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April 2012

April 1, 2012

April in Sonoma

With buds on the vines and in the orchards, and even though our thoughts are about being outside dining on the patio or working in the farm, one indoor activity that always brings a BUZZ to Sonoma is the annual Sonoma International Film Festival.


Running April 11-15, this year the Festival celebrates its 15th anniversary. This is a great event for Sonoma and the roster of films is as dynamic as ever. As you dart in and out of screenings, pop into ESTATE for pizza & pinot or remember that the girl & the fig is open late after the last film.

It’s true that the warmer weather and longer days lure us outside, and new items on the menu, harbingers of spring, inspire us to linger on the patios at ESTATE and the girl & the fig. Celebrating the arrival of the season, two new rosé wines are featured on ESTATE’s wine list Rocca del Mori’s Only Rosato from Salento, Italy and one of our local favorites from Sonoma is Michael Muscardini’s Rosato di Sangiovese. Two fun cocktails return now that spring is here-the SANTINI made with St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, Cranberry juice, and Prosecco and the MIRTILLO MARTINI with a combination of Blueberry Grappa, Honey Grappa, and the most interesting Grenache Verjus from Bonny Doon Vineyards. Sounds like a crazy mixture, but it really works!  You will have to come by to taste it!

Following last month’s Rhone Rangers event, our Rhone-Alone focus at the girl & the fig brings some new items to the wine list:  Skylark Wines Red Belly, available by the glass and bottle, is a beautiful red blend from good friends, Robert Perkins and John Lancaster, and is made from grapes from the North Coast. William Allen continues to please our guests with his Two Shepherds White Blend made with grapes from Saralee’s Vineyards and speaking of rosé, a nice shout out to John Kelly and his Westwood Wine 2010 4-Part from Sonoma Valley. For our cult wine lovers out there – Ryan, General Manager at the fig, is excited to share his allocation of a few obscure and limited wines from Sine Qua Non, Saxum and Paul Lato. With constant inspiration from the farm, the Tequila Rose, (which may be renamed The Harlot), is a beauty with beet & carrot puree, Canton Ginger Liqueur, tequila, blood orange juice, and lemonade – healthy and pretty!
Perhaps the real highlight of the “Rhone” season for us is the annual Hospice du Rhone event Aprl 26-28 in Paso Robles, this year celebrating its 20th year.

For the past 20 years, Hospice du Rhone has been doing its Main Event in Paso Robles. John & Sondra have been there for at least 11 years of the celebrations, starting as just weekend enthusiasts with an innovative place to source new wines for the wine list, gradually becoming active participants by having a booth tasting FIGfood with charcuterie and raclette, as the featured chefs for the pre-parties, or cooking all the meals for the weekend. They are excited to return this year for three very informative, social, drinking, eating, and exhilarating days with old friends and new. This year Chef John and Chef Uriel will prepare the Rosé Lunch on Friday that will feature the rosé wines from the attending producers. Did we mention DUCK CONFIT?  Sondra and John are also excited to see their friends, visiting chefs from Blackberry Farm, as well as the French winemakers that make the annual journey from the Rhone. Sondra and John will also be signing copies of Plats du Jour at one of the weekend’s events.

Click for more information about Hospice du Rhone, tickets and pricing
Featured Recipe
Through April, we enjoy an abundance of Meyer lemons. This chef’s favorite, a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange, is tasty and versatile in the kitchen. It has a thin edible rind, a high volume of juice and none of the tartness of a regular lemon.

It is an Interesting fact that for more than a century, Meyer lemons were primarily a decorative house plant in their native China. How did they get their name? “In the early 1900s, the U.S. Dept of Agriculture sent Frank N. Meyer, an agricultural explorer, on several trips to Asia with the mission of collecting new plant species. Among more than 2,500 plants that he introduced to the U.S., the Meyer lemon was named in his honor.” (NPR story). Here is the the girl & the fig’s recipe for Meyer lemon Drop, which is in spring cocktails section of our new book, Plats du Jour.

