Love in Wine Country, Mushrooms Gone Wild, Spork

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Candy cap mushroom ice cream stuffed inside a blue corn crêpe at Mateo’s Cocina Latina in Healdsburg. Photo courtesy of Heather Irwin.

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It’s the height of mushroom season in Northern California. Photo courtesy of Heather Irwin.

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Castello di Amorosa. Photo by Lisa Gershman; courtesy of Castello de Amorosa.

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Conversation heart cookie from Sift Cupcake and Dessert Bar. Courtesy of Heather Irwin.

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

Oh, the pressure to get Valentine’s Day right. This year, it falls on Thursday February 14th—giving you the option of celebrating the weekend before, after, or on the day itself. Why not spread out the love over a few days? Wine Country is rife with romance if you just know where to look…

  • Dungeness crab cioppino, grilled lamb and cheddar grits, duck breast with candied bacon, red velvet cake with marshmallow cream, and powdered sugar beignets at ~ROCKER OYSTERFELLER’S~. $55 per person, reservations recommended. 14415 Highway 1, Valley Ford, 707-876-1983.

  • Chef Josh Silvers brings back his ~SYRAH BISTRO~ V-day menu for one day only, including crab cakes with arugula salad, lobster bisque, pan-roasted quail, whiskey creamed lobster, braised short ribs, and warm lemon pudding cake. $85 per person, reservations required. 305 5th St. at Davis St., Santa Rosa, 707-545-4300.

  • ~J VINEYARDS’ BUBBLE ROOM~ has a lineup of still and sparkling wines paired with haute nibbles from new winery chef Jason LaBue (an alum of Madrona Manor, Meadowood, and Cavallo Point). On the menu throughout February are oyster chowder croquette, beet risotto with cacao nibs, braised brisket with gnocchi and black trumpet mushrooms, and a baby red velvet cake and chocolate “three ways.” Seatings by appointment Friday through Sunday, 11am, noon, 2pm, and 3pm, $75 per person. 11447 Old Redwood Highway, Healdsburg, 707-431-5430.

  • An evening of Shakespeare, romance, and a four-course dinner at the ~ CASTELLO DI AMOROSA~, Saturday February 16th from 7-11pm. Guest chef Alejandra Schrader serves dinner in the barrel rooms, actors inspire romance with romantic sonnets, and wines flow freely. $225 per person, reservations required. 4045 St. Helena Hwy, Calistoga, 707-967-6274.

  • The classic film Casablanca, bubbly from Domaine Carneros, and chocolates from La Belge at the ~NAPA VALLEY OPERA HOUSE~, Thursday February 14th at 7pm, $10. 1030 Main St. at 1st St., Napa, 707-226-7372.

  • Candy cap ice cream rolled into a blue corn crêpe at ~MATEO’S COCINA LATINA~. Though it may sound a little strange, the foraged mushrooms have a sweet maple-syrup flavor and a hint of earthiness that make for a perfect dessert. 214 Healdsburg Ave. at Front St., Healdsburg, 707-433-1520.

  • A six-pack of conversation heart cookies for tongue-tied Romeos from ~SIFT CUPCAKE AND DESSERT BAR~, various locations around Sonoma County, San Francisco, and at siftcupcakes.com.

Here are a few more items for your culinary radar:

Learning to Butcher: Meat Revolution’s Berry Salinas and Fork Catering’s Sarah Piccolo are teaming up for a three-class series focused on teaching home cooks how to make the most of their meat—with the benefit of dinner and wine as part of the learning process. Session one (Wednesday February 13th, 5-8pm) focuses on breaking down a whole chicken, how to brine and marinate, and culminates with a communal dinner of coq au vin. Subsequent sessions include rabbit cookery, sausage, and pork curing. Classes are $75, or $60 each if you purchase the series. Limited to 10 students, 330 Main St. at Calder Ave., Sebastopol. For reservations, call 707-494-0960.

Mushrooms Gone Wild: Healdsburg goes into a fungi frenzy over the weekend of February 22nd-24th with a collection of dinners, mushroom hunting forays, classes, and events at the very peak of mushroom season. The lineup includes a free mushroom expo at the ~HOTEL HEALDSBURG~ with forager Connie Green and mushroom hunting and a four-course luncheon at Relish Culinary Adventures. There will also be wild mushrooms on the menus of several local restaurants, including a five-course mushroom tasting menu at ~MADRONA MANOR~ and a six-course menu at ~CHARLIE PALMER’S DRY CREEK KITCHEN~. The Camellia Inn is offering a two-night stay with a $100 gift certificate to Healdsburg’s Baci Cafe and a take-home “grow your own” mushroom kit. More details online or by calling 877-759-1004.

~SPORK~ opens in Cloverdale on Valentine’s Day with chef Andrew Casey at the helm. Operating just three nights per week (Thurs-Sat), the pop-up will be located inside the Eagle’s Nest Deli, featuring locally sourced dishes such as housemade sausages, hanger steak, shrimp and mushroom risotto, and baked oysters. 113 N. Cloverdale Blvd., Cloverdale, 707-687-8795.

Chef Lisa Hemenway has closed her Skyhawk cafe and gourmet grocery store, ~FRESH BY LISA HEMENWAY~, in Santa Rosa. She’s hoping to relocate, but details are still sketchy.