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Crab feeds, Butcher Crown opens, Camp fire fundraisers and more Petaluma food news

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Seeking crab feeds

The crab season came quick this year, unlike the past several years, where health concerns delayed getting these cherished crustaceans to our tables. With what appears to be a healthy crab season ahead of us, we expect to see all the normal fundraising crab feeds. If you are involved in any of the local crab feeds, please send your press releases or simply a flier to me so I can include it in our Petaluma Argus-Courier crab feed guide, which should be coming out around the New Year. Email me at houston@avant-larde.com.

Although most local crab feeds occur January through March, two are slated for December, and should not be missed.

Valley Ford Fire Crab Feed

The Valley Ford Volunteer Fire Department will host a crab feed this Sunday, Dec. 2, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 14355 School St., in Valley Ford. While most crab feeds are at night, I really like that this one is during lunch hours, which means you will be home in plenty of time to lounge around, watch some of the American football and really enjoy the crab-induced stupor. As with most feeds, you can expect all-you-can-eat crab alongside pasta, salad and bread. And with Valley Ford’s location, I’d be surprised if this crab isn’t coming straight off the boats in Bodega Bay, which is not the norm for most crab feeds. Tickets will not be sold at the door, so pick yours up either at the Valley Ford Market or through the Facebook page. Adults are $50, children 12 and under are $20.

Cinnabar Theater — Lagunitas Crab Feed

Although we are no longer involved, the “Petaluma Queen of Cuisine,” Laura Sunday, and I created the Cinnabar Theater – Lagunitas Crab Feed a few years back. It offers some of the freshest crab around on Tuesday, Dec. 11, at Lagunitas Brewery, starting at 5:30 p.m. It also includes pasta, salad, bread and dessert. Adult beverages are available for purchase, with all proceeds going to Cinnabar Theater. There will also be a festive raffle and door prizes. Tickets are $55 per person and must be reserved by 4 p.m. on Dec. 8 to guarantee that there is enough crab on hand.

Other foodie event

Brewsters Beer Garden will hold its second Makers Dinner, which means hosting, serving and integrating HenHouse beers into the meal. The plan is to hold these dinners on the first Wednesday of each month, with the HenHouse dinner set for Dec. 5. With very limited seating, you should reserve your spot now by calling Brewsters, 981-8330.

Restaurant revamps

As you may remember, Dillon Beach Resort changed owners this past spring. Mike Goebel of Petaluma’s Brewsters Beer Garden and his partners have been overhauling the resort, including the Dillon Beach Coastal Kitchen restaurant, which was in need of an update both to the décor and the menu. Brewsters’ chef Todd Shoberg is spearheading Coastal Kitchen’s renaissance, and the restaurant’s mantra that “eating is an agricultural art” is well documented in the food photos he has posted to Facebook recently of the fried oyster torpedo sandwich and grilled oysters with Cowgirl Creamery wagon wheel cheese. Inspired by farm and sea, with a goal of highlighting local and seasonal cuisine, the sample menu appears simple and fresh, with items ranging from raw and grilled oysters, roasted veggies and steak tartar to chowder, risotto and rock cod. One of my favorites, Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam triple crème, provides the cheese in the “Ham and Tam,” which is served with tomato soup. Rumor has it they will be open this weekend, which is where we were planning to be anyways, so hopefully we can stop by and sample the wares.

Chili Joe’s was closed temporarily due to a family emergency, but is back open, and serving up the North Bay’s best selection of chili, hamburgers, dogs and great sides, like Frito pie, rancho beans and jalapeno slaw. If available, don’t miss the San Antonio Bowl of Red and Santa Fe Carne Avocado chili, both of which go perfectly with the Shiner Bock and Kostritzer black lager beers that are on the menu. Chili Joe’s also has a surprisingly healthy menu of vegetarian options.

Butcher Crown Roadhouse will host its grand opening Friday, Nov. 30, from 5 to 9 p.m. It will continue Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 1 and 2, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. It seems to be on everyone’s list of new restaurants to visit, and the soft-openings have been packed so I recommend making a reservations. Along with burgers and tacos, the menu highlights Latin-inspired barbecue, with early favorites including the Calabaza rellena, papas fritas (which use Thistle Meats’ Argentine chorizo), cochinita pibil tacos, butcher burger and piri piri chicken.

Lakeville Garden Sushi is under new management and first reviews have been glowing. Located next to Sarah’s Eats and Sweets, at the corner of McDowell and Casa Grande, I look forward to giving them a try, especially because I hear they have pho on the menu. A delicious Vietnamese soup of broth, rice noodles, herbs and meat, pho makes for the perfect meal on a cold winter day.

Sake 107 created the best ramen I have ever had. On the rare occasions I get to sip this savory delicacy, I often find myself in awe that something so simple can taste so good. I have an ever-revolving list ruminating around my brain of the 10 best foods I have ever eaten, and Sake 107’s ramen holds a regular spot. Hearty, yet delicate, this ramen takes a ton of prep time, and so it was rarely available. However, Chef Ando says he and his staff will now prepare the rich and rare ramen on the regular, and make it available every Monday at the sake bar, until it runs out.

