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Aw shucks, get ready for Petaluma’s Oyster Fest


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Petaluma Sunrise Rotary’s past fall Oyster Fests have sold out so quickly that they have decided to add another one this spring. As with past Oyster Fests, this event is sponsored and hosted by Bodega Oyster Company, 12830 Valley Ford Road.

This event will help raise funds for micro grants for teachers, 5th Tuesday food distribution for local families in need and most importantly, the Rotary Fire Relief Fund, which has already awarded tens of thousands of dollars to families effect by last year’s fires. This one is set for Saturday, April 7, from noon to 2 p.m.

Along with fresh BBQ and raw oysters, straight out of Tomales Bay, the Petaluma Sunrise Rotarians always have something additionally delicious up their sleeves, and in this case it will be a linguine with red clam sauce, along with local garlic bread, Caesar salad and desserts. Hen House brews and local wines are included with admission, as is live music. Tickets are $75 per person at Eventbrite.com.

Beer Week

S.F. Beer Week kicks off with a grand gala in San Francisco on Friday, Feb. 9, followed by a week of great beer related events throughout the Bay Area. Doing their part, TAPS will hold the release party for the 2017 Sonoma County Homebrewers Competition winner, Cody Kay, and his deliciously well-balanced Dorstlager Helles Lager.

I had the chance to try this beer while judging last fall’s competition, and although his was not in my category, I absolutely loved it. I was also impressed with the judges for awarding a non-IPA as the winner, again showing that beer drinkers’ palettes often yearn for one of the plethora of other styles. The official release is on Saturday, Feb. 10 at 2 p.m. and goes as long as there is still Helles in the keg.

Jamison’s Roaring Donkey will also participate in S.F. Beer Week with another beer civil war. This time it’s Sonoma County vs. S.F., with half a dozen taps of each for guests to taste and vote on.

Keller Valentine

Keller Estate has extended the 20 percent discount normally reserved for Petaluma GAP members to anyone who would like to enjoy their Valentine’s Day Jazz and Dancing Soiree, featuring the Dorian Mode Jazz Quartet. Held at Keller Estate on Saturday, Feb. 17, from 3-6 p.m., this is a great excuse to visit the winery for some great music, views and of course, wine.

Tickets are $55 per person and include two glasses of wine. Enter PGAP2018 at checkout to receive your 20 percent discount.

Mariposa Ice Creamery Sale

It’s been a couple months since Mariposa Ice Creamery’s last warehouse sale, which is the only way you can get their incredible ice cream until Penngrove Market opens their doors. All their flavors are great, but they always seem to have something new on hand, and this time it appears to be a raspberry swirl lemon ice cream. Fruit flavored ice cream is not normally my first choice, but Mariposa’s lemon is one of my favorites, so I’m really looking forward to this new variation.

I recently tried the only new flavor to me, their mint chip, and it was dynamite. The chips are so crispy and the mint is just minty enough, without tasting like toothpaste.

Mariposa knows what they are doing. And their ice cream bars are made with the very same ice cream as their pints and quarts, only they make for a much more manageable serving size, especially for those of us with no self-control. Along with clearing out space in your freezer, I highly recommend visiting Mariposa’s Facebook page so you can plan your purchase ahead of time. Located at 431 Payran St., the sale is Feb. 9, from 4:30 to 8 p.m. and Feb. 10, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Barber Cellars

Barber Cellar’s next wine release and food pairing party is on Friday, Feb. 23, from 6 to 8 p.m. The wines on this evening will be their 2017 pinot gris Rougissant and 2017 rose of syrah, named Kitten with a Whip. Tickets are available at barbercellars.com, and include two glasses of wine and a walkabout buffet dinner. The two featured wines will also be available for purchase at a 10 percent discount (15 percent for wine club members.)

I tend to lean towards sweet reds, but have been hording the final bottles of the last run of Rougissant, which was last available two or three years ago. If this new iteration is even half as good as the last, I’m likely to stock up on this one too. This is also the first bottling that Barber can proudly label as coming from the newly recognized “Petaluma Gap” AVA.

