The 9th Taste of Petaluma is this Saturday, August 23, and bigger than ever—meet the newcomers
Miriam Donaldson and Josh Norwitt’s Wishbone will serve bacon jam blt’s and iced coffee for Saturday’s 9th Annual Taste of Petaluma. Wishbone, new to Taste, proudly identifies with Petaluma’s ranch heritage. Their unforgettable slow-cooked bacon jam is an amazing alchemy of bacon bits (they use Love Family Farm bacon, where they get first pick of the pork), 24-hour caramelized onions, maple and coffee. The jam is slathered over house-made sourdough toast that comes from a wild starter from the couple’s Roblar Road cattle ranch and apple farm. Vine ripened heirloom tomatoes and greens finish it off. “You can knock out brunch for 150 people and every single serving is amazing,” says Donaldson. Wishbone will be hosted by the Phoenix Theater, in downtown Petaluma for Taste. The restaurant itself is located at 841 Petaluma Blvd. North, in the historic Three Cooks Café brick building. Photo: Geneva Anderson
The 9th annual Taste of Petaluma is this Saturday, August 23, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and it’s all about connecting with Petaluma’s small-town charm and rich sense of community—bite by glorious bite. Taste is a benefit for Cinnabar Theater’s youth repertory programs and if you’ve ever attended one of Cinnabar’s remarkable youth performances, you understand what a treasure Cinnabar is. This year, Taste of Petaluma is bigger than ever with over 100 of Petaluma’s restaurants and food, wine and beverage purveyors participating at 54 locales. Some 85 musicians will be playing in a dozen locales downtown too, offering just as promising a musical menu (full performance schedule here). The event draws people from all over the Bay Area and $40 gets you 10 generously portioned tastes of your choosing.
Recently, I participated in two “mini-tastes” and had the chance to meet the owners and chefs of several new restaurants, hear their stories and sample what they’re preparing for Taste. I tried everything from bacon jam BLTs with duck egg mayo and heirloom tomatoes on homemade sourdough from Miriam Donaldson and her team at homey Wishbone on Petaluma Blvd. North, down by the Police Station, to Wagyu New York Tataki from Joe O’Donnell at upscale Seared on Petaluma Blvd. North’s restaurant row. Both of these inviting establishments opened in the past year, have chefs and staff in their 20’s and 30’s, and represent the energy and diversity in our local food scene. As if cooking weren’t a full time job, many chefs are growing their own vegetables and fruits and are highly attuned to what’s peaking on a daily basis. Their menus are constantly changing and they are experimenting with their bounty. A few are even raising their own meat. They’re all joyous about having a hand in every step of the process and that includes scoring some great salvaged wood or a glass case or pulling all-nighters ripping out flooring. “It’s been nice to move around,” says O’Donnell, “but Petaluma feels like home and it’s got everything I need close at hand. There’s no place like it. We’ve caught up.”
Zodiak co-owner Kristin McMaster is serving their signature Slow Roasted Baby Back Ribs with Cool Mango Slaw at this year’s Taste of Petaluma. McMaster’s radiant personality and high energy propel her through long days as she lives out her restaurant, music club, beer hall, and gallery dream with her fiancé and business partner, John “Jonesy” Jones. The young couple, passionate “garage-salers,” who live in the neighborhood peeked into the enormous space when the old Kodiak Jack’s was closing and they were having an estate sale. They fell in love with its potential and made an offer on the space the next day. They mixed and poured the concrete and Kristy painted the space herself. Zodiac’s wonderful vibe includes daily live musical performances, and professionally displays of local art. Photo: Geneva Anderson
“Even though it’s bigger than ever, Taste was a lot easier this year,” explained the event’s founder Laura Sunday, who estimates that 1,500 people will turn out. “A lot of restaurants contacted me early, eager to participate, and several of the hosting venues took the initiative and told me who they were partnering with. This is the only tasting event on this scale I know of that doesn’t operate like a food fair. People actually get to go into a restaurant, check out the ambiance, and sample very generously. You couldn’t buy better advertising. We’ve got new establishments eager to introduce themselves to the community and lots of well-rooted restaurants and vendors who do this year after year because they enjoy giving back to Petaluma and to Cinnabar Theater.”
