Fried chicken is back
“The Gathering Table” book signing; Winemaker dinners; Nibs & Sips; Many, many thanks
As I have written before, fried chicken is something most of us like, usually from our mothers’ or grandmothers’ kitchens, but few of us actually cook because we know we shouldn’t. So an occasional indulgence out in a restaurant seems to fill that yearning, and there’s no grease in your kitchen to remind you of your gustatory sins.
The Swiss Hotel now offers its substantial multi-piece fried chicken dinner every Monday night with soup or green salad, fried chicken, mashed potatoes and vegetables, and a choice of a glass of wine or dessert for $20. Fabulous deal!
Then on Tuesday the Swiss’ $20 special includes its unique “Juicy Lucy” burger with Applewood smoked bacon, cheddar cheese and caramelized onions with fries, dessert and a beer. And what about Desi? Incroyable!
Café 522 seems to be surviving just fine after its kafuffle on Yelp.com. Following a few hate calls and being stood up on reservations, locals have returned and are packing the place for every Tuesday night off-menu fried chicken. Their chix special consists of an entrée of three pieces of southern fried Mary’s chicken, braised greens with bacon, creamy whipped potatoes with lots of gravy and a small wedge of moist cornbread ($19).
Their cream of wild mushroom soup looks like chocolate and almost tastes better ($8), and the slow-roasted chicken salad with Napa cabbage cilantro, mint, almost and sweet onions is a popular protein alternative to pastas and burgers. The marinated broccolini and burrata salad is shareable as an appetizer ($11) and the amberjack kampachi tartare is delicious if you eat raw fish ($14).
Hot Box Grill owner/chef Norman Owens’ Community Table dinner tonight at Sonoma Community Center is sold out, with 35 places in the Rotary Kitchen. Tickets were $55, with the full amount going to the Community Center. The menu we won’t get to experience includes a roasted beet salad with goat cheese mousse; slow-cooked boneless short ribs, Paul’s Produce vegetables, whipped potatoes with horseradish crème fraiche; and wines by Auteur Winery. Oh well, next time call immediately.
Ronda Giangreco will sign her book, “The Gathering Table, Defying MS With a Year of Pasta, Wine and Friends” on Tuesday, March 27, at Sonoma Market at 4 p.m. and at Readers’ Books from 7 to 9 p.m. Vance Sharp of Sharp Cellars will pour his award-winning wines. Readers’ Books will donate “a portion of the sales of the book” (I always wonder what that means) to the Bay Area chapter of the National MS Society.
Giangreco invited friends to come for 52 weekly Sunday afternoon dinners that formed the menus for her book.
Deborah Rogers, master miller and managing partner of The Olive Press, will be among the
esteemed panelists to include Fran Gage and
Patricia Darragh presenting an “Extra Virgin!” discussion, guided tastings and luncheon by Taste Catering sponsored by the San Francisco chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier tomorrow, March 24, at the Purcell Murray Culinary Showroom and Amphitheatre in Brisbane, a few minutes south of Candlestick Park. $40 members, $45 guests. Purcellmurray.com.
Lori and Rick Miron, generous bidders at most fundraising auctions in Sonoma Valley, bid around $7,000 for dinner in the wine isle of Sonoma Market that they and friends enjoyed recently, with all funds going to the Boys & Girls Club of Sonoma Valley. Susan and Donn Dabney, Mary Jane Stolte, Manuel Merjil and Paul Curreri, former club president Deborah and John Emery, Dallas Nelson and the Mirons feasted on prosciutto bruschetta with fig and mascarpone cheese served with Domaine Carneros 2007 sparkling wine; divine tomato basil soup with Farrari-Carano 2009 chardonnay; spinach salad with gorgonzola cheese and passion fruit vinaigrette; beef Wellington with asparagus, roasted fingerling potatoes and a 2005 S.P. Drummer Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon/cabernet franc blend; all followed by tiramisu with raspberry sauce served with Graham’s 10-year Tawny Porto.
Speaking of the Mirons, they invited 50 or so of their closest friends to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at their new home on Bennett Valley Road. Of course they are keeping their homes here in Sonoma and near Sebastopol.
We are so sorry Mack and I just couldn’t bring ourselves to frivol publicly the day after Jerry’s celebration of life, so we also missed Rotary’s great feast at the Sonoma Community Center.
Happy “Irish” celebrants at the Mirons’ elegant home that includes an indoor theater and a bar with hanging model airplanes included Deborah and John Emery and Deborah’s best friend, fellow model Diana Minning; Dallas Nelson; Maureen Cottingham; Gary Saperstein; Miron’s business partner Greg Windisch; Manuel Merjil and Paul Curreri; Nancy Noleen; Judith D’Amico and Celeste Winders.
For the Mirons’ party, with tough Lori reportedly looking gorgeous despite her treatments, Sheana Davis of the Epicurean Connection prepared corned beef and cabbage, colcannon made with Oak Hill Farm vegetables, Guinness-roasted brisket, grilled lemon chicken, grilled sausages with housemade mustard, mustard seed coleslaw, Carr Valley Cheddar cheese and Davis’ own Crème de Fromage.
Davis now features three-course nightly dinners at her Epicurean Connection for $19.95, partly due to the success her shop enjoyed during Restaurant Week.
International cookbook author and Sonoma resident Paula Wolfert was just nominated for the 2012 James Beard Foundation Award for her newest book, “The Food of Morocco,” which places her in competition with two of her friends, Claudia Roden for “The Food of Spain,” and Colman Andrews for “The Country Cooking of Italy.”
