'Southern Pacific Smokehouse', 'Sonoma County Fair', 'Rivertown Revival' & 'The Dailey Method' Studio opens this weekend!

Fun events going on this weekend including the 'Sonoma County Fair' which has its 75th anniversary and runs for 17 days from this Wednesday, also a celebration of yesteryear at Petaluma’s 'Rivertown Revival' happening on Saturday.

If you are in the mood for BBQ with some accompanying live music be sure to check out the new ‘Southern Pacific Smokehouse’ in Novato. If you feel guilty about those sticky baby back ribs, then work them off at the new “The Dailey Method” studio opening in Novato this weekend with free classes!

Event Highlights

Thursday July 28th

‘Sonoma County Fair’ from Wed July 27th – Sun Aug 14th (closed Mondays), 11.00 am – 11.00pm at Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa. Admission $9 ages 13 7 up, $3 for 7 – 12 yrs. and under 6 yrs. are free; view website
This Wednesday the Sonoma County Fair opens and  Thursday 28th is “Kid’s Day” featuring puppets shows, performing pigs, teddy bear stroller race, scarecrow building contest, LEGO building contest, horse wagon rides, a livestock area and carnival rides. For those with infants and younger kids there will be a parent’s rest station with changing tables and chairs for nursing. There will also be a daily parade filled with old fashioned fun at 5.00 pm that you can participate in.

Saturday July 30th

“Rivertown Revival” from 11.00 am – 7.00 pm, Petaluma River Heritage Center, free; view website
A celebration of the early twentieth century when the Petaluma River was the state’s third busiest river. The peninsula will be decorated with vintage-inspired buildings, banners and clotheslines as the river comes to life with art barges, art boat drag races, circus acts, and aerial and puppet performances on the river. 15 local food & beverage vendors, 20 artisan craft vendors and 10 bands on several stages are expected at this free event. There will be a shaded relaxation tent for nursing mothers, visitors are encouraged to fill up their own bottles at water stations and are applauded for playing dress up…think Old West meets Victorian Carnival.

Restaurant of the Week

Southern Pacific Smokehouse

224 Vintage Way, Novato; view website

I first visited the “Southern Pacific Smokehouse” in Novato shortly after it opened in May for a girl’s night out, a group of us sat in one of the circular booths and enjoyed the buzz of the bar and busy dining room with cocktails and dinner. Last weekend my family went for an early Saturday evening dinner and sat outside in their patio with the added bonus of a musician playing guitar (playing Saturdays between 5 .00 – 7.00 pm at the moment). My son is fascinated with people playing the guitar since he got a ukulele last Christmas and our baby is at her happiest when around music, so this setting turned out to be perfect.

The Smokehouse is located in the Vintage Oaks Shopping Center by Target, a retail area that has been crying out for a place to enjoy a weekend brunch or dinner after shopping. The restaurant has a great high entry bar area, 100 seat dining, 70 seat outdoor patio and 110 seat intimate music lounge where locally known and international blues, acoustic and country musicians perform. The interior of the restaurant has a lounge look but with high ceilings, open kitchen, dark wood furniture and brown leather seating that has a sophisticated but unpretentious feel.

They have great cocktails here so my husband ordered a Mint Julep which came in a traditional silver cup and went down very nicely, last time I was here I ordered their Moscow Mule which come in a brass version of an adult ‘sippy cup’, bit too small for my liking but delicious. 

My son talked about a burger all the way to the restaurant but changed his mind and ordered the Mac and Cheese as he charmed the friendly waitress. My husband and I shared a spinach salad with spiced pecans, bacon, egg, pickled shallot and balsamic dressing, which tasted good but my husband was disappointed with the presentation and suggested that the egg should be sprinkled on top rather than tossed in with the leaves. He also tucked into the SP Burger with grilled onion, creole mustard aioli and cheese with a Dutch crunch style bun and great crunchy fries. I had the chicken, bacon and brie pizza, as I started eating it I remembered why I decided to order this pizza again, it was because of its winning ingredient; the pear puree which adds a lovely sweetness that I found absolutely delicious.

