img_6964When wine tasting – which as we all know is yuppese for getting drunk outside during the day in a socially acceptable manner – it is important to lay down a base. Because there is tipsy in the wine cave and then there is puking in the parking lot. The latter will get you booted from the vineyards for life, doomed to limit your wine tasting to NASCAR events.

Needless to say, we made a point to eat well when wine tasting in Sonoma. We were traveling around the rolling, green hills of Healdsburg, CA and needed a lunch spot to fill up. And when seeking out the best under the radar wine Northern California has to offer, a Taco Bell nacho grande would not do. No sir, we were headed to the Dry Creek Kitchen for a heady lunch.

Dry Creek Kitchen is a Charlie Palmer property, fusing French and Italian sensibilities with a very Californian drive.  img_6929Although still officially based in Manhattan, Palmer’s family lives in the area and you can catch a glimpse of this mountain man working the dining room from time to time. How will you know its him? Just keep an eye out for a dude who looks like he just felled a redwood with his bare hands. That’s probably Palmer.

Most days, the restaurant is steered by the very capable hands of Chef de Cuisine Les Goodman, who has added several new items to the menu since his arrival at the Kitchen. We started our meal with an ahi tuna carpaccio, served with shaved fennel, local citrus and brioche croutons. The dish was bright and flavorful – an edible cure for any case of winter blues. If I could, I would have packed 5 more of these to go so I could break it out as a delicious snack over the next few days.

More dishes after the jump.