'Chew, Spit & Scratch;'
Ladies Tea Room at Infineon Raceway?; Farmers Markets everywhere; High School Culinary Final, finally; Plating the Food Pyramid; Rescheduled events
Kathleen Hill/Index-Tribune Food and Wine Editor
Having joined Jerry in watching what must total hundreds, maybe thousands, of San Francisco Giants baseball games on television and thinking about the ballpark's garlic fries that I don't replicate at home, I have decided what my next book should be called: "Chew, Spit & Scratch."
As we all know, baseball is a rather, ahem, slow game. Or business. So the cameras focus on all the personal machinations of each of the star players, coming up next, just pulled off the pitching mound or simply supporting teammates from the bench.
So what do we see most of? Players chewing tobacco, gum or sunflower seeds, followed by spitting of sunflower seed shells or spitting sputum generated by the gross tobacco habit.
Then when they get up to bat, or even pitch, or run from base to base, they all scratch. And they scratch where they probably would least like us all to see them scratch. I find this whole ritual fascinating.
Therefore, my next book (number 33) should be called "Chew, Spit & Scratch: A Woman's View of Baseball." Observations welcomed.
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Kimberly and Simon Blattner were among the few who did not wimp out and cancel their party plans last weekend. The barbecue, to celebrate the new David Hockney exhibit and "Rebound: A Survey of Contemporary California Book Art," which Simon curated at Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, went on uninterrupted, with guests looking out the Blattners' windows at rain-soaked tables covered with rain-soaked blue and white table cloths topped with rain-soaked flowers.
Rob Larman catered with his covered Cochon Volant smoker, producing great ribs, chicken and beef brisket, accompanied by watermelon arugula and cole slaw salads and beans, beans, beans, plus chewy and addictive cornbread.
Among those sitting everywhere in the Blattners' guest house were Boyes Hot Springs resident and incoming painting dean at the San Francisco Art Institute Frances McCormack and Tom Perot, Stanley Abercrombie and Paul Vieyra, Cal Vander Woude, Lois Gordon, Suzanne Brangham and Jack Lundgren, Cherie Hughes, Jim Lamb, former SVMA board president Harriet and Randy Derwingson, and Judy and Les Vadasz.
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Infineon Raceway Historic Race Car co-organizers Steve Page and Debbie and Steve Earl combined efforts with Levy Catering's Larry Arrington to create a novel and instantly popular Ladies Tea Room for classic racecar drivers' wives last Saturday and Sunday, inspired by tearooms at New Zealand and Australian raceways.
Yes, a tearoom at a major vroom, vroom, vroom raceway, and "no men allowed."
Infineon staffer Jerry Wheeler brought in part of her teapot collection, Levy brought in elegant China and the national raceway caterers also ordered Russian tea cookies, pastries and chocolate, almond and plain croissants from Artisan Bakers. And then there were the strawberries dipped in chocolate to look like tuxedos.
The whole effort was so popular, providing a great balance to the rain soaked gourmet food tent through which water rushed and soaked shoes during our freaky weather of last weekend, that Arrington said next year they will have two tearooms. My response was, "Why not at the Indy Car races and open the tea rooms to all women, locals, not locals and not just racecar drivers' wives?"
We might actually lure some local women to the raceway for a new experience.
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Next up for Infineon is their hugely popular Speedway Children's Champions Annual Grand Marshall's Banquet at Cline Cellars' Barrel Room on Friday, June 24, of the big NASCAR weekend, with thousands of dollars going to Sonoma Valley nonprofits that benefit local children. Sonoma resident and caterer Elaine Bell has planned a fun menu of hors d'oeuvres such as mini southern fried chicken, beef empanadas, lamb meatballs and lobster salad éclairs.
Once guests are seated, they will enjoy a Little Gem wedge salad with Pt. Reyes Blue cheese; grilled Niman Ranch pork chop with Calvados sauce or a ten-vegetable terrine; and an "alternating dessert course" of Watmaugh Road strawberries and shortcake or cocoa tarts, which means a lot of trading will go on.
Always a hilarious event, this year "Cheers" and "Cars" star John Ratzenberger will be grand marshal, while sportscaster Joe Fonzi will emcee. Tommy Smothers will show up as someone else, accompanied by his yo-yo. NASCAR Hall of Famers Bobby Allison and Ned Jarrett will answer questions. $250. 6 p.m. Call Denise Silver at 933-3950 for reservations.
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Farmers markets everywhere:
We now have four farmers markets to enjoy in Sonoma Valley, at least one of which might suit your schedule, if not all. Farmers markets are fun, social and nutritious, so what's to lose? Buying from local growers gives more accountability for the food you consume, saves billions of gallons of jet fuel and supports local farmers trying to make a living doing what they love.
We have the Tuesday evening market in front of City Hall; Friday morning market at Arnold Field parking lot (Clover-Stornetta's Clo the Cow will be there this morning), Saturday morning market at the Sonoma Community Center, and a new market Sunday morning at the Jack London Village parking lot in Glen Ellen.
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Tiny (600 cases) Stone Edge Farm's 2006 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon was served along with Hanzell Vineyards' 2009 Sebella Chardonnay at last week's prestigious presentation of the George C. Marshall Foundation Award to Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. Artichoke salad with snow and English peas; horseradish crusted tenderloin and seared rockfish with mustard greens and fennel and pommes purée, and a citrus meringue tower were all on the menu.
