Signs of life at Cindy Pawlcyn’s shuttered Wood Grill and Wine Bar? Seems that the long-struggling location will reopen this year as 641 MAIN STREET (the restaurant’s St. Helena address). The concept is still in the early stages of development, but property owner Rodney Friedrich is planning a pop-up-style restaurant and event space. Which makes sense, considering that Friedrich is also developing the nearby VINELAND STATION luxury hotel and retail space.
Also in St. Helena, the THE FARMER AND THE FOX has opened at the wine village of Cairdean Estate. The Scottish-style gastropub serves up dishes like Scotch egg and cress, “proper” English chips, popovers baked every half hour, game pie, rabbit Wellington, and pub steak with whiskey peppercorn sauce. In the kitchen are executive chef Joseph Humphrey (formerly of Auberge du Soleil and The Restaurant at Meadowood) and chef de cuisine Jason LaBue (formerly of J Vineyards). Open 5pm-10pm, reservations recommended. 3111 St. Helena Hwy North, St. Helena, 707-302-5101.
King of the Knife: Having the legendary blade smith BOB KRAMER teach a knife skills class at Sur la Table in Santa Rosa is sort of like having Meryl Streep teach a beginning acting class in your backyard. The Olympia-based master of carbon steel is so revered by chefs that his hand-forged knives command up to $10,000 apiece, with a waiting list more than three years long. But there’s still hope for the home chef. Kramer has partnered with German knife company Zwilling J.A. Henckels and Sur la Table to create a more-affordable line of stainless and carbon steel knives costing between $130 and $250 a pop, depending on the quality and size. Which may sound like a lot to the average Joe, but knife junkies know it’s a steal for some serious steel. Without the wait. Registration required, $69 per person. Details online. Sun June 22nd, noon-2:30pm. Sur la Table, 2323 Magowan Dr., Santa Rosa, 707-566-9823.
The Secret’s Out on Secret Kitchen: You know a restaurant’s under the radar when you can’t find it, even with Google Maps. But four miles west of Petaluma, where goats scamper in fields and signs for “lost family pig” aren’t unusual, is the SECRET KITCHEN. Tucked behind an unassuming convenience store, Brenda Anderson, Janice Clement, and their tiny staff of friends and neighbors are running a takeout walk-up window with dishes like Korean barbecue chicken rice bowls with kimchi, “Hog in a Blanket” (pork brat with Lagunitas IPA mustard, cheddar cheese sauce, and caramelized onions), caramel rum cake, and fresh peach and strawberry tartlets. “These are just dishes I’ve picked up from around the world. Everything is just something I love,” says Anderson, whose Asian/Latin/American dishes reflect her former gigs, such as cooking in Thailand, teaching at the Culinary Institute of America, and running a restaurant at Google.
The secret’s already leaked out to locals, who line up at the split door to order and often grab a seat at one of the wooden picnic benches near the parking lot. But this is only the opening act for the Secret Kitchen gals, who weren’t really planning to open a restaurant at all. Their commercial kitchen accidentally became a walk-up when a batch of tamales sold out with just a homemade sign out front. A truck (the original idea) is still in the works, but for now, the team is operating at full capacity.
Best bets include the banh mi with slow-roasted pork, pickled carrots and daikon, peanuts, and secret sauce ($9); Korean barbecue tacos ($3); Korean barbecue chicken rice bowls with kimchi and pickled onions ($9); the American Hog in a Blanket ($9); khao soi (a Thai curried noodle bowl, $9.50); and desserts of the day. Just keep our little secret, okay? Open 11am-7:30pm Wed-Sat. 4701 Bodega Ave., Petaluma, 707-787-8243.
There was a time, not so long ago, when music festivals were just about music. In those very dark ages, you could get a slice of cold pizza, a corn dog, and some flat Budweiser, but that was about it for food and booze. In the last few years, however, local events like Outside Lands and BottleRock have made gourmet food, beer and wine the stars (or at least the co-stars) of the show. This weekend’s HUICHICA MUSIC FESTIVAL at Gundlach Bundschu Winery in Sonoma keeps the trend going with food and drink from SF’s Salumeria and Craftsman and Wolves; the Wine Country’s Q Craft, Rancho Gordo, Smári Organics, Milk & Honey Ice Cream; and beverage pairings from the GunBun folks, as well as Deschutes Brewery, Happy Moose Juice, and Taylor Maid Farms. Oh, and there’s some music too. The event starts tonight and continues tomorrow, Sat June 14th, $55 per person. Details online.