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FARMHOUSE INN WITH HOLIDAY FOOD AND WINE FAVORITES

 
Winter Vineyards


We freely admit it; we’re spoiled here at Farmhouse Inn. Living in Sonoma County we have immediate access to some of the finest food and wine in the world; so imperative as we head into the holiday season. If you’re hosting family and friends this season than you know how important the food and beverage menus are. A little more bragging about how great the food in wine country is (we promise we’ll stop soon): Just this week the 2015 Michelin Guide was released – for those who don’t know, the Michelin Guide was established in France and is a 3 star system of rating Restaurants, and is considered by many to be the most reliable restaurant ranking system in existence. As of 2015, Michelin rates only 3 areas within the U.S.: NYC, Chicago and San Francisco / Wine Country. In addition to world-class food, Napa and Sonoma are the gateway to international award winning wines from the U.S. Okay, we’re done bragging now. You don’t have to live in wine country in order to enjoy the best of the food and wine world. Here is what we’re eating and drinking this holiday season:

 

                                                                                     

Thanksgiving

You have your classics of course: turkey, ham, potatoes, gravy, and many other accoutrements. Here at Farmhouse Inn we certainly serve up a classic meal (sorry, we’re already sold out for this year!), but if you’re anything like our Concierge team you sometimes enjoy something a little left of normal. This Thanksgiving, in addition to watching football, we’ll be serving up ahi tuna, kale salad, and spiced honey cake with caramelized figs to name a few. (Since we’re at the end of fig season you can use jarred figs or substitute with persimmons). Quite the menu – yes, we’re patting ourselves on the back!

 

With so many flavors and varying levels of sweet and spice, it’s important to pick wines that work well with a variety of dishes. There are several wine varieties that are easily paired with a holiday menu. One of our favorites is Grenache – light, fruity, just a hint of earth and spice. From the same neck of the woods (Rhone) is another classic – Mouvedre. Mouvedre is well known as the “meaty” grape. It tends to almost have a brined / salty profile. It is excellent with most holiday meals as it truly compliments almost anything. Some of our favorite domestic Rhone wines come from Dry Creek Valley. Check out the current offerings from Quivira and Frick wineries – place your orders soon because the holidays will be here before you know it!  

 

Christmas

If you’re more of a traditionalist when it comes to the holidays- fret not! Our classic wine country menu begins with citrus champagne cocktails (as all meals should), before we move onto roast beef with red wine gravy, butternut squash – apple soup, and sweet potato crème brulée. Keeping the holiday menu seasonal is an easy thing to do in wine country with so much to choose from year-round. Some of our favorite winter items are listed in our menu above - butternut squash, persimmons, sweet potatoes, and kale.

 

Just like with our Thanksgiving menu, it is important to find wines that work well with a range of dishes. Considering that our entrée contains red wine gravy it is important to serve red wine with that dish. In this case we’re inclined to go with a well-balanced Bordeaux blend from our neck of the woods. Consider the exquisite wines from Calluna Vineyards. The limited production release of their Cuvee blend tops our list of holiday wines. If you’re more of a Pinot-file consider the 2012 Laguna West Pinot from Fog Crest Winery.  You probably have at least one family member who refuses to drink red wine – there is a solution for these picky drinkers. Try orange wines. Hear us out – orange wines are actually wines made from white wine grapes. The winemaking techniques used for these wines veer away from traditional white winemaking practices, and include skin fermentation. One of the most popular “orange wine” grapes in Sonoma County is Trousseau Gris – check out the offering from Two Shepherds. The orange wines work for the bolder dishes because of their larger body and complexity. The unexpected aromas of watermelon and red berries are often conversation starters at the dinner table.  

 

 

New Year’s Eve

Champagne. Really! Do you need anything else?

 

 

 

To stay current with the latest news in wine country and happenings at the Farmhouse Inn be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. To book your holiday visit to the Farmhouse Inn contact your concierge at innkeep@farmhouseinn.com or by calling 707-887-3300.


FARMHOUSE INN EXPLORES INFLUENCES ON OUR WINE AND FOOD CULTURE

 
Sonoma Food and Wine

Food and wine are our two favorite subjects … as you may have noticed if you follow this blog or are a fan of our Facebook page.  Located in the middle of the Russian River Valley, the Farmhouse Inn is in the heart of a culinary and viticulture epicenter. Every week we share our newest food and wine findings with our fans, but this week we'll reflect on the changes in food and wine culture through the influence of the media. (We're impressed with our thoughtfulness too.)

