Santé makes Top 100; Fake reservations
Dining Club Rive Gauche returns; Film Festival food; Easter treats
The good news is that the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn’s Santé restaurant made San Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic Michael Bauer’s 2012 Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants list last Sunday.
The bad news is that no other Sonoma Valley restaurants made the cut, while 10 Napa Valley eateries were featured.
Bauer compliments Chef Andrew Cain’s ability to straddle the fine line between elegant and casual fare, citing Cain’s delish “grown up macaroni and cheese” that includes orechiette pasta, lobster, black truffles and Val d’Aosta Fontina cheese. Not your grammy’s mac ‘n’ cheese, but indeed yummy and shareable.
The Napa restaurants gaining Bauer’s kudos included Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc, Bouchon and French Laundry, as well as Bistro Don Giovanni, Bottega, Morimoto, Oenotri, Redd, The Restaurant at Meadowood and Terra and Bar Terra.
Apparently the Café 522 Yelp.com controversy is getting personal. Not only did detractors make reservations and not show up, they are now making reservations in my name at the restaurant and not showing up. I didn’t show up because I didn’t know.
If someone really needs to try to hurt a business, please have the courage to do so in your own name.
Meanwhile, Café 522 has a new addictive dessert on its menu: a generous bowl of Mexican Chocolate Pudding made with Mexican chocolate, dolce
de leche, floating bites of fried churros and hazelnuts ($7).
Fried chicken update:
Disappointed diners report that the Swiss Hotel ran out of fried chicken at 5:30 p.m. last Monday. Try again, because several people got discouraged. Manager Kristin Dunlap Schantz told me that last time I mentioned the fried chix deal, which it really is, they ran out at 5:45 p.m. Is there a lesson here?
Meanwhile, Norman Owens, chef/owner of Hot Box Grill, has put a fried half Cornish game hen back on his menu, served with cornbread pudding, coleslaw and pork ‘n’ beans ($23). Two diners can share a whole game hen dinner for $36 or a grilled 32-ounce “cowboy steak” for $60. 18350 Sonoma Highway, Boyes Hot Springs. 939-8383.
Sonoma Mission Gardens’ “resident tomato expert” Denise Ward presents a comprehensive talk full of tips on “how to grow the best tomatoes in your garden … including soil, fertilizing, watering and best tomatoes for your taste” tomorrow, Saturday, April 7. Free. 11 a.m. 851 Craig Ave., Sonoma. Reserve your seat at 938-5775.
Keith and Joanne Filipello’s ever popular “Dining Club Rive Gauche” rises like a Phoenix on Wednesday, April 25, at a bigger and more relaxed Sonoma Valley Grange Hall across from Mary’s Pizza Shack with the Cuisine of Brazil and music by Dave Aguilar and Peter McCauley of Tudo Bem.
The four-course menu will include Bolinhos de Bacalhau (seafood); sweet potato and black bean salad; spice rubbed chicken with coconut milk sauce, rice, kale and Brazilian cheese rolls; and tropical fruit with Brazilian coffee cookies; coffee or tea. $30 or an introductory $25 to current card-carrying Sonoma Valley Grange members. Reservations required at 996-0900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Latest word from the Sonoma International Film Festival is that you should be well nourished this year with the following goodies available in the Backlot Tent and at venues. Backlot will have breakfast burritos, tacos and burritos by Rancho Viejo and box lunches by Planet Organics.
The Woman’s Club will serve samples by Fork in the Road, hot dogs and charcuterie, plus a New Belgium Beer garden.
Mia Sebastiani will offer lasagna, cheese sticks and biscotti with her brothers’ the Other Guys wines, while Sonoma’s Best will bring their Egg and Hammers and Blue Bottle coffee to the Sonoma Community Center.
Ultra Crêpes will park outside Vintage House with savory and sweet crêpes. Silver Screen box lunches will be available at Sebastiani Winery with their wines for purchase, plus special tasting for attendees of “Harvest” screening.
La Bamba Taco Truck will be at the Sonoma Charter School throughout the Quinceañera Latino film festival; Murphy’s Irish Pub will sell its own food and Pop Chips, Sonoma Cheese Factory samples, cupcakes, donuts and other surprised treats.
Next week we will tell you all the food and wine films you may not want to miss.
Former Sonoma Alcaldessa Mary Evelyn Arnold masterminded the Vintage House dinner last weekend that many people bought into at their holiday party and helped cook and serve. Bob Albright, Alain Piallat and Bob Records made antipasti platters and mixed salad with balsamic dressing; Carole Nicholas, Joyce Pease, Alycia Case, Jean Behse, Lucy Siegel and Beth Records created baked pasta with hot Italian sausage; Marilyn Albright and Carole Nicholas made polenta cake with fresh berries and mascarpone; while Marcie Waldron, Paulette Lutjens, Sharon Druehl, Diane Wick and John and Libby Brady did fabulous decorations. Bob Albright, Bob Records, Randy Derwingson, Bill Sanderson, Alain Piallat and Swede Thorson bartended.
