Rin’s Thai for sale; Ramekins’ new classes
New Muscardini tasting room opens; Park 121; Ed Stolman
As many of us noticed in the Index-Tribune’s trusty real estate section, the owners of Rin’s Thai restaurant have listed their Victorian with realtor Chuck Lamp of Sotheby’s for a mere $1,850,000.
Robert and Yupa Garrett’s first restaurant was in San Francisco’s Noe Valley. Their first Sonoma restaurant was at 599 Broadway, where 599 Thai (no relation) is currently located. They moved the restaurant to the Victorian on East Napa Street (just beyond Della Santina’s) in 2000 and were joined in partnership by Yupa’s nephew and his wife, Anthony and Arisa Kamindr.
The Garretts originally remodeled the Victorian, adding a more modern and clean kitchen, to an old house that once housed Cynthia Solomon’s bookstore and a series of restaurants. They also added patio seating, a peaceful trickling fountain, and a false ceiling to protect customers from the elements (someone please fix those broken brick stairs).
Anthony Kamidr told me across the street Sunday, while I was raking our leaves and he was blowing theirs, that they simply want to retire. Apparently the restaurant equipment can be part of the deal. A long trip to Thailand might be in the offing for the two families.
599 Thai proprietor and manager Sunee Petprasert might consider the property, if she can arrange to buy the building, in advance of Williams-Sonoma’s takeover of her current location.
There I was on New Years Eve day at Safeway and CVS surrounded by Valentines candy and cards. What? Can you believe it?
Ramekins Culinary School has a whole load of new classes, new chefs, and new lower fees than last year.
Among the new instructors are my friend Linda Carucci; Bouchon Bakery’s head bread baker Matt McDonald; Arnold Eric Wong, executive chef for E&O Trading Company; and Armando Navarro, executive chef at El Dorado Kitchen.
All classes take place at 450 W. Spain St., Sonoma. 933-0450. ramekins.com.
There are many classes in the smaller, more efficient catalog, which includes Ramekins chef Kevin Cess’ two-day “Boot camp: Kitchen Fundamentals” where he will teach knife skills, stocks, butchery, sauces, sauté, braise and grill. Call immediately because Ramekins just added a new boot camp this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 5 and 6, since the Jan. 12 and 13 class sold out with a wait list. Includes coffee, pastries and sandwiches. I hope to take this one. Limited to 16 guests. $75 one day, $140 both days. Hands-on. 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
I first knew Carucci when she was Julia Child’s culinary director at Copia in Napa. She wisely left before Copia closed and had served as dean of the California Culinary Academy, inaugural chef director at the Art Institute of California-San Francisco, dean of students at Occidental College, wrote the award-winning cookbook “Cooking School Secrets for Real World Cooks,” cooks as a private chef for several prominent Bay Area families, and is coordinator of this month’s 2013 Women Chefs and Restaurateurs National Conference in San Francisco.
Carucci’s new Ramekins class will be “Flexitarian Favorites,” appealing to those of us who are occasional or part-time vegetarians on Friday, Feb. 22 (happy birthday George Washington). She will include winter greens in garlic soup, mango-avocado salad with bay shrimp, jicama slaw with shredded chicken, butter lettuce wraps with turkey sausage or marinated tofu and dipping sauce, and wild rice with quinoa and pomegranate and Tamari almonds. Hands-on, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. $95 includes lunch.
Building on their latke throw-down fun a few weeks ago, Ken Brown and Avram Goldman will host a martini throw-down on Brown’s KSVY “Morning Show” at 9:15 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 9, as a build-up to Martini Madness, which will be Friday, Jan. 11, at Ramekins Culinary School (5 to 7 p.m., 933-0450).
Again the contestants will include “Michelle Chutzpah Heston” versus “Avi G” (aka Avram Goldman) the self-dubbed “Mad Russian Mixologist.” Each “bartender” will create one traditional and one innovative martini.
Ken Brown, Mark Vogler of Out-in-the-Vineyard, Hunt Baillie of Murphy’s Irish Pub and I will judge this early morning cocktail episode. Bring on the V-8 juice.
Smart and beautiful Vanessa Robledo, owner and president of Black Coyote Winery in Napa, became smart and beautiful Vanessa Robledo Tumber last week, marrying her “soul mate” and leaving scores of men weeping.
Michael Muscardini will welcome everyone to help launch his new tasting room full of his fine wine tastes at Kenwood’s old Red School House this Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 5 and 6. He will also host a wine industry mixer for Heart of Sonoma Valley Association (Kenwood and Glen Ellen wineries) on Wednesday, Jan. 9, with food catered by the divine Catherine Venturini of Glen Ellen’s Olive & Vine. 9380 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood. 933-9305.
Susan and Jim MacKenzie report that their son, Patrick MacKenzie, just graduated from the CIA at Greystone in St. Helena and has already begun his new job at Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc restaurant. He served his externship at Ad Hoc and Bouchon and earned his new position during his six months there. Proud parents, indeed.
Marchelle and Curt Carleton gave a gorgeous holiday party at their Kenwood home with food provided by Lombardi’s of Petaluma, although the owner lives in Sonoma. Lombardi’s is that deli on North Petaluma Avenue that barbecues finger-licking spare ribs across from the outlets entrance. No ribs at the Carletons’ though, but abundant appetizers replaced on the dining room table with loads of salmon, pork roast and side dishes.
