Crisp apology; Ben fans fill Ramekins
Kitchen display; Mardi Gras indulgences; Film Festival food
To all bakery fans: Last Tuesday evening I received an email and Facebook message from Crisp Bake Shop that Chefs Moaya Scheiman and Andrea Koweek’s long dreamed-of bakery had opened on West Napa Street in Sonoma. The information, which said, “Closed now, reopens tomorrow 6 a.m.” “Tomorrow” would have been last Wednesday.
A visit this Tuesday found the door locked with one workman inside who refused to respond. The sign on the door said watch for the bakery to open in spring and refers people to their Facebook page, which is where I got the information in the first place.
Last Friday’s Envolve Winery winemaker dinner was a big hit, gathering loads of “Bachelor” Ben and “Bachelorette” fans who had traveled from throughout North America to get close and grab a photo with Sonoman Ben Flajnik. I found guests who came from Poland (she’s now a baker at UC Davis), Toronto, Chicago and Hawaii for the occasion, plus a whole table of Sonoma ladies.
Some viewers may remember that when the bachelor chooses a girl for the evening, he gives her a red rose, for which some contestants will do almost anything. Ramekins scattered red rose petals everywhere, and a couple of women copped red roses from flower arrangements to hold during photos with Ben as if they had been chosen.
This was a more or less serious dinner about Flajnik’s, Mike Benziger’s and Danny Fay’s wines, for which they have actually recently won some awards and were featured in last Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle special section on the 2012 Chronicle Wine Competition Public Tasting at Fort Mason Center on Saturday, Feb. 18.
Ramekins Executive Chef Doug MacFarland, formerly of EDK, prepared a light and delicate salad of thinly sliced house cured salmon with Belgian endive and frisée served with Sangiacomo Vineyards organic 2010 Carneros Chardonnay, Envolve’s first chardonnay. It actually garnered 90 points from Wine Enthusiast magazine. Next came a loaded and slightly chewy smoked ham hock ravioli served with Flajick’s first wine, Envolve’s 2010 Russian River Pinot Noir.
The third course was an excellent Envolve cabernet-braised boneless short rib with a wedge of “crispy Yukon potato” and roasted tiny cauliflower flowers, accompanied by Envovle 2010 Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
Now committed to winemaking and “sustainability, organic, biodynamic, friendship and Sonoma,” Flajnik is back at home in Sonoma where he told me the Evolve/Envolve wines are now sold throughout California, they are hearing from distributors from everywhere, and their Epilogue negociant label will sell 50,000 cases this year.
Mike Benziger, whose siblings Kate and Chris were helping at the dinner, jested to me that “Ben got to kiss 25 girls and I got to stay home and do all the work!” Apparently the Envolve gang stopped at the Swiss Hotel on their after-dinner rounds.
Please join me at the Sonoma League for Historic Preservation’s Maysonnave Heritage Center on Saturday, Feb. 18, from 2 to 4 p.m. for the opening of the next rotation of the Kathleen Thompson Hill Culinary Collection antique kitchen utensil exhibit called “Baking Memories.” Maysonnave House is normally open Fridays and Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m. Free. 291 First St. E., Sonoma. sonomaleague.org or kthill.com.
VinOlivo’s Grand Tasting is tonight, Feb. 17, at the Lodge at Sonoma with tastes from 60 local wineries, food tastes from 25 Sonoma restaurants and caterers, local olives at an Olive Bar, a Pommes Frites and Sparkling Wine Bar, and “a hot DJ.” $75. 7 to 10 p.m. 1325 Broadway, Sonoma. Three-day weekend winery tasting pass $50, one day $25. sonomavalleywine.com.
Film Festival food news:
In an effort to improve the Sonoma International Film Festival’s food offerings, the festival has “contracted with” Lynn Abate-Johnson, now of LaLa Consulting, Victoria Campbell of Scott Howard Events and Melanie King of Dreamers and Heroes to team up to show off local food and wine at the mid-April festival.
