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Wishing on a Falling Star

Melanie Wong | Dec 26, 200103:39 PM

The night of Saturday, Nov. 17, I did something decidedly un-chowhoundish and sacrificed eating dinner in order to act on a spur-of-the-moment invitation to join some experienced meteor hunters for a night under the sky dome. I jumped into the car to deadhead from the City to meet my friends outside the Geyserville Smoke House to caravan to the viewing point at Lake Sonoma. The method to my madness was the assumption that this kitchen might stay open a little later on weekends to serve the bar crowd and I could grab a take-out order. Unfortunately, when I arrived at 9:10pm Saturday, the kitchen was already closed for the night as was Santi Taverna’s where I dashed next. The bartender at the Smoke House pointed out that the party of six who’d stepped out the door as I walked in had been turned away too. The staff shook their heads when I asked if they could make me a sandwich. Guess the Smoke House isn’t looking for incremental business.

We were up at Lake Sonoma before 10pm and chose a spot with an unobstructed view of the eastern horizon for the approaching meteor shower. Soon the wine glasses were filled with the 2000 Babcock “Mt. Carmel” Santa Ynez Valley Pinot Noir (pre-release sample) and we were in position with all the conveniences of home. I was glad that we started our celestial gazing this early, as some of the brightest and most dramatic meteors made their appearance well before midnight. At the peak, around 2am, dozens of meteors at a time exploded overhead. By 4am, the cloud had passed, activity died down, and a faint glow on the western horizon foretold the rising sun. My friend who was keeping track said we may have seen more than 2,000 shooting stars this night.

Our breakfast plans Sunday morning turned more lunch-ish as we tried to start the day, and we headed over the Luther’s on the Boulevard in Cloverdale. My friends were interested in trying the local libation and I made two recommendations for luncheon wines from the sizeable selection of wines by the glass. The Lazy Creek Gewurztraminer and Ferrari-Carano Fumé Blanc were true to form, and I stuck with a mimosa cocktail for my daily vitamin C ration. (g)

The plate of fruit salad to share came quickly, and I loved the dollop of crème fraiche, scatter of dried lavender, and drizzle of Provençal lavender honey that added a fillip of sophistication. The orders of frittata and the two omelets of the day were pronounced delicious by my friends, but my own cheese steak sandwich was less successful. The grilled flank steak had not been cut properly across the grain making it difficult to chew and the sauce mornay topping wasn’t a good idea.

We indulged in two desserts: chocolate crepes filled with marscapone and chocolate shavings and sauced with cherries soaked in port plus a peanut butter toffee cheesecake. The alcoholic cherries were incredible and we loved the crepes with a glass of 1995 Quinta dos Canais Vintage Port (Cockburn’s). The cheesecake was designed for lovers of gooey, sticky, sweet and stultifyingly rich desserts that sink directly to the hips. Yet, the nutty and burnt toffee flavors made it a fine match with the gooey, sticky, sweet and stultifyingly rich Domecq “Venerable” Pedro Ximenez Sherry. Who would have thought that such fine dessert wines could be found in the boonies of Cloverdale?

Luther’s on the Boulevard bit the dust this month, but the team is moving to Ruth McGowan’s Brewpub down the street with a February 1 opening planned. I hope they’re bringing the wine cellar with them.


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