Thunder jolts Sonoma Valley; Rain deer on Fourth Street; New Year’s specials; Restaurant breaks
Coffee, aspirin, more booze, vitamins, veggie juice, salty hot dogs? Think that will cure those headaches, tummy turns and light headedness?
Maybe, maybe not.
As reported by Kathryn Roethal in the San Francisco Chronicle, Thomas Jefferson University researchers in Philadelphia decided that drunk rats got headaches from acetate, which results when your body breaks down alcohol at the end of its metabolism. That explains why hangovers happen later. In some rats the pain could be eased by aspirin, caffeine or other painkillers, but the rats who didn’t imbibe didn’t have hangovers. Hmmmm …
So were Mayans almost right, or what happened that woke up most of Sonoma Valley about 2:30 a.m. last week? That fact that so many people thought it hit near their home was remarkable. We have had lots of thunder and lightening, but this was something else. I also know people who slept through it – bless them.
One person reported that it set off car alarms in her neighborhood and another woman said it turned on the lamp on her bedside table briefly. Pounding hearts, shrieking kids running into parents’ beds, and some residents checking water heaters and even the PG&E station were typical. Rain, hail and wind followed, along with a lot more rain. Some day we will catch up on our sleep.
So there we were Christmas Eve day at 11 a.m.-ish on Fourth Street East and Patten Street, me in my car for one of my three last-minute trips to Sonoma Market, and what was running around the intersection but a smiling, prancing deer in full sunshine. Rain-deer, I am sure. Love you, baby, but please don’t eat my roses. In fact, what do rose thorns do to reindeer’s intestinal tracks anyway?
Sonoma Market replaced its normal promotional scenes on its several flat screens a week ago with a silent view of 26 candles and the words “Sandy Hook Elementary School.” Along with live Christmas carols, manager Al Minero, always elegant in a dark suit, escorted customers and their groceries to their cars with a large umbrella during recent downpours.
Realtor Mara Levy Kahn has started a movement to get some/any local Chinese restaurant(s) to stay open on Christmas Day. Since the 1950s, Jews around the country have made it a habit of going out for Chinese food and a movie on Christmas, which isn’t exactly their holiday. For years Jewish cookbook authors from Paula Wolfert to Alice Waters and many non-Jewish friends gathered at a restaurant in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Kahn and several friends discovered not one Chinese restaurant in Sonoma was open, although Sebastiani Theatre provided the other half of the equation opening its run of the popular movie “Lincoln” on Christmas Day.
There’s even talk of initiating a “Chinese food potluck” to substitute.
New Year’s specials:
Many Sonoma restaurants feature special New Year’s Eve menus, ranging from the Breakaway Café’s full dinner of lobster bisque, grilled flatiron steak or salmon filet with local vegetables and egg nog gelato with Kahlua and fortune cookie at $23.50 (no reservations) to Carneros Bistro’s dinner of butternut squash soup, espresso dusted filet of Niman Ranch beef and vanilla bean crème brûlée ($75 or $138 with wine pairing). 931-2042.
Depot Hotel starts with Maine lobster bisque, followed by two more courses of choices that might include a large Maine diver scallop, roast beef, salmon dungeness crab cannelloni, and handmade herb gnocchi, plus their tiramisu, cheesecake or Kahlua chocolate decadence or Limoncello cake at $55. 938-2980.
Della Santina’s offers a four-course dinner with great sounding everything Italian for carnivores and vegetarians at $70; and Sonoma Meritâge will feature manager Smokin’ Joe Herrschaft and Steelhead Christopulous performing folk and blues along with a five-course tasting menu, possibly your last chance to enjoy Drakes Bay oysters ($75) in addition to its regular menu. 935-0576.
By the way, you can sample Meritâge owner/chef Carlo Cavallo’s intended menu every Wednesday night of his future Burgers and Vine restaurant planned for the old creamery corner across from the Mission.
Some Sonoma Valley restaurants will close after New Year’s for annual spiff-ups, vacations to Italy, or just letting everyone put their feet up. Not.
The girl & the fig will be closed Jan. 6 through 11, and owner Sondra Bernstein will close the fig café in Glen Ellen from Jan. 15 through 18, so that fig fans will have a home during renos. There is never corkage at the fig café.
Glen Ellen Star will close from Jan. 1 through 16, and on Mondays through February. Except of course, they will be open Monday, Dec. 31, for New Year’s Eve. While Glen Ellen Star does not charge corkage for locals, 33 percent of corkage fees the do collect on Tuesday nights from out-of-towners will go to the Glen Ellen Firefighters Association.
The Swiss Hotel will close, as it does every year, from Jan. 1 through 10.
The entire Nagan family deserted Schellville Grill for Matt Nagan’s house near Lucca, Italy and will return and reopen in a couple of weeks.
But Saul Gropman will keep Café La Haye open straight through this year, having done his painting over Thanksgiving.
Food and wine folks are well represented on Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau’s 2013 board of directors: Gary Saperstein, once of the girl & the fig and currently with his own Out in the Vineyard and Hanzell Winery; Denise Silver of Sonoma Raceway; Dan Parks of Inn at Sonoma; Valerie Patterson of The Hidden Oak Inn; Sondra Bernstein of the girl & the fig; Bill Blum of MacArthur Place; Dave Dolquist of The Lodge at Sonoma; Paul Giusto of Highway 12 Vineyards & Winery; Lesli John of Repris Winery; James Hahn of Sunflower Caffé and Brian Smucker of Baksheesh Fair Trade.
