Fermentation Festival, New Healdsburg Restaurants, Pub Redeemed, Miminashi

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The Farm to Fermentation Festival happens Saturday in Santa Rosa, featuring dozens of beer, cider, chocolate, cheese, and pickle purveyors. Photo: Heather Irwin.

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Miminashi will open in Napa this fall, a project of chef Curtis di Fede.

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Barbecued brisket sandwich at Heritage Public House in Santa Rosa. Photo: Heather Irwin.

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Smoked chicken and greens at Heritage Public House in Santa Rosa. Photo: Heather Irwin.

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Mac and cheese at Heritage Public House in Santa Rosa. Photo: Heather Irwin.

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

Farm to Fermentation Festival 2015: Bigger and badder (meaning better) than ever, this celebration of all that ferments happens Saturday August 22nd at Santa Rosa’s Finley Community Center. Taste and learn about homemade miso, turmeric fermentation, beet kvass, cheese, and chocolate along with VIP tastings of local craft beers and ciders. Tickets are $50 for VIP admission, which includes entry to the Libation Lounge, and $30 for general admission. Special classes range from $18 to $45. More details online. 2060 W. College Ave., Santa Rosa, 707-543-3737.

Taste of Petaluma: Eating + shopping = love. Also on Saturday August 22nd is the annual dining stroll through downtown Petaluma. Local shops pair up with more than 60 of Petaluma’s finest chefs, food purveyors, wineries, and breweries for a concentrated taste of what’s great in Petaluma. Best bets to check out: Bistro 100, Wishbone (at the Phoenix Theater), Sauced BBQ, and Seared. More details online.

New Restaurants in Healdsburg: Healdsburg Square is abuzz about the new Southeast Asian fusion restaurant, ~PERSIMMON~, that will be opening this fall. Executive chef Danny Mai, formerly of the Petaluma Sheraton’s Tolay, is still working on the menu, but told BiteClub that it will definitely include a few Vietnamese staples. “Of course, I’ll have pho on the menu. If it’s not there, people will laugh me out of town,” he said, adding that banh mi sandwiches with housemade pâté and “soulful” dumplings are also in the works.

Mai, who was a Vietnamese refugee, has embraced a variety of cooking styles throughout his career, including French food during his stint at La Folie in SF, and most recently…Mexican food. It turns out that Healdsburg’s Oaxacan culinary giants, the Diaz family (Agave, El Farolito, and Casa Del Mole) are the financial backers of Persimmon. “The only way we can grow is to diversify our cuisine. There are so many Mexican restaurants already, and we want to do something different,” said Octavio Diaz, of Agave. Until the restaurant opens, Mai is doing menu consulting for the Diaz family restaurants, which, he said with a laugh, often makes for some funny looks when he steps out of the kitchen. “They’re like, ‘Wait, are you the chef here?’ ” he said. We can’t wait to hear more.

Also noted, ~BISTRO RALPH~ will soon transition to Ralph’s Martini House. We’ve seen the menu, which focuses on smaller plates and lots of seafood. Yes, the chicken livers, fries, and chicken paillard are still on the menu, but we’re jonesing for dishes like ahi tartare, sweetbreads with brown butter, foie gras with nectaries, pork tamales, cauliflower steak with salsa roja, and a sundae with vanilla gelato, caramel, chocolate, espresso, toffee, and whipped cream.

“It’s more modern and more relaxed,” said owner Ralph Tingle. “That’s the way we’re dining now and we have to be competitive,” he said. The restaurant will feature a full bar menu to boot, rather than just the classic martinis they’ve served for 23 years. With a few odds and ends to still finish on the revamped restaurant, Tingle said they’re still in very soft launch mode, but will have a grand opening within a couple of weeks. 109 Plaza St., Healdsburg, 707-433-1380.

Former Oenotri co-owner and chef Curtis di Fede is gearing up for the opening of Napa’s first izakaya this fall, ~MIMINASHI~. Announced last week, the forthcoming Japanese pub is a far cry from his highly touted Italian fare, but di Fede is no stranger to the cuisine of the Far East, having worked at London’s Wagamama and with Hiro Sone of Terra restaurant in St. Helena. Miminashi’s menu is still in development, but di Fede said it will feature traditional izayaka-style fare, as well as ramen and yakitori. The chef is headed to Japan for another visit this week, according to his Facebook page. The restaurant will be located at 821 Coombs Street in downtown Napa.

Long story short: ~HERITAGE PUBLIC HOUSE~ has great pub grub. Finally. 
But the story behind the story? In April, veteran chef Josh Silvers took over the kitchen of the Santa Rosa bro-pub, which had great beer but somewhat lackluster dining. With 42 taps and their own recently launched Bloodline Brewing, the food wasn’t really the point. That’s all changed.

After some early fumbles taking over the three-year-old pub’s kitchen and management, Silvers has found his groove. With newly trained staff in the front and back of the house, Heritage Public House is worth a second look. Silvers isn’t a subtle when it comes to big flavors, and the new menu features a lot of them, such as smoked chicken with maple sweet potatoes, fried pig ears with aioli, burrata panzanella with heirloom tomatoes, pulled pork open-face sandwich with crispy onion straws on Texas toast, malt ice cream with peanuts and caramel, mac and cheese with a toasted Rice Krispies topping, pork belly with black lentils, and brewer’s yeast fries.

It’s a rare chef who will admit a stumble, big or small. But it’s their necks on the line, and Silvers doesn’t mince words when it comes to the close shave he got in taking over an existing kitchen and staff. Now, the bugs are worked out, and the food is worth another look. I’ll put my neck out on that one. 1901 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa, 707-540-0395.