Speedy Shirley Muldowney slow cooks
Dueling zucchini races; Larson Family Winery gives and gives; Food Truck Friday at Sebastiani
Shirley Muldowney, the first lady of drag racing, is in Sonoma this weekend, but without her pink speedster. She's here to boost the NHRA races at Infineon and to help raise funds for Speedway Children's Charities, which gives thousands of dollars to local nonprofits, and will speak Saturday night at the Sebastiani Theatre.
A natural comic and attractive powerhouse screwball, even at 70-ish, Muldowney drove pink cars and broke all records in drag racing and told me, "I only think in terms of 1,320 feet. One thousand feet races make my lunch come back up."
Having broken most of the bones in her body while racing, Muldowney shows her grit in every conversation. She keeps tough by getting lots of sleep ("I am not a morning person") and eating "lots of candy, fruit and vegetables. I have to eat less candy and maybe should lose a few more pounds."
Muldowney loves to cook "wholesomely," especially "Asian food," specifically Thai. She says she makes a mean coconut milk chicken with (giggle) white Jasmine rice with lots of cilantro, red hot peppers and straw mushrooms.
Suddenly she calls out "Charlie Manson is waving to me," as she rides in Infineon staffer Jennifer Imbimbo's car past San Quentin.
Having married a couple of her passionate and extremely competent mechanics and crew chiefs, Shirley says, "I am so happy to be single. I don't know how I stood it for that long." She now lives with her son, John Muldowney, outside Detroit, Mich., where they have "seven acres and a barn with four bays." Those are for car building, not horses.
John, whom she says has an encyclopedic knowledge of drag racing and funny cars, is a "phenomenal metal fabricator who is building me a pink street car. I've never had a pink car to drive on the street and I need one badly."
Shirley has "made more money match racing" in which she is the draw and race promoters set up a competitor against her than she did in NHRA drag racing. Her other primary sources of income include personal appearances and selling T-shirts from her website, muldowney.com.
Muldowney is "still looking for a 10-race deal for $4 million. That would do it."
You can enjoy her feisty humor and experiences tomorrow night at the screening of "Heart Like a Wheel" at the Sebastiani Theatre for a $10 ticket.
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Rival zucchini races have cropped up from the fertile soil of two farmers market management groups in Sonoma.
The original zucchini races started years ago at the Tuesday evening farmers market under the management of Hilda Schwarz, who was replaced as manager by realtor Bill Dardon, who renamed the Tuesday event as the Valley of the Moon Certified Farmer's Market.
Meanwhile, Schwarz still manages the Friday morning market, which will be north of Teeter Field (Little League) on First Street East today because the Arnold Field parking lot work has not been finished. The Friday market now accepts EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer), the CalFresh program formerly known as food stamps.
Dardon's Tuesday group announced this week that they will hold their "first zucchini races" on Aug. 2 in front of City Hall, with Sonoma Old School Skate and Surf as sponsor.
Meanwhile again, Schwarz has long planned her 22nd annual zucchini race on Friday, Aug. 19, at Sebastiani Winery and Park at 6:30 p.m.
Jerry suggests we have a race-off among winners of both zucchini contests for the "World Championships."
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Tonight is Food Truck Friday at Sebastiani Winery, which means six food trucks will show up to sell some interesting foods, and there will be loads of great conversation and sales of Sebastiani wine.
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By the way, while we worry about carving zucchini into racecars, thousands of children and adults are starving in Somalia. And I mean starving. Somalian model Iman said Tuesday that she will travel to Somalia with Save the Children, where my cousin, Carol, serves on the board. Iman says "they have been there serving the children for 25 years."
If you want to give to distribute food, and not pay for administrative costs, you might consider visiting savethechildren.org or give $10 by texting "SURVIVE" to 20222 from your cellphone.
If hunger here in Sonoma Valley seems more important, help with donations to La Luz (938-5131) and FISH (996-0111), both of which feed hungry members of our community.
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Wild Thyme's next Dining Club Rive Gauche pops up next Wednesday, Aug. 3, featuring Pacific Island cuisine such as pupus or lomi lomi salmon and sushi, Hawaiian green papaya salad with banana bread, coconut chicken with rice noodles and mango sorbet with macadamia nut cookies. Enjoy music by Tommy Thomson and Ken Emerson on slack key guitar. $35 or 30 euro. 7 p.m. BYOW. 19030 Railroad Ave., El Verano. Reservations required at 996-9453 or email@example.com.
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Sonoma's Red & White Ball will be hosted by the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation on Saturday, Aug. 20, in Sonoma Plaza to benefit school programs, including the Sonoma School Garden Project. Dave Martin's House Party Band will help you dance your shoes off after feasting and sipping loads of Sonoma Valley wines. This year, guests can choose a VIP table seat at the table stretching across the whole Plaza for $150 with cocktail reception and farm-to-table feast that Brick 'n' Bottle Chef Scott Howard will design around our school garden veggies, a picnic at a table at $75, or the Dance Only Zone at $25. Call 935-9566 or visit svgreatschools.org for tickets.
