RestaurantsNorth Bay
November 1-7, 2006

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Wild Things Here

By Brett Ascarelli

'I think some people come out just to say they've had rattlesnake," says Jeffrey Madura. "Others come out because they really enjoy having things like the grilled buffalo loin or the wild boar spareribs," he adds. As executive chef of John Ash & Co., Madura is preparing for Wild Game Week, a tradition that started some 15 years ago after the restaurant's founder wrote a critically acclaimed cookbook, American Game Cooking. Ever since, the restaurant has hosted a Wild Game Week on-and-off. And we're in luck, because this is one of the on years.

The menu speaks for itself: Panko-crusted frog legs with watercress, caper and pine nut sauces; wild boar sausage pizza with goat cheese, sage and mushrooms; braised rabbit pot pie with fall vegetables; roasted breast of pheasant stuffed with pistachios, roasted grapes and porcini mushrooms with an orange ginger cream . . . Oh yeah, and Madura's planning to serve alligator skewers with tropical fruit on several of the nights, as well as rattlesnake, which he prepares kind of like a Japanese restaurant might server eel (unagi), with miso broth, soba noodles and shiitake mushrooms.

Madura tries to use as much free range, sustainable meat as is humanly possible, and he says game tends to have less fat and cholesterol than other meats and it's more sustainable than raising cattle. So basically, it's perfect--just make sure your date's an omnivore. Keep the rifle locked up, and head to Wild Game Week from Monday, Nov. 6, through Saturday, Nov. 11, at John Ash & Co. restaurant at the Vintners Inn. Barnes Road, River Road exit, just west of Highway 101, Santa Rosa. Dinner, 5:30pm-9pm daily; Saturdays, 5pm-9pm. 707.527.7687. . . .

Foodies plus groupies equals--foopies? Like any respectable rock band, Outstanding in the Field just finished a North American tour, gathering fans in hotbeds from Athens to Austin to New Orleans. Except that OF doesn't play any music. Instead, OF is more of a touring supper program, stopping at various farms throughout the country. There, they set up white-tablecloth dinners right in their host's field or community garden (as was the case in NYC). This way, diners get to eat with food growers. Chefs change according to the location, and this time around, farmer Deborah Walton of Canvas Ranch in Petaluma will host guest chef Duskie Estes (Zazu Restaurant & Farm, Restaurant Bovolo). After participants get a tour of the farm, Estes will cook up a five-course Tuscan dinner, paired with wines from Chateau St. Jean. Proceeds benefit North Coast Grown, which brings locally grown produce into schools. The Outstanding in the Field tour bus sets up shop on Sunday, Nov. 5, at Canvas Ranch in the Two Rock Valley west of Petaluma. 2:30pm. $150 per person (includes tour, wine and food). To make reservations, call 831.247.1041 or visit

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