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winter 07 – winter 08

July 7, 2010
by

a note from sondra

It is hard to believe that we celebrated our 10-year anniversary this past year.  I don’t really know how it is possible for the time to pass so quickly.  So much has happened over the past years, and we have definitely planted our roots firmly in Sonoma County.

In almost any periodical that you read about food, the HOT trend around the world is “local and regional.”  This seems funny to me, because I don’t look at this as a trend but more as a lifestyle.  The seasonality and passion regarding food & wine is what originally brought me to Sonoma County fifteen years ago.  The restaurant’s focus has always been inspired by our local bounty and the incredible artistry of our neighboring farmers, foragers, fishermen, producers, cheese makers and vintners.  As this “TREND” continues, the rest of the country will be fortunate to take special notice of what they already have in their own backyards, utilize it to the fullest and be proud of their food heritages.

Our guests are more educated than ever.  They are excited about food & wine, technique & tradition and elevating their culinary sophistication to the next level.  This works for us, because we love to share our passion and knowledge and brag about Sonoma’s beauty with our visitors.  This will be a year for us to concentrate on spreading the passions and the flavors of wine country with not only our guests, but especially our staff.  Our training sessions will become more of a priority to our management team.  Whether it is by reading, tasting or games that we will play, this education will reinforce what we already know – we are living in paradise – one sip, one bite and one view at a time!

When was the last time you came for a visit?  Come soon – your table is waiting.

Sondra Bernstein, Proprietor
the girl & the fig

the girl & the fig caters!  rings in the new year

the girl & the fig CATERS! brought in 2008 at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art.  Museum Director Lia Bonagura-Transue, co-chairs Kristina and Matthew Heim and a crew of wonderful volunteers created the spectacular “icy” décor for the Midwinter’s Night Masked Ball.

The celebration started with some fabulous specialty cocktails.  Alongside a towering ice sculpture filled with shots of vodka, we served ahi tuna tartare, toast points with chive butter and caviar, lobster vol-au-vents, lamb timbales, and savory madeleines with crème fraiche and caviar to get the evening started.

Inside the dining room, the guests enjoyed four savory courses.  An extravagant selection of miniature desserts finished off our menu, while Sonoma’s finest welcomed the New Year while dancing to the fabulous tunes from the Spice Band.  What a great night!

Andrea Koweek, Director of Operations
the girl & the fig CATERS!

this year’s martini madness winner was us!

Put on annually as part of the Sonoma Valley Olive Festival, Martini Madness is a friendly competition between local restaurants and bars to make the best “olive-inspired” martini.

the girl & the fig’s winning entry this year was the St-Germain “aperitini.”  St-Germain is an increasingly popular liqueur that is as unique in its flavor as it is with its production.  Handpicked elderflower blossoms are manipulated using an artisinal French technique, which results in a flowery and fragrant liqueur perfect for using in cocktails or quite simply on the rocks.

Stop by the girl & the fig soon to try our winning cocktail and sample our new favorite liqueur!

the girl & the fig’s St-Germain “aperitini”
Hendricks gin, St-Germain elderflower liqueur,
Lillet Blanc, & lemon, cucumber wrapped luque olive.

what we are tasting

Every month I arrange for the service staff to visit one of the wineries that are represented on our “Rhone-Alone” wine list at the girl & the fig.  It is my hope that through these experiences the staff will not only be able to talk about that particular wine with more knowledge, but also be able to share the experiences of the winery and its owners with our guests.

Last month, we were fortunate to visit Nicholson Ranch Winery where Ramona Nicholson gave us the tour of her beautiful estate perched atop the Carneros hillside. We learned about the beginnings of the winery, her family and their winemaking practices. Then we sat down for an incredible lunch in the caves and tasted wines. The wine that we were most interested in was the 2004 Bennett Valley Syrah, since that is what we currently have on our wine list.

The Bennett Valley appellation in Sonoma County has a consistent marine influence, which creates an ideal growing condition for Syrah.  Cool coastal fog and wind pour into the Bennett Valley, which help to create a long growing season that helps maximize flavors.  This is true of the Nicholson Ranch Syrah. This wine has beautifully structured flavors with a nice long finish. Because of the addition of stems, there is a balance of fruit; blackberries and plums mixed with earthy qualities.

This wine works beautifully on our current menu with the hearty meats as well as our top sirloin burger!  Come on in and taste the flavors of Nicholson Ranch Bennett Valley Syrah!

Cheers,

Gary Saperstein, Wine Director
the girl & the fig

Say Cheese!

Tumalo Farms Classico
Bend, Oregon

With nutty, sharp and tangy flavors that sharpen with age, this goat’s milk cheese is currently one of our favorites.  The cheese is aged for 8-12 weeks, has a semi-firm texture and is produced in small batches.  All in all, this creamy, classic gouda-style cheese has definitely made it to the top of our list!

And we’re not the only ones who love this cheese!  Classico was the first place winner in its category at the American Cheese Society Competition in 2007.

Based on the idea of “food for soul,” Tumalo Farms is located in Central Oregon and was founded by former Silicon Valley executive Flavio DeCastilhos and family.  Known for its traditional Dutch and Italian cheese making practices and experimentation with local Oregon ingredients, Tumalo Farms is quickly making a name for themselves as a producer of quality cheeses.

