For most people the Vernal Equinox signals the gradual transition from the grey and chilly days of winter, to the bright and warm days of summer. For the folks at Napa Valley Distillery, spring is a time to craft vintage porch-sipper cocktails that waken your taste buds from their winter hibernation, and to inspire thoughts of backyard gatherings with friends, seasonal dishes, and finely crafted libations. First up on their menu? The Sidecar.

The Sidecar Cocktail was created in 1920 at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris for an American Army Captain who fancied being chauffeured around in his beloved motorcycle sidecar. Proprietor Arthur Hartunian handcrafts each small batch using NVD’s own spirits and all natural ingredients. The mixture is then oak infused before bottling. The end result is a cocktail with extraordinary taste and character that no amount of shaking or stirring can produce; it is bright and fresh, yet refined and thoughtful. A very special cocktail truly reminiscent of an era long gone by. Cheers to spring!

Whole Spice will be offering a 20 percentdiscount the last three days of this month so you can spring clean your spice cabinets March 29-31! Also, try this delicious Whole Spice salmon recipe! Just a teaspoon of dried tarragon is enough to bring out the flavor in fish and chicken. It also pairs well with peas, asparagus and other spring vegetables; and it is great friends with mustard, as in this easy salmon recipe.

Tarragon-Mustard Salmon (serves 2)

Ingredients:
2 fresh salmon fillets
1 tsp. Whole Spice tarragon
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. honey
2 tsp. olive oil
1/8 tsp. salt
Pinch of cayenne
1/2 tsp. fresh lime juice

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450. Mix together the tarragon, mustard, honey, salt, cayenne and lime juice. Drizzle olive oil on the salmon and season with salt and pepper. Place in the hot oven for 10 minutes. Take out the salmon and rub it with the tarragon-mustard mixture. Place back in the oven for 5-6 minutes, until the sauce is caramelized.
Serve with fresh vegetables: Whole Spice likes a salad of shaved colored carrots seasoned with salt, pepper and olive oil.

Spring is here, Easter is just around the corner, and The Fatted Calf is ready to celebrate. Forget the peeps and chocolate bunnies! Fatted Calf has a hoFatted Calf Easter Menust of treats for your spring celebration from chive scented bockwurst to succulent stuffed quail. And don’t forget the bacon, breakfast sausage and farm fresh eggs for a holiday brunch. To place an order for pick up, please email  or call (707) 256-3684.

Marsha’s Grilled Rabbit Spiedini with Chicories, Olives and Almonds (serves four)
This recipe was handed down to The Fatted Calf from Marsha McBride, chef and proprietress of Berkeley’s Cafe Rouge. This savory grilled rabbit spiedini utilizes both the meat and organs of the rabbit, deliciously served over a salad of chicories, olives and almonds, perfect for a spring feast.

For the spiedini:
1 2 to 3 pound rabbit, boned
2 rabbit kidney
s, halved 1 rabbit liver, cut into fourths
sea salt
1 tsp. toasted and ground coriander
zest of 1/2 orange
2 Tbs. chopped parsley
2 Tbs. chopped thyme
1 Tbs. chopped garlic
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup rosé wine
4 thin slices of pancetta

For the salad:
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 finely minced shallot
sea salt
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
¾ cup olive oil
4 cups washed and trimmed arugula
4 cups wash
ed and trimmed escarole hearts 4 cups washed and trimmed frisée
¼ cup chopped picholine olives
½ cup toasted chopped almonds
freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Cube the rabbit meat into one-inch (2.5 cm) pieces. Season the meat, liver, and kidneys with the sea salt and coriander. In a large bowl mix the garlic, orange zest and herbs with the olive oil and wine. Add the seasoned rabbit. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Prepare the vinaigrette for the salad. In a medium sized mixing bowl, macerate the shallots in the red wine vinegar. Add a pinch of sea salt and the Dijon mustard. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to emulsify. Set aside.