The team hopes to involve Plaza restaurants in offering deals to festival goers and the Backlot tent behind City Hall will feature foods from Planet Organics, the Farmer’s Wife (fab grilled cheese sandwiches, if she does them), popcorn and cotton candy from Pinky’s Cotton Candy & Treats, Harvey’s Gourmet mini donuts, Short & Sweet Cupcakes and Bistro Boudin’s mobile catering kitchen.
Screening venues such as Murphy’s Irish Pub will serve its regular menu, Mia Sebastiani’s Mia’s Kitchen will serve at the Sonoma Community Center with wine from her brothers’ The Other Guys, and New Belgium Brewing will pour beer and hot dogs at the Sonoma Valley Woman’s Club.
Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards will donate lots of bubbly, while Benziger, Deerfield Ranch, Muscardini Cellars, Gundlach Bundschu, Highway 12, GlenLyon, B Side, Pepperwood Grove and The Other Guys will all pour at venues.
The festival recently hosted another delicious “Cave Dinner” catered by Bistro Boudin, this time at Deerfield Ranch Winery. Documentary producer James Suckling showed his film “Cigars: the Heart and Soul of Cuba.” Deerfield Ranch co-owner Robert Rex long owned Druquer and Sons Pipe and Tobacco shop in Berkeley.
SIFF’s March 3 fundraising dinner will feature a work-in-progress film called “The Organic Life,” created by local filmmaker Casey Beck, based on a year in the farming life of local Austin Blair and other struggling local farmers. Following the screening, the girl & the fig caters will serve dinner based on Paul’s Produce, all at the House of Happy Walls in Jack London State Historic Park. Reservations: 939-5357 or Melanie@dreamersandheroes.com.
Last weekend’s Brown Derby-themed Sweetheart Gala benefiting the Boys & Girls Club sold out and was apparently a blast, highlighted by honoree Lise Sonnen’s gracious and funny speech and getups such as Phyllis Gurney dressed as “Holly Wood.”
Eleven of the past 24 “Sweethearts” joined in the fundraiser including Whitney and Jeanette Evans, Helen Fernandez, John Gurney, Steve and Holly Kyle, Jim Lamb, Bill Lynch, Gary and Marcia Nelson, Kevin O’Neill, Steve Page, Bob Stone and Les and Judy Vadasz.
According to club board President Marchelle Carleton, who presented the Sweetheart Award to Sonnen, 8-year-old Nora Logitti wowed the audience with her rendition of “Tomorrow,” while BGC youth of the year award winner Gene Truong got a standing ovation for his speech.
Carleton said, “It was our most successful event ever. We raised a total of $220,000 including $105,000 from Fund-A-Need alone. We will use the money to add summer camps for the children such as cooking, art, science and rock climbing.”
Mardi Gras madness: Meadowcroft Wines’ Mardi Gras celebration is Saturday, Feb. 18, with a totally fun replica of New Orleans’ Jackson Square with artsy vendors, Tarot readers, Penny Byrd as face painter and a photo booth. St. Gabriel’s Celestial Brass Band will lead the Krewe of Meadowcroft, all at CornerStone across from Gloria Ferrer.
Last year’s King Ken Brown and Queen Michelle Anna Jordon will pass their crowns to Ronda and Michael Giangreco. Michael serves as publisher of Wine Country This Week and Ronda, a multiple sclerosis patient, has a book coming out celebrating 52 weeks’ Sunday dinners called “The Gathering Table – Defying Multiple Sclerosis with a Year of Pasta, Wine and Friends.”
Expect to sample whole smoked pig, red beans and rice, Louisiana Cajun sausage, salad, French bread and New Orleans King Cakes prepared by Margie Brooke of Community Café and Catering. $55. Tickets at 934-4090 or meadowcroftwines.com.
