Food and wine films; Sen. Dianne Feinstein visits Sonoma
Two new bakeries; Bean & Bottle; Nibs and Sips
Food and wine films at Sonoma International Film Festival this weekend may satiate some appetites for independently chronicled information, particularly about the food and wine businesses.
Remember, there is a charge for substantial food at the venues, so load your pockets with cash. Festival spokespeople say there will be “treats and nibbles floating around” as well.
“Fresh” should be an interesting documentary on how farmers, thinkers and outside-the-box innovators are reinventing America’s food system, piece-by-piece. This film looks into how industrial agriculture contributes to food contamination, pollution, depletion of natural resources and national obesity and how lots of folks are looking for healthier and sustainable alternatives. The filmmakers actually make practical suggestions, lest you fear an all-depressing perspective. “Fresh” will be shown this (Friday) morning at 9:45 a.m. and at 4:45 p.m. Sunday, April 15, at the Sonoma Community Center.
“Harvest,” which follows five family wineries, an all-female grape-picking crew, and the 2011 wine grape harvest features the Napa-Sonoma Robledo family among others. Accompanied by artist Mack Hill and myself, Vanessa Robledo, now owner and CEO of Black Coyote Winery and former president of Robledo Family Winery, will attend the 5 p.m. screening of “Harvest” today, Friday, April 13, at Sebastiani Winery’s Barrel Room. “Harvest” can be seen again at 3:15 p.m. Saturday at the same location.
Food fans can stick around the Barrel Room for the 7:30 p.m. showing of “Nothing Like Chocolate,” which documents the rich and sometimes dark chocolate history including rituals, endorphins, anti-oxidants, sensuality, luxury and enslaved children. The documentary also looks at two innovative and humane chocolate growers and cooperative leaders of Granada’s chocolate industry. “Nothing Like Chocolate” will also be screened at 5 p.m. Saturday at Murphy’s Irish Pub.
“Symphony of Soil” appears to be a serious documentary that examines creating and maintaining healthy soil, healthy food and healthy people in order to feed all the people of the world. 7 p.m., Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, Saturday, April 14.
A unique “Winemaking and Filmmaking Panel” discussion on Sunday, April 15, will feature film director James Orr; Sonoma resident Robert Kamen, who is both screenwriter of “Karate Kid” and other highly successful movies and vintner of Kamen Vineyards; James Suckling, former Wine Spectator editor and filmmaker of “Cigars: the Heart and Soul of Cuba;” Robert Rex, Deerfield Ranch Winery owner and winemaker and owner of Druquer’s Smoke Shop in Berkeley; and local winemaker Michael Muscardini. 2:30 p.m. at Murphy’s Irish Pub.
“Trattoria” focuses on chefs and screenwriters Sal and Cynthia Sartini’s Cinquecento San Francisco trattoria, including the trials and tribulations of involving their son and their efforts to reconnect and heal their past through cooking. See it at Sonoma Valley Woman’s Club at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, April 14.
And finally, while “Cigars: Heart and Soul of Cuba” is not a food or wine film, it is, indeed an interesting agricultural, cultural and emotional film about one of Cuba’s biggest industries. This film is a way to learn about what is going on in the industry, whether or not you approve of smoking. James Suckling will be present. Check it out at 5:45 p.m. Friday, April 13, at Murphy’s Irish Pub or at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, April 15, at Vintage House.
Deborah and John Emery’s Emery Estate Vineyards & Winery and Sonoma Ashram are locations for Howard Sapper’s “On Falling,” premiering tonight, April 13, at 8:30 p.m. at Vintage House senior center, 264 First St. E., Sonoma, with a filmmaker’s reception after the screening to include wine and light hors d’oeuvres.
Sarah and Darius Anderson hosted a private fundraiser last Monday in their barn for Sen. Dianne Feinstein. It was a real treat for me to see my old friend, now the senior senator from California. Lots of hugs and kisses with the senator who told the crowd of our long friendship. Ramekins catered the event with loads of charcuterie and cheeses, elegantly stuffed Belgian endive, polenta cakes and many other treats.
Sonomans in attendance included Infineon Raceway president Steve Page, former Congressman Doug Bosco, Mayor Pro-Tem Ken Brown and his guests Richard Dale of Sonoma Ecology Center and Gary Magnani, commander of American Legion Post 489.
Last minute Ramekins class opportunities:
Today from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. try “Favorites from CaCao Mexicatessen with Christy Lujan,” a hands-on class where attendees will learn to make Los Angeles’ highly rated duck confit tacos, tomato-Guajillo soup with shredded chicken, chili rellenos with Mexican cheeses, roasted corn served with quick green mole and pumpkin seed sauce, shrimp in chipotle citrus sauce, cilantro-lime rice and guava flan. $85.
Joanne Weir presents a hands-on chef’s table on Thursday, April 19, celebrating spring vegetables and young animals with cheddar wafers with bacon and potatoes, crostini with sheep’s milk ricotta and asparagus, sugar snap pea soup, handmade fettuccini with asparagus, prosciutto wrapped halibut and herb salad and white chocolate mousse with strawberries. $240. Limited to 12 students. 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. For both classes call 933-0450 or visit ramekins.com.
Sondra Bernstein and John Toulze host a luncheon tomorrow, Saturday, April 14, at Estate restaurant, sponsored by Corte Madera’s Book Passage, and featuring Bernstein and Toulze’s latest book, “Plats du Jour: The Girl and the Fig’s Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country.” Attendees will enjoy lunch made from the book’s recipes, based on the restaurant’s plats du jour. Call immediately for last minute reservations. $120 a person, $195 a couple, includes one copy of the book. 12:30 p.m. Reserve at 415-927-0960.
