Francis Ford Coppola and family at SVMA
Last minute local foodie and kitchen gifts; Gross gift nominee; Plan ahead; Invite those alone
It would not be right to launch into this column pretending nothing major has happened in the last two weeks.
Let us pause and reflect on the children and grownups killed in mass murders near Portland, Ore., and Newtown, Conn., and the shoot-up in a Newport Beach, mall parking lot. These are national tragedies.
While all this was going on, some food producers continued to promote themselves and their wares online. Personally, I lost my appetite. And I think others did too. Local restaurants seemed quieter. Everyone did. Pray for us all and for the families involved. Actually, we are all involved.
First Eleanor Coppola visited Executive Director Kate Eilertsen at our Sonoma Valley Museum of Art to see the Larry Thomas show, which is still hanging for you to enjoy, along with Simon Blattner’s fine paper making exhibit. At an event in Napa, Coppola had approached Eilertsen and told her how much she has enjoyed various SVMA exhibits.
So Eilertsen mentioned the one-day art card event held last Saturday, and unannounced, who shows up but Eleanor and Francis Ford Coppola and their son, Roman, all of whom invested in the museum by purchasing multiple art cards.
Plaza Bistro will be open for lunch on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, with brunch Saturdays and Sundays to include complimentary mimosas, sparkling wine or orange juice with purchase of any breakfast dish or entrée. 420 First St. E., Sonoma. 996-4466.
As the “cash mob” of around 50 locals descended upon lucky Readers’ Books on Saturday to spend at least their committed $15 each, we are reminded how important it is to shop locally and support local enterprises. Owner Andy Weinberger, who was featured last Sunday in the Press Democrat, laughingly called them “mobsters.” The shopping mob recovered at Murphy’s Irish Pub afterward.
Gross gift nominee:
Adding to my short list of gross food related gifts that includes Eau de Pizza Hut, Bill Hoban nominates “baconlube,” the box of which claims it is “a delicious massage oil and personal lubricant.” Only $11.99 for two ounces.
Holiday gifts can take many simple forms: cooking for someone, making cookies or jams as gifts, finding the perfect plant for their garden or windowsill, or finding a great little gift to enhance their kitchen.
Since I am also on a buy American kick to help create jobs here at home, which is hard to do, I ventured into Steve and Laura Havlek’s Sign of the Bear kitchenware shop, our only surviving walk-in-and-touch-it kitchen supplier.
What a surprise: They actually have whole shelves and sections marked “Made in U.S.A.” For instance, I didn’t know that All-Clad cookware is made in the USA. So are Vitamix mixers and juicers, along with Lodge cast iron pots and pans.
Sign of the Bear also carries great wooden bowls, servers, coasters and trivets made here, along with handmade painted pottery, lazy susans, cutting boards, aprons, Nordic fun-shaped cookie and cupcake pans, and most cookbooks. Give it a whirl around the kitchen. 435 First St. W., Sonoma. 996-3722.
Our Friday farmers market at the Depot Park parking lot on First Street West is a great place for food gifts and crafts including handmade wooden bowls and toys, handcrafted jewelry, knitted scarves, soaps and balms, purses and hats and ceramics; plus great fresh foods such as cheeses, almonds and Valley Girl food products for gifting. 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. today.
Marcelo de Freitas and Scott Smith hosted an elegant holiday party honoring the Sonoma Valley Fund’s advisors and board members Sunday. Little did guests know that Marcelo, always the gracious and decorative host, was to have knee surgery on Monday. He says all went well and he loved the care at Sonoma Valley Hospital.
Meanwhile, Scott cooked a whole leg Smithfield ham, baked Portuguese/Brazilian-style buns, and made divine brown sugar mustard and coleslaw loaded with horseradish, all to be assembled into yummy drippy sandwiches. Guests brought salumi and other goodies to augment enormous bowls of peeled prawns and sauce. Marcelo tempted everyone with a selection of Brazilian bonbons made by a woman in Marin.
Enjoying the “Comfort and Joy” choral quartet warming everyone’s holiday hearts with Christmas carols were Fund president and former superintendent of schools Barbara Young, Alejandra Cervantes, Arleen Curry and Ann Weeks, Dave and Vicki Stollmeyer, Dave Pier, Dennis and Mollie Collins, Donna Halow, George Rathman, Harriet and Randy Derwingson, Jeff and Valerie Walter, John and Libby Brady, Joe and Beth Aaron, Dr. Judith Bjorndal and Ron Wallachy, Caleb and Terry Miller, Karen Collins, Kimberly and Simon Blattner, Nancy and Hank Bruce, Nancy Gardner, Russ and Peggy Bair, Steve and Holly Kyle, Steve and Martha Rosenblatt, Steve Pease, Suzanne Brangham and Jack Lundgren, Tom Haeuser and Antoinette Kuhry and Whitney Evans.
Young announced Kimberly Blattner, Bill Lynch, Suzanne Brangham, and Dennis Collins as new board members, while Steve Pease and Whitney Evans joined the advisory committee.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley hosted an elegant event recently at El Dorado Hotel, which donated the hors d’oeuvres. Guests enjoyed Sonoma Arts Guild members’ paintings interpreting the club’s sold out Moulin-Rouge themed event next February honoring “sweethearts” Deborah and Dr. John Emery. Deborah was president of the board for three years. No pitch, no auction, just good drinks and food and the sneak opportunity to buy artwork. And the February Sweetheart Ball has been sold out since November.
