Our own Russian River Food and Wine Fest '09

It was a weekend I'd been waiting for a long time - camping alongside the Russian River near the wine country in California. We'd planned to pack our weekend full of oysters, wine tasting (Geyserville, Russian River) and of course, food. The weekend didn't disappoint and I can't wait to go back!

Hog Island

Hog Island is a picturesque place to relax and down a few dozen oysters while overlooking the bay. For this trip we made a reservation (far, far in advance) packed a picnic (lots of cheese, bread and sauces) and purchased about 100 oysters (yes, you read that right!) The oysters at Hog Island are amazingly fresh because they've been plucked out of the bay - pretty much before your eyes. Hands down this is tops on my list of things to do in the Bay Area.

For reservations call (415) 663-9218 ext. 255 or email farm@hogislandoysters.com

Salty, briny goodness on the half shell
21021 Geyserville Avenue
Geyserville CA 95441

The sign outside reads "pizzeria and salumeria". I call it amazing. A friend ordered the 'sonja pizza' - tomato, marscarpone, proscuitto and argula - and I coveted it the entire meal! We also tried the pork cheek ragu with rigatoni (divine) and sardines in a tomato based sauce.

But the best part was they had fresh - probably housemade - proscuitto which they allowed us to try. Below are "before and after" pictures of the best proscuitto I've ever tasted. The chef responsible is to be commended!

Proscuitto in fine form

A slice of Diavola heaven - proscuitto

Wine tasting - Dry Creek Valley

We started at one of the Northern parts of Dry Creek Valley to work our way down. The first stop: Bella winery. This is wine tasting in a cave (and I mean that in a good way) with knowledgeable people in a picturesque setting.

Next up: Dutcher Crossing. We really enjoyed this winery from the staff to the wines. I am usually more of a red wine fan but the whites (Chardonnay's) were impressive.

Pedroncelli. Extensive list of well-priced wines in a relaxed setting (read: not snobby). Liked the Friend's Red ($10) and the Sangiovese. Oh, and no tasting fee and a 15% discount if you pay with the Visa Signature.

Finally, Kokomo. We almost passed by because it appeared to be a bunch of warehouses clumped together on a hill and then stopped anyway figuring we could hit a few all at once. The story is that there used to be a stone fruit farm at this location and the buildings were used for processing.

Although I lament the loss of peaches and apricots (assuming this is what they grew) I appreciate the wine and staff, especially a very knowledgeable woman named Robin. Robin clearly knows wine and how to pair it with food given her detailed recommendations and thoughtful ideas. Being a fellow foodie I have to give her kudos for making our last stop a memorable experience before hitting the long road home.

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