Stone Edge's organic Sonoma Valley vineyards are tended by the famously respected Phil Coturri, and Jeff Baker, formerly of Carmenet, serves as winemaker for owner Mac McQuown.
Clinton was honored "for her selfless service to the country and to the world as first lady, U.S. senator from New York and (as) the current secretary of state," as well as for her "long-standing support of the U.S. military and its soldiers, families and veterans." Past recipients include George H.W. Bush, Colin Powell, David Rockefeller and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
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Anyone interested in food or in the future of our high school students might volunteer to help Sonoma Valley High School's Culinary Arts Program, directed by super enthusiastic and giving Brigitta Crews, who motivates and turns out some darned good cooks and potentially serious chefs. Even the less enthusiastic students leave Crews' classes knowing how to cook and feed their families healthfully, no mean feat these days.
For their final exam, student "lab groups" had to make a salad, soup or hors d'oeuvre; an entrée with a starch and/or vegetable and a dessert or specialty beverage, all from a "Mystery Food Box," which included such goodies as two boneless, skinless chicken breasts, asparagus, crimini mushrooms, jicama, broccoli, carrots, Ghirardelli chocolate bars, a half baguette, fresh berries and orange and a cup of heavy cream. Out of this came some fabulous dishes.
"Kitchen #3" won by four points with a whole roasted chicken that would have made Julia Child proud. Kitchen #5 with tandoori chicken came in second, followed by grilled steak (ingredient legitimately brought from home). Kitchen #3's Shane Enzensberger has received a large scholarship to attend L'Ecole Grégoire-Ferrandi cooking school in Paris. Way to go Shane.
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Plating the Food Pyramid:
Sometime in the last decade "to plate" became a verb. It means putting food on a plate. First Lady Michelle Obama has influenced the Department of Agriculture to illustrate what foods should fill what fractions of our dining plates, either china or paper.
She has plated the food pyramid, with the blessing of NYU professor and author Marion Nestle, who participated in developing the original food pyramid, but quit because of the influence of food industry lobbyists.
So let's fill our plates, and our children's plates at home and at school, half with fruits and vegetables and the other half with whole grains and protein (tofu, beans, meat, poultry, fish, eggs), accompanied with a portion of dairy, such as milk or yogurt.
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After all the event cancellations of last weekend, which hurt budgets of several nonprofit organizations, let's hope the following happen soon.
Deerfield Ranch Winery hosts an enticing Murder Mystery Evening and New Release Party in their cave tonight, June 10. Enjoy new releases of Deerfield wines, sample hors d'oeuvres by Olive & Vine and Community Café, and help solve a murder or two. Deerfield's winemaker doesn't actually get killed, but the staff does its best. You solve it. 7 to 10 p.m. Free with required reservation by emailing Bill.Klein@deerfieldranch.com.
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R2 Wine Company begins its grand opening on Broadway tonight, June 10, with food, free tastings and blending seminars on Saturdays at 2 p.m. 5 to 7 p.m. June 10 through June 19. 654 Broadway, Sonoma.
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Meadowcroft Wines holds another wine and food pairing on Saturday, June 11, in its Cornerstone tasting room with seatings at noon, 2 an 4 p.m. $25. 23574 Arnold Drive, Sonoma. Reserve at 934-4090.
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Bear Flag Day, hosted by the Native Sons of the Golden West, Parlor #111, fills part of Sonoma Plaza this Sunday, June 12, starting at 11 a.m. and featuring a slightly accurate historical reenactment of the "Bear Flag Revolt" at 1 p.m. in Grinstead Amphitheater.
From a culinary standpoint, the Native Sons do a bang-up barbecue of chicken with corn on the cob, salad and bread, accompanied by a terrific Microbrew Festival featuring 25 Bay Area microbrewers and their personal style beers. Hot dog plates for kids. And, one of Sonoma's best bands, BackTrax, plays their tunes. Unlimited beer tastes $25, $12 chicken plates, $4 kids hot dog plates. 11 a.m. on. More information contact Dean Zellers at 996-5282 or visit sonomanatives.org.
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Alsina Station Grill, which had to cancel its grand opening at Cornerstone due to downpours last weekend, has rescheduled the tasting party for Sunday, June 12. Owners Consuelo Lyonnet and Alberto Lataliste have redefined the space last occupied by Sage and Blue Tree Café to bring authentic Argentine cuisine with "asado, tango and vino" Sunday afternoon. $15. 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. 23570 Arnold Drive, Sonoma. Reserve via email@example.com or call 640-8971.
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The Cellar Door multi-winery tasting room at the Lodge at Sonoma will host a Grilled Tri-Tip and Red Wine Tasting on Sunday, June 19. Sheana Davis of The Epicurean Connection will create the cuisine, which will include grilled Sonoma County 4-H tri-tip; a trio of barbecue sauces made with wines by Cellar Door wineries Chandelle, Mayo Family Winery and Guerrero Fernandez; roasted red potato salad with chive blossoms, arugula pesto pasta salad with cherry tomatoes and a chocolate blackberry brownie. $20. 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. 1395 Broadway, Sonoma. Call 938-4466 for tickets.
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Today is National Iced Tea Day in National Iced Tea Month. Or, if you prefer, today is also National Black Cow Day, which, in some part of the country, celebrates a root beer float.
Share your food and wine news with Kathleen Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org.