In the happy crowd partying on three floors on a drizzly evening were Lori and Rick Miron, Darryl and Susan Bellach (she does all the great seasonal decorations at Sebastiani Theatre), Lisa Cavalli, Sharon Ohman, Mary and Adrian Martinez (he designed the Carletons’ home), Julius and Denise Schillinger, Karen and Sam Brown, Rose Allen, John and Suzanne Maib, Mike and Valerie Marino, Matt and Brooke Seveneau, Manuel Merjil and Paul Curreri, Erin and Dale Downing, Cee Cee and Darryl Ponicsan, Marchelle’s mother and new Sonoma Valley resident Barbara Adams, Laura St. Leger Barter, Michele and Frank Samson, Marilyn and Michael Cabak, Rebecca and Gary Rosenberg, Joe Capriola, Julie Schindler, Greg and Marianne Carleton, Clara Crean, Ginny and Larry Krieger, Cheryl Widdis and Bob Jarvis, and Bonnie and Rob Gemmel. Dr. John Emery entered as Santa Claus with great bell ringing and Santadrama, while Deborah Emery was with designer Helen Lyall in Napa.
In conjunction with the Wounded Warrior Project, the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena recently held a five-day “Healthy Cooking Boot Camp” for 16 California soldiers who had been injured in the line of duty. While some of the soldier participants lost limbs and might have mental and emotional trauma, they all learned healthy eating habits, self-confidence and even learned some employable skills.
Last Sunday, Olive & Vine in Glen Ellen Village hosted a fabulous blues jam session featuring Catherine Venturini’s husband, partner/sommelier/guitarist John Burdick and band, with James Marshal Berry sitting in. Incredible musical chemistry was enjoyed by Garland Lamb, Deborah and John Emery, their new daughter-in-law Jamie Emery, her parents, Squire Fridell and friends, minus Susie, and many others.
And speaking of Jamie, she and husband John Emery II have started Emery Wine Tours and Transportation with a new black Cadillac Escalade providing wine tours ($78 an hour) and event transportation ($65 an hour). John has driven for John Burdick wine tours for several years and should know his way around. 849-3487.
The British Fresh and Easy chain of supermarkets that targeted underserved neighborhoods may either just pack up and close or try to sell, including its 19 Bay Area stores. According to friends and family who have shopped once or twice in the stores, customer dissatisfaction with quality, out-of-date foods and illness from some prepared foods apparently contributed to the lack of success. What a surprise.
Out of towner, sort of:
Based on only one visit, I suggest you try Park Avenue Catering’s Park 121 Café & Grill at Cornerstone Gardens. It is a six-mile drive south of Sonoma Plaza on Highway 121, which is why I put it in my “Out of Towner” category, but owner/chef Bruce Riezenman makes it worth the trip. Tip: He is there on Mondays.
Gone are the cold metal chairs and tables, in are warm wooden furniture. The whole vibe is more inviting, as is the food.
If you choose a salumi appetizer, expect everything from Hobbs and Fra’Mani. Regional cheeses include Laura Chenel, Bellwether Farms, Valley Ford Cheese, Carneros Caves, Vella’s and Weirauch.
Either you need to make several trips to Park 121 or take a few friends to order different specialties to share so you can enjoy different tastes. Several guests have liked the Liberty duck confit and persimmon salad; Joe Wade’s butternut squash ravioli are thick with, guess what, butternut squash. The skirt steak and burgers are grass-fed, and even the simple grilled cheese and Adult Grilled Cheese with Bellwether Farms Carmody, bacon and quince paste on Penngrove wheat bread, are divine. The made-to-order personal frittata with garden veggies sounds great. I love the informative cheese and salumi explanations on the back of the menu.
Riezenman also just installed an outdoor pizza oven between Potter Green (check out their salts from the Philippines) and Park 121. Haven’t tasted those yet because of weather. 23584 Arnold Drive, Sonoma (Hwy. 121), Sonoma. 938-8579. park121.com.
Ed Stolman was known in other parts of the country for developing and marketing the Dove Bar (ice cream) and selling it to Mars Inc, which also owns M&Ms, Twix, Snickers; and for running a chain of hospitals, taking them public and selling to Cigna.
Here in Sonoma Valley, he was known for importing 1,000 olive tree seedlings and planting the first large olive orchard around these parts, as well as for founding the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Sonoma State University.
Seemingly a marketing visionary, Stolman’s olive trees led to making olive oil, finding investors in The Olive Press, and partnering with Deborah Rogers, master olive miller, and eventually leading to the “Season of the Olive” olive festival that fills in winter doldrums.
We were flattered that Stolman recruited Jerry and me to teach in the Lifelong Learning Institute and even attended our class on “The Politics of Health Care.”
Let’s think of him always as we enjoy local olives or just pass Jacuzzi Winery and The Olive Press. Winery owner Fred Cline said New Year’s Eve that “Ed was a truly wonderful guy. He was just the smartest and nicest man.” Recently Cline had traveled in Italy with Stolman, saw him through a couple of health crises there and cared for Stolman lovingly.
2013 will, indeed, be a better year for all of us. Let’s make it that way.