo courtesy of Heather Irwin.

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Try to find the gnome at Banshee’s new tasting room in Healdsburg. Photo courtesy of Banshee Wines.

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Cook St. Helena will start serving Sunday brunch with tasty dishes including slow-roasted pork hash and a BLT. Photo courtesy of Cook St. Helena.

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Fresh groceries at the Share Exchange include eggs, grass-fed beef, herbs and vegetables, kefir water, and more. Photo courtesy of Heather Irwin.

By 707 correspondent Heather Irwin. Sign up for the BiteClub Newsletter.

Eat Sonoma County: Food is taking over at the ~SHARE EXCHANGE~, a locally made marketplace in downtown Santa Rosa. On a recent visit to the store (531 Fifth St., 707-583-7667), we noticed they’ve added a refrigerator stocked with local grass-fed beef from True Grass Farms in Valley Ford, kefir from Sebastopol’s Kefiry, Bella Rosa coffee from Santa Rosa, sandwiches from local caterer Ruthy’s Real Meals, sauces and jams, and even local produce from Singing Frog Farms. Most items have the backstory of the “makers” and a photo posted so you learn about the folks you’re buying from.

Fair Fooding: BiteClub and several lucky food judges headed out for some serious eating (and judging) during the last week for the upcoming ~SONOMA COUNTY HARVEST FAIR~ (October 4th-6th). You’ll have to wait until October 4th to find out the winners, but we can say that Catelli’s (21047 Geyserville Ave., Geyserville) 10-layer lasagna, John Ash and Co.’s (4330 Barnes Road, Santa Rosa) raspberry cheesecake, and Ole’s Seafood from Thai Time (402 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa) were among our favorites.

‘Tis the season for ripe, juicy heirloom tomatoes and supple figs. We’re seeing both of these seasonal goodies all over menus around Sonoma County. The next best thing to eating warm cherry tomatoes right off the vine? A good late-summer BLT. BiteClub loved the version at ~TWIST~ (6536 Front St., Forestville) with toasted Nightingale Bakery bread, thick slices of heirloom tomatoes, slab bacon, fresh lettuce, and mayonnaise. Because sometimes simplicity makes for the best food. We’re also loving all the fig dishes that seem to be cropping up, including prosciutto-wrapped figs with arugula and melted blue cheese at Catelli’s and, of course, the gold standard, the fig salad at the girl & the fig (110 W. Spain St., Sonoma). Got an excess of figs in your yard? We found great recipes online for homemade fig bars, fig clafoutis, fig brandy, honey-fried figs, and fig crostini. But our favorite? A good sliced fig with a dollop of mascarpone. Heaven.

Mark your calendar for November 5th. That’s slated to be the opening day for the dozen or so restaurants opening at the ~GRATON RESORT & CASINO~ in Rohnert Park. Among the chefs, Martin Yan (M.Y. China), former Cyrus honcho, Doug Keane (DK Wings), and world pizza champ Tony Gemignani (Tony’s and Slice House). The casino will also have three bars, natch.

Oktoberfest and the Rest: I’ve never quite understood why so many Oktoberfests are actually in September. But one we’re especially excited about (which is actually in October) is Woodruff’s Oktoberfest Beer Dinner on October 25th. The menu includes housemade soft pretzels with bourbon-honey mustard; potato pancakes; a trio of jagdwurst, bratwurst, and weisswurst with sauerkraut; and apple strudel. Each course is paired with a German beer. $45 per person. Details at 707-829-2141.

Other Oktoberfests: Windsor Lion’s Club on September 28th; Seventh Annual Cotati Oktoberfest on October 12th at La Plaza Park; and ~BARLEY AND HOPS TAVERN’S~ Sixth Annual Oktoberfest on October 11th in Occidental. In Napa, they’re celebrating on September 21st at the ~NAPA SMITH BREWERY~ (1 Executive Way, Napa) from 12pm-5pm with a bratwurst-eating contest, German polka music, and that famous Teutonic tradition, the chicken dance.

Banshee Wines, specializing in Sonoma Coast pinots (but hey, they’ve also got a tasty chardonnay) has opened its first tasting room in Healdsburg. What’s especially interesting is that there will also be a tasting menu with bites from Shed’s new head chef, Jenna Sprafkin. The decor is nouveau Healdsburg, with plenty of reclaimed wood, vintage communal table, a record player in an old milk crate, and a host of ironic knickknacks (we love the lounging gnome). “The Banshee tasting room really is an amped-up version of our own homes,” said Baron Ziegler, cofounder and director of sales at Banshee Wines. “You don’t have to ask brilliant questions of our winemaking staff. You can come in, hang out, and enjoy time with your friends over a killer glass of wine.”

More Napa News: St. Helena hot spot ~COOK~ is now serving Sunday brunch from 10am-2pm. The new menu includes soft polenta with a poached egg and black leaf kale, slow-roasted pork hash with Yukon Gold potatoes, a weekly special frittata along, a seasonal BLT, and the official drink of hangovers, the Bloody Mary. 1310 Main St., St. Helena.