As luck would have it, Barber’s wine pairing will feature the cuisine of Cajun cook and Petaluma transplant Chef Glen “Gator” Thompson, of Gator’s Rustic Burgers, a very successful local food truck (gatorsrusticburgers.com). This will be a great way to preview Chef Gator’s Cajun cuisine, in anticipation of the opening of his first Petaluma restaurant.

Big restaurant changes

Chef Gator is opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant, and although his burger menu is good enough to carry a shop on its own, he will also introduce Petaluma to the same down home cooking that made his prior Bay Area restaurants so popular. The name says it all — Gator’s Rustic Burger & His Creole Friends.

Along with burgers, he will also serve classic dishes and desserts from Gator’s native New Orleans. He plans on being open within the month. Gator is taking over SlamBurger’s location, next to Sugo Trattoria. So yes, SlamBurger has closed. We wish owner Maurice all the best.

I don’t want to, but must announce that beloved Yanni’s Sausages of Penngrove will be closing their doors at the end of this month. This news actually puts a lump in my throat, but at the same time we wish Francesca and Johnny all the best as they concentrate on their retail sausage business.

At least we’ll still be able to get their sausages at all our favorite local grocery stores. Do not wait until the last minute to get your last, or possibly your first Yanni’s sandwich, because whether you are tasting it for the first time, or have visited regularly, you will want to hit them up a couple more times before they close shop.

Taking over Yanni’s space, Tom Adams, an actor and former owner of the Palm Springs Hotel, will reopen the small restaurant with a similar concept to Yanni’s, but with his own twist. He will continue to feature Yanni’s sausages, and being of Greek descent, we can look forward to great Mediterranean flavors.

What a Chicken tried to open quietly, but as anyone who has tasted their chicken would say, “What a chicken!” They are located in the former location of the Teriyaki Bowl, kitty-corner from Whole Foods and are open Wednesday through Sunday. Owners Griselda and Cesar have been offering up the best smoked chickens for years at the Tuesday farmers market and now offer sit-down and take-out. And their menu is affordable enough that ordering it for delivery through Road Butler still keeps it less expensive than most meals out. Their menu includes chicken and rib plates, burritos and tacos.

Want to try What a Chicken for yourself? They will officially introduce themselves to Petaluma with a grand opening free chicken and rib buffet on Sunday, Feb. 11, from 1 to 4 p.m.

Luma has closed, to be replaced by a new restaurant rumored to be called Pearl. My understanding was that it will offer American style breakfasts and lunches, but have not yet received confirmation.

The impending restaurant at the Apple Box’s old location is back under construction after being red tagged for a while by the city. I met the owner on Friday night, while he was putting in a few hours of painting, and learned that he has quite a bit of restaurant experience, including owning and operating over a half-dozen San Francisco and Oakland eateries. He tells me the menu will include robust breakfasts and lunches, as well as a touch of Middle Eastern food. Plans are to be open within the month.

Jenny Low’s of Theater District is in its final days. Rumor has it the replacement will be a Pho restaurant. Pho is a style of Vietnamese noodle soup and is delicious, affordable, and filling. We’ve been waiting for years for a Pho restaurant to open in Petaluma, so this is exciting news, because when done well, it’s fantastic. For a funny, and accurate, portrayal of someone discovering the wonders of Pho for the first time, check out the YouTube video, “Kevin Can’t Wait First Time Pho.”

Lemongrass Thai will venture to the West Side when they take over the spot currently occupied by Thai restaurant Tup Tim. If Tup Tim sounds unfamiliar, that’s because they only opened about a year ago, in the spot formerly occupied by Thai Isaan, at the corner of Petaluma Boulevard North and Washington Street.

Dunkin’ Donuts is finally open and serving up your favorite east coast donuts and coffee in the Friedman’s Brothers’ shopping center.

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