Of course the specialty here is BBQ and the choices are a pulled pork plate, dry rub baby back ribs or the Smokehouse duo of ribs and pulled pork all served with mashed potatoes and wood oven vegetables. The open faced Tri Tip melt also sounds good with horseradish cream, arugula, tomatoes, grilled onion and cheese. There are some hearty side dishes with a hearty $5 price tag such as cast iron cornbread, mac and cheese, onion rings and sweet potato fries.

My son and I shared a couple of scoops of vanilla and chocolate ice cream for dessert as I was disappointed with the lemon crumble dessert last time I was here, so played it safe instead of ordering the bread pudding which was tempting.

The menu is straight forward, not particularly creative, but offers a good local BBQ destination with nice surroundings for both family dining and a night out with friends with live music most evenings.

Mommy’s Treats

A new exercise studio opens in Pacheco Plaza (by Paradise Foods) in Ignacio, Novato this weekend and are offering free classes on Saturday July 30th & Sunday 31st ! “The Dailey Method” focuses on postural alignment through a unique combination of ballet barre work, core conditioning, stretching and orthopedic exercises. Register online for classes and childcare during their weekday morning classes! Register for classes

One of my favorite memoirs is Jane Fonda’s “My Life So Far” which she signed for me in London nearly 5 years ago. On August 18th you can join her for breakfast at the signing of her new book “Prime Time: Love, Health, Sex, Fitness, Friendship, Spirit: Making the Most of All of Your Life” at the Book Passage in Corte Madera at 9.00 am. Reserve a ticket

Rue magazine issue 6 launches this week, get virtually inspired; View magazine

Baby & Toddler Weekly Activities Calendars

Looking for something to do to entertain your toddler or want to reach out to new moms with babies this week?

Click on the ‘Weekly Calendar’ bar at the top of the page to view this week’s “Baby & Toddler Weekly Activities Calendar”. 

New 'Tavola Italian Kitchen' Restaurant open, Sunset Concerts at BADM, Pop-Up Art Exhibit in San Fran & Fun Days at Marinwood Pool

I found a real gourmet gem in Novato last weekend, the new “Tavola Italian Kitchen” that recently opened in Hamilton Marketplace. No big name chef or fanfare launch but a wonderfully addition to Marin’s restaurant scene that supports local and artisan purveyors, not to be missed!

This weekend there will be a sunset concert on Friday at BADM, an interactive art exhibition and workshops in San Francisco on Saturday and poolside fun in Marinwood on Sunday! 

Weekend Event Highlights

Friday July 22nd

‘Summer Sunsets Concert Series’ from 5.00 – 7.00 pm at Bay Area Discovery Museum, 557 McReynolds Road, Sausalito; view website
The Bay Area Museum will be open late on selected Fridays and will be offering an entertaining mix of music, fun and food! Stop by to get your picture taken with Curious George who will be making an appearance at 5.30 pm and check out the “Curious George: Let’s Get Curious” exhibition. Musician Enzo Garcia will be performing from 5 – 7.00 pm, and food will be provided by the gourmet “Food Truck Crush” offering Big Jim’s BBQ and Susiecakes cupcakes! Various performers will also be appearing on August 5th and 19th. What a great way to start the weekend!

Saturday July 23rd

‘Mobile Arts Platform Exhibition’ from 1.00 – 5.00pm at Potrero Del Sol/La Raza Skate Park, San Francisco, free; view website
Head into the city for family focused art activities by the “Mobile Arts Platform” (MAP) to see an interactive pop-up exhibition with art making workshops for the “Urban Youth Arts Festival”. Planned fun activities include kite making and decorating, an artist decoration workshop, free hat giveaway, participatory mural painting, interactive stencil art production alongside a video slideshow of murals from around the world. The event is designed to inspire and engage children of all ages through participatory art! 

Sunday July 24th

‘Sunday Fun Days’ from 12.30 pm at Marinwood Pool, 775 Miller Creek Road, San Rafael, tel; 415 479 0775; view website
Every Sunday until August 14th there will be food and entertainment at the Marinwood pool. Lay out your towel in the sun and enjoy a swim or splash in the tot’s pool while listening to live music or a DJ, poolside games, bouncy house, food and beverages are available for purchase.

