Showing posts with label Francis Ford Coppola. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Francis Ford Coppola. Show all posts

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.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Luxuriating in Mayacama and Feasting At Coppola

I don’t get to spend as much time with my family as I would like, so it worked out perfectly that they were able to join me in Mayacama, an incredible development in Santa Rosa. It’s within this community that Inspirato has a  property for rent.  This spacious villa is not available to members until the spring (and booking up fast), but I had a chance to check it out first hand.

With four bedrooms and a den with a large couch, we were able to spread out nicely throughout the house.  My nephew Jake started my day out right by making me a very special (and chocolately) brea. He had a party to go to with my brother so it was a girls’ day and I had a very special one planned at one of my favorite places in Sonoma – the FrancisFord Coppola Winery.

You wouldn’t normally pick a winery to spend the afternoon with an 11 year old and a 13 year old, but the famed director built this place with the family in mind. I love to look at the movie memorabilia and am still in awe every time I go here and stand in front of those Oscars, the Godfather’s Desk or the war torn clothing from Apocalypse Now
Then there’s the swimming pool, the bocce ball courts and the Rustic Restaurant. The place is built just the way the owner wanted it, to share with the family.

My sister-in-law Claire joined myself and the girls as we climbed our way to what looks from the outside like a castle. This was my third visit to the Francis Ford Coppola Winery and I can’t imagine ever tiring of it (or their wine). I took them around to take a look at the movie gallery and store, where Francis and Eleanor Coppola also sell some of their favorite wine, food and decorative items from around the world.

It was a warm day and we had a perfect table at Rustic overlooking the vineyards. The menu is filled with Coppola’s favorites, mostly Italian, but all cooked with fresh, seasonal ingredients. The meal always starts with “Aunt Christine’s Pettole,” which to me are the zeppoles I would get in New York, even served the same way in a paper bag. It was tough for us to narrow down the choices, but we made some excellent ones in the end:

Short Ribs, Argentine Style
So tender and flavorful;


Moroccan Bastilla
A flaky, slightly sweet chicken pie that was both delicious and unusual;

Linguine alla Vongole (linguine and clam sauce)
Not on my plate, but everyone else enjoyed immensely;

Bumbola Con Broccoli E Salsiccia
A tasty bowl of pasta with Italian sausage, red wine, fontina cheese and just a dash of cream.

I had a perfect Coppola Diamond Collection Sauvignon Blanc with my lunch while Claire thought the Chardonnay (a Gold Medal at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition) was wonderful. We decided to wait for dessert and take the tour first. It was my first time taking a formal tour at the Coppola Winery and I learned some things that I hadn’t before about the details of the property.

Bob was our tour guide and he first took us outside to see the vineyards. There are 24 acres of grapes on this property in Geyserville, but it’s not nearly enough to make the 45 wines Coppola produces. They use 135 growers in the county, but produce everything except the sparkling wine right here. We did some sampling here which included the fruit-filled 2009 Director’s Cut Cabernet Sauvignon. I know this wine well as it was the very first  cabernet sauvignon I ever liked and you can count on this winery to consistently produce a good one.

We continued the sampling up at the tasting room, where I discovered some more standouts, including the 2009 Director’s Cut Zinfandel, fruit forward and white pepper back, the way zin should be, and the 2008 Director’s Cut Merlot, with ripe red fruit and just a hint of spice. I also got my first taste of the 2010 Francis Coppola Reserve Russian River Viognier, filled with citrus, especially lemon.

After the tour, we went back to the restaurant for dessert, sharing the Panna Cotta and the Italia's Cream Puffs, both of which can satisfy any sweet tooth quite nicely. We then headed back to the Inspirato house where the whole family enjoyed the beautiful night on the deck. I had never seen anything quite like this deck before, complete with lounge chairs, couches, a fireplace, a large barbecue and a hot tub. It was the perfect night to take advantage of that hot tub and we (at least the adults) poured some wine and watched the full moon over Sonoma.