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03.12.08

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Savoring Pigs & Monks

By Gretchen Giles


I s it just us or does an entire weekend devoted to little more than devouring the greater part of an heirloom pig while drinking Pinot Noirs from the around the world sound almost recreational? As though calories could be burned staggering from the Friday night, March 14, Taste of Pigs & Pinot to the Saturday morning, March 15, seminars to a gala dinner that Dry Creek Kitchen chef Charlie Parker has devised to benefit hunger organizations and a local school? Naw, it's not just us, as the Pigs & Pinot event is now in its third year and going strong.

The weekend begins with a taste-around of some 50 international Pinots and a groaning board of artisanal pork products—including a whole roasted suckling—and moves briskly on to two informational morning seminars, one with master sommelier Keith Goldston holding forth on the lush life of Pinot Noir; the other with Palmer himself, who takes over the Relish school to cook the hell out of pig goodness, trotters and all. The weekend ends Saturday with a gala dinner, live jazz, more drinks and yummy etcetera. It all takes place at the Hotel Healdsburg. For more details, go to www.hotelhealdsburg.com/pigsandpinot, and save us a rib.

Meanwhile, over in the Sonoma Valley, some 19 wineries open their doors for the 18th annual Savor Sonoma Valley event March 15-16. Formerly known as the Barrel Tasting Weekend, this drive-around do features thief-drawn tastings from the newest vintages, with the vintners informally waiting your arrival on the crush pad or in the caves. Food, live music, surprises—the works—are guaranteed. This is a designated driver fete of the nth degree and, accordingly, those tix are just $20; those with a more terrible thirst are just $55 for the weekend. For more info, go to www.heartofsonomavalley.com.

We like to read menus the way that other people like to read poetry: with rapt attention, a slight thread of drool hanging nicely from the chin. And so it is that we've made a small mess of the new Hopmonk Tavern 's proposed menu, distributed to the hundreds of people—and we are not joking, hundreds —who lined up to apply for the limited positions at Dean Biersch's new digs, due to open in early April. Redoing the former Sebastopol Brewing Co. as a German-style tavern with an 85-seat interior beer garden, two bars and a promised live music lineup, Hopmonk already has us dancing. The pre-opening sample menu ranges from Thai yellow curry and spicy roasted chicken to a beer-braised sausage plate, a fish of the day, chorizo corn puppies and even samosas. Take a bit of India, throw in a dash of Asia, fry up a bit o' Bavaria, add a pinch of Italy, scoop up some Mexicano, swing by England and pull up a chair. We'll keep you posted on when this new spot is ready to open for biz.


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