Zagat results; Food history lecture
Rumor Dept.; Epicurean Connection to open with filming
Before selling out to Google, Nina and Tim Zagat already had put their "San Francisco Bay Area Restaurants 2012" guide to bed. Zagat ratings (on a scale of 1 to 30, with 26 to 30 being "extraordinary to perfection") are determined by consumers who send in their personal evaluations. It is, indeed, possible to game the system by getting friends, fans and supporters to comment in Zagat's surveys.
Here are this (or next) year's results for Sonoma Valley restaurants in the "food" category, as opposed to décor, service and cost.
Santé restaurant (26) at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission jumped a giant three points over last year's ratings, all under the auspices of Chef Andrew Cain. Carneros Bistro (24), under former chef de cuisine Janine Falvo, gained two points over its last year's points. Café La Haye (27) ahead of Terra, Madrona Manor, Ad Hoc and Sonoma Meritâge (22) each went up one point, while Della Santina's (22) and La Salette's (24) ratings stayed the same.
El Dorado Kitchen (22), Fremont Diner (21), girl & the fig (23), and Harvest Moon Café (24) all lost a point, while Estate lost two. New restaurants Hot Box Grill (23) and HopMonk Tavern (18) hopped on the list for the first time.
In Kenwood, Café Citti (22) lost a point and Kenwood Restaurant (23) gained two. Fig Café repeated at 25.
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Speaking of people named Luchetti, Sonoma's Rose and Frank Luchetti turn their olive crop into oil at Frank Figone's Olive Oil press in Kenwood and sell cases and cases of it to families of Luchettis throughout the United States.
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Sonoma resident Paula Wolfert is in New York promoting her new cookbook, "The Food of Morocco," and being promoted and honored for her lifetime dedication to Moroccan and other cuisines. The New York Times "Dining" section featured her on Wednesday.
Locals who responded to my column a couple of years ago asking for snails for Wolfert and showed up at Sign of the Bear to donate their crop to her effort at making Marrakech Snail Soup will enjoy her reference to the experience on page 192.
This week she was feted at James Beard House, at a sold-out presentation before the Culinary Historians of New York, and at other appearances in Washington, D.C. and along the East Coast.
You can catch up with her on Saturday, Oct. 22, at Ramekins Culinary School where staff will offer tastes from "The Food of Morocco" and I will interview Wolfert to draw out all those intimate stories from when she lived in Morocco, Algeria and France, to say nothing of New York and Sonoma. $85 includes tastes, interview, book and signing. 10 a.m. 450 W. Spain St., Sonoma. 933-0450.
On Sunday, Oct. 23, Wolfert will just sign books at Bram Claypot Cookware on First Street East from 2 to 4 p.m. Book only, $45. 493 First St. E., Sonoma. 935-3717.
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This year's Amistad Awards, presented by Nuestra Voz to community members for their outstanding service to Sonoma Valley's Hispanic community, take place Saturday, Oct. 8, at the Sonoma Barracks.
Catered by Las Adelitas Creativas, dinner will include appetizers of Mexican cheese quiche with fiesta salad, followed by thick homemade tortillas (huaraches) stuffed with steak and a salsa of avocado, tomato, onion, garlic and Mexican spices. For dessert Las Adelitas will make bread pudding with Mexican brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, accompanied by café de olla, a Mexican spiced coffee.
Bret Sackett, Jennifer Hainstock, Tony Garcia, Zuli Baron and Gabriel Sanchez-Navarro will receive awards from Mexico Consul General Felix Corona. 6 p.m. Tickets at Nuestra Voz or Sonoma Materials, 939-9369 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Sheana Davis has closed her Boyes Hot Springs shop and will open The Epicurean Connection on Saturday, Oct. 15, at 122 W. Napa St. While as of this writing she has not received the City of Sonoma's go-ahead to build a restroom, she will be able to sell food-to-go and prepared foods, including her Délice de la Vallée cheese.
Next Tuesday, Richard Blais will bring in a film crew to tape a "Reinventing the Meal" segment featuring the Epicurean Connection in a cheese-making scene. For the taping, Davis will demo Crème de Ricotta and serve Hanzell Estate Chardonnay, Idell Sonoma Syrah and Alec Stefansky's Uncommon Brews beer.
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Sonoma Home Brewers Alliance will meet Tuesday, Oct. 11, at Sonoma Springs Brewery. All are welcome. 6:30 p.m. Contact Joe Capone at craftbrewca.com.
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Next Friday, Oct. 14, the Sonoma League for Historic Preservation presents me and a lecture in which I will tell the history of kitchen utensils, a brief history of food in America and how manufacturers get us to buy "the newest" kitchen gadget at the Sonoma Valley Woman's Club. The talk is based on my collection of more than 600 kitchen utensils, many of which will be on display at Maysonnave House over the next year.
We will also play a CD of old food radio commercials assembled by Sonoma crooner and radio host Jeff Gilbert. The event is free thanks to the sponsorship of Laura Chenel Chèvre, the Epicurean Connection and an anonymous donor. 11 a.m. 574 First St. E., Sonoma. 938-8110.
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Ravenswood Winery begins its Harvest Weekend Friday, Oct. 14, with a sold-out chat with Joel Peterson, "the Godfather of Zin," a three-course dinner, lively conversation and great wines with Pickberry Vineyard growers Cris and Lorna Strotz.