Remove the rabbit from the marinade. Wrap the rabbit liver with the pancetta. Thread one piece of liver and one kidney onto each skewer along with ¼ of the rabbit meat, leaving ½ inch (1.25 cm) in between each piece. Grill over a medium-hot fire for about 8 to 10 minutes total, turning frequently to brown evenly on all sides.

In a large bowl, toss together the arugula, escarole and frisée with the vinaigrette. Add the olives, almonds and a few grinds of black pepper. Divide the salad amongst four plates. Place a whole skewer, still warm, over the bed of greens and serve.

Celebrate the new growth of the spring season at Hudson Greens and Goods. You’ll find all the Easter essentials, including beautiful, organic spring onions $5.99/lb.,  asparagus $8.99/lb. and green garlic $7.59/lb.  If you find yourself looking for the perfect Easter gift, a staff favorite is the Super Choc-O-Food bar, a collaboration of Valerie’s Confections and Commune Design. It’s packed with a dried fruit, nuts and seeds all bound together with minimal chocolate, conveniently wrapped in your choice of pastel foils. It really is the best addition to any Easter basket.

Spring is the perfect time to enjoy a fresh Hawaiian Poki bowl at Eiko’s at Oxbow. Poki bowls made to order with freshly diced ahi tuna tossed in a savory sesame soy sauce, sliced Maui onions and avocado over a bed of sushi rice and Japanese rice seasoning from Whole Spice ($17). You will feel like you are on the beach in Hawaii…the only thing missing will be the sand between your toes! Or try it California style with a creamy soy sauce, no onion and flaked crab ($15). Available daily at the sushi bar and only at Eiko’s Oxbow location.

What better way to welcome the beautiful season of spring than with fresh and flavorful California olive oils? The Olive Press offers a wide array of extra virgin olive oils ranging from delicate to robust intensities that are wonderful for cooking and finishing. They also offer lovely flavored oils. Looking for different ingredients to add a pop of flavor to a classic recipe? Their balsamic vinegar selection ranges from classic options such as white balsamic vinegar to flavorful, fruity options such as raspberry or fig. Be sure to stop by The Olive Press and taste all of these delicious oils and vinegars!

Here comes Peter Cottontail…and that means Easter’s on its way! Be ready for friends and family this year with the help of The Model Bakery. From breakfast pastries, to artisan breads, cookies…tarts and pies…to large and individual Easter cakes, the Model Bakery has you covered. And don’t forget those hot cross buns! All orders must be placed by noon on Thursday, March 24 for pickup either Saturday, March 26 from 7a m to 6 pm, or Easter Sunday, from 7 am to 1 pm. Hoppy Easter!

This month’s C CASA special enchilada combines their succulent, chile-crusted rotisserie chicken with 4 cheese blend wrapped in one of their house made corn tortillas. With C CASA, it is all about the toppings and sides! Topped with mixed greens, pico de gallo and poblano crema, the enchilada is accompanied by a spinach corn edamame salad, and a carrot cake snack muffin provides a sweet finish. Special plate price: $13.50.

The Olive Press’ beautiful, freshly milled citrus olive oils are now available for purchase and ready for tasting! There are a variety of stunning spring-inspired flavors to choose from such as lime, clementine, blood orange and lemon. These sweet, tangy and zesty citrus fruits are milled with Mission extra virgin olive oil. This oil is buttery and delicate in nature, which allows the bright flavors of the citrus to truly stand out! Be sure to stop by The Olive Press and taste all of these gorgeous citrus oils that are sure to make it feel like springtime!

Spring in the air: warmer weather, sunshine, blooming flowers and green grass. There is nothing like a picnic outside to enjoy this beautiful season. Colorful placemats, serving trays and table runners are available at Napastak for you to dress your table. Pick up some delicious spreads to pair with your favorite cheese and try their new delicious pasta sauces and locally grown pickles. The Napastak team will help you to find everything you need for your special dishes.