Restaurant of the Week

Tavola Italian Kitchen, 5800 Nave Drive at Hamilton Marketplace, Novato
Tel: 415 883 6686 view website

Most people come to Hamilton Marketplace to eat at the popular 'Toast' restaurant or perhaps lunch at 'La Boulange', but a great new restaurant has opened up in the former 'Pasta Moto' location which offers wonderful Italian food and wine. More people need to know about “Tavola Italian Kitchen” which appears to take great pride in supporting local and artisan purveyors, with a list of their various produce suppliers displayed on a large chalkboard.

A group of us decided to check it out last weekend and we were pleasantly surprised by their interesting and creative menu of fresh organic Italian cuisine and a varied Italian wine list.

We started off by ordering a wonderfully creamy Burrata (one of our friends pointed out that this seems to be the cheese at the moment) which was served with sweet tomato jam, sea salt and grilled crostini, it was also great spread onto their homemade focaccia bread. Both types of bread kept coming out until we finished the cheese which was thoughtful. We also ordered Point Reyes oysters in prosecco, red wine vinegar and shallots, and the steamed black muscles with preserved lemon and thyme brood. All very well received by the group!

For main course I ordered the arugula and fennel salad with golden balsamic vinaigrette, pecorino, pinenuts and juicy peaches; a refreshing mix of peppery greens, aniseed and sweet fruit. I also ordered the wild mushroom pizza with smoked mozzarella, walnut and dandelion green with prosciutto on top.  A nice combination of ingredients with commentary flavors on a fire oven pizza base. The simple Margarita pizza was also very good.

The braised wild boar with naltagliati pasta was a popular choice by a few and included oregano, morel and dwelley farms fava. Also a fettucine pasta dish with spicy tomato and local manila clams. These dishes were washed down with moreish glasses of fine Italian rosé, white and red wines.

The dessert menu included buttermilk panna cotta with strawberries and wild flower honey, walnut biscotti with apricot jam or Mill Valley’s noci gelato, but two of us chose the chocolate tart; one with the sea salt and olive oil and one without. It was a rich, dark chocolate on a crunchy base that was indulgent but good for sharing. Next time I think I will try the local cheese board with walnuts and preserved cherries.

If this review of delicious seasonal dishes is making your mouth water, be sure to come and try ‘Tavola Italian Kitchen’ for yourself. We enjoyed a fun evening and good banter with the friendly serving staff, and look forward to this place becoming our new ‘local’.

Mommy’s Treats

Will you be watching "The Real Housewives of NYC" finale with a glass of Pinot Grigio this Thursday at 10.00 pm on Bravo TV?

Feed your “inner interior designer” by watching “Design Star” on HGTV, Mondays at 9.00 pm.

Fans of Justin Timberlake will be seeing a lot more of him in the comedy “Friends with Benefits” out this week with Mila Kunis.

Baby & Toddler Weekly Activities Calendars

Looking for something to do to entertain your toddler or want to reach out to new moms with babies this week?

Click on the ‘Weekly Calendar’ bar at the top of the page to view this week’s “Baby & Toddler Weekly Activities Calendar”. 

Tyler Florence's 'El Paseo' Review & Nature Walk in Las Gallinas Valley

I am really excited that The Marin Scoop has been nominated for the SF Bay Area Mom Blogs list on ‘Circle of Moms’. Their Top 25 honors the great Mom Bloggers and I would love your support by voting for this blog, just click on this link: VOTE NOW

You can vote for The Marin Scoop once a day until July 29th, thanks so much!

This week I review Tyler Florence’s ‘El Paseo House of Chops’ restaurant in Mill Valley which makes a great date night for a special occasion. 
Also going on a nature walk and spotting the wildlife in Las Gallinas Valley makes a fun and educational play date.  

Date Night – Restaurant of the week

'El Paseo House of chops'
17 Throckmorton Avenue, Mill Valley; view website

A friend of mine bought me the Tyler Florence's 'Family Meal' cookbook for my birthday which contains great recipes and inspiring food and lifestyle photography, that reminded me a lot of Jamie Oliver's cookbooks that line our book shelves at home.

