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First trip to Sonoma County- help!

If you enjoy Zinfandel I recommend Rafanelli and Quivira, both in Dry Creek, both very close to one another. Zichchi is another good option for Zinfandel. Ridge (already mentioned) is nearby as well. Also, Dry Creek Winery makes nice Zins as well as other varietals. All of these wineries offer estate wines.

For RRV, I like Rochioli for pinot and sauvignon blanc.

Not sure what your definition of small is exactly but I think these would all fit the profile of what you are looking for.

Here is a good resource for Dry Creek:

Aug 19, 2015
MikeW in San Francisco Bay Area

Wine fridge - Kenmore? Vinotemp?

Vinotemp is very customer unfriendly. Some might say hostile. A search of the internet will reveal the details. They actually have a clause in their terms and conditions sheet that would theoretically allow them to sue you for commenting on this Board about their customer service issues.

This is from their Terms and Conditions, and I know at least one person reported having been sued:

… acceptance of this sales contract prohibits you from taking any action that negatively impacts Seller its reputation, products, services, management or employees, unless you have:

(A) first communicated with Seller, and (B) your statement/claim has been substantiated or validated by a judgment. Should you not follow this process, Seller in its sole discretion, will provide you a seventy-two (72) hour opportunity to retract the content in question. If the content remains, in whole or in part, you will immediately be billed US $2,500, as liquidated damages, representing a fair estimation of damages, for it would be impracticable or extremely difficult to fix the actual damages…

May 03, 2015
MikeW in Wine

Philadelphia restaurants serving hormone free beef?

I generally don't prefer grass fed but some of the best steaks I have had (mostly in Spain) have been at least partially grass fed.

As I recall reading, they let the cows age significantly longer before slaughter, which imparts more flavor.

Thinking Asador Etxebarri.

Apr 24, 2015
MikeW in Philadelphia

Philadelphia restaurants serving hormone free beef?

Just looked at the menu for Barclay Prime.

Looks like they have a 50oz hormone/antibiotic free ribeye on the menu for $130, presumably for 2 or 3 people.

Apr 24, 2015
MikeW in Philadelphia

Philadelphia restaurants serving hormone free beef?

Really? You equate the two?

I prefer Brandt to Simplot. That's why it matters to me.

Apr 23, 2015
MikeW in Philadelphia

Philadelphia restaurants serving hormone free beef?

Did a search, could not find anything on this Board to answer this question.

Are there any restaurants in Philadelphia that offer hormone free beef.

A search came up with Tony Luke's only. I was thinking about high end places or steakhouses.

Apr 23, 2015
MikeW in Philadelphia

Monsieur Benjamin (Hayes Valley, San Francisco)

Ate there very recently. I though the appetizers (mussels, steak tartare) were better than the entrees by a long shot (quail, pork rib). Rabbit rilletes were ok, but salty. I really didn't like the quail much at all, the sausage stuffing was bland. For me not a very good value either. I can see the appeal, but nothing stood out to me.

Cocktails were good. Service was slow to get started but attentive after that.

Apr 03, 2015
MikeW in San Francisco Bay Area

Dungeness Crab Prices 2014/2015 Season

$5.79 at G and G Market in Petaluma for live or cooked.

Nov 23, 2014
MikeW in San Francisco Bay Area

The Ramen Bar opening 6/30/14 & Pabu opening 7/1/14, SF 101 Calif Street

We tried the Omakase a month or two ago and thought it was fantastic. I didn't find the pieces small and every piece was fresh and varied. It was expensive however.

Not sure what you mean by pedigree in sushi, but one of the owners owns Hana in Rhonert Park, which I have been a fan of.

Nov 13, 2014
MikeW in San Francisco Bay Area

Best steak in Basque area (outside of Etxebarri)?

I concur on Rekondo. Our steak for two was equal to Extebarri. The wine list is of course incredible.

Jul 11, 2014
MikeW in Spain/Portugal

À la carte at Asador Etxebarri?

Had them on the tasting menu in October. In my opinion, no, not remotely worth it. Interesting is how I would describe it. But we just pulled them apart simply.

May 08, 2014
MikeW in Spain/Portugal

M. H. Bread & Butter in San Anselmo

Picked up some at Whole Foods yesterday. The sliced nine grain is expensive at $8 but fantastic for toast.

I was in the Bakery week before last and asked about the bread no longer being carried at Petaluma Market. They told me they were still supplying Petaluma Market.

May 05, 2014
MikeW in San Francisco Bay Area

Dining in the vineyard?

Quivira in Dry Creek Valley near Healdsburg has special dinners outside at their winery, somewhat overlooking, or at least in sight of, their vineyards. Not sure about early August.

