Oxbow in Glen Ellen? Bruce Springsteen at Swiss
Bean & Bottle launches; Sam Wo’s woes; COPIA’s copious auction; Nibs & Sips
Strictly rumor department:
While there have been several on-again-off-again prospective purchasers of Jack London Village over the years, hot and he-avy rumors currently circulate that Steve Carlin, founder and CEO of Oxbow Public Market in Napa, has been trawling/trolling for tenants to occupy vacant spaces in the charming Jack London Village in Glen Ellen.
Carlin was project manager and developer of the San Francisco Ferry Building Marketplace and was managing partner of Oakville Grocery for 20 years during its expansion period. Oakville Grocery is now back down to its Healdsburg store and the original 130-year-old store in Oakville that has been closed since Jan. 2 for renovations.
Apparently “The Boss,” Bruce Springsteen, dropped into the Swiss Hotel last weekend.
The Lodge at Sonoma launched its Bean & Bottle Coffeehouse & Wine Bar last weekend with a giant party on Friday.
The hotel has updated and remodeled the lobby and what used to be a bar and under-used room where various local organizations met in the past. Now guests find a cold case full of salumi and cheeses, café tables, a small counter and surprisingly affordable offerings.
They make espresso drinks with Illy coffee ($3.50 to $4) and offer house-roasted granola, organic fruit salad, ice cream and yogurt, muffins, croissants and a caggiano ham and gruyère croissant ($3 to $7).
Lunch (11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.) includes lots of great looking hot pressed pannini with herb-sea salt potato chips, ($11) or a mixed green salad ($8). You can also order cheeses and charcuterie at $4 or $6 each flavor, which come with fruit, baguette and rye flatbread. Local wines include Gloria Ferrer, Leveroni and Mulas, and branch out to Dane, Bouchaine and Bennett Valley Cellars. You will also find local Michael Muscardini’s grappa, and Amy and Fred Groth’s Limoncello di Sonoma, FigCello and Hooker House Bourbon.
Prestwood School hosts its “Under the Sonoma Sun” fundraiser Saturday, April 28, at Hanna Boys Center to include a champagne and hors d’oeuvres reception, silent and live auctions, dinner by Oak & Smoke Catering with salads, roasted pork and a dessert buffet, a “Prestwood Lemon-Aid” cocktail and local musicians Sean Carscadden and Marty O’Reilly. All of this will help put aides in every classroom, improve the computer lab, art and poetry instruction, supplies, field trips and the school library. $50. 5:30 p.m. Reserve at 935-6030 or email@example.com.
Pet’s Lifeline’s Tailwags & Handbags was a sell-out success Friday where there was real silent auction competition for some purses. I “won” a red “handbag” cookie jar that I discovered later was made for Nieman Marcus.
In the crowd were former owner of the place, Suzanne Brangham; and Melania Mahoney, who grew up in the building as part of the large Scheiblich family; along with Cindy Brillhart-True; Victoria Campbell; Marcehlle Carleton; Lisa Cavalli; Christy Coulston who has moved to Rabobank from former Sonoma Valley Bank; Jane Cutting; Deborah Emery; Helen Fernandez; Patricia Ghiselin; Kathleen Grieve; Jean Knapp; Heidi Miterai; Ginnie Nichols; Therese Nugent; Nancy Ramsey; Rosemary Schmidt; Carol Sebastiani; Melanie Schwartz; Dr. Rhonda Stallings; Fran Weiner; Maria Biasetto; Gretchen Gardner; Ramona Nicholson; Sharon Lynch and lots more Sonoma women who care for, save and cuddle pets.
Next up in the handbag fundraising department will be Sonoma Valley Hospital Foundation’s “Old Bags Luncheon in Celebration of Women” scheduled for Friday, May 18, at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa. There will be another silent auction of “more than 200 new, gently used, vintage and designer handbags.”
The hospital’s luncheon will honor Patricia A. England and Valerie Pistole with the Pulse Award for their support and service to our community. Expect a light spring menu of “Wine Country Cobb salad,” followed by a chocolate peanut butter crunch bar with chocolate sauce and banana rum whipped cream.
Gemologist Jennifer Bristow will speak and Marcy Smothers is honorary chair. $100. Complimentary valet (is there such a thing?). Contact Gina Jacquez at 935-5077 firstname.lastname@example.org for tickets or information.
La Chaine des Rotisseurs’ first black-tie dinner at the elegant Ram’s Gate Winery Saturday, April 28, features chef Taylor Breham’s five-course menu of beet salad, pan-seared bass, crispy seared Sonoma duck breast, cheeses and gelati, plus fabulous wines. $250. Call Gene Daly at 996-8666 for reservations and menu substitutions.
Bryter Estates officially opens its new tasting room today, Friday, April 27, with fine art photographer Kathy A. O’Neal, hors d’oeuvres from Café 522 with special by-the-glass wine tasting. On Saturday, Bryter will offer more than $2,500 in drawing prizes including a weekend for two at the Lodge at Sonoma. Sunday’s celebration will include portrait drawing by local artist Rene Pulido. Check it out in Melissa Detert’s new “Vine Alley” near Haywood and GlenLyon tasting rooms off Spain Street. 501-8272.
Sam Wo’s woes:
To the throngs of Sonomans who ever lived in San Francisco or nearby, hopefully you tried eating Chinese food at the famously infamous Sam Wo’s on Washington Street, presided over until the mid-1980s by grumpy waiter, Edsel Ford Fung. Others might wonder what’s all the fuss?
The restaurant is so narrow that an old “dumb waiter,” meaning a shelf on pulleys and ropes, shuttles full food plates and plates with a few scraps between so-called dining floors to the first-floor kitchen. Sam Wo’s serves until 3 a.m. and was the perfect spot to sober up by plying one’s stomach with chow fun before driving home.