Movies and films have had an enormous impact on our local industry, and social media and magazines continue to reflect these changes. Everything from “Sideways” and “Top Chef” to Bon Appétit magazine and Instagram are changing the way we think and talk about food and wine. Three examples of the media’s influence are shifts in wine preferences, the increasing popularity of the local food movement and the way we make travel decisions.

 

Sonoma Secrets - New Discoveries in the Farmhouse Inn Backyard

 
Unknown Sonoma 2

Living in wine country is never boring- we always find something to do, no matter the time of year or day of week. As we continue to explore our own backyard, it is a pleasure to share our newest discoveries with the Farmhouse Inn fans. Recent outings have taken us from Sebastopol’s Barlow over to Santa Rosa’s newest farm-to-table restaurant and up to Geyserville’s hidden gem, Garden Creek Vineyards.

 

FARMHOUSE INN CONCIERGE REVIEW: NAPA'S THE RESTAURANT AT MEADOWOOD

 
Meadowood Dining Room

 

You might not know (but perhaps suspect) the Farmhouse Inn Concierges get pretty spoiled living (and working) in Sonoma County. We dine at fabulous restaurants, get to try amazing wines, live in a heavenly location...we have to try everything before we can recommend it to our guests. Sometimes we have a dining experience that has us walking away happy, smiling, excited and ready to do it all over again. The first thing we want to do after an experience like that is share it with our Farmhouse Fans.

 

 

 

Last week three of the Farmhouse Concierge team members headed over the hill (in Sonoma -speak that means Napa Valley) to St. Helena’s Meadowood resort. In addition to fine accommodations, spa, golfing, tennis and many other wonderful amenities, Meadowood is also home to a 3-Michelin star restaurant. The Restaurant at Meadowood experience, from your arrival to the food to the decor, are all in such perfect harmony that its hard to find a reason not to love it. For a sneak peek at what you can expect on your visit to The Restaurant; keep reading.



When you enter the Meadowood property you’re pulling into a wine country oasis. Tucked back into the hills on the eastern side of the Napa Valley, guests wind down an olive tree-lined lane to enter this little slice of paradise. While the outside of The Restaurant is unassuming and blends into the surrounding landscape, the inside is an incredible enclave of modern wine country design. A recent remodel of the building enclosed the space that is now being used as a lounge. The lounge offers very comfortable low chair and couch seating next to 2 beautiful fireplaces. The sunken chairs, reclaimed wood coffee tables and fireplaces all create a warm and inviting atmosphere. The lounge is used for the snack menu only- you’ll need to reserve a table in the main dining room in order to enjoy their tasting menu. Unbeknownst to many is that in addition to their tasting menu ($225 per person) The Restaurant at Meadowood also offers a snacks menu ($20 per person). In the lounge guests are also welcome to enjoy any of the wines on their extensive list or one of their signature cocktails created by The Restaurant’s Bar Manager, Sam Levy.


The snack menu is what we had signed up for, however when we say the word “menu” we’re not using it in the traditional sense. Meadowood does not post, publish or print a menu. All dishes are delivered to you by one of their knowledgeable team members and you’re given a verbal explanation of each dish. The snack menu is not your typical fried mozzarella and onion rings- this menu is sophisticated and a play on the tasting menu. Its hard not to take photos of everything that comes out as the presentation of each dish is unique and incredibly well done.

On the evening we dined we were treated to many dishes, but as happens in any meal there were a few standouts. The first course we were presented with was a dehydrated black olive with a black olive infused merengue. This first course was light, delicate and oh, so delicious.


As the menu progresses, so do the flavors and intensity. The second standout of the evening, and our favorite of the night, was a smoked eel wrapped in beef tongue. We’re not sure if we have the adequate words to describe how good this dish was. Salty, fatty, the perfect texture- heaven. We tried getting another round of the eel (and by tried we mean we begged) but the intricate preparation of the dish and limited quantities made all of our pleading and sad eyes for naught.

The final standout was a fantastic preparation of sliced duck pastrami served with compressed kohlrabi, a beautiful mustard and the most delicious gluten-free bread we’ve ever had. Each dish seems to almost have its own personality, and all seem to go extremely well with Sam Levy’s cocktail creations.


