Engagement City; Harvest Fair results;
B. R. Cohn breaks fundraising record; The Weekend That Was
During some recent shopping therapy. we ran into Catherine Venturini (family name of Catherine Driggers) of Olive & Vine restaurant and catering, who proudly waved her new sparkling diamond engagement ring from musician, sommelier and restaurant manager John Burdick.
There they were on Moon Mountain, having ventured to their "favorite secret spot" when John pulled out his guitar and said, "Listen to this song I wrote. I mean, really listen." Couched in the romantic song were his professions of love and proposal of marriage. Of course, he had the ring with him.
Catherine's second thought was, who's going to cater the wedding?
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At the fabulous B.R Cohn Winery dinner that launched Bruce's weekend of concerts, golf and fundraising for local and veterans' charities, he and Laurie Molinaro, also sporting a new diamond ring, told me they decided not to get married on stage between Lynyrd Skynard and the Doobie Brothers. Instead they announced their engagement at a Sunday afternoon party and plan a wedding in May. Molinaro said she will keep her job at KRON-TV "on camera and in advertising."
Brick 'n' Bottle and Scott Howard Events catered the entire B.R. Cohn weekend, including the engagement party, with the Friday dinner menu influenced by Santa Rosa's Guy Fieri, who actually raised around $35,000 during the auction for the rights to participate in one of his "Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives" tapings in the city of the bidder's choosing.
Adding together that lot and Darius Anderson's generous bid for a vertical collection of Opus One, the B.R. Cohn auction hit its highest mark ever at more than $200,000. Sonoma Valley Education Foundation, Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance, Redwood Empire Food Bank and Santa Rosa Memorial Trauma Center, among others, will benefit from the proceeds.
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Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards captured the Sweepstakes prize for the Sonoma County Harvest Fair's newest category, Specialty Wines, with its 2007 Carneros Brut Rosé, which was served on Monday at a luncheon on the winery's patio.
José and Gloria Ferrer were in town (read Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn) to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Mr. Ferrer's concept and purchase of acreage on the Sonoma side of the Carneros region, one of the newer endeavors of his family's centuries-old wine business.
Feast of Santa Rosa catered the luncheon of delectable Moroccan lamb "lollipops" with pomegranate sauce and Maine lobster rolls with celeriac remoulade for hors d'oeuvres, followed by French Laundry-size portions of a perfect rustic fig and goat cheese galette, ahi tuna on brioche with wasabi sauce (resembling the best-ever grilled tuna slider); a lean Sonoma duck "crepinette" with foraged mushrooms; and a Gravenstein apple tart tatin with ginger ice cream.
Gloria's parent Freixenet USA president, Tom Burnett, flew in from New Jersey, while three generations of Ferrers arrived from the Catalan region of Spain. Gloria and José's son, Pedro, graciously and diplomatically told guests, "We bought this property in 1982 and were chased by the one bull among many cows. Not many men can say they work for a company named for their mother, except maybe for me and my brother.
"We discovered we really had to listen to local people. We have learned a lot from Californians, and now we make better wine around the world."
Gloria Ferrer has now won 352 medals for its wines in the last five years.
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Kenwood Winery garnered the Harvest Fair's Sweepstakes Award for white wines with its 2010 Russian River Valley pinot gris ($16), while Wilson winery got its third sweepstakes win in five years for its 2009 Dry Creek Valley zinfandel ($36).
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Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn Executive Chef Bruno Tison led a highly-successful and popular cooking demonstration at the Union Square Williams-Sonoma store on Saturday, Sept. 24.
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Darryl Ponicsan's Doorway Gallery and Artist's Studio launch party last Saturday was a hugely entertaining hit, complete with a live (clothed) model, guest artists painting the model at their easels, trays of cold cuts and sushi from Sonoma Market, great wines and even "water painting" in which one takes a "brush" and draws designs on the cement floor. The four-man show of work by George Dawnay, Earl Turner, Vince Zukowski and Ponicsan runs through Oct. 23.
Ponicsan, whose movie posters depicting films whose scripts he wrote line one wall, bills his studio as "Sonoma's only anti-gallery" between the Off Square Glass Studio and Vern's Taxi. The official opening of the gallery will be Saturday, Oct. 1, actually postponed to this date because so many paintings were sold. "Open by appointment or by chance." 254 First St. E., Sonoma. 206-650-0090.
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Half century kids:
Byron Hancock put on a multi-layered 50th birthday for husband, Len Handelan, last Saturday at their Thornsberry Road home, complete with the band Crossfire playing on a terrace above the pool, special vodka and pomegranate cocktails and a buffet dinner of spinach and Caesar salads, great macaroni and cheese, lemon herbed chicken, pork loin and tri-tip prepared and served by Margie Tosch-Brooke, owner of Community Café. As promised, we made lots of new friends and even saw a few from town such as Kathy and Bob Leonard and Deborah and Dr. John Emery.
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At the other side of the Valley, Scott Smith and Marcelo de Freitas threw a "Casbah" bash for Marcelo's 50th at their Diamond A abode. Marcelo, who conceived and staged La Luz's recent highly successful Noche de Copacabana with fellow boardmember Karen Adelson, did all the planning and decorating of their great room and poolside.
Those who stepped outside to the pool found its decks lined with oriental rugs and pillows from Plain Jane's and five belly dancers, one of whom was a snake charmer who danced with a snake around her neck and down her tummy as she bent backward, full symbolism working overtime.