Apr 21, 2014
MikeW in San Francisco Bay Area

Seared in Petaluma

It's actually very good and exceeded all of my expectations based on my limited sampling of the menu so far.

Very good cocktails, great burger (Marin Sun Farms meat). Salads have been good as well.

Have not tried the steaks yet other than a bite of the surf and turf which was scallops and filet. Scallops were very good, filet did not stand out but was fine.

Apr 21, 2014
MikeW in San Francisco Bay Area

Fisherman’s Cove Deli and Bait shop in Bodega Bay

We stopped here a few days after Christmas for oysters and also tried the pulled pork sandwich and Portugese style fish soup.

The dozen oysters were perfectly shucked, cold and fantastic. The pulled pork sandwich was devoured by my kids but I stole a bite and it was quite good.

The fish soup had shrimp, rock cod, linguica, potatoes and kale among other things. We really enjoyed this and my kids loved it as well, though I didn't love the linguica.

They offer beer and wine and I had a Lagunitas Lil Sumpin to enjoy with the oysters while my wife had a glass of white.

They also had Dungeness crab for sale on ice.

Jan 07, 2014
MikeW in San Francisco Bay Area

Taverna Sofia in Healdsburg

I tried it a while back for a weekend lunch. I thought it was a bit overpriced and was not knocked out by it. Would give it another shot though as this was a while back.

Nov 14, 2013
MikeW in San Francisco Bay Area

Recommendations for La Rioja region, Spain

I was in Rioja about a week ago and concur on the Lopez de Heredia recommendation. We also visited Finca Valpiedra, which is a modern contrast to Lopez de Heredia but equally enjoyable.

We stayed in Laguardia at Hotel Villa de Laguardia Sercotel. This was centrally located and very convenient to many wineries. It is walking distance to Laguardia. Breakfast was included. I recommend it. Dinner restaurant was only ok however.

Laguardia is beautiful but we felt very uncomfortable in the town. People were extremely unfriendly and there was plenty of staring/dirty looks when we went out for tapas. We found it quite odd and it was our only unfriendly/negative experience in an 11 day trip to Spain. It wasn't the language, as my wife speaks quite well.

Our favorite meal in Rioja was at Asador Alameda, in Fuenmayor. Really creative standout meal including ahi carpaccio, sauteed porcini mushorooms, fantastic sea bream for two (equal to the same dish at Asador Extebarri a few days later) and incredible dessert of cheesecake with queso gelato. Service was very good. Wine list had the usual fantastic bargains just like every other restaurant in Rioja. Highly recommended.

Nov 04, 2013
MikeW in Spain/Portugal

wine storage

I have used Subterraneum in Oakland for thirteen years. I highly recommend it.

Sep 16, 2013
MikeW in San Francisco Bay Area

Rich Table -- An Embarrassment of Riches [SF]

Ate there last week for the first time with 3 others. Almost everything was very good to excellent. Had to wait about ten minutes for our 8:30 table on a Monday night as the place was packed.

We all enjoyed the sardine chips.

The marinated olives were tremendous. I usually hate flavored olives but though these were really well done.

The beet salad was a standout, loved the contrast in textures. A lamb pasta (maybe a special) was another standout dish. Pasta was cooked perfectly.

I had the pork belly as an entree. Good, not earth shattering.

We bought a bottle and a carafe of white and corkage was waived for the wine we brought. Service was very good throughout.

Mar 27, 2013
MikeW in San Francisco Bay Area

Picnic Spot in Russian River Valley

Iron Horse Vineyards is just a few miles from Merry Edwards. Beautiful view. I think they have a picnic area. They definitely have an area where you can sit and look at the view and eat.

As already mentioned, Rochioli has nice grounds if it fits your route.

Mar 19, 2013
MikeW in San Francisco Bay Area

Quick Seattle trip report - Anchovies and Olives, Altura, Book Bindery

Thought I would chime in on my recent long weekend in Seattle. Visiting from San Francisco, and this was our first trip to Seattle in about seven years. I think we ate at Dahlia Lounge and Restaurant Zoe the last time around.

Our first dinner was at Anchovies and Olives. Space was smaller than I expected. Restaurant was fairly loud with an interesting but too loud for my tastes mix of music (Dr. Dre, Geto Boys). I must be getting old. Food was very good. We sampled the Escolar Crudo, which was incredibly rich, Geoduck Crudo which did not knock me out and a really great Frisee salad with incredible black olive croutons.

For entrees I had Rockfish over Corona Beans, sweet corn and pancetta. The fish was a good sized portion and cooked perfectly but the highlight for me was the accompaniments. Other entree sampled was King Salmon over Smoked Eggplant. Excellent dish. The eggplant was infused heavily with smoke which for me rubbed off on the Salmon but it was not overwhelming. The salmon was cooked perfectly and the skin crisped nicely.