HopMonk Tavern Sonoma’s owner Dean Biersch will host a Brewer’s Dinner on Sunday, Feb. 19, featuring Mark Ruedrich, owner and brewmaster of Fort Bragg’s North Coast Brewing Co. Executive Chef Billy Reid will prepare five courses to pair with five beers, staring a watercress and apple timbale; housemade gnocchi tossed in a pancetta and Estero Gold cream sauce; linguica crusted scallops with forbidden rice and grilled romaine in Imperial Stout reduction sauce, followed by coffee spiced cookies with “Thelonious Mousse.” $65. 6 p.m. 691 Broadway, Sonoma. Reserve at 935-9100.
Speaking of specialty brews, the Sonoma Community Center’s Beer-vana brewing competition’s submissions are due by next Wednesday, Feb. 22. Find BJCP guidelines at bjcp.org. More information and tickets at sonomacommunitycenter.org.
While the Sonoma International Film Festival will not throw its previously annual Oscar Party this year, you can learn to put on your own at Ramekins from Annie Simmons who will teach you to make “your food red carpet” to included a blooming hibiscus champagne sparkler, spiced nuts and pretzels, crispy risotto arancinis, black pepper gougers, rock shrimp cakes, lettuce-wrapped dungeness crab spring rolls and butterscotch pudding with sugar Oscars. $90. 933-0450. ramekins.com.
How could Hostess Brands, Inc. be bankrupt for the second time in three years? Aren’t you buying enough Twinkies, Hostess CupCakes, Ho Hos, Fruit Pies, Donettes, and Ding Dongs? No more Twinkie defenses? Heavens!
Apparently Hostess blamed its sorry financial state on the economy and their medical and pension obligations, the latter of which the company is trying to extract themselves, with some hinted blame on union negotiations.
Vintage House offers two food-related support events including Marcie Waldron’s jewelry workshop on Friday, Feb. 24, in her home where participants will make three pairs of sterling silver earrings and enjoy a delightful lunch prepared by Kathy Mazza and accompanied by Sterling wines. ($100).
Alcaldessa Mary Evelyn Arnold, also president of the Vintage House senior center board of directors, will create an Italian dinner at Vintage House on Friday, March 30, with the goal of attracting 100 diners to a great evening. $50. To reserve a spot for either event, Call Dolores at Vintage House at 996-0311.
Julie and Tom Atwood and Barbara Kerr held a reception for U.C. Davis’ new dean of veterinary medicine, Michael Lairmore and his wife, Donna, last Saturday, for which Atwood decorated her barn in blue and gold with a twist.
Adam Traum played his music, Carlo Cavallo of Sonoma Meritâge set up his new Sonoma Slider Bar while local boutique wineries poured, including Susan and Richard Idell, Eric Ross, Kaz, Annadel Estate and Lauren Benward Krause of Beltane Ranch.
Among the guests were veterinarian Dr. Rhonda Stallings and Rich Lee, horse vet Dr. Lisa Atkinson and Jim Milne, Nancy Lang, Virginia Bertelson, Victoria Parker, Kevin and Rosemary McNeely with daughter Hanna Rose, Rob and Robyn Lyon, Nancy King of Pets Lifeline, and Curt and Marchelle Carleton.
Carol Vernal, CEO of Children’s Medical Aid for children’s surgeries in Nepal, will host an all-you-can-eat crab feed on Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Moon Valley Club House. Lauren Drinkhall and the Zumba Dancers will perform. $35/ 5 to 8 p.m. Tickets at 938-1807 or firstname.lastname@example.org 1001 Fifth St., W., Sonoma. Information at childrensmedaid.org.
Sheana Davis will host a “Bacon Dinner with Zazu,” growers and developers of Black Pig Bacon, at the Epicurean Connection on Tuesday, Feb. 28. Guest chefs Duskie Estes and John Stewart will prepare roasted Brussels sprout and Black Pig bacon salad, smoky baby back ribs with (their) backyard collards, cowboy beans and fingerling and bacon fat aioli potato salad, followed by bacon rum gelato and Sheana’s Fromage Blanc gelato, all digested with Alec Stefansky’s Uncommon Brewers beers. $60. 6 to 8 p.m. Only 24 guests. Reserve at 935-7960.
This column completes my three years with the Sonoma Index-Tribune, and eight years of weekly columns. Yippee!