Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sonoma Lavender Festival

8527 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood, CA
(707) 523-4411

I think lavender is one of the prettiest herbs out there. It smells and tastes great both fresh and dried. Dried ones last a long time since it is such a strong herb to use in food. I bought a bundle of dried ones to make lavender ice cream and salmon couple months ago, and I still have over half a bundle left.

I was lucky that I caught the very first annual Lavender Festival in Sonoma this year! The festival was a fundraiser for VOICE Youth Center ( and was held at a lavender barn in Kenwood, CA, just right below Chateau St. John winery. The lavender barn was made available to the public only for that weekend of the event. The admission was $20 for 5 food tickets, OR $20 for 8 wine tasting tickets at the door (originally it was listed $30 for 5 food tickets and $40 for wine and food on the website). My boyfriend and I bought 2 sets of food tickets and one set of wine tickets. It was well worth it since it is for charity.
The restaurants that participated were Girl & the Fig, Hana Sushi, Kenwood Restaurant, Sea Thai Bistro, SIFT, Sugo Trattoria, Sur La Table, Syrah, Viola, Kenwood Yacht Club, Sonoma Cheese, Sonoma Lavender Chef.

Many wineries participated too. Since it was really, really hot there, so all I could say is that I enjoyed all the wine there were chilled and didn’t really care too much about the vintage, acidity, sugar content and so on. I will elaborate more on the wine when I am better at it. Asked for now...just food! I could clearly remember them all or at least how they looked or tasted.

I started off with a chilled carrot bisque that was infused with lavender. I forgot which restaurant it was from but it was thick and creamy. It was very delicious and refreshing since it was a hot day. It was my favorite dish at the festival.

My boyfriend started off with Poke Rice from Hana Sushi. The dish tuna supposed to be infused with lavender, but I think the sesame oil was overpowering the flavor. It was a refreshing dish but nothing too special.

I then had the lavender poached salmon, which was served with grilled veggies and lavender infused sauce. The salmon was cooked perfectly. It was juicy and very tender! The sauce was good, but a little too bland. I couldn't really tell what herb was in the sauce.

We went got a Thai Lettuce Cup from Sea Thai Bistro. I like it very much too. The noodle and cashews were crunchy and so was the crispy lettuce. The noodle and cashews were drizzled with lavender infused sweet and sour good!
Next I went to grab a plate of Lavender and Lamb Ragu with Lamb Polpette and Lemon Couscous from Santa Rosa's Sur La Table. The dish was divine! I don’t like lamb because it’s so gamey, but it was not gamey at all! The couscous was very light and delightful. The lemon kept the dish very refreshing even though it was served warm. I am definitely going to pay more attention to Sur La Table’s recipes and a trip to check out their cookwares because of this dish.

My boyfriend went to get a bruschetta plate while I was at Sur La Table’s table. I believe the bruschetta is from Sugo Trattoria since the restaurant itself has a selection of bruschetta. The bruschetta was covered with a layer of goat cheese and topped with balsamic marinated strawberries. I am sure there is lavender is part of the recipe, but I couldn’t taste it at all since both goat cheese and balsamic vinegar are strong ingredients. The bruschetta was sweet and heavy loading, but I am not a fan of goat cheese so even though it was good, I didn’t enjoy it too much.

After all the appetizers and entrée dishes, it was time for DESSERT! We had four tickets left by then, so we decided to just get two of the desserts offered at the two dessert tables. One of them was the well known crème brulee from Girls and the Fig restaurant. They served it in a jar, thus they called it Lavender Pot de Crème with Lavender Infused Strawberries. Lavender is an herb that goes very well with cream, and indeed it was good. I could taste the lavender in the crème brulee but not so much in the strawberry. Delicious!

Next, we got two Lavender Cupcakes from Sift. The cupcakes were beautifully assembled with edible sprinkles on the frosting. They were also very heavy in weight. We decided to split one because they looked super sweet. The cake was very dense and very moist, to the point that it might seem a little under bake. My boyfriend did not enjoy it but I must say, it was probably the moistest cupcake I ever had. I could see that the cake batter was infused and had lavender pieces in it, thus it tasted super lavender-liked...a bit too strong that it was overwhelming at some point (another reason my boyfriend didn’t like it). The frosting was a bit too sweet. I could only finish half the cupcake. But I must say the texture of the cake was so moist that I want to go to Sift and try other flavors that they have to offer.

So I emailed one of the events coordinater the other day and she told me that they raised $13,000 for VOICE, which was over their target. I'm glad I contributed a little and had a fun and delicious day!

They already started planning next year and it should be around the same time. Keep an eye for it!

No comments:

Post a Comment