Saturday, December 3, 2011
For more information about Lake Ralphine and bird watching in Sonoma County generally, see my Website Sonoma County Bird Watching Spots.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
[Update: On December 2 I treated the wine with 5ml of 1 copper sulfate solution, as advised by the people at The Beverage People, our local winemaking supply store. Copper sulfate reacts with the sulfur compounds that create the smell I was noticing to produce copper sulfide, which is insoluble in wine. It drops to the bottom of the container where it can be left behind by another racking, which I'll take care of in the next day or two. After that, I will add yeast hulls, which absorb any residual copper--although there should be very little and the initial dose was just under the legal limit--not that that matters; I don't sell my wine, but I'm assuming the legal limit is based on safety factors. After about two weeks with the yeast hulls in, I'll rack again. The copper treatment works wonders. In about five minutes, the hydrogen sulfide smell was entirely gone.]
Sunday, November 27, 2011
I have to say I was disappointed. The meal generally was good. The service was good. But the food really should have been great--it should have been the sort of meal that keeps you saying "Wow!" to yourself as you eat. Isn't that what Michelin stars (and the prices that go with them) are all about? As it turned out, fairly ordinary appetizers and main courses--neither served quite as warm as I would have liked--were book-ended by what turned out to be the highlights of the meal--the amuse-gueule and the desserts. The former was a tiny cup of frothed "soup" made from jerusalem artichokes that had a wonderful earthiness enhanced by smoky bacon flavors. It was served with mushroom paste-garnished crostini. The desserts were wonderful, particularly a pumpkin cheesecake that somehow managed to taste like cheesecake and a good pumpkin pie at the same time. The coffee was excellent.
We had the Grilled Mediterranean Octopus and House-smoked Duck Breast Salad for appetizers, the Roasted Breast of Guinea Hen and Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit for main dishes. The Octopus was tender and nicely seasoned, and I enjoyed the accents provided by tiny chunks of chorizo and the olive tapenade spread under the meat, but the duck salad was very disappointing. The duck slices were tiny and not very flavorful. The salad was mostly a pile of the same sort of greens I can pick any day from my own garden (frisée, arugula, and mizuna). The greens were fresh and in no way bad--but as a whole, the salad struck me as uninspired and uninspiring and somewhat skimpy (and I stress that I'm not a big eater).
The rabbit is called Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit because it's a trio of rabbit dishes in one--rabbit loin wrapped in bacon; a roasted, Frenched rib rack (looking like a miniature rack of lamb); and rabbit leg confit in a mustard sauce. The loin seemed the most successful of the three--the meat was tender and infused with bacon flavors--but the tiny ribs, although fun, were not very flavorful. The leg confit was mostly interesting for the whole-grain mustard sauce that was on it. The meat, however, seemed lacking in character. It had a washed-out flavor that reminded me of the disappointment of oysters shucked and washed so carefully that all the scent and flavor of the ocean is gone from them. The meat tasted somehow sanitized (although I don't mean to suggest anything unwholesome). The food was simply not as good as it seems it should have been given the prices and the reputation of The Farmhouse Inn. Game should be gamey. This was not. I felt much the same way about the guinea hen. Good enough, but not exciting.
Finally, I have to say that $35 for corkage is well over the line between reasonable and excessive.