The Tumalo Farms Classico cheese would be a perfect pairing with the Nicholson Ranch 2004 Bennett Valley Syrah that is currently on our wine list.  Stop by the girl & the fig or the fig pantry soon to pick up this fantastic wine and cheese pairing!

fig tidbits

*  Congratulations to Executive Chef John Toulze and wife Tina, who welcomed a new baby boy this month.  Samuel Jason Toulze was born on January 8th, and joins big sister Lilly as part of our extended fig family!

*  Pick up a copy of the January 2008 issue of Bon Appetit magazine to read the girl & the fig’s feature on confit, the “technique of the year.”  Discover the essentials of this classic French technique by trying out the recipes contributed by the girl & the fig chef team, including our staple: duck confit.

*  Join us on a culinary adventure: a Mediterranean culinary & wine voyage with Sondra & John!  Experience a week of eating, drinking, touring, relaxing, and making new friends on a Silversea cruise! For more information, please visit the Millennium Travel website at www.mmtravel.net.

* Don’t forget that the fig café always offers complimentary corkage!

bistro plat du jour

Have you stopped into the girl & the fig lately to try our bistro plat du jour?  Our plat du jour menu changes every Thursday evening and offers a selection of three courses designed to pleasure your palette.  Included within these courses are your entrée, plat and dessert or fromage.  An additional flight of specially paired wine is also offered.  Formerly only offered Sunday through Thursday, our special plat du jour menu is now offered every day of the week, and is more than a bargain at $32.00 for three courses.

In celebration of the Olive Festival, our plat du jour menus will be inspired by the olive until the end of February.  Help us honor the olive by stopping in soon to try our chef’s special creations!

a new year, a new us!

What better time for a transformation than the New Year?  Here are a couple of changes that we’re excited to share with you:

*  The annual January closures of the girl & the fig and the fig café brought with them many exciting renovations and new scenery for both employees and guests alike.  the fig café gave up its decorative wooden bar to make way for a custom made bar inlaid with light green tiles.  The old bar now serves as the coffee bar for the fig pantry, and is a perfect complement to the vintage atmosphere of the rustic store and deli.  Among many exciting changes at the girl & the fig is the newly refinished antique bar, which has helped to create a unique atmosphere in the restaurant for years.  Stop in soon to see the new sparkle of all of our newly renovated locations!

* the girl & the fig is going green!  In the coming year, we look forward to doing our part in the ever increasing efforts to become more environmentally responsible.  Newly purchased composters will help us to turn our food based wastage into fertile soil to use in our expanding localized gardens, which will in turn be used to grow more of our own vegetables and herbs.  We will also continue to switch our paper and cleaning products over to eco-friendly products and our light sources over to low energy bulbs.  We are eager to enact these changes and look forward to developing more ways to decrease our global impact in the future.

a valentine’s day getaway at les petites maisons

Ever since Les Petites Maisons was featured in Sunset Magazine as one of 2007’s “Top 10 Romantic Cottages,” we have been welcoming more and more couples looking for that special place to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries or just to get away for a special weekend.

This year, and for the first time, we will be offering a special “Valentine’s Day Getaway” package, which will only be offered during the month of February:

Valentine’s Day Getaway

Cheese & Charcuterie platter for 2, Bottle of sparkling wine, Selection of chocolates, Dinner for 2 at the girl & the fig, Copy of Illuminated Heart,
Price: $145.00 (nightly rate is not included)

Visit us online at www.lespetitesmaisons.com to view our entire selection of packages or to make your reservation!  We would love to make this Valentine’s Day your most special yet!

Our cottage rates are changing on March 1st!  Make your reservation with us now to take advantage of our current rates!

“rhone around the world”

For over ten years, the girl & the fig has concentrated solely on “Rhone-Alone” wines.  Though many of our offerings are from California and right in our own Wine Country playground, the wine world is continuing to show off its ability to create amazing wines with the traditional “Rhone” varietals originating from the Rhone Valleys in France.

Through our “Rhone-Alone” Wine Club, we will take you on a voyage that will teach you about these age old varietals, the areas in which they grow and the vintners that create their magic potions.  It is our goal to bring you a selection of interesting Rhone varietals that are in limited quantities, hard to find, exclusive, and unique.

Each quarterly shipment will include one to three wines.  Included in the package will be detailed tasting notes, grape varietal information, the inside story about the folks behind the wines, and recipes from the girl & the fig to create the perfect pairing.  We will also keep you posted on Rhone wine events around the country and other special events in Wine Country.

featured recipe: roasted garlic soup

4 whole bulbs of garlic, broken, cloves peeled
1 ½ cups olive oil
1 Spanish onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 carrot, peeled & diced
3 tablespoons whole butter
1 cup white wine
2 quarts vegetable stock
1 cup heavy cream
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400°.  Coat garlic cloves with olive oil and roast until golden and soft in oven.  Meanwhile, sweat the onion, celery and carrot in whole butter in a saucepot over medium heat until soft.  Deglaze pan with the white wine.  Add the roasted garlic and reduce until almost dry.  Add vegetable stock and simmer for about 20 minutes.  Add heavy cream and continue cooking for 10 minutes.  Purée the soup, pass through a fine mesh strainer and adjust the seasoning to taste.

Serves 10-12
recipe by Chris Jones, Chef de Cuisine

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