Olive Season kicks off
Sonoma Raceway revs up toy drive; Supervisor Brown send-off; Thanksgiving thanks; Pets Lifeline at Ramekins
Conceived as a way to attract visitors during the winter 12 years ago, Sonoma Valley’s three-month long Olive Season festival has developed into a true celebration of Sonoma’s second largest agricultural crop, definitely something to celebrate.
It all kicks off Saturday, Dec. 1, with the Blessing of the Olives at Mission San Francisco Solano at East Spain and First Street East.
The morning is always fun and a curious blend of church, state, agriculture and tourism. It begins with Kevin Loewen and the Trió Nuevo Amanecer, followed by a welcome by Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau Executive Director Wendy Peterson; and appearances by Ed Stolman and Deborah Rogers, co-founders of The Olive Press, and Paul Vossen, University of California Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor.
The always-interesting Ron Chapman will share the story of “Solving the Mission Olive Mystery,” on which he is an expert; followed by St. Francisco Solano Church’s Fr. Michael Kelly’s actual Blessing of the Olives, all hosted by the visitors bureau and the Olive Press. 11 a.m. Some refreshments. Free. More info at 996-1090.
According to Paul Vossen, via Deborah Rogers of The Olive Press, we officially have about 250 acres of olives planted in the Valley, but I am guessing that doesn’t count the many backyard and private small orchards.
Rogers also reports that she took in 14 tons of olives in five hours at last Sunday’s Community Press. You can still take yours to the Olive Press again on Sunday, Dec. 9.
Kudos to Sonoma Raceway and its fabulous local staff.
First it raised and gave away 9,249 pounds of non-perishable food to FISH (Friends In Sonoma Helping) and the San Francisco and Marin Food Banks last Monday during its 12th annual Thanksgiving Food Drive. Food donations were down everywhere this year, but this community donation really put a dent in the fridge.
Now Sonoma Raceway just launched its 10th annual High-Powered Toy Drive, which runs through Dec. 7 and culminates with its Race to the Holidays Christmas Party on Saturday, Dec. 15, when 250 children will receive special gifts.
Drop off unwrapped new toys and gifts for children from newborns to age 12 at Sonoma Raceway, the Sonoma Index-Tribune, WillMar Family Grief and Healing Center at 579 First St. W., Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce, Sonoma Valley Fire Department, Schell-Vista Fire Department, Sonoma Valley Sun, or Redwood Credit Union. Or take a gift to Gundlach-Bundschu Winery Saturday, Dec. 1, at its Holiday Pa-Looza Open House and Toy Drive. For more information, contact Denise Silver at firstname.lastname@example.org or 933-3950.
Sick, sick, sick: Caution: As flu and bronchitis circulate through our Valley, a few workers of all kinds work sick in fear of losing pay or their jobs, or simply meaning to fulfill their commitments. Just be careful: use the wipes at grocery stores, wash your hands at every opportunity, and use hand sanitizers after touching anything in public. It can come from anyone. By the time I got to the doctor in Petaluma on Tuesday, more than half the patients in the waiting from were from Sonoma.
Much to my surprise, I woke up the day before Thanksgiving like many other Sonomans, with a cold, cough, fever, blurry eyes, wobbly legs, the works. Not wanting to pass this on to anyone else, I made the most of a can of Campbell’s Healthy Request Chicken Noodle Soup to get me through Thanksgiving, followed by a giant surprise gift of friendship and fine food from Kate Molesworth and her mother, Kathleen Anderson, delivered with a bouquet of red flowers from Patricia Cullinan’s garden.
Just as daughter, Erin, and little kids showed up Friday or Saturday (it’s all a blur) from Concord to help, her kids got sick all over her car.
More friends came to the rescue, including Joanne Hurley, Paula Wolfert and Bill Bayer who made shopping trips, David and Jeanne Markson Artson, Mary Evelyn Arnold, and Lori and Avram Goldman. Carol Krauthamer rang the doorbell with elegant baskets of the food she had served friends and family who picked olives at her house all morning. Sheana Davis “doorbell ditched” with some of her healthy tomato mushroom soup and a loaf of Costeaux sourdough wheat bread.
Giant thanks to everyone.
As I suggested a week ago, picking olives can be a greatly satisfying experience, even if you can only help a little.
I have picked them with the Gloria Ferrer crew, who use small rakes to land olives on tarps, all the way to Jim Ledwith and Cathy Gellepis’ community effort where friends and helpers pick them one-by-one at different homes, to the one little olive on our one olive tree.
Kurt and Carol Krauthamer have “only 33 trees,” compared to some people’s hundreds, with a good friends picking crew that approached the fruit with respect on Sunday.
Nancy King of Pets Lifeline and her mentee, Rosie Palacio, Nancy Noleen, Ginny and Larry Krieger, Cathy Gellepis and Jim Ledwith, Roy Blumenfeld and Madeline Wild, Annie McKelvey and Marty Greenman, Erica Krauthamer, Collin Krauthamer and Camille Volz, Lars Asbjornsem and Cindy Frank, Chuck and Christina Palanchar, Alex and Sharon Ivanhoff, and Annie McCallum joined in the fun.
And did Carol ever make it worth their time. Her “Olive Harvest Menu” included green salad with black beans, sweet potatoes and fried sage and pine nuts; wild rice pilaf with shiitake mushrooms; pork roast with rosemary and baby figs; and Carol’s sister Annie’s OMG brownies. I nibbled one of those brownies all Monday morning, hoping it did, indeed, have curative powers.
What I have missed in life: Out of boredom and because I couldn’t focus either eyes or attention on reading during my sickie time last week, I watched some really bad television, the lowlight of which seemed to be “Maury” with Maury Povitch, unless you get a charge out of women screaming at men and each other trying to prove paternity before the DNA test results come out.
