Dear Santa Claus….
How are things way up there on the North Pole? I hope you’re staying warm, and Mrs. Claus is whipping up plenty of cozy dishes… possibly a hearty, slow-cooked venison stew?
I can imagine that this time of year up at the Pole, sans fresh vegetables with dinner, you’re more than likely utterly pining for a big fat heirloom tomato or a platter of perfectly steamed, pencil thin, asparagus. Well, things here in Sonoma are pretty darn cold as well. I am already beginning to think that maybe, just maybe, I didn’t eat quite enough summer vegetables. I hope you did while you were vacationing in South Florida or whatever warm weather locale you spend your summer!
Of course you know that I have been a very good girl this year and just in case you were at a loss for that certain something special that I would undoubtedly love, please find my dream gift list below. I promise to leave you a few bottles of my favorite Sonoma Valley wines in lieu of that boring old milk and cookies!
1. A semi truck loaded with food for F.I.S.H.
2. A “bake the perfect biscuit!” lesson from the Fremont Diner.
3. The “Suckling Pig Dinner Party” for my closest friends at Glen Ellen Star.
4. One very large, very beautiful, clay-baking dish from Bram.
5. A yearlong C.S.A. membership from a local farm.
6. A “Sparkling Wine of the Week” club membership (Does this exist?!).
7. A food-filled, culinary-crazed weekend in San Francisco.
8. To finally join Sondra Bernstein on one of the girl and the fig’s “Culinary Cruises”
9. Dinner (at long last!) in the downstairs dining room at Chez Panisse.
10. Perfect Chinese soup dumplings, here in Sonoma.
On the menu
Through December 24, visit the Envolve tasting room to taste their favorite wines to pair with your holiday meals with the “Holiday Meal Wine Flight” for $10. Visitors can also take advantage of discounts on six or more bottles and case purchases. Visit envolvewinery.com for more information. They are located in the new wine alley at 27 E. Napa St., on the Plaza.
There are many wonderful festivities at the Fairmont Mission Inn for the holidays. Bring the kids for “Lunch with Santa” every Saturday in December from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at The Big 3 Diner. Sip their signature holiday cocktails in the cozy Lobby Bar, such as the Mistletoe Martini, Hot Buttered Rum, or a Sparkling Apple Pie. There is live holiday music on Friday and Saturday evenings from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. featuring local school bands, choral groups and musicians.
Join CornerStone Sonoma on Thursdays thru December 20 for their “Thursday Late Nights” in the Crystal Grove and see this year’s fun, holiday snowmen display. During these festive evenings, attendees can also check out the live music, artist lectures, trunk shows, hot toddies, generous discounts on fine wine, free tastings and complimentary dessert with dinner at Park 121. Visit Cornerstonesonoma.com for more details.
This recipe is inspired by the Fremont Diner’s glorious, perfectly Southern biscuits. I hope they’re even half as delicious. Maybe one day, I will convince them to host that “biscuit making class!” Makes 6 biscuits.
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- Rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon milk or cream for brushing biscuits
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425°F. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda onto a sheet of wax paper, then sift again into a bowl. Blend in butter with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk and stir with a fork until a dough just forms (dough will be moist). Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead gently 6 times. Pat out dough on a floured surface with floured hands, reflouring surface if necessary, into an 8-by 5 1/2-inch rectangle. Using a round biscuit cutter, cut into six large rounds, flouring cutter between cuts. Transfer biscuits with a metal spatula to an ungreased baking sheet, arranging them 2 inches apart, and brush tops with milk or cream. Bake until pale golden, 12 to 15 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool to room temperature.