So after trying out various recipes, we were excited to finally get a chance to visit his restaurant 'El Paseo House of Chops' in Mill Valley. El Paseo has recently reopened after a period of remodeling and is located in a Spanish style building with a central pathway from Throckmorton Avenue. We had problems finding the main entrance as it is a labyrinth of small dining rooms on both sides of the path. We regretted not arriving earlier to take advantage of the lovely outside bar lounge area, a sun trap surrounded by flowering greenery, very pleasant.

It was a warm sunny evening so we requested to sit in the little dining patio. First the restaurant hostess left us in the dining room to double check availability and then guided us out to the worst table in the empty patio, but our friendly waiter told us we could sit wherever we liked. It was very sweet but i found it a little distracting having members of the public walking through the pathway with dogs and children, as we were eating. But my husband reminded me that it was a lot like the restaurants in the small back streets of Spain and Italy.

I ordered the bacon, lettuce and tomato style deviled eggs appetizer which came on a beautifully presented oval plate. The sauce was delicious but it would have been nice to have a little more bacon and tomato. My husband ordered the beef Carpaccio special which came with crostini, very refreshing, and again great presentation.

As you can imagine the chophouse's specialty is great pieces of high end meat. My husband chose the 12 oz. veal chop with porcini butter and fried sage which looked like a huge piece of meat from The Flintstones cartoon! He thoroughly enjoyed it as it was full of flavor and tender.
He also ordered the side dish of Mac and cheese, which we didn't really need but it was very creamy with a crispy topping.

For main course I went for the Béarnaise Burger, a very large delicious beef patty with cheese on a brioche bun, Béarnaise sauce on the side and fries. The tasty burger with bacon and caramelized onion was very filling but I couldn't manage the whole thing. The fries were perfectly crunchy.

After such mighty potions of meat and large glasses of fine Pinot Noir and Zinfandel we just couldn't manage a dessert; the choices included mini donuts and Panna Cotta.

El Paseo is an expensive treat for a special date night, birthday or anniversary. It was a fun evening out with great attentive service and well executed food. Tyler Florence wasn't in the kitchen that evening to sign our cookbook, but he should be there soon to oversee the recent changes to the menu, so you might see him next time you are there!

Play Date of the Week

Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District, 
300 Smith Ranch Road, San Rafael; view website

One of our favorite things to do with the children is go on nature walks. My son likes to explore new places and collect little treasures in his bucket.

Last weekend we returned to a place we haven't been since he was an infant in his stroller; Las Gallinas Valley Sanity District. Now I admit the name is not very inviting, but the reclamation area has a large pond full of ducks and birds, and is surrounded by beautiful wildflowers, rolling hills, marsh land and clear views of San Pablo Bay and Mount Tampalais, plus it has a clean even-ground hiking trail (3.5 mile in total).

It is an interesting place to spot deer, cranes, pelicans and storks, in fact over 200 species of birds pass through it each year. It is a great place to walk or ride your bike during fall and winter too as you get to see the various migrating birds resting here. We have taken some wonderful photographs during the seasons here.

Along our walk we picked different colored wildflowers (which we pressed for Grandma), collected feathers, long grass, rocks and blew lots of dandelions. We watched butterflies fluttering past and bugs crawling by. All great, simple fun for a toddler to learn about nature that doesn't cost a dime!

Support our State Parks

The California State Parks Foundation and the Sonoma County Regional Parks Foundation have teamed up with the San Francisco Giants and members of the Grateful Dead to help save the State Parks. A portion of the proceeds from the August 9th, SF Giants vs Pittsburgh Pirates, game and a VIP pre-game party will help keep eleven state parks open that are slated for closure in Sonoma, Marin, and San Francisco Counties. See website for details & buy tickets

Mommy’s Treats

TV Shows of the Week

Fans of “9 By Design” will be pleased to know that husband-and-wife design team Robert and Cortney Novogratz are back with a new series on HGTV called “Home By Novogratz”. It is a home make over show that starts this Saturday July 16th at 10.00 pm.

The couple who seem to have it all: ‘Giuliana & Bill’ Rancic’s reality show is back on the Style channel this Monday July 18th. This season they are taking a break from the heartache of IVF and concentrating on building their new home and having fun. 