Meyer lemon Drop
Makes 2 cocktails

4 ounces vodka
Juice of 2 Meyer lemons **
1½ ounces Simple Syrup (below)
lemon twists, for garnish

Chill the martini glasses.
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine the vodka, meyer lemon juice, and simple syrup. Shake well and strain into the martini glasses. Garnish each cocktail with a lemon twist.

Simple Syrup
Simple syrup is the base for many cocktails and takes only a few minutes to make at home. Just combine equal parts sugar and water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved (about 3 minutes). Let cool before using. You can store simple syrup in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

photo by Steven Krause
** You may want to zest the lemons first and add the zest to fresh fruit salad, add to a sauce for fish or chicken or as a garnish for a lemon tart.
Did you know? 

Time Magazine listed house-cured meats as one of the “Top Ten Food Trends in 2011.” John has been making charcuterie since 1997 and now all the ‘MANO FORMATE’ salami, bacon, pancetta, paté and charcuterie you enjoy at the restaurants is made in-house. Whether it is an antipasti plate or a coppa-topped pizza at ESTATE, the charcuterie board or the pancetta on our signature fig salad at the girl & the fig, or any of the other dishes that feature bacon, prosciutto etc., everything is cured in-house, and hand-made by John, Chef Dustin and the team.

Between 100 and 200 pounds of pork bellies a week are turned into bacon and pancetta. Sample the salumi on a complimentary antipasti Tuesday evenings during Negroni & Nibbles in ESTATE’s bar. Or, would you like to try your hand at making salumi? Find out about taking aMANO FORMATE class from one of our chefs.

John recently was on ABC TV talking about what a delicious complement pickled vegetables are with cured meats. He highlighted two of our in-house artisan food programs: the house-cured salumi and our Sharecropper pickled vegetables, hand-made by our chefs from the produce we grow at the girl & the fig farm.

the farm project

The winter garden is in full swing with 1200 onions planted, along with leeks, potatoes, beets, radishes, carrots, kale and garlic planted, harvested once already and now replanted again! Raspberries have been transplanted from our farm at Imagery Estate Winery to the garden behind the girl & the fig, where we also planted 300 asparagus crowns! We are prepping for the spring and summer garden beginning to plant some herbs at all three locations. And, courtesy of Garden Keepers CSA, we have use of their greenhouse to start tomatoes and other summer vegetables from seeds, soon to be transplanted to the farm.

Follow our farm blog to see what will soon appear on the menus!

By the time we send out FIGbits in May,
Sondra will be sailing the Mediterranean.
Join her May 1-8 
This is the last pre-trip travelogue, and it ends, as the cruise does in the south of France with stops in Cannes and Monte Carlo. Cannes, one of the most popular spots on the French Riviera, is famous, of course, for its international film festival held every May. Your visit to this beautiful port will be early enough in the month that you won’t have to fight the crowds as you check out the luxury hotels, restaurants and shops.
The cruise will conclude in Monte Carlo, where you disembark to fly home. Monte Carlo, like Cannes is well known as a jet-setters’ destination and you can rub shoulders with royalty and wealthy patrons in the cafés and shops. Monte Carlo has perhaps the most famous casino in the world, a frequent setting for many James Bond films. Celebrate the finale of your cruise and try your luck there before you head home!

For more information and an additional 5% savings for our friends visit Millennium Travel’s Website or call (831) 659-0151.

In honor of our EAST COAST trip –
A BIG thank you to our

New York

Beecher’s Handmade Cheese
Flatiron District
900 Broadway
New York, NY 10003

Dean & DeLuca
104 Crosby Street
New York, NY 10012
1150 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10028

Hurley Ridge Market
295 Rt. 375
West Hurley, NY 12491

Lucy’s Whey
80 N. Main Street
East Hampton, NY 11937

425 West 15th Street
New York, NY 10011

Mother Earth’s Storehouse
300 Kings Mall Ct.
Kingston, NY 12401

The Shop at Wave Hill
675 West 252nf Dytrry
Bronx, NY 10471

And remember the FIGstore
is always open.

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