Oxbow Cheese & Wine Merchant is now carrying “Blackstone,” a new cheese brought to us by the folks at Bellwether Farms in Petaluma, CA. Blackstone is a blend of cow and sheep’s milk. Its paste is scattered with black peppercorns, giving it a mild boost of spice, and its rind is rubbed with ground pepper, rosemary and vegetable ash. The paste offers the characteristic tang of sheep’s milk, while the cow’s milk offers a caramel sweetness with a rich mouth feel. Blackstone is another great addition to the numerous other local cheeses the Oxbow Cheese & Wine Merchant is carrying right now. Next time you are in the Cheese & Wine Merchant ask someone at the cheese counter to direct you to some new local favorites!

Cate & Co.’s new salami from Zoe’s Meats just happens to be Absinthe Salami. Madness was one of the rumored side effects of drinking absinthe at the turn of the 20th century, so what better snack to munch on during March Madness! Pork salami gets a kick of spice from New Mexican hatch chili peppers, and is infused with absinthe liqueur. Enjoy at your own risk, it can be dangerously addicting! We suggest making skewers of salami, cheese, olives and toasted bread, and you’re all set for snacking during March Madness.

Fatted Calf corned beef is ready just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. You don’t need the luck of the Irish to nab one of these succulent beauties. Just reserve one for pick up by emailing or order by phone at (707) 256.3684.

Cooking Fatted Calf Corned Beef
Corned beef is the dish that keeps on giving. At The Fatted Calf, they always cook a corned beef twice as big as they think they might reasonably need in hopes that the next day there will be a hot corned beef sandwich heaped with sauerkraut and caramelized onions and possibly enough shredded end bits for a hearty red flannel hash.

Choose a pot that is wide and deeper than your hunk of beef is tall (or possibly a deep roasting pan). Into your cooking vessel toss a leek, roughly chopped, a couple of carrots peeled but left whole, a clove or three of garlic, a stalk of celery and sprigs of thyme and parsley. Situate the corned beef brisket atop this aromatic bed and cover with cold water and perhaps a generous splash of beer. Bring to a simmer then place all of this in a low oven, about 300°F (150°C) for three to four hours.

Prod the brisket with a meat fork to be sure it is tender and yielding before calling it quits. Let the meat rest in its cooking liquor for twenty or thirty minutes then transfer it to a carving board and slice it against its grain. Seldom sticklers for tradition The Fatted Calf prefers to cook the requisite cabbage and potatoes on the side. Cabbage sautéed with a bit of Fatted Calf bacon until just tender and finished with a ladleful of the braising liquor is far tastier than the long boiled stuff. A steaming bowl of new potatoes with just a bit of butter and parsley will more than do or try a rustic root vegetable mash. A dollup of creamy horseradish sauce and a pot of strong mustard round out this fine Irish-American feast, a meal so good you may need to ration a bit for the next day’s sandwiches.

Ca’ Momi Enoteca is bounding into spring with some exciting new desserts: housemade Cannoli Siciliani stuffed with fresh ricotta, and luscious Babà al Rum-rich, eggy pastry infused with a delectably boozy citrus syrup. Swing by anytime for an impulsive treat to go, or order ahead for a memorable Easter brunch finale! The Enoteca also offers charming cookie jars filled with Italian classics like Brutti ma Buoni and Cantucci di Prato ($8 each or three for $20) for kids of all ages.

Try this decadent Whole Spice recipe for chocolate cake drizzled with Urfa chili chocolate cream. Urfa’s heat level of 3-4 on the Scoville scale of 1 to 10, combined with a high essential oil content, makes it accessible to most palates.

Chocolate Cake
Ingredients:
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
9 ounces dark chocolate, roughly chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup flour
4 Tbs. Whole Spice Cocoa Powder

Directions:
Melt the butter and add dark chocolate, gently folding until it is all melted. Set aside.

Beat eggs and sugar together until thickened. Add the melted chocolate and continue beating.

Add flour and cocoa powder, mixing just until combined — do not overbeat.

Transfer to a round baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Urfa Chili Chocolate Cream
Ingredients:
4/5 cup whipping cream
7 ounces dark chocolate, roughly chopped
3/4 tsp Whole Spice Urfa Chili Flakes

Directions:
Heat up whipping cream, add dark chocolate and stir until melted Add Urfa chili and mix. Drizzle atop the chocolate cake.