A visit to Sonoma County wouldn’t be complete without spending some time with Rick Fraga.
We first met Rick about a year or so ago, at our favorite restaurant in Las Vegas – Marche Bacchus, a very wine-friendly establishment. We quickly bonded over our mutual fondness of the grape. At the time, I really didn’t expect to see Rick very often, as he lives up in Sonoma. We hadn’t been up to that area in some time, and had no immediate plans to do so. Of course, since then, as luck would have it, we’ve been to see him twice, counting this past Labor Day Weekend.
Rick has a pretty impressive wine background, which you can read about on his website: www.gatewaytowine.com. He currently works at the Martinelli Winery tasting room in Santa Rosa.
So, after attending the Taste of Sonoma Festival, we gave ourselves a couple of hours to let our palates recover, and headed off to meet Rick for dinner.
The only problem with picking a place to eat in Santa Rosa is the abundance of choices. We finally settled on Bistro 29 (www.bistro29.com) which bills itself as a “traditional friendly and casual bistro specializing in Breton regional cuisine” of Northwest France, which would lead one to expect a menu of seafood and, interestingly enough, crepes. The menu was actually quite varied, pleasing both my wife Karen with the seafood selection as well as making a couple of carnivores [Rick and me] very happy.
Rick brought a bottle of 2003 Martinelli Winery Jackass Vineyard Zinfandel that showed that a well-made Zin can age. It was outstanding. I countered with a powerful red Rhone blend from Epoch winery in Paso Robles. We shared a couple of appetizers – sweetbreads and a selection of local cheeses: the cheeses were delicious and I do love well-prepared thymus glands!
I felt a little sorry for Karen when she ordered the scallops, as I was concerned that wines would overpower them. But Karen loves her seafood. Rick and I both ordered the grilled lamb shoulder with merguez sausage, which made a perfect pairing with the wines.
The food and service were outstanding and I highly recommend you visit this restaurant when you go to Santa Rosa. Also, stop in the Martinelli tasting room and say hi to Rick — you won’t be sorry.
Also, a BIG thank you to Rick for suggesting we go to breakfast the next day at the Omelette Express before heading home from Santa Rosa. A great little place celebrating its 35th anniversary.
Michael Perlis provides outsourced controller services to businesses that do not need a full-time controller. He balances this with his interest in wine: reading and writing about it and, of course, drinking it. He is still trying to figure out how to combine these two pursuits. Feel free to contact him about either at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.