Cochon Heritage Fire, America's Cup Napa Style, Tasting Petaluma, Hard Cider, and a First Look at Spinster Sisters

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Cochon’s Heritage Fire in 2011. Courtesy of Cochon 555.

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Bank Café and Bar in Napa. Courtesy of Bank Café and Bar.

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Tomato gazpacho at Social Club. Courtesy of Heather Irwin.

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Inside Social Club with GM Damian Wallace. Courtesy of Heather Irwin.

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Liza Hinman at Spinster Sisters. Courtesy of Heather Irwin.

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

Get fired up for ~COCHON HERITAGE FIRE~ this Saturday August 25th in Napa. The second largest Cochon 555 event will again celebrate heritage breed animals such as goat, lamb, pig, rabbit, and wild birds from 3:30pm to 6:30pm at The River Terrace Inn of Napa. The fourth annual outdoor event spotlights wood-fired whole animal cooking with 14 local chefs, including Sonoma’s John Stewart and Duskie Estes from Zazu Farm and Restaurant (they were Grand Cochon winners in 2011); Lars Kronmark of the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone; Jordan Mackey of Napa’s Restaurant Cuvee Napa; John Fink of The Whole Beast; Kim Wiss of Antica Napa; and Jason Vincent of Nightwood in Chicago. Also returning is Dave the Butcher of Marina Meats in San Francisco, who will host the butcher demonstration and guest-favorite “Team Toast,” under the helm of Peter Jacobsen of Jacobsen Orchards in Yountville.

Following Cochon Heritage Fire, the celebration continues next door at Restaurant Cuvee. The after-party features an exclusive menu with plancha-fired shrimp and grits, barbecue ribs, and watermelon slaw, and flights of select wines, brews, and spirits. On Sunday, Jordan hosts the first-ever Heritage Hash Brunch, an elaborate feast featuring a menu of wood-fired plancha dishes including heritage hash, farm eggs, johnnycakes, and an heirloom Bloody Mary bar. Tickets are $150 per person and available here.

Landlubbing it during the SF America’s Cup World Series this weekend? Enjoy a viewing party with the sailing set in Napa at the ~BANK CAFÉ AND BAR~ at the Westin Verasa. Chef Ken Frank’s casual side of the legendary La Toque restaurant will be serving up Miner Family Winery’s “The Oracle” wine by the glass and showing the races in HD on large flat-screen televisions on Sunday August 26th from 11:30am to 1pm. 1314 McKinistry St. at Soscol Ave., Napa, 707-257-1800.

The forthcoming ~SOCIAL CLUB~ is among the restaurants serving up nibbles and noshes at this weekend’s Taste of Petaluma, Saturday August 25th from 11:30am to 4pm. Other newcomers to the event this year include Rosso Petaluma (burrata on bruschetta wth prosciutto, or spaghetti and meatballs); Andy’s Sushi (purple yam tempura, Thai barbecue pork); Three Twins ice cream (sea salted caramel, chocolate orange confetti); and Paradise Sushi (ninja roll, chicken teriyaki). Ticket packages include 10 tastings and are available for $40 at the event or $35 in advance. Get details by calling 707-763-8920 or going online to tasteofpetaluma.org.

More on ~SOCIAL CLUB~: BiteClub got a first look at the still-under-construction Petaluma space recently with GM and beverage manager Damian Wallace (Wexler’s, Bistro Aix, Gary Danko, and Myth). He dropped more tantalizing details on the staffing, which will include chef de cuisine Bob Simontacchi, formerly of Brick & Bottle, along with the Cosmopolitan’s Steven Levine. On the opening menu, look for starters such as Penn Cove mussels and nectarines; “social plates” that include pulled pork and pork belly sliders and chicken wings; entrées of grilled Prather Ranch flatiron steak and Petaluma fried chicken with jalapeño whipped potatoes; and baked-to-order chocolate chunk cookies, roasted figs, and chocolate Nutella cake for dessert. September 5th is the anticipated opening date.

If you’re headed farther north, the recently opened ~SPINSTER SISTERS~ is worth a stop in Santa Rosa’s funky SOFA (South of A Street) District. Just weeks after opening their doors, hospitality alums Liza Hinman (in the kitchen) and Giovanni Cerrone (wine) have nailed the vibe and the menu. The interior of the rehabbed space is sparse and clean, with a wraparound bar taking up three-quarters of the room. It’s the perfect height and width to feel like an extension of the dining tables rather than simply a drinking space. The menu is broken into bites ($2-$4), charcuterie and cheese plates ($6-$16), vegetables ($5-$7), small plates ($7-$14), and large plates ($14-16). Each works beautifully as a single sonnet, or together as an epic poem. Here, Hinman is able to gently tie flavors together with spice, texture, or theme in a loose bow, rather than an unmanageable knot of confused ideas. Some favorites on the opening menu:

  • The Sister’s Pickle Plate ($6): Seasonal veggies with daikon carrots and beets have a light dilly pickling. Kimchee packs a garlic punch, breath-rescuing ginger foils the funk.

  • Sweet Corn Coconut Fritters with Sriracha Aioli ($8): Oh. My. God.

  • Crispy Berkshire Pork Belly with Watermelon, Feta, Ginger, and Mint ($10): Fatty, sultry pork; crisp, clean watermelon and mint.

  • Crispy Chicken Thighs ($14): Packed with flavor, and gently panfried with plenty of salt and pepper, the thighs sit atop creamy, yielding white beans and arugula. A grilled nectarine makes it weep-worthy with perfect, of-the-moment summer flavors.

Around the bar are eight wines on tap, delivered to the table in a 500ml beaker. Plus, more than 20 by the glass or bottle including Finger Lakes riesling, coastal pinots and syrahs, Italian primitivo, and French gamay. Plus several beers on tap, cider, and Cock ‘n Bull ginger beer. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner Tuesday through Sunday, weekend brunch beginning at 9am. Closed Monday. 401 South A St. at Sebastopol Ave., Santa Rosa, 707-528-7100.