Highlights of those days included Ellen DeGeneres (funny) hosting Madonna (not very funny), and the “National Dog Show” (twice). I found myself joining in and cheering for my favorite breeds.
Super-accomplished Supervisor Valerie Brown’s “retirement” dinner was great fun, and the Oakmont buffet was actually quite tasty (especially the chicken piccata). Hundreds of people attended, including various county supervisors from various counties and the president of the National Association of Counties, which Valerie used to lead.
In the crowd were Sonomans Helen Fernandez, Peggy and Russ Bair (whom Valerie credited with finding her Kenwood home in the First District), Hon. Diane Wick, Susan and Niels Chew, Mike Sangiacomo, Kathleen and Jack Carter, Alejandra Cervantes, Karen Collins, Sandy Snorey, Mary Evelyn Arnold, Marilyn and Bob Albright, Mayor Joanne Sanders, Gary Saperstein, Bill Blum, Elisa Stancil, Jill and Jim Kamahele, Bob Kowal, Anya and Michael Crain, and Janet and Tito Sasaki. Brown’s great friend, ‘Zanne Clark, served as house photographer.
Brown served as interim president of the SMART train board, and other county supervisors vowed that “if a train’s comin’ we will finish Highway 12,” referring to Brown’s extended efforts to get financial commitments to finish sidewalks and other safety measures throughout Boyes Hot Springs.
We shall see where Brown turns up next.
The Epicurean Connection just launched its new Santa Rosa Junior College scholarship for a student in the Agricultural Entrepreneurship program to attend Sheana Davis’ Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference next February. Jason Merrick is the first lucky winner and was rewarded for starting a goats-milk yogurt company in Sonoma County.
Davis has also expanded her crêpe menu and now serves three to six soups per winter day. Starting Dec. 6, the café and shop will be open until 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. 122 W. Napa St., Sonoma. 935-7960.
Coming up: Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance holds its member holiday party tonight, Nov. 30 at Gloria Ferrer Caves and Vineyards. Should be great food and wines. $85. 6:30 p.m. 23555 Arnold Dr., Sonoma. email@example.com.
Annex Wine Bar will host a music and crafts fair Saturday, Dec. 1, featuring local arts and crafts, and music from Wildflower Weed, Great Owl Herbs, and Ramona Walker and Lucia Blu jewelry. Stick around for more music Saturday and Sunday. No admission. 2 to 8 p.m. Dogs welcome. 875 W. Napa St., Sonoma. 938-7779 or 938-7482.
Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn’s own Santa Claus lights the luxury hotel’s 100-year-old Sycamore tree Saturday, Dec. 1 with the help of someone from El Verano School, followed by Charles Dickens-costumed caroling and complimentary hot cocoa, spiced cider, holiday treats and fun activities in the lobby living room. Bring the kids. Free to all. 6 p.m. 100 Boyes Blvd., Sonoma.
Boys & Girls Club fans and those interested in France might want to attend the “L’Art from the Heart” preview Dec. 5 at El Dorado Kitchen for this year’s Sweetheart Gala Moulin Rouge Ball honoring Deborah and John Emery and featuring local artists and Arts Guild of Sonoma work. Try the Moulin Rouge Signature Cocktail ($10 goes to B&G Club) and limited hors d’oeuvres. 5 to 8 p.m. 405 1st Street W., Sonoma. eldoradosonoma.com.
Pet’s Lifeline’s new annual fundraiser, Miracle on 8th Street, will be a fabulous food treat at Ramekins Culinary School on Saturday, Dec. 8, and will feature a holiday dinner prepared by several of Sonoma Valley’s best chefs.
Bryan Jones of the Fig Café, Ed Metcalfe of Shiso Restaurant, executive chef Doug McFarland of Ramekins, John McReynolds of Stone Edge Farms, Norm Owens of Hot Box Grill, and Gaetano Patrinostro of Mamma Tanino’s will cook up a storm to benefit pets who need care and homes.
Pets Lifeline promises a silent and brief live auction with destination, culinary, pampering and pet-friendly items. $125 or $150 VIP includes private cooking class at 4 p.m. 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. 450 W. Spain St., Sonoma. Tickets at 996-4577, Ext. 109 or petslifeline.org.
Local Meals On Wheels (MOW) volunteers will be at Pharmaca for the next two Tuesday afternoons to explain what they do and how you might help them feed our neighbors who cannot get out of their homes. You can help right away by purchasing a gift bag ($10 to $25) at Pharmaca that MOW will deliver over the holidays to their many clients. More soon. 303 W. Napa St., Sonoma.
Sonoma Valley Grange just changed its Christmas party from Saturday, Dec. 8 to Monday, Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. The Grange will supply the turkey and everyone will bring the rest potluck.
The Grange also joins in with Slow Food Sonoma Valley for its second annual Cookie Exchange on Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. to include soup, beverages, live music, and dozens of cookies. If you want to bake, bring three-dozen cookies, two to trade and one for Meals on Wheels or Brown Baggers.
Kathleen Leonard, Margarita Dalton, Nancy Lang and Mark Feichtmeir returned recently from Slow Food International’s biennial “Terra Madre” conference in Turin, Italy, where they tasted and learned their way to “feeding the planet in a good clean and fair way,” according to Leonard. Check their trip at SlowFoodSonmaValley.com.
Correction: Jo Anna Romanini wrote to say her produce donation to the Sonoma Community Center’s Thanksgiving dinner should have been relayed by the community center as Romanini Produce, not Romanelli Produce. A local distributor, she wholesales produce primarily to restaurants and hotels. Our collective apologies.