Baby & Toddler Weekly Activities Calendars

Looking for something to do to entertain your toddler or want to reach out to new moms with babies this week?

Click on the ‘Weekly Calendar’ bar at the top of the page to view this week’s “Baby & Toddler Weekly Activities Calendar”. 

Review of "Bar Bocce" in Sausalito

One way to enjoy the glorious weather and try to prolong the long weekend feeling is to head down to “Bar Bocce” in Sausalito. Relax and soak up the spectacular view while mopping up some scrumptious food by the Bay!

Restaurant of the Week

Bar Bocce, 1250 Bridgeway, Sausalito 

Tel: 415-331-0555: view website

We used to enjoy coming to this place when it was the charming Northpoint Coffee Company and now it has been transformed from an unkept garden with rough around the edges furniture into a modern bar terrace complete with a Bocce Ball court!

Bar Bocce opened in March of this year with chef-partner Robert Price (Buckeye Roadhouse & Bungalow 44) running the kitchen and offering a seasonal American Italian inspired small plates menu with wood fire pizzas. 
We arrived on a busy July 4th lunchtime with a full terrace and an outside waiting list displayed on the chalk board that stretched 40 minutes, and 20 minutes for an inside table. We were about to sadly leave when a couple sat on one of padded seats round the fire pit let us know that the central lounge area was exempt from the waiting list and they were about to leave, result!

We settled down and soaked up the amazing view of the Bay which seemed clearer without the previous overgrown bushes. We could now fully enjoy the blue water glistering in the hot sunlight and watch people kayaking and sailing by in their yachts. Sausalito is described as the Amalfi Coast of Northern California and after being to both I totally agree, you instantly feel like you are on holiday here when you find yourself presented with such a breath taking view of the Bay with the hill side houses of Tiburon on the other side of the water. The view is actually similar to the one you also get sitting on Kayak Beach, which makes it one of favorite places to go in Marin.

The buzzy terrace was full of families, couples and groups of people, a real mix of clientele. A Dad was paddling with his kids at the water's edge and little groups of people were scattered on the small sandy beach on the other side of the Bocce Ball Court. We watched a game taking place as we sipped wine served on a chic wooden tray resting between us which felt very ‘resort-like’.

The menu is a selection of tasty appetizers, wood fired pizzas, salads and dishes such as eggplant Parmesan, meatball sliders and a rather interesting ‘Fire Roasted Hen smothered with lemon and herbs’. We shared the pork sausage pizza with fennel pollen, scallions and red onion which blew us away! The red onions were caramelized so sweetly that it complemented the fennel, sausage and some kind of crumbled blue cheese so well, we couldn’t get enough of it! It was the best pizza we had tasted in a long time (dare I say maybe even better than the Neapolitan pizza at Boca Pizzeria!) Other interesting pizza choices included; marble potato with smoked bacon and Fontana cheese, or the Dungeness crab, Meyer lemon, avocado and crème fraiche, or the “Meatballs, Need We Say More”.

For dessert we were intrigued by the “Fudgsicle or Winesicle”, but opted for the “Bocce Bliss” which was a tall sundae glass filled with ice cream, fresh raspberries, raspberry puree and crumbled meringue (based on the classic English “Eton Mess” dessert. It was absolutely wonderful and as soon as my husband started to rapidly spoon it up, I regretted sharing such a great summer pudding!

The food was awesome, the view was spectacular and the lively atmosphere enjoyable…we really didn’t want to leave and could of hung out there all afternoon, especially when we eyed up a couple next to us ordering a pitcher of white sangria with fresh fruit and mint (they recommend it by the way). But when a lady asked us if we didn’t mind her hovering close by for our seats, we know that it was time to head home as we settled our very reasonable check. But we will be back very soon to enjoy the relaxed vacation feel of ‘Bar Bocce’!  

Baby & Toddler Weekly Activities Calendars

Looking for something to do to entertain your toddler or want to reach out to new moms with babies this week?

Click on the ‘Weekly Calendar’ bar at the top of the page to view this week’s “Baby & Toddler Weekly Activities Calendar”. 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...