Food & wine award nominations:
Sonoma resident and world cookbook author Paula Wolfert and the beautiful British edition of her “The Food of Morocco” book are finalists for the prestigious André Simon Food and Drink Book Awards in London. Other short listers include books by wine writers Eric Asimov and Jancis Robinson. The awards come in British pounds, even for finalists, and are worth more than U.S. dollars.
Mark Vogler, business partner of Gary Saperstein in Out in The Vineyard, a primarily gay wine country tour company, is a semi-finalist in the Gay Travel Guru Competition. The group will film in Sonoma in March with MacArthur Place sponsoring rooms and Out in The Vineyard conducting tours. Saperstein is not a candidate. Vote for Vogler on his bio page at gayguru.net.
And finally, I am thrilled to say my story on Simi Winery written for Edible Marin & Wine Country has been nominated by the publisher to the Edible Communities, which publish magazines throughout the country, for the national “Eddy Award.”
It was, indeed, a pleasure to see Gina and Jean-Charles Boisset again at the La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs dinner at Buena Vista Winery recently. Since this event was not a fundraiser, all of the money went toward some of the best food and wine consumed in Sonoma Valley.
Red rim-spectacled chef Michel (“Michou”) Cornu obviously is a fine French chef who is actually from France, and who is capable of whipping up incredible flavors.
Apparently Cornu and his “girls” raise all of the food consumed at Boisset’s California wineries at his DeLoach and Raymond wineries, from vegetables to cows, pigs, and even the ducks from which Cornu makes his own foie gras. A fabulous dinner, where Boisset served one of his California wines and one of his French wines with each course, all followed by music and entertainment by Diego Emir Garcia and friends.
Eugene Daly, “bailli” (president, founder and energy) of the Sonoma Napa chapter of La Chaîne, led the induction of new member ceremonies with Michael Martello, Baill Provincial, whose territory reaches from Monterey to Seattle.
Newbies in the select group include Marck Zuehlsdorff (Bank of Marin) and Kelly Crane as chevaliers, Debbra Montoya as dame de la chaîne; Carol Lynn Bond, Issac Jenkins, Angelina Mondavi, Alycia Mondavi, Michael Muscardini and Jean-Charles Boisset as professionnel du vin. Boisset was also “elevated” to chargé de mission, meaning he will become an ambassador for Sonoma Valley wine and food and La Chaîne throughout the world. Cheeseman Gary Edwards was elevated to professionnel de table and will provide interesting cheeses for future events. Dr. Harold Mancusi-Ungaro became vice conseiller gastronomique.
Other Sonomans or part timers indulging in the very fine food and wine were Tom Blackwood, Ethel Daly, Mary Beth Clark, Ruth Edwards, Patrick Egan, Andi and Frank Espina, Ronald Fenolio, Bob and Chandra Friese, Kate Eilertsen and Allison Zuehlsdorff.
Sonoma Raceway executive John Cardinale will lead the second annual March Against Stomach Cancer at Sonoma Raceway on Saturday, Jan. 12. Cardinale was diagnosed with Stage IV gastric cancer in March 2011, went through rounds of chemo, and came out the other side.
The public can make the 2.52 mile (or shorter) walk or run around the for a suggested donation of $40. You get a T-shirt, light refreshments afterward and children are welcome. No advance registration is required, just show up. Cash and checks made to No Stomach for Cancer, Inc. Registration starts at 8:30 a.m., march starts at 10 a.m. nostomachforcancer.org/support-us/events. 933-3918.
Feast of the Olive comes around for the 12th time as part of our celebration of local olive production on Jan. 26 at Ramekins Culinary School. Local chefs combining efforts to create always interesting courses featuring olives include Dana Jaffe of Saddles, Manuel Azevedo of La Salette, Peter Smith and Andrew Wilson of the Lodge and Carneros Bistro, Carlo Cavallo of Sonoma Meritâge, John Toulze of the girl & the fig, Doug MacFarland and Lisa Lavagetto of Ramekins, Armando Navarro of EDK, Antonio Ghilarducci of Depot Hotel, Gary Edwards of Carneros Caves cheeses, Norman Owens of Hot Box Grill, Sheana Davis of Epicurean Connection, Catherine Venturini of Olive & Vine, Ari Weiswasser of Glen Ellen Star and Bruno Tison and Andrew Cain of Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Santé. $150. Call 996-1090, Ext. 108 for reservations.
According to Carl Nolte in the San Francisco Chronicle, longtime Boudin Bakeries executive Steven Giraudo passed away recently following emergency surgery in San Francisco. His father, also Steven Giraudo, bought Boudin Bakeries, started in 1849, from its original owners in 1945. Son Steve began in the business driving San Francisco delivery routes from the bakery at 10th Avenue and Geary, became vice president and, with his brother Louis, merged with Colombo Baking to create San Francisco French Bread Co. Their brands included many familiar to longtime Bay Area residents such as Boudin, Parisian, Toscano and Colombo.
They sold the operation to Specialty Foods of Illinois in 1993, which was later bought by Interstate Bakeries, then makers of Twinkies and Wonder Bread. Steve worked with Wedemeyer Bakery of South City, and brother Louis reacquired the Boudin brand in 2002, still baking from founder Isadore Boudin’s original 1849 sourdough “mother” starter, apparently key to San Francisco’s unique sourdough bread. A true San Franciscan, Giraudo requested no funeral, but a party with an open bar.
Remember to call or invite friends, family or neighbors you think might be alone for Christmas. Merry, merry!