Cavallo to open at Cuneos’ creamery corner
Peets up again Monday; ‘Huey’ minus Lewis equals News; Thanksgiving goodies; Free Thanksgiving dinner
Carlo Cavallo, owner/chef of Sonoma Meritâge Oyster Bar & Grill, has leased the long-vacant old Creamery building currently owned by Dick and Mary Ann Sebastiani Cuneo. The entire Valley, along with the parties involved, can now jump for joy.
The Cuneos invited me to their Cuneo Properties offices Tuesday morning to watch them all sign the lease, which was a great moment for them, Cavallo and Sonoma. Everyone involved seemed jubilant.
Dick Cuneo said, “We have known Carlo and we are just so glad we found someone local with a great reputation.”
Mary Ann Cuneo was especially excited that Cavallo will create “something that locals will like in the winter.”
While the Cuneos have invested oodles in upgrading the building to meet requirements, more construction will have to be completed for Cavallo and team to do what they plan.
Watch for a Burger & Vine BBQ joint, complete with hamburgers and shakes. The room facing the Mission, which once housed the old Creamery’s soda fountain and booths, will feature a family-friendly normal burger and shake menu that you order at the counter and then will be served to you at high café tables.
The lower room, which former owner Lonny Dunlap used as an ice cream parlor in the back of which my mother and I had a high-end Mexican import shop, will have more sedate dining with tables and tablecloths, servers to take your orders and bring your meal, and a more upscale menu including jazzed up burgers with portobello mushrooms, prime rib and wine.
“We will have a shake sommelier or mixologist (shakeologist?), and shakes will come leaded and unleaded,” according to Cavallo. Unleaded means regular shakes, and leaded means spiked ones. Interesting.
Cavallo also says “The place will scream Wine Country. Scream it!” He plans to smoke meats with French oak barrel wine staves and decorate with chairs and tables made from wine barrels. He says he will also restore the Creamery feeling by making gelato on site and serving housemade individual hand pies, plans music Thursday through Saturday nights and high level comedy one night a month.
Cavallo’s investors include locals Cody Binkley of The Whisky Thieves, who will run music and social media for the joint; Lou Kulack and Lance Morgan.
Cavallo also expects it will only take three to four weeks to build out the space to his restaurant specifications, which of course cannot really begin until the City of Sonoma approves his plans. Let’s hope that after all these years of empty darkness on that corner that the city will speed this one along.
In 2009, Cavallo won the Best Beef Recipe in the American Chefs’ Challenge sponsored by the National Cattlemen’s Association, working through the five finalists to triumph in the contest held at Sally Tomato’s. Lucky carnivores: he will feature that prime rib recipe that won him that first place, which inspired the smoker part of his upcoming menu.
Cavallo also promised me it would all be affordable for families, with “burgers from $5 or $6 to $40.” He will also serve brunch on Saturday and Sunday, as well as espresso drinks, will have a full liquor license and plans to hire all locals to staff the restaurant.
Watch for lots of specialty food products for sale including rubs, sauces and tapenades, hopefully under the Sonoma Mission Creamery label.
Cavallo plans to repaint the building’s exterior and may even restore the flower planters. (I offered to take care of the flowers if he does.)
Congratulations and yippee to and from all of us!
Sonoma Cheese Factory celebrates its 81st birthday today with 81-cent hot dogs.
Winemaker Betsy Spann of Spann Vineyards won a gold medal and set two world records last weekend at the World Powerlifting Championships in Las Vegas and won a gold for her cabernet sauvignon as well, and launches her three new wines this Saturday afternoon. Drop by their East Napa Street tasting room for tastes of her cabernet, her “OMG” blend of cabernet and merlot and her new “The Powerlifter” rich blend of petite sirah, mourvèdre and grenache. $10 public, free to wine club members. Noon to 5 p.m. 111 E. Napa St., Sonoma. spannvineyards.com.
Walk or roll from Spann to Bryter Estates’ Vine Alley reception for an exhibit by Vineyard 360 photographers, with special pricing on wines by the glass and half glass and complimentary hors d’oeuvres. 5 to
Pacific coast dungeness crabbers settled on a $3 a pound deal with wholesalers this week, which means we will pay around $7 a pound.
Peet’s Coffee & Tea’s application will come up on the Sonoma City Council agenda Monday, Nov. 19. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. Building owners Diane and Henry Mayo were at his 60th high school reunion when the Planning Commission turned down the permit request by a vote of four to three.
The Mayos hope that residents who favor a Peet’s at 591 Broadway will give up football for a short while and express themselves at the meeting.
The family has owned the building for 40 years. Their own real estate office occupied it for 25 years, followed by Cecchetti Wine Brokers, which Roy Cecchetti recently moved to home offices.
Friday’s Farmers Market will hold its Thanksgiving Market next Tuesday, Nov. 20, at the Arnold Field/Depot Park parking lot from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. There will be no farmers market Friday, Nov. 23, the day after turkey day.
Sonoma Community Center will again offer its free Thanksgiving Dinner, this year cooked by Mark Bramfitt, Matt Murray, Gary Edwards, Jon Deiderich, Sue Patterson and Lisa Thayer.
Open and welcoming to anyone, alone or in a group, the free meal will include organic turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, vegetables, fresh baked bread and homemade desserts, with contributions from Sonoma Valley Rotary, Paul’s Produce, Greenstring Farm, Romanelli Produce, Whole Foods and Edwards’ Carneros Caves cheeses. Music by Earl Blue Quartet.
