Edible and eye-able: Artisano comes to Geyserville Oct. 9

chef Dustin Vallete of Dry Creek Kitchen at Artisano 2009

On Saturday, Oct. 9, the tiny town of Geyserville will brim with all things culinary and cultural. That’s when the second annual Artisano takes place, in an al fresco celebration of small production, locally handcrafted wine, food, art, and, new this year, beer.

While Sonoma County is no stranger to elaborate food festivals, in its debut event of 2009, Artisano charmed for its intimate scale nestled on the emerald lawns surrounding the Geyserville Inn.

The crowd numbered several hundred, which made it feel more like a private party that just happened to be catered by some of the North Bay’s best restaurants and wineries.

Part of Artisano’s appeal is the ability for guest to hang out and chat directly with the chefs, winemakers and artists. Rather than working on a bulky platform for cooking demonstrations, for example, chefs chop and cook in a cozy display kitchen set against a backdrop of vineyards and mountains. No small sampling here, either: guests eat extravagantly, loll in the sun and listen to live music, then eat some more.

chef Jeff Mall of Zin RestaurantJust a few examples from last year’s line-up to whet your appetite: hand carved torchon of foie gras-stuffed duck arranged over sweet pumpkin-walnut succotash (Healdsburg’s Dry Creek Kitchen); or grilled lamb moistened in jalapeno-mint jelly over al dente asparagus-pecan rice pilaf (Zin Restaurant in Healdsburg), all paired with luxurious blackberry-black pepper hued Syrah (Forth Vineyards of Healdsburg).

The action takes place from noon to 5 p.m. with more than 50 purveyors including Dry Creek Kitchen, Diavola, Catelli’s, Zin Restaurant, Affronti, Jackson’s Bar & Oven, Syrah Bistro, Hoffman House, Bellwether Farms, Delice de la Vallee, Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery, Cowgirl Creamery, Dry Creek Peach & Produce, Epicurean Connection, Healdsburg Toffee, Shamrock Artisan Goat Cheese, Skipstone Ranch, Sonoma Chocolatiers and Terra Sonoma.

chef Josh Silvers at Artisano 2009

New participants for 2010 include Bear Republic Brewing Co., Baci Café & Wine Bar, and Valdez Family Winery. Cooking demonstrations will be offered by Jimtown Store owner Carrie Brown, and Lia Huber, founder of the Nourish Network.

The fête is also an opportunity to explore some of Sonoma’s best boutique wines, showcasing small producers like Acorn, Arnot-Roberts, Chiarito Vineyard, Domenichelli, Foursight, Garden Creek, Godwin Family, Hughes Family, Icaria, Kelley & Young, Landy Family Vineyards, Leo Steen Wines, Miro Cellars, Montemaggiore, Munselle Vineyards, Musetta, Palmeri, Peña Ridge, Pendleton Estate, Respite Wines, Reynoso Vineyards, Route 128, Saini Vineyards, Skewis Wines, Skipstone, Valdez Family and Verge.

Feasting on the lawn at Geyserville Inn

And prepare for some surprises. When the event’s smaller scale promises up-front contact with the chefs and their cooking, it’s a guarantee. Last year, Geyserville’s Diavola Pizzeria set out a stunning dish of creamy polenta and braised goat stew, in chewy savory knobs of meat bobbing in rich onion broth. Yet chef Dino Bugica proved why his approach has always been so attention getting – he demanded a double take, for the honest-go-goodness fur-covered wild pig head perched as decoration on his table.

Details: Artisano, Oct. 9, noon to 5 p.m. at Geyserville Inn, 21714 Geyserville Avenue, Geyserville. Tickets are $75, with proceeds benefiting Slow Food Sonoma County North. To purchase, visit artisano.org,. Tickets are also available at Oliver’s Markets in Cotati and Santa Rosa or the Relish Culinary Center in Healdsburg.

Tip: Get thee to Geyserville in style. Charter a Town Car, limo, or even a bus for you gala group, through Pure Luxury Transportation.

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