Gator’s has relaunched its Sunday brunch, as well as Monday hours, starting Dec. 2. Huge kudos to Gator for suspending those services while he bulked up his staffing. It’s always risky for a business to shift its hours, but more important to Gator than dollars was giving us Petalumans a high-quality dining experience. I have yet to visit Gator’s “New Orleans-style brunch,” but social media is all-abuzz about its big flavors. December will also see the launch of a new winter menu at Gator’s, which he tells me will boast a lot of comfort food items, as well as gluten-free options for the Cajun side of the menu, including gumbo and chicken dumplings. He will also be doing crab cakes while they are in season, as well as blackened catfish and some new Cajun side dishes.

Petaluma Market’s outdoor grill was closed down for quite a while as they worked through some permit issues, but I am happy to report it is back open. This means plenty of freshly grilled burgers and tri-tip sandwiches, just to name a couple of our favorites.

In case you missed it, The Big Easy is currently working through some of those same issues with the fire and health department in order to bring their facility into compliance with current regulations. It was heartwarming to hear co-owner Amber Driscoll say that this isn’t a case of “us versus them” with the departments, but part of doing business in a historic building. The Big Easy is working with these agencies in order to make sure everything is safe and sound.

Camp fire relief

HenHouse will brew and serve Sierra Nevada’s Resilience Butte County Proud IPA, with all proceeds going to relief for the Camp fire survivors. Sierra Nevada Brewing was a big donator during our fires last year and our local brewers haven’t forgotten the kindness. Other brewers participating in the Resilience brew project are Russian River, Bear Republic, Cooperage and St. Florian’s.

Lagunitas will also throw a Camp fire benefit on Friday, Nov. 30, starting at 4:20 p.m., with music provided by The 14ers (a Colorado favorite), Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, followed by Guitarist/DJ William’s Shots Fired. Tickets are free, but 100 percent of beer sales will benefit Caring Choices, which works directly with Butte County Office of Emergency Services. If you can’t make the shindig, consider donating directly at caring-choices.org.

Small bites

The Good Food Awards have announced this year’s finalist, which include quite a few Petaluma area food and drink purveyors. “The Good Food Foundation exists to celebrate, connect, empower and leverage the passionate and engaged, yet often overlooked, players in the food system who are driving towards tasty, authentic and responsible food in order to humanize and reform our American food culture.”

This January, the 2019 winners will be chosen from finalist that include Thistle Meats’ pate de cheutin, Griffo Distillery’s cold brew coffee liqueur and Rustic Bakery’s organic olive oil and sel gris flatbread. Although competing alongside makers from around the country, the cheese category is dominated by local names like Bellwether Farms’ whole milk basket ricotta, Nicasio Valley Cheese’s Foggy Morning, Tomales Farmstead Creamery’s Kenne, Point Reyes Farmstead’s Original Blue and Gouda and Cowgirl Creamery’s Wagon Wheel. Last year’s winner include Bellwether Farms, Ethic Cider, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese and Thistle Meats.

Fantasy Hong Kong BBQ is offering crispy roast turkey for the holidays, which is a savory way to mix up your holiday meal this year. Each crispy roast turkey comes with one dozen egg rolls, which gets pretty close to completing the meal.

Sweet treats

Bert’s Desserts was sampling chocolates at last week’s Petaluma Holiday Food and Fun Fair at the Hotel Petaluma, which is where I learned that they have a new offering. Now available at What a Chicken, it’s worth the visit to try these dark chocolate lime cream truffles infused with tequila.

Also at the Food Fair, Petaluma Toffee Company had samples of their much anticipated and newly revamped toffees. As I wrote last time, the company has switched over to using Guittard Chocolate, which is one of the best chocolates available, and hales from right here in the Bay Area. I didn’t think they could make their toffee any better, but we devoured our first bag before we even made it halfway around the room. It was simply phenomenal. Along with Bud’s Meats beef jerky, there is no holiday gift more welcome in my stocking than Petaluma Toffee Company, which is available at Charley’s, Petaluma and Penngrove Markets, LaLa’s Jam Bar and many other local shops.

LaLa’s Jam Bar and Urban Farmstand will offer personal jam-making classes, which would be a fun foodie holiday gift, whether before or after the New Year. If you partake prior to the holidays, you will gain the skills necessary to make your own jams, which also makes a great holiday gift. Classes are $35 per person, and are limited to two people. They are taught by the wonderful Leslie Goodrich, who is not only an excellent teacher, but an absolute pleasure.

Save the date

The New Year’s Eve Viennese Ball will again be held at Hermann Sons Hall, starting immediately after the Petaluma Museum’s New Year’s Eve Gala concert. Both are presented by the same organization, Sky Hill Cultural Alliance, with the gala set to end around 8 p.m. The Viennese Ball will host a buffet dinner with authentic Viennese dishes and desserts, along with dancing to a live Strauss orchestra through midnight. Whether you know how to waltz or not, there will be plenty of members from the San Francisco Waltzing Society ready to take anyone for a spin around the room. For those looking to come into the evening with a bit more practice under their belt, two-hour waltzing classes will be taught on two Sundays, Dec 9 and 16, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Hermann Sons Hall for $20. Waltzing lessons and tickets to the ball are available through skyhill.org. Tickets to the Gala Concert, celebrating its 10th year, and always hosting string players from the S.F. Orchestra, are available through the Petaluma Historic Museum and Library.