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Fundraiser to benefit Phoenix Theater

Jamison’s Roaring Donkey, in partnership with McNear’s Saloon, Seared and Lagunitas Brewing, held a Phoenix Theater fundraiser on March 29. Along with live music from the Highway Poets, Dixie Giants, Dominic Bianco and Friends, guests met Tito of Tito’s Handmade Vodka.

The evening was filled with games, raffles, drink specials and giveaways. Never skimping when it comes to fundraising, all proceeds from the night will go directly to helping save the Phoenix Theater, which must implement some serious upgrades in order to meet the city’s safety codes.

TAPS happy hour

TAPS has introduced a Happy Hour menu and it looks as great as their vast selection of craft beers. On weeknights, from 3-5:30 p.m., $5 will get you an order of chicken wings, available in five delicious flavors. I prefer the smoked wings and the salt and pepper wings, but for the hot heads in your group, TAPS is well known for their spicy wings.

Stage 1 Wings are their mildest, with Stage 2 being a medium-spiced wing. Not for the faint of heart, Stage 3 are super-fire sauced, so make sure you have a pint of something cool and frothy to help wash these down. Other menu items include Deviled Eggs, stuffed with whipped aioli, black truffle oil, chervil, chives, paprika and harissa; Deep-Fried Brussel Sprouts, tossed in sea salt and toasted pepper, served with a house-made Worcestershire aioli; and Chef Abe’s famous Mac-n-Cheese.

Help a food truck

From time to time, I run across a crowd-sourcing request that I feel is worthy of publication. Recently, I heard that Dimitri Katzoff, also know as “Miti” to his friends, was looking for help putting together a new food truck, and think his is not only a great idea, but that he is worthy of our support.

Dimitri is a Petaluma native, and although you may not recognize his name, you have likely seen his smiling face from behind the counter at Ray’s Deli, or serving/competing at any number of local food events, including the Great Petaluma Chili Cookoff. He is also the founder of Miti’s Soul House Cookies & Cakes, a local endeavor that specializes in unique and customizable baked goods, and can be reached at 241-6556.

Dimitri is looking to start a food truck with a menu of unique and enjoyable food items that will bring the benefits of bone broth to the general public. Most ancient cultures have touted the benefits of bone broth for millennia, but only recently has it made it into semi-mainstream diets here in the U.S. But don’t be scared; Dimitri’s menu will look normal enough, with specials such as meat and veggie chili, Jambalaya, and Dimitri’s from scratch veggie burgers.

Dimitri is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet, which explains why he is loved by so many. He is a local who truly appreciates what it means to be a Petaluman and is asking for our help in order to follow his dream by offer something that will help enhance our community. His campaign is on the web at www.gofundme.com/dimitrisfoodtruck.

Olive oil tasting and more

McEvoy Ranch is gearing up for another season of ranch tours, wine tastings, farm seminars and special events. As one of the largest U.S. producers of “estate-grown, certified organic extra virgin olive oil,” McEvoy is a yet another true gem in our diverse agriculture community. They also create some great wines to boot.

Wine tasting is available Wednesday through Saturday, by appointment only, and can be done communally at the bar or as a private table experience, with the option to add an olive oil tasting to the menu.

Other upcoming events include “Growing and Appreciating Great Olive Oil: From Orchard to Table” on May 19, followed by McEvoy Ranch Tours on May 27, June 17, July 15, Aug. 12 and Oct. 7, all Saturdays and all from 9:30-11:30 a.m.

Barbecue surprise

A few weekend’s ago, while running errands and helping my wife set up her new local law practice, we had occasion to stop for lunch at Dickey’s BBQ followed by brunch the next day at Luma.

I’m a pretty big fan of barbecue. Not only do I eat a lot of it, but I’m a certified BBQ judge, and spent six weeks last summer driving around the country sampling as much of it from as many places as I could.

So, to say that Dickey’s Barbeque Pit surprised us is an understatement. Sure, it isn’t Brewster’s, Faron’s, Lombardi’s, Roy’s Chicago Doggery or Keith’s BBQ Beast but for what it is, we found it to be surprisingly good, affordable and convenient.

And although the franchise owners aren’t local and it’s tucked into the Friedman’s shopping center along with several other chains, like Habit Burger, Togo’s and Rubio’s, we’ll definitely be back, especially once we noticed the happy hour menu. Running Monday through Thursday from 2-5 p.m., $6 gets you a draft beer and two sliders, or bacon waffle fries. But do yourself a flavor, and bypass those IPA’s for the Red Tag Ale from Petaluma Hills Brewing Company. It is one of the best food pairing beers I’ve run across, and a rarity to see on tap outside of Petaluma Hills’ taproom.

Luma breakfast

It had been years since I dined at Luma, but I of course always hear great things from regular patrons. We love Sax’s Joint, but when we found the wait list too long, we stopped in to Luma to see if they served breakfast. They do, and it was fantastic.

I started with a date shake, followed by a steak Benedict, which came with shoestring-style house cut hash browns. My wife ordered an excellent fancy coffee of some sort — I don’t drink coffee — and smashed potatoes and eggs, with bacon, scallion, cheddar, fontina, two eggs and topped with crème fraiche. We will definitely be back to try some of the other great looking brunch items, such as the Chilaquiles Guadalajara (crispy tortillas simmered in salsa, baked with cheese, black beans and a sunny side up egg), Maple bacon Brioche french Toast, and their Croquet Monsieur (grilled Swiss cheese and Canadian bacon on sourdough toast with béchamel sauce) and Croquet Madame (same as the monsieur, but topped with a fried egg.)

Port tasting

Just down the street from Luma, we stopped in to Sonoma Portworks’s tasting room to try their recently released Aris Batch 5. As best as I can remember, Sonoma Portworks is the only place in the U.S. that I’ve seen that makes tawny port, which requires years of barrel aging.

Most American port producers go with ruby port, which gets into bottles and onto wine shop shelves within a year or two, but Sonoma Portworks decided to put in the time required to make a barrel-aged tawny. They blended their 2006 and 2009 Petite Sirah and Petit Verdot ports into something truly spectacular.

With a color of deep amber and aromas of sweet pipe tobacco and dried plums, followed by the lingering flavors of baking spices, cognac and a hint of pepper, this port is so good that I plan to share it during my next visit to Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal, which is the home of port wine. That is, if I can refrain from opening it prior to then. Production is quite limited so grab a bottle or three while they are still available. The tasting room is located at 613 2nd Street and is open Thursday through Monday from noon-5 p.m.

A food truck?

A couple blocks away from Sonoma Portworks and Luma, sits what appears to be some sort of old-fashioned European-looking crepe food truck. Having been parked on Petaluma Boulevard South in front of the Metro Hotel for quite some time now, I assume it is just for decoration, but if anyone has more information, I’m all ears.

(Contact Houston Porter at houston@avant-larde.com.)