October 18, 2013

October 18, 2013
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Chef Erik Johnson is the new chef at J Vineyards in Healdsburg. He’ll be teaching a Thanksgiving skills class and whipping up some wine-friendly dishes at the J Bubble Room. Photo courtesy of J Vineyards.

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Black Plum Supper Club in Occidental is just one of the intimate dining experiences in Wine Country. Photo courtesy of Black Plum Supper Club.

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Dress as your favorite woodland creature (or not) at Diavola’s Hunter’s Ball and Costume Party in Geyserville on October 26th. Photo courtesy of Diavola.

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Coppola Winery in Geyserville hosts its masquerade ball on October 26th. Photo courtesy of Coppola Winery.

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

~ROBERT MONDAVI WINERY~: The Mandarin edition? The iconic Napa winery is now offering its signature tour in Mandarin Chinese each Friday and Saturday at 10:30am. Visitors see the famed To Kalon Vineyard, tour the winemaking cellars, and enjoy a seated tasting of three wines with a Mandarin-speaking wine educator. Curious about tours in other languages? Private tours are also available by appointment in Cantonese, Japanese, and French. Admission is $30 per guest and reservations can be made online or by calling 800-228-1395.

Chef Erik Johnson is the new top toque at the ~J VINEYARDS~ property in Healdsburg, which includes the popular J Bubble Room. The former executive sous chef at Healdsburg’s Dry Creek Kitchen, he replaces Jason LaBue. A frequent teacher at Relish Culinary Adventures (and a Bohemian Club chef alum), he’s gearing up for his first J Vineyards class, “Get Ready for Thanksgiving,” from 6:30 to 9:30p.m. on Saturday November 2nd. It’s a great chance to brush up on your holiday cooking skills and get a tasty three-course meal in the process. Details on this and other classes, as well as J Bubble Room appointments, can be found online. The cost of the Thanksgiving class is $110 per person.

Supper clubs are the new underground dinners. Similar in concept, they’re one-off food and wine events in intimate settings with just a handful of invitees. The difference: No supersecret handshakes to get in. One of the most intriguing is the ~BLACK PLUM SUPPER CLUB~ in Occidental. It pops up each Thursday night at Howard Station Cafe, billing itself as “refined West County cuisine.” And refined it is. Chefs Emma Uribe and Jeremy Whitcomb, both alums of Peter Lowell’s in Sebastopol, serve up $35 prix-fixe seasonal menus that include dishes like leeks with salmon roe, pears with hazelnuts and chicory, octopus with ceci beans, and quince with crème anglaise. You can secure your spot with a call to 707-889-6729 or go to blackplumsupperclub.com.

Can’t get enough of pop-up supper clubs? ~SUITE D~, a private room run by the folks at Sonoma’s ragingly popular the girl & the fig, are featuring a series of dinners at the event space, including a Harvest Dinner on November 8th and 9th, an all-lobster dinner on December 19th, and a Southern Supper on November 14th and 15th. Details and tickets can be found online

Restaurants wait with bated breath each year for the royal conferring of Michelin stars by the French guidebook company. It can literally change a restaurant’s status overnight—for better or for worse. The precursor, however, is Michelin’s Bib Gourmand designation, which is the pathway to stars. The Bib Gourmand is a recognition of good value, excellent food, and top-notch service. This year’s Bib winners for Wine Country include BiteClub faves Backyard (Forestville), Bistro Jeanty (Yountville), Bistro 29 (Santa Rosa), Boon Eat + Drink (Guerneville), C Casa (Napa), Chalkboard (Healdsburg), Cook (St. Helena), Cucina Paradiso (Petaluma), Glen Ellen Star (Glen Ellen), Hot Box Grill (Sonoma), LaSalette (Sonoma), Monti’s Rotisserie (Santa Rosa), Oenotri (Napa), Redd Wood (Yountville), Risibisi (Petaluma), Sazon (Santa Rosa), Scopa (Healdsburg), the girl & the fig (Sonoma), and Willi’s Wine Bar (Santa Rosa). There are a number of restaurants we assume were too new to include (or maybe they’re about to get starred); Spinster Sisters (Santa Rosa) is clearly missing from the list. Hmm…

Halloween is a perfect time for masked balls, and there are two for which we’re preparing our gowns: The Diavola Supper Club Hunter’s Ball and Costume Party, on Saturday October 26th, and Coppola Winery’s Masquerade Ball, also on the 26th (oh, our glass slippers will have to run fast!).

The Hunter’s Ball, held at the Odd Fellow’s Hall in Geyserville, features a family-style seasonal menu (we smell game) by chef Dino Bugica and music by former Dire Straits guitarist Jack Sonni. Tickets are $85 per person, with tickets available online.

Coppola’s event bills itself as “Sleepy Hollow meets Great Gatsby” and will include a live DJ, fortune teller, costume contest, and themed lounge. Tickets are $125 and are available online. The following day, a family-friendly event at the winery is always a major draw: the Harvest and Halloween Carnival from 11am to 2pm. It’s just $10 per child and includes pumpkin decorating and costumed fun.