The celebration continues Saturday with a chance blend your own Pickberry-style wine to take home. $50/$35 for club members. 11a.m. to noon. Reservations required via email@example.com.
Finally, on Oct. 15, meet the Strotzes and taste the wines they have to offer during the Homage to Pickberry Vineyards. They will share vintages from 2005 to 2008, as well as some older blends from their cellar. The day is rounded out by light noshes and music from the Cork Pullers. $15/free for club members. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Jeanne and Chip Allen threw Jeanne a great birthday party recently, followed the next week by one of their regular irregular "Almost Full Moon" parties in their fabulous back garden. Both were potluck because Jeanne rides an electric scooter fulltime due to multiple sclerosis, so friends are delighted to lend a hand, which always leads to interesting dishes and conversation.
The Allens just returned from Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia, where they found a brand new Indian restaurant on Cook Street in Victoria. Jeanne, who researches travel accessibility and hopes to write a guidebook, found Canadian disabled aids much more abundant and helpful than here. Ask her about whitewater rafting for people with disabilities.
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To celebrate his wife and Colombia native Claudia Mendoza's birthday and 20 years in the United States, Sonoma Valley Health Care District boardmember Kevin Carruth cooked for two days and created divine salads of pasta with shrimp and avocado, ceviche, spinach and classic Caesar, followed by a guest's tiramisu and meringue with fresh local berries. Most of Claudia's "comadres" guests were Latina media friends from her time as a corporate translator for Bechtel and PG&E and as a Spanish language television news presenter.
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Sonoma Community Center's Muse dinner and auction last Friday were a sell-out screaming success, and raised about $115,000 toward Andrews Hall improvements, with most of the event costs underwritten by generous sponsors.
Guests were greeted by Executive Director Kathy Swett and friends on horseback, escorting cars all the way up the driveway to valet parking. Joining in the "Beltane Cowgirls" posse were Alexa Wood of Beltane Ranch, Nancy Ryan, Heidi Kunde, Kim Smith, Lauren Johnssen and Julie Atwood. Dave Casela served as mule skinner.
Rocket Catering did an excellent job feeding beef with coffee and cocoa sauce or salmon with fresh corn salsa, and an excellent gooey chocolate "thing" to 160 live wires.
Several Carriger descendents attended and presented historian Gerald Hill with a family tree in appreciation of his Index-Tribune story on their great-great-grandfather Nicholas Carriger.
Cynthia Tarr and the Community Center Hot Flashes sang fabulously, and Squire Fridell and Jean Arnold Sessions ribbed each other while auctioneering. Jim Lamb and daughter, Garland Lamb, volunteered their computer services. Among the many active and generous attendees were Julie Atwood, Carriger neighbors Judy and Les Vadasz, Phyllis and John Gurney, Millie and Tom Ferrando, Ruth and Gary Edwards, Suzanne Brangham and Jack Lundgren, Susan and Norm Goldstein, Helen Fernandez, Marcia and Jim Levy, Stanley Abercrombie and Paul Vieyra, Brigitte and John McReynolds, Desirée Stinson, Steve and Holly Kyle, Bill and Dottie Lynch, Carolyn and Bob Stone, Linda and Jim Kuhns, Gretchen and Bob Gardner, Martha Scott and Alex Mitchell, Nancy Lilly, Alexa Wood, JaMel and Tom Perkins, and Bill Jasper, who plans a huge Halloween surprise at his Fourth Street "Haunted House."
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Fred Groth, co-owner with wife, Amy of HelloCello Limoncello, celebrated his birthday last Sunday by sipping at Napa's Groth Vineyards (no relation) and was happily buying elegant prawns and salmon at Sonoma Market to cook for his birthday dinner. Watch for their bourbon "finished" in Schug pinot noir barrels.
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If you are concerned about recent recalls of Cargill ground turkey, Colorado cantaloupe, puréed pork and ground beef, I have been assured by Sonoma Market/Glen Ellen Village Market butchers that their ground turkey is processed in-house and comes solely from Willie Bird turkeys. Wish I had asked before I threw away a whole turkey meatloaf.
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Passionate cook Mara Kahn is in charge of rounding up knishes, kügels, Reubens, kosher hot dogs and "sweets just like mama used to make" for Congregation Shir Shalom's second annual Jewish Winemakers Tasting & Nosh to be held at the Sonoma Valley Veterans Memorial Building Oct. 23 with music by Simka and Stephanie Ozer. $35 advance, $40 at door. 415-860-3052.
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Apparently the "barn" fire on East Watmaugh Road that took nearly five hours to extinguish last weekend was actually a "private winery" in which even the steel tanks melted. Neighbors packed kids and belongings in cars and got out of the way.
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The new "natural ice cream" shop soon to blossom next to Shiso Sushi in Maxwell Village may be another Michoacan ice cream parlor much like Terri Carr's original La Michoacana next to Plain Jane's and across Highway 12 from the Fruit Basket.
This new Michoacan ice cream, owned by a "friend" of Carr's, had a booth at the recent National Heirloom Festival at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds.
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Apparently The Barking Dog coffee shop, just north of Whole Foods in the Marketplace, is for sale for a mere $80,000. The original Barking Dog across from the Big 3 in Boyes Hot Springs will remain open and continue to roast and serve great coffee.
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Shiso Sushi in Maxwell Village is now on opentable.com's reservation site and will deliver sushi and bento box lunches. Free delivery to workplaces for five or more boxes, otherwise $2. 933-9331.