Elaine Bell catered with an enormous array of Middle Eastern foods including a whole roasted lamb strewn down the middle of the buffet dining table, from which guests appropriately picked pieces and ate with their fingers.
Rob and Robin Lyon greeted guests at the front door with Hump-Free, their one-hump camel, among the party features still talked about by guests including 'Zanne Clark, Stanley Abercrombie and Paul Vieyra, Hope and Jack Nissan, Cele and Wayne Schaake, Gary Sapperstein, Kimberly and Simon Blattner, David Fazzio and Philip, Yvonne Hall, Vicki and Dave Stollmeyer, Martha and Steve Rosenblatt, Leah Bruner, Christi Coulston, Claudia Mendoza, Kevin Carruth and about 350 other best friends.
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Larson Family Winery hosts its annual Harvest Hoedown on Saturday, Oct. 1, to celebrate the harvest and winemaking with vineyard tours that include the barrel room and bottling line.
Enjoy a south-of-the-border barbecue, dancing to music by Tudo Bem, a caricaturist doing portraits, raffle with prizes and a jumpy house for the kids. Tickets include everything. $40 adults, $30 wine club members, $15 "underage." 4 to 8 p.m. Reserve at 938-3031, ext. 18, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Twenty-five Sonoma Home Winemakers pour their handcrafted wines and serve handcrafted appetizers and silent auction on Saturday, Oct. 1, at the Swiss Hotel's back patio to benefit Sonoma Valley High School Boosters. Barrels of fun. Tickets $35 at Sonoma Community Center, 276 E. Napa St. or 938-4626.
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Buena Vista Winery features character actor George Webber and the Buena Vista Players as "The Count of Buena Vista." The Count will act out his version of "Count" Agoston Haraszthy's viticulture and winemaking history in Sonoma Valley in a free 20-minute performance at 2 p.m. on Saturdays, Oct. 1, 8, 15 and 22. Tours and "Taste with the Count" are offered Friday through Sunday with wine tasting. Performances free, tours and wine tasting $20 to $40. 18000 Old Winery Road, Sonoma. Reservations required at 800-926-1266.
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Meadowcroft Wines celebrates its first anniversary at CornerStone Saturday, Oct. 1, with wine, food, blues singer Liz Brown and her "swampbox" guitar and prizes and Louisiana sausage for everyone. Free. Noon to 4 p.m. 23574 Arnold Drive, Sonoma.
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Sonoma Valley Grange puts on their fabulous organic Pancake Breakfast with organic free-range everything this Sunday, Oct. 2, at the Grange Hall across Highway 12 from Mary's Pizza Shack in Boyes Hot Springs. $10 adults, $5 kids. 9 to 11 a.m.
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Sunflower Caffé limits its hours starting Monday, Oct. 3 to 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., except for its featured wine tasting Thursday evenings and its First Friday artist receptions. Local Steve Brumme, whose paintings have been featured in many Bay Area news outlets and who writes about martial arts in the American Judo and Jujitsu Federation magazines, will be honored Friday, Oct. 7. Free. Wines by Imagery and music by JoyRide. 5 to 7 p.m. 421 First St. W., Sonoma.
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Bonnie Tempesta, who started the biscotti craze with her La Tempesta Bakery in San Francisco (1982 to 1997), hosted a wrap party for Pets Lifeline's Black Cat Cabaret performers featuring her biscotti; along with Sonoma residents Giulio Tempesta of Ristorante Umbria's wood-fired pizza; and seafood from Roseann Grimm, owner of San Francisco's Anchor Oyster Bar and former owner of the Kenwood Inn.
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Shiso Sushi will host a one-hour tasting of Paul Hoffman's fume blanc, chardonnay and Headbanger Red paired with Shiso owner Ed Metcalfe's sushi on Saturday, Oct. 1. See Shiso's patio and chef's garden. $25. 5 to 6 p.m. 19161 Highway 12, Sonoma in Maxwell Village. 933-9331.
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Estate restaurant offers a special "Harvest Dinner" to celebrate Sondra Bernstein and John Toulze's three-acre "farm project" bounty and the hilarious, innovative and slightly off-center personality of winemaker Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard on Saturday, Oct. 8. The Farm Project grows veggies behind the girl & the fig and at the Benzigers' Imagery Winery for all three girl & the fig restaurants.
The Harvest Dinner will include farm-inspired cocktails, antipasti including Toulze's housemade salami; roasted sun choke salad with wild mushrooms; spicy lamb sausage with penne pasta, rooftop sun-dried tomato and pepper ragu; roasted heirloom squash ravioli with housemade ricotta salata; wood-fired porchetta with polenta, baby carrots with radishes and baby fennel; and thee fabulous desserts. Each course will be paired with Bonny Doon wines. $65 includes wine. 6:30 p.m. 400 W. Spain St., Sonoma. Reserve at 933-3663.
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Belly dance superstar Nathalie Tedrick highlights Wild Thyme's next Dining Club Rive Gauche on Wednesday, Oct. 12, featuring African cuisine such as lentil salad; Akkara balls; Nigerian flat bread; avocado stuffed with smoked fish, lamb and pumpkin stew; rice with coconut milk and caramel bananas with Madagascar vanilla bean ice cream. $35. 7 p.m. BYOW. 7 p.m. Reserve at 996-9453 or email@example.com.