It was a warm and lazy drive.
Dry Creek Road, west out of Healdsburg in Sonoma County is a personal favorite of mine. My destination was near the end of the valley at Lake Sonoma Winery and Russian River Brewery.
Majestic Oaks, Palms and even cacti line this interesting drive through ecosystems that are hard to understand for visitors from the rest of the world. Its California at its best.
The golden grasses on the earthen dam of Lake Sonoma dominated the scenery when I finally turned right to Lake Sonoma Winery where I found ample parking. Lake Sonoma Winery and Russian River Brewery is a beautiful, modern winery with a spacious tasting room and brewery. The view back down the valley is wonderful. Vineyards, old and new, decorate the gently sloping hills and winding valley floor. The deep blue of the sky and the many hues of green belie the fact that California is basically a desert. (View a 360° panorama from the hill above Lake Sonom Winery and another from above the dam)
The Red Wine and Blues Festival is an annual event held here around the 4th of July that celebrates the holiday. Live music, local vendors and great wines set the stage for a very enjoyable afternoon.
For $5.00 you get a keepsake winery glass and free range to the party. And a party it is!
Their huge patio overlooks the valley and was filled with people. It was unusual for me to see the brew and wine crowd together but the distinctions between the two were unnoticeable. These were not the cheap beer and budget wine groups. They were people here to do some serious tasting on both sides of the aisle and they got some great bargains to boot.
Dr. Daves Review played nostalgic blues that had this older crowd enthralled. This resourceful band pounded out oldies but goodies and can be reached at 707-838-2364. They do a number of gigs in our area including fundraisers for non-profits like the Cancer Society. Give them a call if you're local; youll enjoy their music.
For hungry visitors, Korbel Champagne Cellars Chef Robin Lehnhoff had a variety of goodies that paired with Lake Sonomas wines and beers for a moderate price. Robin is the Catering and Event Chef for Korbels Delicatessen and Market, which caters various winery events like this and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The great drinks of Korbel along some of Chef Robins seasonal recipes, and information on Korbel Champagne Cellars can be found on Korbel's web site.
Aidells Sausages provided a playground for the mustards available at the affair. Chef Bruce Aidells recipes were available. They have a gold mine of sausage recipes on their site.
Conveniently next door to Aidells was Sonoma Mustard & Condiment Company. Their Ginger Wasabi Mustard was killer. The association with the sausages was encouraged as it was with Smith & Riley Mustards across the way. Look for some interesting recipes on their site soon. Heres an example of whats coming and was available to us at this affair:
3-4 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Ginger Wasabi Mustard
1 package of Panko bread crumbs
Spread Ginger Wasabi Mustard on chicken breasts; roll them in Panko breadcrumbs and bake at 325° for 30-40 minutes till done to your taste. Serve with rice and a fresh green vegetable. Low fat and easy to make.
8 firm apples, peeled, seeded and sliced Topping-
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup sweet butter, chilled and cut
1/2 cup flour into cubes
2 tsp ground cinnamon 1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp ground ginger _ cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground nutmeg 1 cup flour
4 ozs. Sweet unsalted butter, cut into chunks 1 cup rolled oats
Pinch of salt
Toss apple slices with sugars, flour and spices. Place in baking dish (9x12) and dot with butter chunks.
In a food processor, combine butter with sugars, flour and oats. Pulse mixture until you have a mixture that resembles peas. Sprinkle topping over apples, making sure to cover them completely. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees or until apples are bubbly and soft.
Chef Robin Lehnhoff
As the afternoon cools, I sit down and enjoy the band, people, Apple Crisp and the Brut.
Another day at the office. Its tough!
I look forward to your comments, suggestions and ideas.
Drop me an e-mail or call 707-566-8034.