Book Passage also brings Jacques Pépin to Larkspur’s Left Bank Restaurant on Monday, April 16, and featuring his latest book, “Essential Pépin” and wines from Trione Winery. $145 includes dinner and signed book.
Possibly the most fun of all “Cooks with Books” events this month will be Elizabeth Gilbert, bestselling author of “Eat, Pray, Love,” who has a new book called “At Home on the Range,” loaded with lots of her great-grandmother’s favorite recipes written in Gilbert’s customary humorous style. Dine on recipes from the 1920s through 1940s. $115 includes book. Reserve at 415-927-0960.
The Culinary Institute of America offers “The Art of Food and Wine Pairing” Saturday, April 14, pairing 30 St. Helena wineries with CIA culinary students’ food creations. $100 to $150. ashpresents.appellationsthelena.com/shop/.
Sonoma Valley High School music department presents its annual pasta feed fundraiser, “A Penne for a Song” on Saturday, April 14, at Sonoma Moose Lodge. Lots of pasta and salad, a meat dish, bread, soft drinks, cocktails and entertainment by music students. A bargain: $10 adults, $8 children eight and under. No-host bar. Cocktails 5 to 6 p.m., dinner 6 to 9 p.m. Tickets at Readers’ Books, Pharmaca and Sonoma Music or at the door. 337-1197.
Gloria Ferrer hosts “Tapas on the Terrace,” a romantic “evening in Spain without leaving Sonoma,” on Friday, April 20, featuring tapas by Kenwood’s Vineyards Inn chef/owner Steve Rose and Gloria Ferrer’s sparkling and estate varietal wines. $29.75 for wine club members, $35 public includes two glasses of sparkling or still wine and assorted tapas. 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. 996-7256.
Biodynamic and holistic Benziger Family Winery will celebrate Earth Day nationwide on Sunday, April 22. On Saturday, April 21, the day before Earth Day, the multi-generational winery will explain their growing and production processes and offer tastes of Bordeaux varietals with Mike Benziger and hors d’oeuvres on the winery’s terrace in Glen Ellen to show how environmentally-conscious farming makes a difference.
Benziger Family Winery will donate 100 percent of its net profits from Earth Day sales to La Luz Center/Vineyard Workers Services. $40 wine club members, $60 others. 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., 1883 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen. Reserve at 800-989-8890 or email@example.com.
Next Friday I will share details of next weekend’s April in Carneros tasting opportunities at scads of Carneros region’s finest wineries.
Landmark Winery’s new owners plan a barrel tasting from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 21, with passed hors d’oeuvre, Hog Island Oysters for sale, a seminar by winemaker Greg Stach and music by the Carlos Herrera Band. $30 public, free for wine club members, seminar $20 or $10 for club members. 101 Adobe Canyon Road, Kenwood. Reserve at 833-0053. Brendan@landmarkwine.com.
Two new bakeries:
Crisp Bakeshop has opened at the old Artisan Bakers storefront in the same complex as Sonoma Springs Brewing Company on West Napa Street. I stopped in for a morning nibble on my way out of town Tuesday and got an extremely moist blueberry muffin, which was delicious. Caution: A fresh blueberry fell on my car seat between my legs and I now enjoy a striped blue stain. Expect cookies, muffins, cakes and a few great sounding sandwiches in the $8.50 range.
Watch for Garcia’s Bakery to open in the not-too-distant future where Sonoma Bagels, which had nothing to do with Sonoma or Sonoma’s Homegrown Bagels, was next to Sonoma Valley Office Supply on Fifth Street West. I may be jumping to conclusions, but this bakery just might have a Mexican flavor to it since the construction company doing the work is called Cal-Mex.
Banfi Vintners, headquartered in Brookville, Long Island, N.Y., and owners of many brands worldwide including giant Concha y Toro, is negotiating to buy Kenwood Vineyards.
After at least annual announcements that wine is great and horrible for us, a new study comes from the Telegraph of London says that one alcoholic drink a day can increase the risk of breast cancer by 5 percent. University of Heidelberg and University of Milan researchers claimed that women who drink “three or more drinks a day are up to 50 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than those who abstain.”
Nibs and Sips:
Artist Candi Edmonson and proud organic farmer Paul Wirtz of Paul’s Produce, longtime partners as we say in the current vernacular, actually got married on, you betcha, April Fools Day … EDK Corner, which seems to reinvent itself often, converted the café to a full menu breakfast spot last Friday, to the consternation of regulars who met there and couldn’t get their usual coffee and muffin. The turn of the menu, or events, certainly will benefit the Sunflower Caffé next door, which appears to have raised its prices slightly … The Lodge at Sonoma opens a new lobby wine and coffee bar called Beans & Bottle Friday, April 21, with an open house from 2 to 6 p.m. Daniel Noreen and Richard Fornocchio will serve as sommeliers, while Christopher Sawyer remains sommelier at Carneros Bistro in the hotel.
South American Secrets on Napa Street side of the Plaza will soon share its space and rent with Wine Craft’s Rumpus Wines, owned by Scott Peterson who makes Napa and Sonoma wines under the S.P. Drummer and Rumpus labels. Peterson has served as winemaker at Villa Mt. Eden, Conn Creek and Kendall-Jackson, while also working with wineries in Argentina and Europe.
Happy Friday the 13th!