As the last Pure Luxury Transportation buses loaded their Taste of Sonoma passengers for the journey back to Larkspur, Hotel Healdsburg, The Lodge at Sonoma and a variety of other hotels across Sonoma County, there was a palpable sense of contentment in the air.
With more than 170 wineries and 60 of Sonoma County’s top chefs catering the 34th Annual Sonoma Wine Country Weekend/Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch in Healdsburg, everyone had been very well fed, and was now drifting into a happy bit of bliss.
“I’d said I was going to eat every single thing here,” groaned one man, “and I think I did.”
All through the day, a sold-out crowd of 2,500 guests wandered the white tents of the vineyard property, set up in honor of each AVA including Alexander, Dry Creek, Russian River and Sonoma valleys. Most had sipped and eaten all along the way, savoring everything from mocha cream pie from Petaluma Pie Company, to marinara topped meatballs from Rustic.
Big, meaty ribs with crispy coleslaw from Smokehouse Barbecue were a crowd favorite, and in fact, the barbecue theme was strong, ranging from grilled lamb with heirloom tomato couscous from Meritage Oyster Bar & Grill, to lamb burgers from Flipside Bar & Burger, to succulent marinated lamb chunks from Pozzi Ranch.
But there was something for everyone, starting with a beautiful fresh peach cake drizzled in buttermilk cream from Dry Creek Peach and Produce, and ending with local lavender and honey French macarons from Moustache Baked Goods. In between, the chefs never let up, working in a frenzy to keep the lines moving.
At the brand new Drums & Crumbs, chefs Arthur Chang and Rachel Hundley fried hundreds of perfect drumsticks in a crispy Southern batter and presented them with Carolina coleslaw. In another tent, chef Shane McAnelly worked with Tweezers style precision over a pretty mix of hamachi tartare dotted with jalapeno, avocado puree and grapefruit, while Jordan Vineyard & Winery chef Todd Knoll filled little bamboo cones with ahi poke.
One of the heartiest samplings was the Cabernet spiced lamb sliders slathered in K-J heirloom tomato jam from Partake by K-J chef Justin Wangler, while one of the most refreshing bites on the breezy but warm day was the chilled Soda Rock Farms heirloom tomato bisque finished with basil, crème fraiche and caviar from Peloton Catering’s chef Tim Vallery.
El Dorado Kitchen was another standout, with a decadent pairing of fried soy-glazed pork belly with yuzu compressed watermelon, pickled shallots and jalapeno vinaigrette. Sea Thai Bistro was immensely popular, too, for its complex recipe of free range chicken with long beans in panang curry over jasmine rice, while one of the longest lines was for the spicy tuna rolls being handed out by chef-owner Ken Tominaga of Rohnert Park’s Hanna Japanese Restaurant.
“I’m so glad I don’t have to drive,” said one woman, as she walked to the bus taking her and her friends back to the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn. “Because wow, there was a lot of great sparkling wine, and I just couldn’t resist any of it.”
Sonoma Wine Country Weekend: sonomawinecountryweekend.com.
Tip: Be green for your next big event, by hiring a private limo or Town Car for door-to-door service. Pure Luxury Transportation is a leader in environmental responsibility. As members of Green Ride Global™, Pure Luxury has committed to GHG emissions reductions from all areas of the company’s business operations of 20 percent over the next 5 years.