Petaluma foodie events you won’t want to miss, new restaurants, bottomless mimosas and more

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“Drinking rum before 10 a.m. makes you a pirate, not an alcoholic,” says country singer Earl Dibbles Jr., and I would bet Captain Jack Sparrow would agree. Thankfully, the Petaluma Museum’s rum-paired dinner won’t test that theory, as they will wait until 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 4, to start rumming it up. The PMA has really stepped things up this year for their annual fall spirit-pairing dinner by encouraging costumes, and who doesn’t like dressing up like a pirate?

This multi-course dinner will feature rum from Wilibees, and an expertly paired dinner by chef extraordinaire Amber Balshaw of Preferred Sonoma Caterers. Both chef Amber and Wilibees staff will educate guests on each course and how the food and spirits meld into perfect combinations.

Yours truly will either be there serving, or with a bit of a past penchant for rum myself, may actually be captaining a table. Tickets are available at for $60 for PMA members and $70 for non-members, although I recommend grabbing your very own membership. The base membership is only $35 and entitles you to all sorts of special benefits, including discounts to future events and reserved seating for the Butter and Egg Days Parade, just to name a few. For costume help, I highly recommend a visit to Custom Costumes at 927 Petaluma Blvd. N. 778-8833.

The Aquarium is hosting a Fall Spaghetti Feed fundraiser for Lincoln School, which although in Marin, is out on Hicks Valley Road, so it’s basically Petaluma. Yes, that Aquarium — the bar in the “Old Lucky’s” shopping center, and yes, their food is good. The feed is tonight, Thursday, Sept. 20, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Tickets are $7 in “advance” at 763-0045 or $12 at the door, if there are any left.

Changes ahead

Butcher Crown Roadhouse is still setting up their new space, at the corner of Bodega and Eastman, with plans to open any day now. Their sign, made by Petaluma Sign Company, looks inviting, as does their backyard patio. Although owner Pete Schnell is still experimenting with his menu, he is definitely shooting to introduce Petaluma to a broad cross section of Latin American dishes. We tried conchinita pibil, which is a pork dish from the Yucatan Peninsula, and lechon asado, which is a Cuban pork dish made with mojo, a citrusy garlic sauce. Both are slow-roasted, and in this case, that means spending many hours in one of several smokers Pete has on-site. Both were excellent.

We were warned that these were just experiments and that the final product would be even better, to which we responded that if it gets any better, the place is going to be packed from dawn till dusk. We also saw a ropa vieja in mid-prep, and hear that they smoked a pretty mean beef and chorizo meatloaf today, topped with a chipotle glaze. Consulting pit master Dustin Vaught comes from Georgia, and is now a Bay Area butcher and chef. Adding a bit of spice to the mix, Dustin’s wife Anna teaches university level Latin American studies, which certainly helps expand the menu’s culinary influences. The grand opening date will be announced any day now.

In late-breaking news, Pete just gave me the scoop that he has hired Christofer Gutierrez, formerly of Brewster’s and Bistro de Vine, to run the kitchen at Butcher Crown Roadhouse.

Gator’s is now open Tuesday through Saturday, and closed on Sunday and Monday. Gator’s has received rave reviews, not only for his great Louisiana cuisine, but also because of his down-home charm, just like the best restaurants of the Big Easy. However, Gator is a family man, and with restaurant staffing being such an issue these days, he needed more consistent rest and relaxation in order to make sure he is performing his best. His food is good enough that I harbor no hard feelings for the fact that I may not be able to get it exactly when I want it. The wait is always worth it.

Tasty tidbits

Model Farm, one of the many tiny wineries in the Petaluma GAP, will release their 2016 syrah. With only four barrels produced, syrah fans will want to get their order in ASAP. John Gillman of View From The Cellar gave it 94 points, and calls it Model Farm, “the most pleasant surprise of all the new wines I tasted last year for this report.” We met proprietors Joanna Wells and Sean Castorani while riding the train back from Portland last year and found them to be nice, knowledgeable and genuinely Petaluma in nature, even though I don’t believe either is from here. They both work full-time at other wineries, while building their fledgling brand here in Petaluma and Sonoma. To get on their email list for future wine releases, visit

Boxcar has opened in the space formerly known as Fremont Diner, on Highway 121 in Schellville (southern Sonoma). A favorite for both locals and tourist alike, Fremont Diner was one of our favorites stops on our way to or from destinations east of Petaluma. However, it became quite popular and wait times got to the point where we simply couldn’t afford the delay to our road trips, so we hadn’t been in a while. With a plethora of press, including mentions on the Food Network, they too were having trouble keeping customers happy, and closed their doors unexpectedly in June of this year. The same owners have re-open as Boxcar Fried Chicken & Biscuits, and plan to offer a pared down menu in order to cut down on food delivery delays.Sneak peek

Fallon Hills Ranch hosts a fall ranch tour and supper on Oct. 6, from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. We have attended in the past and always had a great time, especially when Chef Jamie Lloyd from Graze Local Catering is working the grill. Tickets are $60 (adults)/$15 (kids) at If still available next week, I’ll write more about the menu and the experience.

Heidrun Meadery sold out their Pig Roast & Luau last year, so I advise getting your tickets early. They will be celebrating autumn, Hawaiian style, on Sunday, Oct. 14, from 2 to 5 p.m. The entire menu is available at Eventbrite. Island ukulele will be provided by Ukulenny. Tickets are $85 (general), or $125 (VIP) at

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