Stay-tuned to ARThound for more on Taste of Petaluma.
More About Cinnabar: Cinnabar Theater, located in the old red Cinnabar Schoolhouse on Petaluma Blvd and Skillman Lane, opens its 42 season on Friday, September 5, 2014, with the musical, Fiddler on the Roof, celebrating this golden oldie’s 50th anniversary. The heartwarming story centers on Tevye, father of five strong-willed daughters who is struggling to maintain his family’s Jewish traditions. Stephen Walsh, who wowed Cinnabar audiences in last November’s hit, La Cage aux Folles, plays Papa Tevye with Cinnabar own Elly Lichenstein (Artistic Director) as his wife. “This has enormous personal significance for me,” said Lichenstein. “All four of my grandparents came to America from villages like Anatevka, and it excites me that our magnificent cast is so committed to tell their story.” The original Broadway incarnation of this beloved musical racked up an astonishing 10 Tony Awards by introducing unforgettable songs like “Tradition” and “If I Were A Rich Man.” Music is by Jerry Brock, lyrics by Serldon Harnick and book by Joseph Stein. Fiddler ends September 21 with a special performance and party commemorating the day it first opened on Broadway. Runs: Sept 5-21, 2014, just 10 performances; tickets $35. Pounce! This is selling out. Cinnabar Theater is a 501(c)(3) California non-profit.
Zodiaks (256 Petaluma Blvd. North) signature Dr. Pepper braised baby back ribs basted in house-made Carolina-style BBQ sauce are meaty, juicy, tender and not at all greasy. I’d add proud…they aren’t slathered in layers of sauce that obscures the quality of their succulent meat. Red cabbage is just the starting point for their artful mango slaw, tossed with a zingy dressing with hints of lime that defines its personality and pairs well with the savory ribs. Zodiacs also host 10 local craft brewers— Lagunitas, 101 North Brewing, Moylans Brewery, Morris Distributing, North Coast, Bear Republic, Hen House, Petaluma Hills, St. Florian’s, Moonlight. A ticket will get you 5 samplings of your choice. Zodiaks will also host an After Taste of Petaluma Party from 4 p.m. onwards. Musicians John Allair and Julia Harre will perform. Photo: Geneva Anderson
Cinnabar’s Young Repertory Theater opens its new season on November 28, 2014 with the classic musical, The Wizard of Oz. This charming adaptation by John Kane for the Royal Shakespeare Company is based on the beloved classic motion picture and features our adorable local munchkins on stage along with Dorothy, Toto, the Scarecrow, the Lion and the Tin Man. There’s no better way to celebrate the holidays! Runs: November 28-December 14, 2014; tickets $15. Pounce! This too will sell out.
Details: The 9th Annual Taste of Petaluma is Saturday, August 23, 2014 from 11:30 AM to 4 PM. Ticket packages are $40 and consist of 10 tasting tickets, good for 1 taste each. Advance tickets can be purchased in person until Friday, August 22, 3 p.m. at the following venues in Petaluma—
Gallery One – 209 Western Ave.
Velvet Ice Collections – 140 2nd Street, Theater Square
Blush Collections – 117 Kentucky Street
Cinnabar Theater between 10-2:30 weekdays
Tickets can be purchased online here (with $4 surcharge per ticket). Tickets can also be purchased on the day of the event from 10:30 AM onwards at Helen Putnam Plaza. Only 1500 tickets will be sold.
