K-J Cafe, Pizzando Preview, Alfresco Wine Country Dinners, Margrit Mondavi

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Former Shimo restaurant (courtesy of Heather Irwin).

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Liza Shaw at Spoonbar in Healdsburg (courtesy of Heather Irwin).

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Margherita pizza at the Pizzando Pop-Up at Spoonbar (courtesy of Heather Irwin).

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Pickled carrots and mint at the Pizzando Pop-Up at Spoonbar (courtesy of Heather Irwin).

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Jimtown Store (courtesy of Jimtown Store).

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Margrit Mondavi’s Sketchbook cover (courtesy of Amazon.com).

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Sonoma Farm-to-Table Dinner at Terra Firma Farm in 2009 (courtesy of Heather Irwin).

By 707 correspondent Heather Irwin.

A K-J café? ~JACKSON FAMILY WINES~ will take over the former Shimo Modern Steak location in Healdsburg. The 241 Healdsburg Avenue space is slated to become a “culinary café” showcasing orchestrated food and wine pairings, a menu of small bites, and a curated selection of locally made products including cheeses, breads, charcuterie, and chocolates.

This ain’t no stale pretzel and mustard setup, however. K-J executive chef Justin Wangler has an all-star team lined up for the new property. He’ll tap into K-J’s culinary garden, expanding the line of housemade goodies and his network of top purveyors throughout Wine Country. The café will also be a retail outlet for a line of grape-seed oils, flours, and cookies from sister company ~WHOLEVINE~, a project of JFW chairman Barbara Banke and former Chalk Hill Estate co-owner Peggy Furth to both minimize winery waste (grape seeds, skins) and create a healthful food product.

Wangler has already decamped to the Shimo kitchen, having moved his operations (temporarily) to Healdsburg several weeks ago while the Santa Rosa Wine Center kitchens undergo major upgrades and renovations slated to last through next fall. There’s no word on when the café will open, but it seems reasonable to expect sometime next year.

Meanwhile, Healdsburg winemaker Pete Seghesio’s proposal for a meat and salumi cafe and store on the site of the razed Healdsburg post office is cooling its heels for another month. Healdsburg city planners will consider the ~HEALDSBURG MEAT CO.~ at its next meeting in July. Sehgesio’s cafe and store also includes—you guessed it—a wood-fired pizza oven and by-the-glass wines. In case you’re keeping track, that’s the third wood-fired café concept in Healdsburg recently.

Clearly it’s a good time to be familiar with a Mugnaini, and there are few who know their way around 00 flour and a pizza peel like Liza Shaw. The former A16 chef has been tapped to impart her doughy ways at the recently opened ~CAMPO FINA~ and ~REDD WOOD~. But don’t expect the same pizzas at each spot. We chatted with Shaw, and she explained how she customizes the texture, dough, and cooking time for each restaurant.

Her newest project is the forthcoming ~PIZZANDO~ with ~SPOONBAR’S~ chef Louis Maldonado. They’re previewing the forthcoming Healdsburg Hotel pizzeria at Pizzando Pop-Up dinners Wednesday July 11th and Wednesday July 25th. A recent preview dinner included tuna crudo with salsa verde; pickled carrots and mint; pizza margherita; and slow-roasted pork ribs with lavender honey, spiced oxtail, and baked polenta. 219 Healdsburg Ave. at Mill St., Healdsburg, 707-431-2202.

Can’t do a proper vacay this summer? Get away each Thursday throughout the summer, ~PETITE SYRAH~ spins the globe for culinary inspiration. On Thursday July 5th, it’s a New England lobster boil, chowder, and blueberry pie ($39), followed by menus from Argentina (July 12th), Provence (July 19th), and Rome (August 9th). 205 5th St. at Davis St., Santa Rosa, 707-568-4002.

Alexander Valley’s historic ~JIMTOWN STORE~ goes Guatemalan for a benefit dinner on Thursday July 12th at 7:30pm. Menu includes “Pollo Jocon,” a traditional Guatemalan chicken; Rancho Gordo beans and rice; pineapple empanadas; homemade tortillas and salsa; and “palomitas and pepitas.” Proceeds benefit AMIDI, an organization that helps Guatemalan women and girls. Reservations required, $25. 6706 Hwy 128, Healdsburg, 707-433-1212.

Napa’s reigning grande dame previews her new book, Margrit Mondavi’s Sketchbook: Reflections on Wine, Food, Art, Family, Romance and Life, Wednesday July 11th at the ~MONDAVI WINERY~. A fixture in the valley’s social scene and wife of the late Robert Mondavi, Margrit’s book is a collection of personal stories, sketches, and diary entries. Don’t expect any bombshells here. Instead, this is a collaborative effort with food writer Janet Fletcher (and there’s a foreword from Thomas Keller) that reflects her personal history and that of the winery. Book signing from 5pm-7pm. The book goes on sale Thursday July 12th, retailing for $35. 7801 St. Helena Hwy, Oakville, 707-226-1395.

Grab your cowboy boots, because the hay bales are out and the barn doors are swinging open for alfresco field-to-table dinners throughout the summer. Check out BiteClub for a listing of upcoming dinners at ~QUIVIRA’S~ biodynamic farm and winery, the ~LUTHER BURBANK HOME & GARDENS~, and Petaluma’s ~WEBER RANCH~.