Friday, August 9, 2013

Coppola and Fig Return While Visiting Vintners

It’s often hard to go back to places I love when there are so many new ones to try. Sonoma is one place where I often make that exception and this trip was no different. I was heading back to Francis Ford Coppola’sWinery and the Girl and the Fig restaurant. I still had plenty of new things to check out also, starting with the Four Diamond Vintners Inn in Santa Rosa.

A big gate with just the name COPPOLA greets you as you get off the freeway. It is just the beginning of the statement as the winery looks more like a large Italian villa or even a castle.  Despite the huge staircase, I managed to quickly and easily find an elevator to take my mom, traveling in a wheelchair, upstairs in

I had gone to Francis Ford Coppola’s when the pool was first beingconstructed and in the fall or winter, so I had never actually seen it being used. It actually turned out just the way it was meant to be. Families were swimming and lounging in front of their cabines (small cabanas). An outdoor cafĂ© offered food and drinks. There was, of course, plenty of wine available too.

We started our visit with lunch and I was happy to hear the Braciole with Rigatoni in Meat Ragu was available. I had seen it on the menu every time I came, but only some of “Francis’s Favorites” are available each day and it was never there when I came.

We shared the Roasted Eggplant appetizer which was tender and flavorful with lots of raw garlic. We also savored Aunt Christine’s Peppole, which is also known as Zeppole.

Mom ordered the Lemon Chicken for her main course and really liked it. As for me, I found the Braciole had been well worth the wait and definitely compared to my Aunt Mary’s recipe.

I could go through the movie memorabilia and look at the genuine Oscars many more times without ever getting bored so I was happy to show it all to my mom on her first trip. We wondered for a while before heading downstairs to a wine tasting.

The selection at Coppola’s is always huge and I am always surprised at just how good they make an inexpensive wine here. It’s often my recommendation when someone tells me they want a good one that doesn’t cost much to look for the Francis Ford Coppola brand.

We tried quite a few wines among which I thought the best were: 2012 Sofia Rose, heavy on strawberry flavor but light and fresh; 2010 Votre Sante Chardonnay, an excellent blend of butter and lemon with just a bit of kiwi; and the 2011 Diamond Cabernet Sauvignon from Dry Creek and Alexander Valley, rich and not overly dry.

Ron, who guided us through the tasting, also brought out a great 2010 Diamond Malbec, explaining how Francis Ford Coppola had fallen in love with the deep dark grape when he was filming in Argentina.

We left Coppola’s property and headed to the Vintners Inn to check in. The property was filled with perfectly manicured plants and flowers and there was even a flowing fountain in the middle, between the four buildings.

Paths led between it all and it was a serene atmosphere I could see getting lost in for a few days if I didn’t have more work to do.

The room at Vintners Inn was definitely warm and comforting with a small patio that led out into the courtyard. A bottle of fume blanc was waiting for us on a small table between two antique chairs.

I decided to check out the Jacuzzi area, which was an intimate section fenced in near the vineyards, melting away my muscles for a short while before I dressed for dinner.

My last meal at the girl & the fig was actually with owner Sondra Bernstein. I had a wonderful time getting to know her and sampling her very authentic French food. I was more than excited to get back there and it certainly met my expectations.

We started, as the French do, with an aperitif. Mom chose a Kir Royale (French sparkling wine and Framboise), while I decided to try the Fig Royale, which substituted the Framboise for house-made fig liqueur. It was a nice change and went well with our selection of cheeses, both French and locally made.

Then we had the Grilled Fig & Arugula Salad with pecans, pancetta and Chevre cheese in a port vinaigrette. We both agreed it was delicious.

My main dish was Croques Monsieur, something I had been thinking about since Sondra ordered it (and let me taste a bit) the last time I was at her restaurant. My mom had the Quiche Lorraine and was surprised it was quite different from the American version she was used to. I concluded that I needed to bring her back to France!

I had a goat cheesecake with raspberry puree that was fantastic while Mom relished her blueberry sorbet. I’m happy to say the dessert portions were small because as it was we walked out of the girl & the fig quite full.

We headed back to the Vintner’s Inn for the night. A wheelchair malfunction and a flowing sprinkler in the pathway literally dampened our spirits a bit, but we soon settled down for the night.

1 comment:

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