Pink Slime; La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs returns
No fooling pancake breakfast April 1; Community center cooking classes; Film Festival
Most consumers have now heard of “Pink Slime,” the 70 percent of “boneless lean beef trimmings” that are exposed to ammonia gas, sold retail and distributed to schools by the federal government as ground beef. According to ABC News, the USDA has allowed this stuff to be marketed without labeling the chemical additive.
According to the Washington Post, “The low-cost ingredient is made from fatty bits of meat left over from other cuts. The bits are heated to about 100 degrees F and spun to remove most of the fat. The lean mix then is compressed into blocks for use in ground meat. The product is exposed to ammonium hydroxide gas to kill bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella.”
Several grocery and fast food chains have announced they no longer or never purchase(d) pink slime beef. McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell claim not to serve this beef. Lucky, Shop ‘n’ Save, Safeway and Albertson’s are ditching the stuff.
Wal-Mart and Sam’s club stores will abandon pink slime products. Target claims their vendors do not use ammonium hydroxide. Whole Foods, A&P and Costco said they have never sold beef products with the additive, according to the Washington Post.
I have toured such meat plants in the Midwest and it is not appetizing. Those “meat trimmings” include head meat, some trimmed from around eye sockets, noses and cheeks and heart and other organs.
The USDA has announced that schools will have the option in this fall to request ground beef that is non-pink slime. Sonoma Valley Unified School District Superintendent Louann Carlomagno and Assistant Superintendent Justin Frese assured me that our schools “do not have ‘pink slime’ or LFTB in our food.” Both also say they will specifically “opt out” of USDA beef when allowed to in the fall to make certain.
For your personal consumption, ask your butcher or meat counter clerk where they get their ground beef and what is in it. Better yet, buy a cut of meat, trim it if you wish, and grind your own. You can use an old fashioned cast iron clamp-on-table meat grinder or any other appropriate device including a Kitchen Aid with a meat grinder attachment.
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Sonoma Valley Grange’s super popular pancake breakfast comes around again on Sunday, April 1, (no fooling) at the Grange Hall in Boyes Hot Springs across from Mary’s Pizza Shack. The Grange promotes healthy farms, healthy food and healthy communities. Expect pancakes made from freshly ground organic wheat flour, free-range chicken sausage, fresh squeezed juice, free-range egg frittata, sugar-free or real maple syrup, organic coffee, teas and espresso. $10 adults, $5 children. 9 to 11 a.m. 18627 Sonoma Highway, 935-1322.
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Ethel and Eugene Daly hosted an elegant “revival reception” at their Sonoma home last weekend to reintroduce the Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs to Sonoma and Napa valleys. Daly is working to establish a new chapter which, when approved, will be called the Wine Country La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.
Daly plans a fabulous introductory black-tie dinner Saturday, April 28 at Ram’s Gate Winery with all reservations due by Sunday, April 15. This dinner is open to previous and existing La Chaîne members and those seriously interested in joining the oldest
gourmet group in the world, founded in Paris in 1248.
Subsequent adventures planned include dinner at Michelin one-star Santé at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, whose new general manager, Ric Corcoran, is a longtime La Chaîne member; an August afternoon of croquet and gourmet lunch at Meadowood Resort in Napa; and an outing on the Napa Valley Wine Train Vista Dome car with an emphasis on American railroad dining from the ’30s and ’40s, on which Daly is an expert and major collector of railroad dining ephemera.
Daly says prospective new members may attend the Ram’s Gate event without joining, but for those wishing to join or rejoin dues will be $250 a year, plus event charges. The Chaine Foundation provides scholarships and competitions for young chefs and sommeliers.
For the Dalys’ reception Linda McCulloch, a.k.a. Lela of Cuisine by Lela, created a whole dinners-worth of appetizers, including brown sugar bacon mini-grilled cheese bites, a puree of asparagus with Bellwether Farms Cow’s Milk Ricotta with asparagus tips and sheep’s milk feta; ahi poke tartare on homemade wonton crisps and avocado; mini bruschetta bites, tender filet of beef tenderloin carpaccio bites with caper mustard aioli and wild smoked Scottish salmon on grain mustard blini with horseradish cream and chives.
Among the Sonoma and Napa residents in the crowd were Jim Rosetti, Suzanne Branham and Jack Lundgren, John “Caddy Daddy” and Jan Coyle (he collects all parts for old Cadillacs), Peter and Maggie Haywood and their guests Joe Blaustein and Joan Silverman, Cathy and Jim Ledwith, Frank and Andi Espina, Deborah Emery, Valerie and Robert Peebles, Peter Chiarella and Brooke Crane and Steve Sullivan.
Michael Martello, the group’s “bailli provincial” for the Northwest Region, of which we are part, explained La Chaîne’s history from its founding “based on the traditions and practices of the old French royal guild of meat roasters.” For more information or to join, contact Eugene Daly, vice conseiller gastronomique, at 650-619-DALY or email@example.com. Chaineus.org.
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Sonoma Community Center kicks off its “culinary arts education classes” Saturday, April 7 with personal chef Garrett Hamilton, who will teach basic knife skills and preparation of rack of lamb with crimini mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, roasted garlic and Madeira wine demi glaze, sautéed asparagus, whipped potatoes and classic bananas Foster, all of which learners get to eat. Hamilton will teach a “Chicken Three Ways” class in June.
Other instructors will include Angelo Sacerdote and Lino Hoshino of Petaluma Pie Company giving an “Easy as Pot Pie” workshop and Mike “the Baker” Zakowski will give four baking courses this summer. For more information and costs, contact 938-4626, ext. 1, or sonomacommunitycenter.org.
