Friday, December 13, 2013

St. Francis Winery and Vineyards, Sonoma, CA

Listen up, my fellow oenophiles.  When in Sonoma, the wine pairing lunch at St. Francis Winery & Vineyards is not only thoroughly amazing in every facet of its pacing and presentation, but at $45 per person is also pretty much the deal of the century.  It's not that tough to pay upwards of $100 apiece for wine and pizza lunches at some of the nicer eateries in the area (not that I'm bitching, because food in California wine country is generally pretty expensive but almost always SO worth it).

For starters, both the grounds and tasting room are stunningly gorgeous  And what's not to love about a winery whose namesake's legacy was his great compassion and love for all of God's creatures and the beauty of nature?  I think I really would've liked you, St. Francis.

While the Wine Pairing Menu posted at the door didn't exactly have me at "hello", I'm so glad I let UD talk me into it because it was nothing short of stellar on the plate...not to mention the fact that the generosity of the wine pours almost had us stumbling out afterwards, and I mean that as a compliment.

We were all seated in a verycool vineyard-facing dining room with a lovely view that was quite conducive to interaction with fellow diners.  I tried to blur the faces of our dining companions to protect the guilty innocent, but it proved to be more work than I was willing to invest.  So sorry if you were there with someone you shouldn't have been with.  I'm sure my reader(s) will probably focus more on the number of wine glasses lined up at each place setting than the peeps seated behind them.

So...while the first course of Red Curry Braised Squashes didn't exactly make my heart race on paper, it was astonishingly good on the plate.  The squash was almost dessert-like and the fried cashews and accompanying globe of Falafel (liberally infused with finely chopped kale) with a side of minted yogurt lent a surprisingly snortworthy and savory balance.  Tres Delish!  This dish was paired with a hearty goblet of St. Francis' 2012 Voignier, Wild Oak Vineyard, Sonoma Valley.  More, please. Sorry the pic did not do it justice, but wine was involved.

Next up:  The Mushroom and Ricotta Agnolotti with seared mushrooms and pickled red onion paired with 2011 Red Wine (Cuvee Lago Sonoma County) was one of the most mind-blowing meatless pasta dishes I've put in my mouth.

Even the Bouillabaisse was paired with a red wine (2010 Cabernet Franc, Sonoma Valley).  I'm generally not that much of a red wine drinker, but they were really beginning to grow on me at this point.  This beautiful bowl of shellfish was adorned with Fingerling Potatoes, Fennel Fronds and Grilled Crostini topped with a zesty Rouille. Don't even think about slipping one of your eating utensils within a square yard of my personal dining airspace...imagine you're wearing a shock collar and I'm surrounded by an invisible electric fence.  No. You can't have a bite.

Lunch wouldn't have been complete without a little red meat and we weren't disappointed.  The plate of juicy and rare little slabs of Grilled Bavette of Beef was akin to a perfect Christmas tree adorned with little frou-frou ornaments of Baby Turnips, Garlic Chips, Bloomsdale Spinach with Sesame-Miso Vinaigrette and Truffled Ponzu (whatever the hell "ponzu" is), but the "Da Boeuf" was the real star. This one was paired with a 2010 Zinfandel, Amann Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley.  By now, I was becoming born again in red wines and their high alcohol content...almost to the point of having to request a "nap break" before the dessert course.

The encore appeared in the form of Peanut Butter Mousse with Dark Chocolate Ganache, Red Wine Soaked Blueberries and Pretzel Crunch paired with 2011 Port, Sonoma County.  Somebody bring the gurney around.

This dining experience was beyond compare.  Beautiful surroundings, a brief but educational overview of how the wines pair with each dish, a setting that is conducive to chatting with other diners without being forceful in that respect, and a few extra pours here and there.  This is a must-do experience for "foodies" in Napa/Sonoma.


St. Francis Winery & Vineyards on Urbanspoon

My blog entries contain the unmitigated, and sometimes unforgiving, dining truths and perceptions I experience as an ordinary restaurant patron. Every meal I post about has been fully paid for by one of the participating members of my personal dining party. I do not engage in the gratis blogger freebie dining events I'm constantly invited to attend and never will. If I ooze font-like love for a restaurant in my blog, it's because they totally earned it…not because they gave me free food or knew I was going to share the experience on the internet.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the recommendation, Polly. We didn't get a chance to visit Sonoma while we were in Napa. But it looks like this place is great! I will put it on my list for next time. Cheers, Micky