Friday, December 26, 2008

Healdsburg Bound

We're escaping to Healdsburg for the weekend sans child while my mom is here (free babysitter!) and I'm looking forward to trying some amazing wines and incredible dining. We're staying at the Healdsburg Inn on the Plaza, a Four Sisters property.

For dinner, I booked us a table at Madrona Manor, a restaurant recently given 3.5 stars in a review by the Chronicle's Michael Bauer. Key takeaways:

" recent visit shows that (Chef Jess) Mallgren has grown immensely and now produces some of the most innovative food in the Bay Area."

"It's an unlikely setting for a chef who makes powder out of olive oil for one of his complimentary appetizers, whips up foam of Parmesan cheese for soup, cooks an egg sous vide to float in his silken onion veloute, and pours liquid nitrogen into custard to make ice cream tableside," and "Madrona Manor is a bargain splurge."

We also secured an early spot at Cyrus, a two-Michelin star rated restaurant. "The food is spectacular, but what makes Cyrus remarkable is the entire experience: The frozen lemon-and-verjus lollipop that Clemmons sends out for an intermezzo; Alexander's description of an heirloom sake made from a rice considered extinct for 2,000 years; Peyton's waxing on about the Carles Roquefort, a ewe's-milk cheese that is "the last of the homemade Roqueforts" (its producer cultures his own penicillin spores)," according to Food & Wine magazine in a April 2006 review.

I'm sure we'll be lunching around the plaza as well, at Healdsburg Bar & Grill and Bear Republic Brewery, so I can clear my palate with some tasty beer between all the winery trips I'm planning.

In particular, I want to see Dutton Goldfield Winery, whose 2005 Cherry Ridge Vineyard Syrah ($35.00) was rated one of the most exciting wines of 2008 -- and for $35, quite a deal if true.

I might explore other wineries on the Green Valley Appellation Wine Trail, inlcuding Lynmar and its beautiful new tasting room.

And for coffee, there's local artisan roaster Flying Goat.

Besides that, I'm looking for any suggestions. Any can't miss wineries or coffee shops in Healdsburg area I should check out?

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