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Saul Gropman, owner of the ever popular Café LaHaye, confirmed that he will indeed be consultant and operator of the restaurant in Sarah and Darius Anderson's planned Chateau Sonoma hotel on West Napa Street. Gropman told me he first knew Sarah "from the classical guitar world." Gropman also said any plans, which are still developing, are "two years out" for anything to open. La Haye will always continue on East Napa Street.
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Larson Family Winery has quietly been giving to our community in several ways. After a discussion many months ago with Adele Harrison Middle School Principal Karla Conroy and teachers Kathy Eschleman and Shirley Austin-Peake, Becky Larson took off on our idea of an educational vineyard for the school and organized the whole thing.
Last week, Adele students, 4-H members and Larson Vineyard Management crew planted 120 zinfandel vines Becky got donated by NovaVine, in soil amended with compost she got Sonoma Compost to donate. Then Larson obtained a grant to cover a few costs and donated her crew to pick up the compost and teach the students how to plant the vines at the school.
We, of the Sonoma School Garden Project, hope that other wineries and vineyard management companies will step up and "adopt" a school to plant smaller vineyards, all of which will provide professional skills and, eventually, fundraising wine to support the School Garden Project.
Becky Larson has offered to coordinate wineries with schools, so contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or me at email@example.com.
Larson Family Winery donated all of the wine sold by Rotary at Tuesday's City Party so that all profits can benefit the Sonoma Community Center. Larson Family Winery certainly has set some great examples to teach students and grown-ups.
Apparently Olde Sonoma Public House in Boyes Hot Springs donated the beer for the City Party.
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Murphy's Irish Pub has added a second bus going to the San Francisco Giants game for Irish Heritage Night on Friday, Aug 26. A ticket includes a game ticket, Giant's Irish shirt, pregame show, bus ride, all you can eat or drink on the bus and during the tailgate party (slider buffet). $82, Reserve at firstname.lastname@example.org or 935-0660.
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My apologies to Shiso restaurant: in a recent column I accidentally typed that their Happy Hour appetizers cost $40, and it should have been $4, a big difference. In fact, they start at $1.50, with draft beer $3, so go take a taste. Find Shiso in Maxwell Village back by the mini-golf course.
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Suggestion to the Sonoma Valley International Film Festival: If, indeed, they involve young chefs next April via New York's Paul Bocuse Foundation USA that they pair those chefs with our local chefs to create a win-win-win for everyone, including the festival-going public.
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François de Tessan is no longer fulltime at Ledson Lounge - Centre du Vin, although they still use his menu and have, in fact, added a hanger steak with blue cheese fries and vegetable ($17), lamb brochettes ($13), and cod fritters ($10), all good values. Jess Petty plays again on Aug. 13. Can't wait to try the mocha ice cream profiteroles with Guittard chocolate sauce.
According to Michelle Ledson, De Tessan still consults on the restaurant and is working with Steve Ledson to enhance his Zina Hyde winery location in Boonville and other properties.
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Norman Owens' Hot Box Grill is now open for lunch Thursday through Sunday. We enjoyed a fabulous Caesar salad and crunchy croutons immensely (only one broken tooth), and the hand ground hanger steak hamburgers were good. The only drawback was being asked three times if we were "still workin' on that."
Owens also creates a Banh Mi (Vietnamese sandwich), a Cuban sandwich, a "Philly Cheese Bomb," a falafel sandwich and one with pulled pork. The burgers come in 1, 2 or 3 4-ounce patties. Homemade sea salt chips are extra, but well worth it ($2.50). All lunch items range from $7 to $9 and can be ordered to go. 939-8383.
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Nibs & Sips:
If it's available, try server Marcia McDonald's peach crumble with crust made of oats and ground almonds and walnuts at the Breakaway Café ... Cece Hugo and Highway 12 Properties, along with 18 Reasons, Bi-Rite Market's nonprofit community service organization, will host a Full Moon Barn Dance on Saturday, Aug. 13, at Circle JR Ranch in Sonoma. San Francisco's Bi-Rite will provide a "country-style cookout," Mike the Baker will bake bread, and you can sip local beer and wine or SodaCraft sodas. Sonoma teen band Traffic Jam, the David Thom Band and Middle Maki will provide music, with square dancing to the Black Crown String Band, lasso lessons and lots of games offered, all to benefit the Sonoma Ecology Center's Enviro-Leaders Internship Program. $75 public, $50 adult Ecology Center or 18 Reasons members, $25 ages 6 to 18, and free for ages 5 and under, plus ticketing fees. Bring your own plates, utensils, cups or jars and napkins. 4 p.m. on. 22661 So. Central Ave. near Highway 12/121. Tickets at brownpapertickets.com/event/183623.
Catch Kathleen Hill's Nibs & Sips Food News, Retro Recipes and more at kthill.com.