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Carneros Bistro Chef Andrew Wilson reports that The Lodge at Sonoma’s new Australian Executive Chef, Peter Smith, won first place in the people’s choice vote at last weekend’s Cheese Festival in Petaluma for a cauliflower and Fiscalini cheddar soup with Pliny the Elder beer and a grilled Big Rock blue cheese sandwich with prosciutto cracklings and a red wine poached pear.
At Carneros Bistro Wilson now features a special springtime creamy asparagus soup with dungeness crab and Italian white truffle oil; wood oven roasted asparagus with belfiore burrata; and wood grilled wild Columbia River sturgeon with pea tendrils, favas and fingerling potatoes at Carneros Bistro.
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Local farmer Nick Rupiper, whose chickens produce eggs at Fowler Creek Farm, now sells his Nix Chix eggs at Sonoma Market, as well as at the Friday farmers market and the Community Garden.
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Sonoma Mission Gardens suggests that you go to Sonoma Market and buy some Shasta Gold Mandarin oranges, taste them, and if you like them trundle on over to the nursery to buy a whole tree. 851 Craig Ave., Sonoma. 938-5775.
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Congregation Shir Shalom will host an attractive Passover Seder catered by Elaine Bell on Saturday, April 7, at Vintage House. Expect a menu of matzoh and charoset, poached gefilte fish served with horseradish sauce, chicken matzoh ball soup, roasted chicken and braised brisket, crispy potato kugel, green salad with roasted garlic, glazed carrots and yams with dried fruit, Blue Lake green beans with almonds along with wine, coffees and teas. Vegetarian entrée available by special order in advance. $50 adult members, children of members $41, under six free; non-members $60, children of non-members $45. Doors open 5:30 p.m., service starts at 6 p.m. 264 First St. E., Sonoma. For reservations contact Eileen@leadingtechnologysales.com or 935-5880.
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Steve Sando, famed bean grower and importer of Rancho Gordo Beans and starter of new economies in Mexican villages, has just launched his ”heirloom corn tortillas,” made from corn grown without GMOs in Mexico. You can try them out at Café 522 where Chef Alex Bolduc uses them for his fish tacos. Apparently Sando and his Rancho Gordo Beans and tortillas were just turned down by Sonoma’s Tuesday evening farmers market.
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Sonoma Valley Rotary’s St. Patrick’s Day dinner at Sonoma Community Center was a blast, particularly for Mary Shea who won the raffle trip to Ireland or $10,000.
Fred Merrill slow-cooked the corned beef all day while Ron Lawson and Sam Morphy of the Red Grape supervised a small army of fellow Rotarians cooking the carrots, cabbage and red potatoes, joined by French children of Burgundian winemakers. Margie Brooke of Community Café baked green brownies and BackTrax got dancers on their feet, including local dance queen Ginnie Nichols. Rick Wynne emceed, and Rotary President Valerie Pistole drew the winning tickets. Chad and Erika Allen, Rich Alward, David Meeks and John Meyn tended the beer and wine bars.
Rotary sold more raffle tickets at $50 than ever before, which helps them fulfill the club’s $100,000 challenge grant to renovate the community center’s Andrews Hall.
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Susan and Richard Idell of Idell Family Vineyards and Jill Klein Matthaisson and Steve Matthaisson of Matthaisson Wine hosted an exclusive wine tasting a couple of weeks ago in the Idell’s Michael Mara Vineyard, which produces chardonnay grapes the Idells sell to seven producers.
Idell Family Vineyards, Matthaisson Wine, Broc Cellars, Rowland Tebb Wines, Arnot-Roberts, Kesner Wines, Young Inglewood, Iconic Wines and Scholium Project all poured their chardonnays from this special vineyard. Sheana Davis of the Epicurean Connection served a huge spread of cheeses, arugula salad and her chocolate olive oil cake. Sommelier Chris Sawyer of the Lodge at Sonoma and Ryan Callahan of the girl and the fig attended the rare tasting. The Idells also produce an excellent estate “Oscar” syrah. Idellfamilyvineayrds.com.
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Nibs & Sips:
Yannick Phillips of the local and California State Grange says that Sonoma County dairies Spalletta’s and Meadows closed down last week … Sonoma Market co-owner Dale Downing married longtime fiancée Erin Riley in Palm Springs last weekend, with the first toast coming from Sonoman Anya Ushakova-Crain.
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Sonoma International Film Festival’s big Saturday night blast at the vets building on Saturday, April 14 will feature cult hero John Waters’ one-man “vaudeville” show called “This Filthy World,” on his quirky negative views on true crime, exploitation films, fashion lunacy and contemporary art world extremes.
Wines will come from Chateau St. Jean, Cline, Jacuzzi and Gloria Ferrer, while New Belgium Brewing will donate beer. VIPs will enjoy Stoli vodka and Hendricks gin cocktails. After Party goers will have HelloCello and Blue Angel beverages.
Before the show, you can indulge in Chef Carlo Cavallo’s butter lettuce salad, Cuban roasted pork loin with black bean dirty rice and spring vegetables. For the after party, Cavallo will offer mini Cuban pork sliders, tortilla and plantain chips salsa bar, a cheese station by Sheana Davis of The Epicurean Connection, and mini dulce de leche cheesecakes and Mayan chocolate tortes. Dinner and show $175; show cocktail table seating $75 or $50, chair seating $25; after party $75. 206-4484. sonomafilmfest.org.