Advance tickets can be picked up at WILL CALL at Helen Putnam Plaza (129 Petaluma Blvd. North) after 10:30 AM on the day of the event. The first 1,000 guest to purchase tickets will receive a free Taste of Petaluma tote bag. All participants receive a plastic wine glass. You can purchase more tickets throughout the day for $4 each.
Wishbone co-owner and chef Miriam Donaldson, of Humble Pie fame, is fighting the good food fight in Petaluma at her new locale in the funky brick building previously occupied by the Three Cooks Café—“Raise up! Eat up! More locally-raised meat, veggies and cheese than you can shake a stick at, a full espresso bar, a fun wine list, and the best record collection this side of 101.” Photo: Geneva Anderson
Executive Chef Joe O’Donnell often puts in 15 hours days at Seared and they are paying off—it’s the best steak house in town. Celebrating its one year anniversary this August, Seared, 170 Petaluma Blvd. North, occupies the space that Graziano’s had for over 30 years. O’Donnell’s pedigree includes Scottsdale’s Le Cordon Bleu and cooking stints in San Francisco, Sausalito, Olema, and years spent helping out at McNears, owned by his father Ken O’Donnell, also a partner in Seared. “We’re trying to take a different approach to the steak house mentality here. We do a lot of interesting small plates and top quality servings of great meats and fishes.” Seared is serving chili pepper cod aquachili with avocado, cilantro, on a crisp tortilla with pickled onion AND Wagyu New York tataki on a crispy Kennebec potato chip. Photo: Geneva Anderson
Seared Executive Chef Joe O’Donnell brings a strong Asian influence to his cooking. His Sichuan-tiered Wagyu New York is all about the art of layering. The meat, an Americanized Kobe grass-fed beef, is seared to rare. A kennebec potato is sliced to make chips and dusted with a combination of seaweed, salt, sugar sesame and then grilled. The chips get a dab of black garlic puree (fermented garlic slow-cooked over a week) before the meat is placed on top and then topped again with a scallion ginger puree, some soy bourbon reduction, Sichuan peppercorn and a few pink-tinged micro shiso (asian microgreens). Sichuan peppercorns are a staple of Asian cooking that O’Donnell uses frequently. Harvested from prickly ash shrubs, they have a fragrant aroma and are more floral than peppery. Photo: Geneva Anderson
McEvoy Ranch Winemaker, Margaret Koski Kent, will be pouring McEvoy’s 2013 Rosebud rosé at Thistle Meats which also stocks McEvoy’s prized olives. Nan McEvoy grew in Hillsborough with Thistle co-owner Molly Best’s grandpa and there’s an enduring connection between the families. Kent initially headed McEoy’s expansive gardens and then she studied oenology at Napa Valley College and apprenticed in Italy. She helped launch their expansion into wine. With a nod to tradition and in pursuit of a wine that would complement their high-end virgin olive oil, McEvoy began to interplant grapes on its estate around 2006 and then dedicated several acres to separate vineyards for pinot noir, syrah pinot noir, syrah, grenache, viognier, alicante bouschet, refosco and Montepulciano. McEvoy is now producing several award-winning wines. Kent could not be happier with her job. Photo: Geneva Anderson
Thistle Meats (160 Petaluma Blvd. North) will sample their delectable charcuterie—house-made sausages, pates and terrines, along with McEvoy Ranch’s vibrant 2013 Rosebud rosé. Thistle’s Salami Cotto (above) is cured and then poached, a process which is shorter than some of the other Salami techniques but yields a tender, velvety and very flavorful meat. Thistle’s pork, all pasture raised, is sourced from Green Star Farm in Sebastopol; River Ranch in Potter Valley, Mendocino; B & B Family Farms in Petaluma, and Llano Seco Ranch in Chico, one of the last Mexican land grant properties that remains intact. Thistle is a whole animal shop and receives and uses the entire animal. Their artful displays of exquisite cuts of meats are worth the visit. Workshops in butchery and salumi making are in the planning phase. Photo: Geneva Anderson