Due to a record demand for chocolate, cocoa grinders will be speeding up and increasing output while West African cocoa bean supply declines. Guess what? Prices will go up about 7.5 percent, according to Euromonitor International. The powder from these cocoa beans goes into cookies and ice cream.
Sonoma product and potter Lynn Mahon was mentioned in a recent three-page Time magazine story on Meadowood chef Christopher Kostow. Mahon has been retained by Kostow to make hundreds of interestingly creative plates and dishes for Meadowood, which he does in his studio. Mahon is married to the former Nikki Muncy, and is often spotted having breakfast at the Breakaway Café.
Did you miss Wilkes (Bashford’s) new full-pound catalog of customers and “unusually sophisticated” sales associates? Oh yes, there are clothes and designers mixed in with the bold face names of San Francisco. Of course Willie Brown and Herb Caen put him on the map long before he sold recently to the Mitchell Family Stores. In the catalog, we find Daniel Lurie, Christine Leong Connors, Charlotte Smith Maillard Swig Schultz, Jason and Matthew Goldman, Mark Curtis, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Robert Mailer Anderson and sports commentator and winery owner Jim Nantz.
Sheana Davis resumes her cheesemaking classes Sunday, Jan. 6 at Sonoma Valley Inn and will host a special Guest Chef dinner at The Epicurean Connection featuring Victorian Farmstead meat man John Lyle on Wednesday, Jan. 16, featuring chicken and dumplings, porchetta with local vegetables and a local fig tart with Davis’ Delice de la Vallee cheese and warm caramel sauce – all accompanied by wines from Idell, Korbin Kameron and Parmelee Hill ($75). Reservations for both at 935-7960.
Gloria Ferrer celebrates Three Kings Day, El Dia de los Reyes Magos, with samples of sparkling wine and samples of traditional Spanish holiday Rosca bread and hot chocolate on Sunday, Jan. 6. Performance at 4 p.m. $15, $12.75 for wine club members, children under 12 free.
The Beltane Ranch, one of the most beautiful sites for organic farming and bed-and-breakfast in Sonoma Valley, held its annual holiday party a couple of weeks ago, with their logo steer, Bob, inviting guests to the always fun party hosted by Beltane’s grande dame Rosemary Wood, her daughter Alexa Wood and her daughter Lauren Benward Krause who is expecting a New Year’s baby.
Among those tasting smoked Willie Bird turkey, local cheeses, roast pork loin with almond-chipotle crust, home-cured olives, Fuyu persimmon slices with goat cheese and walnut-arugula pesto, barbecued shrimp with wasabi aioli brought by Kevin Abe, and lots of Beltane’s Sauvignon Blanc and MacRostie Pinot Noir were Steve and Thale MacRostie, Pieter and Karen Everard, Janet and Tito Sasaki, Angie Hurtado, Art Ramirez, Dough Hanford, Hal Weise, Dave and Wyatt Casella, Steve and Andrea Perry, Pat Smith, Lyn and Meg Larsons, Dean Bordigioni, Nils and Stacy Dericksons, Beltane winemaker Kevin Holt and Beltane breakfast chef Joy Wesley, Ari Weiswasser, Todd and Kathy Benziger Threlkeld, Don and Sheri Shone and Cathy and Glen Ellen Fire Chief Peter Van Fleet.
According to the UK Telegraph, French people live longer because they eat Roquefort or blue veined cheese, first eaten in about 79 AD. Dr. Ivan Petyaev and Dr. Yuriy Basmakove of Lycotec say that blue cheese has molded properties that could fight against cardiovascular disease or be used in anti-aging creams. At the same time, pregnant women are cautioned against consuming blue cheeses.
Thought to be part of the “French paradox,” could it be even better for us when combined with red wine?
Santa Rosa Junior College wines: We all know that we can always pop into one of our many Plaza or winery tasting rooms to take a wine gift to friends. Among others, consider Santa Rosa Junior College’s Russian River Valley appellation chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, pinot noir and syrah from their Shone Farm vineyards, available at Heritage Public House, G&G Market and Bottle Barn ($15 to $30).
As I waited in line in the chaos that was the Basque Café & Boulangerie on Christmas Eve morning hoping to pick up our order of bread and pastries, I was somewhat haunted by the story that 60 people were killed by an air strike, just by waiting in line for bread in a Syrian bakery.
Many super thanks to Mayor Ken Brown who, as his first act as mayor this round, instigated and presented our family with a city proclamation honoring Gerald N. Hill. And great thanks as well to David Bolling for his eloquent and emotional recounting of that presentation.
Our family is most grateful to have received an unsolicited hand-delivered framed entry in the Congressional Record from Rep. Mike Thompson, hand-written letters from U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Supervisor Valerie Brown, Rep. Lynn Woolsey and Assemblyman Jared Huffman who adjourned the State Legislature in Jerry’s honor, and an eloquent letter from State Senator Mark Leno. With great (and tearful) joy we give thanks to Sonoma Valley Democrats who established the Gerald N. Hill Scholarship in History for a Sonoma Valley High School senior to pursue that interest.
This was truly a different sort of Christmas or Chanukah for many of us, personally and nationally. Queen Elizabeth II might call it an “annus horribilis.” Next year will hopefully be better for all of us.
Happy New Year, peace and love to all!