But most people went for the abuse by Edsel Ford Fung. Jerry and I used to go there a lot with and without friends. I was always felt kind of left out because Edsel never was nasty to me.
Many Chinatown restaurants are worthy of closing for health reasons (I did an internship with the public health inspector), so I don’t blame these owners from feeling slightly picked on. Last Friday owner David Ho closed the restaurant rather than update and address the “rodent activity” the health inspector cited. Since that dramatic closing with a customer line around the block, Ho’s daughter, Julie, has negotiated with city officials to renovate the building so legions of customers won’t feel homeless.
As many of you know, COPIA: the American Center for Wine, Food & Art has been closed for three years and apparently owes $78 million in bankruptcy. The Great American Group, an auction house that appears to be owned by Australians, held an “inspection” of the entire place last Thursday, followed by online and in-room auctions Friday and Saturday.
Very few people showed up Thursday morning, half of whom seemed to include Kay and Roger Heigel, Deborah Rogers, Tom Wright, Nancy Lang and myself. While a $500 deposit had been required and some lots included whole walls of books in the bookstore, 12 Kitchen Aids and three ranges, by noontime the deposit had been waived and the lots had been broken up.
In my humble observation, auction bidders paid way too much for many of the items, often much more than the retail value.
Copia’s whole demise and auction really were sad. Robert Mondavi, with Julia Child drawn in to fundraise, had a great concept that went awry.
Many friends worked there, and I had the pleasure of speaking to students about my friendship with Child and interviewing all sorts of chefs there from Julia Child Culinary Directors Linda Carucci and J.J. Buchanan, now of Laura Chenel Chevre, to Food Network star Cat Cora.
While the historic food exhibits were among the most frequented rooms, they were the first to close for some reason. Child never had any connection to the Julia’s Kitchen restaurant, and the display of Julia’s actual kitchen presumably has moved on to the Smithsonian. Even the gardens look sad, with their mastermind, Colby Eierson, now working his magic here at Stone Edge Farm and advising our Sonoma school garden coordinators.
Lisa Lavagetto gives a new series of “Lunch and Learn” classes at Ramekins Culinary School starting Wednesday, May 2. Leave home or job for lunch and learn how to make sausage stuffed mushrooms, mango mint chicken salad and lemon panna cotta with blackberry sauce. $49 includes lunch, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Augustín Gaytán offers a special hands-on Cinco de Mayo class Thursday, May 3, with corn masa canoes with black beans and grilled shrimp, tamales, de chili verde, mole poblano and much more. Get ready to celebrate. $95. 6:30 to
Christa Colardo gives a hand-on class on fabulous Cinco de Mayo desserts on Saturday morning, May 5, the perfect compliment to the above. $80. 10 a.m. to
Anne Walker and Kris Hoogerhyde teach “Treats and Sweets from San Francisco’s Bi-Rite Creamery” on Friday, May 4. For all classes call 933-0450. 450 W. Spain St., Sonoma. ramekins.com.
Oak Hill Farm’s 100-year-old Red Barn Store re-opens for the season on Wednesday, May 2, and will sell its fine vegetables and gorgeous flowers, with free farm tours offered every first Saturday through October. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. 15101 Sonoma Highway, Glen Ellen. 996-6643.
Sheana Davis’ Epicurean Connection launches a new CSA pick-up on Thursday, May 3, with Marin Sun Farms. Go in to the Epicurean Connection on West Napa Street that day and enjoy complimentary tastings with farmer David Evans, who was featured in Michael Pollan’s “Omnivore’s Dilemma.” 3 to 6 p.m. Davis also features bacon maple waffles, sweet butter pecan waffles and crêpes on weekends.
Walt Wines celebrates the new name for what was Roessler Cellars until it sold to Hall Wines with an open house on Thursday, May 3, and through the weekend. Walt is Ambassador Kathryn Hall’s maiden name. 380 First St. W., Sonoma. 933-4440.
Ramona Nicholson will lead Nicholson Ranch’s annual Chapel Hike and picnic with generous pours of her wines and visits to Cactus Hill, the historic Miwok bedrock milling station where Miwoks ground acorns, across the hills to the Napa side of the ranch to visit Grandmother Oak, to the waterfall that drops into the lake next to the tasting room, and to her father’s Greek chapel.
Broadway Catering will prepare the picnic buffet of spring leg of lamb, cold poached trout filets, grilled vegetable and panzanella salad, bacon and kale salad with apples and Cypress Grove goat cheddar, grilled leeks, raspberry and mint panna cotta and strawberry whipped cream with white chocolate. $65 public, $45 wine club members, $25 under 21. Reserve at 938-8822, ext. 15.
Shiso Restaurant in Maxwell Village Shopping Center has new summer hours with patio dining for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and dinner 4:30 to 9 p.m. Weeknight Happy Hour from 4:30 to 6 p.m. includes dim sum, hand rolls, miso and edamame ($1.50 to $5). email@example.com, shisorestaurant.com.
Nibs and Sips:
Paula Wolfert just returned from a triumphant presentation of her new book, “The Food of Morocco,” at Seattle’s Book Larder cookbook store. Wolfert leaves soon for the James Beard Awards dinner in New York, where she is a finalist … Cafe 522’s chef Alex Boduc will participate in the Hall Winery’s third annual Cabernet Cook-off to benefit Food For Thought’s food bank on Saturday, April 28.
B.R. Cohn’s Lime California Olive Oil won best of class and a gold medal at the recent 2012 Yolo County California Olive Oil Competition. Cohn recommends the lime olive oil, available at the tasting room, for Mexican and Thai cuisine or to marinate chicken. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. 15000 Sonoma Highway 12, Glen Ellen. 800-330-4064.