Some guys always have a great story to tell and Twisted 2’s owner Dick Warner holds court at his famous Happy Hour (and a Half), every Thurs-Sat from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Here, he talks baseball with Katie Watts, Petaluma’s Press Democrat correspondent at a mini-Taste of Petaluma held for local journalists. Warner’s warm personality is a fine accompaniment to the legendary wines he serves and sells. His ace in the hole is the amazing fresh pistachio nuts he generously offers customers. He worked on a ranch near Fresno for 15 years and negotiated a lifetime supply for all the good business he brought them. “You can’t find a wine that pistachios don’t go with and everyone loves them.” Photo: Geneva Anderson
Twisted 2 (29 Petaluma Boulevard North) in the Lanmart Building is offering Ono Sashimi fresh from Kona, Hawaii with sushi rice, seaweed slaw and a sip of owner Dick Warner’s specially selected 2012 Morgan Sauvignon Blanc from Dan Morgan Lee’s winery in Monterey County. Warner, a renowned wine specialist, pairs courses of their prix fixe dinner menu with wines he selects. Julie Warner cooks and grows almost all of the vegetables she uses herself. Happy Hour (and a Half) is from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and dinner is served from 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. Reservations are essential in this intimate 360 square foot treasure. Photo: Geneva Anderson
Sax’s Joint, a 1950’s style diner, co-owned by Tiffany Saxelby, creates delicious cupcakes with buttercream frosting that are all made from scratch with the finest ingredients. They will serve a selection of mini-cupcakes at Marisa’s Fantasia, 29 Petaluma Blvd. North. Surprisingly, these gorgeous treats look rich but they are not too sweet. Each packs a special mouthwatering surprise—the interior is filled with dollop of scrumptious creamy homemade fruit conserve, caramel, mocha or chocolate. Along with dessert, Sax’s will also serve their popular Chicken Fried Chicken—fileted fresh chicken breast, egg washed and dipped in dry floured seasoning mix, deep fried, served in a cup with homemade country gravy. Photo: Geneva Anderson
Night owl? Speakeasy (139 Petaluma Blvd. North, in American Alley at Putnam Plaza) is open for dinner from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily and is the only place in town where you can go for late night gourmet bites. Owners and life partners, Amber Driscoll and Roger Tschann, have built their reputation on serving elegant tapas-style delicacies in their intimate space. For Taste, their new chef, Josh Dellwo will prepare empanadas with Niman Ranch steak and potatoes topped with a lime cilantro cream, crumbled queso fresco and microgreens. Dellwo’s light flaky crust and the interplay of the tangy lime, cilantro and beef elevate this South American snack into a gourmet treat. Speakeasy, which opened in late 2012, has been so successful that the owners are expanding across the alley with The Big Easy, a banquet-size space where they can showcase music and offer an extended list of wine by the bottle. Photo: Geneva Anderson
Gustavo Martinez, chef and owner of Paradise Sushi in Petaluma’s River Plaza, was trained by Japanese chefs in Lake Tahoe and has been a sushi chef for 16 years now. After working in Santa Rosa, he opened is Petaluma restaurant in November 2012 and never looked back—his Petaluma clients are “much nicer” and his (sushi) bar is hopping on weekends. His ceviche roll, a creative shout out to his Mexican heritage, is a spicy fusion of salmon, serrano peppers, and avocado topped with several varieties of fish, red onions, wine, lime juice & cilantro. Photo: Geneva Anderson
Paradise Sushi in Petaluma’s River Plaza (20 E Washington Street) will serve Ocean and Ninja Rolls. The Ocean Roll (in foreground) is calamari tempura and cream cheese, topped with salmon, lemon slices, crab, scallions and eel sauce. The Ninja Roll is shrimp tempura and crab, topped with tuna, avocado, red snapper, tobiko, eel sauce and spicy mayonnaise. Photo: Geneva Anderson
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