Michael Muscardini of Muscardini Cellars hosted a winemaker dinner at Estate Restaurant earlier this month, pairing his wines with John Toulze and staff’s four courses. Guests enjoyed pink peppercorn cured Yellowtail tuna with 2010 pinot grigio and 2011 Rosato Di Sangiovese; truffled chicken Boudin with parsnips and 2009 zinfandel; braised wild boar with chestnut tortelloni and cocoa pasta and 2009 cabernet sauvignon; topped off with chocolate-espresso mousse and 2010 Rancho Salina.
Among the diners were strong Sonoma Valley Museum of Art supporters Stephen and Diane Bieneman and George and Buffy Miller, Richard Lotti and fiancée Katrina, Kim Roche, Ben and Diana Sanson, Kate Eilertsen, Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Sullivan, Pete and Ann Wiklund, and Mike and Robin Winton.
Community Café and Tom Meadowcroft present a winemaker dinner on Friday, March 30, with a fried oyster frisée salad; salmon and crab cakes with spicy avocado tartar sauce; bacon-wrapped filet with crispy onions, braised greens and horseradish cheese grits; followed by molten chocolate cake with espresso crème Anglaise. Meadowcroft’s Dry Riesling, Sonoma Chardonnay, a cabernet vertical tasting, and “All She Wrote” port accompany courses. $49.95 public, $39.95 wine club members, includes wines. 6:30 p.m. 875 W. Napa St., Sonoma. 938-7779.
Claudia Mendoza-Carruth, who has created the fabulous Latino film “festival within a film festival” for next month’s Sonoma International Film Festival, reports a huge success of the “La Quinceanera” kickoff celebrating the festival’s 15th year at Robledo Family Winery a weekend ago.
She and the film festival board kicked it all off with “A la Mexico” hosted by the whole Robledo family, complete with mariachi music and Rancho Viejo’s fresh ceviche, pork pibil and mole chicken taquitos, with fabulous décor by boardmember Nancy Bundschu.
Chateau St. Jean in Kenwood, now owned by Treasury Wine Estates which also owns Etude, Stags’ Leap and St. Clement in Napa Valley, will host a “Pinot and Mushroom Weekend Seminar” Friday March 30 through Sunday, April 1 to include lunch, seminars, presentations and tastings from fungi experts Connie Green, Chef Sarah Scott, Kevin Feinstein and Paul Kozal. Seminars are free. For more info call Heidi Soldinger at 299-3263
With all the hot established and approaching restaurants in Glen Ellen’s “gourmet ghetto,” Glen Ellen Inn owners Karen and chef Chris Bertrand have just given their restaurant a big makeover, giving the restaurant a less formal look and an all-day menu with new comfort foods such as a Snake River Kobe burger, house-cured lamb pastrami sandwich and an iron skillet pizza with homemade focaccia ($10.95 to $12.95). 13710 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen. 996-6409. glenelleninn.com.
Nibs and Sips:
Alsina Grill at Cornerstone has closed and apparently the management is running the café … Bachelor Ben’s on-again-off-again “fiancée” Courtney did not show at the Becoming Independent fundraiser at Sunflower Caffé, which made about $2,000 last Friday. Rumor has it that they were spotted at Fremont Diner. It must be uncomfortable for both of them since there was so much Facebook chatter about her … Margie Brooke appears to be expanding into the building next door to her Community Café to offer a retail food operation. Congratulations ... Addie Owens of Hot Box Grill is selling her chocolate chip and Blondies cookies at the Epicurean Connection, where they sell out every day, and chocolate chippers at Sonoma’s Best.
Sheila Whitney will sing Saturday, March 24, at Ledson Hotel’s Centre du Vin, accompanied by pianist Mike Greensill and bassist Chris Amberger from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Whitney hopes that her son, Bill Brock, will show up and play his sax divasheila.com … Ledson Winery & Vineyards just won gold medals for its 2008 Bellisimo Knights Valley (cabernet and merlot blend-$66) and 2008 California Gunsight Red (a blend of five red varietals-$32) at the 2012 San Diego International Wine Competition.
Many, many thanks
Many thanks to the hundreds of people from throughout the Bay Area who joined us at dear Jerry’s celebration of life a week ago. Our family was, and is, struck by the generosity of longtime friends who happen to be in the food business, and who collaborated and personally showed up to offer guests a feast after the service and provided staff friends to help at every culinary step.
Bob Rice of Breakaway Café coordinated the menu and herded the cats while offering brine-cured pork loin and sweet and sour onion sandwiches on potato buns from the Basque Boulangerie and Café, some of which fed our family for a couple of days. Sondra Bernstein of the girl & the fig and Estate served three salads of mixed greens, orzo, and potato salad with extra mayonnaise to please Jerry’s taste, brownie bites, and fig crisp squares.
Suzanne Brangham of Saddles and MacArthur Place brought divine grilled vegetables and generally coordinated set-up. Elaine Bell sent Jason Ghiselin to serve her smashed German butterball potatoes topped with toy box mushroom ragout and oven dried tomatoes filled with pesto. Sonoma Market manager Al Minero brought a lovely tray of sliced meats and cheeses.
And Joanne and Keith Filipello of Wild Thyme brought mini cookies, including Keith’s Hot Dots ginger snaps favored by the late M.F.K. Fisher, plus coffee, a Farmers Market crudités basket and all linen, flatware, plates and glasses.
Another thank you to handyman/contractor/friend Tom Garske who walked into the church with an American flag to honor Jerry, knowing that Jerry’s eyesight made him “4F,” couldn’t serve in the military, and worked, instead, to stop war.