You’ll find Sam and all of the other team members at The Restaurant six days each week (they do drop to 5 days during the slower time of the year). The outstanding service provided by each individual comes as no surprise considering the recent recognition The Restaurant received from the James Beard Foundation for Outstanding Service. While some might be expecting an air of hauteur from the staff considering the 3 Michelin stars they have, you will be pleasantly surprised by the absolute warmth and graciousness of the entire staff. Everyone, from the valet to the chefs in the kitchen, are all kind, engaging and never seem too busy to stop and chat. While the atmosphere, food and drinks are all stellar they are infinitely enhanced by the level of service provided at The Restaurant.


We can’t wait to go back soon, but in the meantime we’ll live on the memories and photos. Reservations for the dining room at The Restaurant are required. No reservations are needed for the snack menu. Meadowood is now offering a 3 course menu at their bar for $90 per person and they do recommend reservations for that option.

For more recommendations, recent and upcoming events and to stay in touch be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. To see more photos from our recent visit to The Restaurant at Meadowood be sure to keep an eye on our new Instagram page. To contact a Concierge for information on dining and other recommendations email innkeep@farmhouseinn.com.









NAPA AND SONOMA RESTAURANTS: FARMHOUSE INN FAVORITES

 
Dining in Wine Country


The number one question our concierges receive is how far the Farmhouse Inn is from San Francisco Airport (about 1.5 to 2 hours in case you’re wondering). The second most asked question is “Where is the best restaurant?” That depends but a good place to start is by asking the Farmhouse concierge team where we go when we are hungry. Keep in mind that Wine Country is one of the best places to go if you’d like to indulge your culinary curiosity. With multiple Michelin-starred restaurants, 2 of which have 3 stars, Napa and Sonoma County are packed with dining choices for all palates and budgets. With so many choices it can be a little overwhelming so we decided to distill it down to where our concierges go most often. We’ll break it into 3 categories- best local hidden gems, best special occasion restaurants and bucket list eateries. Just be sure you check with the concierge before booking- there are some strong but varied opinions when it comes to the best restaurants.

 

Local favorite spots are often the hardest to find when traveling because quite frankly, the locals hesitate to share their neighborhood gems with visitors.

These favorite local spots are often the best, so its a good idea to ask your concierge or any local where they’d go for dinner. At the top of the list is Willi’s Wine Bar. Willi’s is located in an old roadhouse across the street from soccer and baseball fields- you’d never find it unless you knew it was there. Willi’s menu focuses on tapas (small plates)and has an international influence. Their back patio is a favorite hangout for Sonoma locals during the summer and their wine flights are excellent. Best part- they have a large bar seating section and they offer the full menu there.

Another local spot is hard to find also due to its almost hidden entrance. SCOPA is an Italian eatery in Healdsburg and the only way to find it for the first time is to look for the large Barbershop sign painted above the entrance. With very few tables, a small bar and its mass popularity with locals it is often difficult to acquire a reservation. SCOPA’s menu is packed with such delicious offerings that you’re sure to walk away wanting to come back the next night. If you booked your vacation at the last minute and SCOPA is full we recommend trying their sister restaurant Campo Fina.

 


Wine country reviews...Farmhouse food and wine!

 
Farmhouse Frutti di Mare

This has been a crazy week...first we had a big lifestyle article about Catherine & Joe (the brother and sister team that own the Farmhouse Inn) come out in Better Homes and Gardens ("Innkeepers Recreate Their Wine Country Childhood" -page 50).  And then on Sunday Jeff Cox of the local Press Democrat reviewed the Farmhouse restaurant  (called it an "exquisite experience").  Monday night Catherine and Joe went with the chefs to the Zagat release party and out dinner to celebrate the Zagat reviews (27 for food and tops for service- Yeah!).  And yesterday Joe came in waving the new Sunset magazine issue with the Best of the West hotel awards and there we are...again!  (Specifically mentioned for best for Food & Drink.)

Wine Country Celebrates the Holidays- Memories created by Farmhouse

 
Christmas squirrels and acorns at Farmhouse Inn

    We like celebrating as much as you do. And luckily, this time of year there's a lot to celebrate. Christmas and New Year's are obvious choices. But, the whole holiday season is a spectacular time for a romantic get away to Sonoma wine country!  And, we'd love to make merry with you -   
so, here's a list of merry times to be had at the Farmhouse.    We hope to see you here.
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