Out waiter was helpful and I enjoyed the meal. I found the prices reasonable compared to San Francisco pricing. Wine list had some interesting options and cocktail menu looked great but we stuck to wine.

Prior to hitting Anchovies and Olives we stopped in at Tavern Law for a cocktail. I was not expecting such a modern space or surroundings. We managed to find two seats at the bar and enjoyed two perfectly prepared cocktails. I had a "Cat's Paw," a take off of a Lion's Tale but with the addition of ginger. I could have stayed all night given the incredible selection of cocktails. Our bartender was very friendly and attentive.

Lunch the next day was at Long Provincial Vietnamese. We stumbled on this restaurant as we had originally planned to go to Sitka and Spruce but did not feel like walking all the way back to Capitol Hill (we were staying downtown). We had a great meal here. The squid satay was amazing. The eggplant good. We also sampled the mango salad and shared a special duck leg soup. The soup was good but I have had better in Oakland and San Francisco. All the other dishes were very enjoyable and the prices were incredibly reasonable. Great iced tea as well. Given the location and nearby construction we were surprised to walk in for lunch and see a completely full and busting restaurant.

Next up was Altura for dinner. We had a hard time deciding between Spinasse and Altura but ended up going with Altura because, at least on paper, the menu seemed more appealing to us. We also are big fans of Acquerello in SF and saw the chef had previously worked there. We each did a four course tasting menu with three appetizers, two pastas, two entrees and one dessert. We started with squash soup, squab and foie gras. The squash soup was very good but the portion size was very, very small. The squab was cooked rare and I enjoyed it. The foie gras did not blow me away as it was served chilled which is not my favorite preparation.

From there we moved on to pastas. One was a pappardelle with tripe and oxtail ragu. The other I believe had sea urchin ans was my wife's choice. Her pasta did not blow me away but I enjoyed mine. For entrees I had the Oregon venison saddle. The preparation of the venison was perfect and the meat was tender with just a hint of game, but again the portion size was very, very small. My wife had the Black cod with black truffle and matsutake mushrooms. This dish was very good but the fish serving size was very, very small. Dessert was apple huckleberry crostata which did nothing for me.

Our service was excellent. We brought a 1998 Barolo as it is our anniversary year and our waiter brought appropriate stemware and was accommodating. His wine suggestions for white were spot on. Our dinner was marred a bit by two women seated next to us half way through dinner who were drenched in perfume but that's not the restaurant's fault. We sat at a table not at the bar and tables are close together. We enjoyed our meal but I thought it a bit overpriced. We hardly ever complain about portion size but given the prices, I thought portions should be larger (or prices lower). I was not blowy away.

Prior to dinner we had cocktails at Artusi. Another great bartender. I had the "Averna Smash: Knob Creek bourbon, Averna, walnut oil, muddled Amerena cherry & orange, & Fever Tree Bitter Lemon Soda". Pricey at $13.50 but I liked the drink.

Next day we had brunch at Lola. This was our only disappointing meal. I had chicken kebabs with yogurt and dill. I thought it was overpriced at $15 and the portion was small. The accompanying Greek salad was great. The pita flavorless. Not sure why they didn't grill it. My wife had a wild mushroom scramble which was fine. She got the multigrain/wheat toast and I have to say it was some of the best toast I have had. Service was strange. Would not go back.

Our final meal was at the Book Bindery. This was by far our most enjoyable meal. I loved the decor and atmosphere, as it was lively but a bit more restrained than Altura and certainly more so than Anchovies and Olives. Server was excellent . We again brought a bottle (2001 Littorai Savoy) and our server brought Pinot glasses for us (wine was spectacular and was perfect with our entrees).

We started with the house smoked pork belly. Really well done and the accompanying celery apple salad cut the richness. Next we had the white beans and clams with chorizo. I really enjoyed this although it was not overly complicated. Kind of a rustic dish but the chorizo infused the broth nicely. My wife had a hearts of palm salad. This would not have been my choice and I just had a small taste and don't have much to say on the dish other than the presentation was beautiful. She enjoyed it.

For entrees I had duo of rabbit that actually came three ways. First was a bacon wrapped loin. I really liked this but this was the weakest of the three as the bacon overwhelmed a bit. The confit leg was fantastic, perfectly done. The dish also had two tiny racks of rabbit, which were incredibly flavorful. My wife had the duck breast which was cooked perfectly and really enjoyable. Portion size was pretty large and we were quite full.