3 p.m. 276 E. Napa St., Sonoma. 938-4626.
Pies in the sky:
Lovin’ Oven bakers will sell pumpkin, apple and caramel nut pies for your Thanksgiving holiday pleasure for the third year in a row. Only $8 a pie, and I know people who rave about them. Order pies by Monday, Nov. 19, at latest.
The Lovin’ Oven folks will bake the pies next Tuesday, and you can pick them up Wednesday, Nov. 21, from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Valley of the Moon Teen Center, 17440 Sonoma Highway, Boyes Hot Springs. Call Cristin Lawrence at 939-1452 to place your order.
Lovin’ Oven baking program is one of several “Skills for Life” tracks offered by Sonoma Valley Teen Services.
Crisp Bake Shop offers very special cakes, galettes and pies for Thanksgiving. Its quickly famous four-layer cakes will include chocolate pecan bourbon with bourbon butter cream, apple butterscotch and pumpkin caramel with pumpkin cake and salted caramel buttercream filling and cream cheese frosting. The big cakes can serve 12 easily ($45) and mini cakes serve two ($7.50).
Pear and hazelnut frangipane and sweet potato and marshmallow galettes serve two ($7.50). You can also enjoy a hard cider and Calvados apple pie for $3.75. (Oh, my pies!)
Order pies by Saturday, Nov. 17, and pick up Tuesday or Wednesday, Nov 20 and 21. Order at 933-9999 or email@example.com.
Last weekend’s events honoring veterans of all wars had a particularly potent impact on the many Vietnam vets and others who attended behind and inside the Sonoma Valley Veterans Memorial Building. We saw grown men touched to tears while touching the PBR (Patrol Boat River) or touching the dramatic wall replica that travels around the country.
We heard local Vietnam vets, such as Gene Campagna, casually counseling others on how to sign up for benefits, even if they think they don’t need any help. We saw older veterans being pushed in wheelchairs by their loved ones, proudly wearing their service caps and looking a bit grim while remembering so much of the unspeakable.
When Tom Wright, a local Vietnam survivor, said that when he heard the Huey helicopter fly over his and Chris Mueller’s house last week, it made a sound he hadn’t heard in more than 40 years. Wright suddenly got spooked and had flashbacks invading his mind and emotions.
Wright said, “My nervous system reacted before I realized what I was hearing. I moved real close to a wall, and then went out to see it.”
While the three of us hung out around and touched the Huey, Wright explained that the “FNGs” sat in the unpadded seats nearest the outer edge. When I asked what FNGs were, I got the real answer “F***g New Guys.” The newbies on the outside, of course, took the first ammunition shot at the helicopter.
Wright was stationed in Dong Ha in Quang Tri province where few cargo planes or helicopters flew nearby to drop provisions. They lived on MREs, fish some guys learned to grab out of the rivers and monkeys they shot. He added that a prized part of the “barbecued” monkey was when “someone got to scoop the brains out of its head. We were hungry, we would eat anything, and we did.” And here we are in beautiful Sonoma.
The Olive Press holds its Community Press Days right after Thanksgiving on Sunday, Nov. 25 and again on Dec. 9. Whether you have one tree or a whole orchard of olives, master olive oil-maker and Olive Press co-founder Deborah Rogers will monitor the whole process and guide you through watching.
Bring whatever you have, but Rogers recommends 50 to 70 percent purple to black olives and 30 to 50 percent green. But if you only have green, bring them anyway, but please do not bring any fruit with frost damage. For more info call 939-3711 or 800-965-4839. theolivepress.com.
Constant volunteer and teacher Renea Magnani relays that she and Holly Campbell and Dunbar School will take orders through Nov. 26 for See’s Candy to support the school’s field trip fund. She adds that if someone wants to buy candy and donate it to FISH, she will also facilitate that sort of purchase.
The See’s candy they will sell ranges from $6.80 for a four-ounce snowman box to $33.80 for a two-pound box of nuts and chews.
Dunbar students will also collect other foods for FISH, led by the school’s Student Leadership Council. To order, call Renea Magnani at 337-9770 or email her at Magnani@sonomavly.k12.ca.us.
Nibs & Sips:
Russ Johnson’s photographic exhibit Sonoma and around the world will begin Friday, Nov. 23, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Annex Wine Bar & Tasting Room, 865 W. Napa St., Sonoma. russelljohnson.com … Dean Biersch opens another HopMonk Tavern at Novato’s Vintage Oaks shopping center near Costco on Friday, Nov. 23 … Ed Metcalfe’s Shiso Sushi and Grill has reopened for lunch with daily lunch specials at $12 … Friends of the Library thank Sonoma Market for hundreds of paper bags and Lucky Market for hundreds of banana boxes donated this week for their library book sale … Diane Fitzpatrick, front end manager at Sonoma Market, tragically lost both her father-in-law and son on the same day last week.
Out of towner:
For this weekend I suggest you try Flavor! Napa Valley: A Celebration of Wine, Food and Fun Saturday and Sunday to benefits the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone campus north of St. Helena. The incredible array of wine and food experts who will participate in discussions and demonstrations includes Andrea Immer Robinson, Anthony Dias Blue, Jon Bonné, four Forgiones, Ken Frank, Michael Chiarello, Todd Humphries, Philippe Jeanty, Thomas Keller, Chris Kostow, Morimoto, Cindy Pawlcyn and Hailey Trefethen. Tickets start at $85 a panel or demonstration. Get the whole event lineup at flavornapavalley.com.