A single shared dessert was the potted pumpkin cheesecake. We both loved this. This meal was the highlight of our trip and I thought the experience stood well above the other dinners we had in Seattle. One note, we took a cab and getting a cab back on a Saturday night is next to impossible. We were told it would be an hour. We left and walked over to Fremont and got one pretty quick, but if you have to call a cab expect a very long wait.

Oct 19, 2012
MikeW in Greater Seattle

Guerneville as location for Russian, Sonoma and Napa?

Healdsburg is 15 miles north of Santa Rosa. Takes about twenty minutes. I rarely hit traffic north of Santa Rosa. And they opened the third lane of traffic on 101 North from Cotati to Santa Rosa.

Aug 30, 2012
MikeW in San Francisco Bay Area

Frascati - quite delicious and creative [San Francisco]

Frascati has always been one of my favorites. Have not eaten there in a few years but probably visited at least ten times up through 2010. Never had a bad meal or off night. Interesting wine list, good food and reasonably priced.

Aug 14, 2012
MikeW in San Francisco Bay Area

Need help refining plans for Sonoma County

I highly recommend Copain if you can get an appointment. They should have Syrah and Pinot to taste at least. Pinots are on the more restrained side. Great view/scenery.

Rafanelli is one of my favorite Zin producers and they are in a great location on West Dry Creek Road. Not a great view or a place to taste leisurely while enjoying a view however, and they don't even have a regular counter. It's very informal. Last I visited a few weeks ago they had Zin, Cab and Merlot to taste.

Nearby is Quivira which has very nice grounds and generally will have Syrah, Zin and whites to taste. Great picnic spot.

Wilson Family is a Zin producer that has a nice patio/view. They are on Dry Creek Road, not too far from Rafanelli.

Rochioli would be my choice for great Pinot with a view but not sure what they are tasting now and their tastings are often pretty limited.

Swan is not much on scenery but a great place to taste Syrah and Pinot and their wines are well priced. Pretty much just a counter though and cold inside.

Have not been to Unti in years so can't recall the scene there. Never been to the others.

Aug 08, 2012
MikeW in San Francisco Bay Area

Eating at the Bar: Cyrus in Healdsburg

Looks like Cyrus is closing.

Jul 12, 2012
MikeW in San Francisco Bay Area

What do people recommend at Bud's Meats?

I live fairly close to Bud's but only tried them once. As much as I wanted to love the place, I was not impressed with the ribeyes or the sausages we tried. For me Brandt beef from Bryan Flannery is the pinnacle and that is what I was comparing it to.

Perhaps a revisit is in order as its been two years. Never heard of Magruder Ranch but will give it a shot.

May 31, 2012
MikeW in San Francisco Bay Area

Rosso Pizzeria + Mozzarella Bar in Petaluma: May 10 & 11 Open House Party and May 14 Opening

Stopped in to Rosso Petaluma last night for dinner. It was quiet at 6 pm but the staff indicated this was the first quiet night they have had since opening.

Sampled the Trio of Burrata. The straciatella was the standout. I was not blown away by the traditional but did like the goat cheese version with mint. We also sampled the Roasted Octopus which had the right texture and was very good.

We sampled two pizzas, the Carcofi (artichoke, guanciale , house made
mozzarella, roasted garlic) and the Liguria (caramelized onions, anchovies, olives, gruyere cheese and arugula). Crust on both was as chewy and on par with Santa Rosa. I preferred the Liguria. The anchovies were strong but that did not deter me.

The only dish I didn't love was the chopped salad.-Endive, Rafter Ranch mixed lettuces, peas,
asparagus, mint, and prosciutto cotto. The greens were great as was the dressing, but the prosciutto was a little disappointing and I didn't think the dish came together perfectly.

Service was knowledgeable and very friendly. We were with are kids and like Santa Rosa the kids were given their own dough to shape and have cooked. Wine list did not seem as broad as Santa Rosa but the prices are very reasonable.

Overall I give it very high marks, particularly considering how new the restaurant is.

May 30, 2012
MikeW in San Francisco Bay Area

prather ranch dry aged ground beef

Sampled this early this year. Just about the best burger meat I have found.

Apr 23, 2012
MikeW in San Francisco Bay Area


I had the same experience a few weeks back. Food surpassed the service, and distracted is the right word. Overall a very positive experience but the service is a step or two behind the food. I was satisfied with three dishes however. Entree size seemed to really vary based on the particular dish.

Apr 10, 2012
MikeW in San Francisco Bay Area

Advice for Petaluma,Novato and Sebastapol

What types of things are you looking to eat? Lunch, dinner, casual, type of foods, atmosphere?

In general, I would point to Della Fattoria and Central Market as some of the best Petaluma has to offer.

Feb 17, 2012
MikeW in San Francisco Bay Area