Many of the paying volunteers are part of Arnold’s Wednesday “crew” at Meals on Wheels, which also loaned lots of equipment to the project. She especially thanks Jacquey Piallat who served as “master organizer” while Arnold had to be out of state on a family emergency.
Vintage House and the crew want to specially thank generous donations by Sherry and Don Shone, Sonoma Market and Basque Boulangerie.
Bright idea: If the City of Sonoma has to get rid of the firehouse at Patten and Broadway, how about arranging to have the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art use it for classes?
Sheana Davis did a bang up job on her Cooking Channel feature in Chef Richard Blais’ tour of the Bay Area to assemble an Indian dinner. Davis showed how to age her Crème de Ricotta to make paneer.
Sonoma Home Winemakers will hold its annual awards banquet Thursday, April 19, at Vintage House senior center, honoring Jean Arnold Sessions, CEO of the Jean Arnold Group. Winemakers and guests will sample great wines and enjoy dinner prepared by Rich Treglia and Sonoma Valley Teen Services’ Lovin’ Oven project. Treglia is former co-owner and chef at the Garden Court Café and now executive chef at San Geronimo Golf Course. $30 advance, $40 at door. 5:30 to 9 p.m. Tickets at Sonoma Valley Box Office at the community center or by calling 938-4626, ext. 1.
Robert Arnold’s Chandelle Winery’s 2010 Estraié “Affaire” Sauvignon Blanc just won a gold medal at the 2012 San Diego International Wine Competition. The wine is available at the Cellar Door Tasting Room at the Lodge at Sonoma and at a few stores and restaurants. Only 150 cases were made. 938-5862.
Ramekins Culinary School & Event Center goes solar staring April 23, cutting its electricity use by nearly half, according to Julia Blanton. Owners Sarah and Darius Anderson have just built a new 25-by-20-foot green house on their Fifth Street East Farms to raise vegetables from seed and know their vegetables’ pedigrees.
Amy and Fred Groth’s Hooker House Bourbon ($36 per 750 ml) just won a silver medal at the 2012 San Francisco World Spirits Competition’s Bourbon Whisky category. Big Bottom Whiskey of Lake Oswego, Ore., took the gold.
Hooker House Bourbon is named for former Sonoma resident Gen. Joseph Hooker (house in rear of El Paseo off First Street East) and is aged an unusual second time in pinot noir barrels Groth obtained from Schug Winery. The Groths also own HelloCello and its many limoncello offspring.
Roessler Cellars, which sold to Hall Winery of St. Helena, now morphs into Walt Wines. Former Ambassador and Hall Winery owner Kathryn Hall’s maiden name was Walt. Walt will keep the former Roessler tasting room on First Street West and will host an open house on Thursday, May 3, from 4 to 7 p.m., continuing through Saturday.
Vineyard and Winery Management Group will accept entries for its annual NextGen Wine Competition for Millennial Winemakers and Drinkers aimed at ages 21 to 35, with registration due May 8 and wine submissions due May 17. Entry fee is $75 a wine, or only $65 if received by April 18. vwm-online.com/nextgen.
Nibs & Sips:
Securities and investment advisor Byron Hancock and Terin Ignozzi will host Hancock’s Wine+Wealth conversation at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 11, at Ignozzi’s new Bryter Estates tasking room in the newly renamed “Vine Alley,” Melissa Detert’s development next to the Church Mouse on Napa Street … The National Beer Wholesalers Association buys a full back-page ad on The Hill, Washington, D.C.’s, top non-partisan political newspaper. The ad advocates “supporting effective, state-based alcohol regulation” and boasts 98,000 employees nationwide …The ultimate stretch of the recent bacon fad must be J&D’s Foods “J&D Bacon Coffin for those who love bacon to death,” so “you can peacefully rest wrapped in bacon” to include painted-on bacon and pork, more details too horrible. Jdfoods.net.
Easter brunch hunt:
Those who celebrate or observe Easter often like to cook for the family at home, before or after the backyard egg hunt and bunny chase.
But if you want to go out and leave the work to others, here a few brunch opportunities, in ascending order of cost.
Breakaway Café: A la carte specials including a spring omelet with asparagus, ham and brie cheese; pork chops with eggs and potatoes; lemon-sour cream pancakes with strawberries and sweet crème fraiche; eggs Benedict or smoked salmon and avocado eggs benedict, in addition to the full menu. (specials $10.50 to $13.50). 19101 Sonoma Highway, Sonoma. 996-5949.
Swiss Hotel: Special brunch includes à la carte rock shrimp chowder, blueberry and strawberry stuffed French toast with chicken apple sausage, vegetarian frittata, crab cakes with Asian slaw and lamb t-bones, some served at dinner as well. ($7 to $26). Brunch 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 18 W. Spain St., Sonoma. 938-2884.
Saddles at MacArthur Place: Brunch includes complementary glass of sparkling wine, starters of housemade granola, Sonoma County cheeses, muffins, Danish and fresh fruit. Seafood buffet includes oysters on the half-shell, steamed jumbo prawns, green lip mussels and King crab legs. Enjoy lots of salads and a hot buffet that includes crêpes with ricotta and strawberries, prime rib, ham, potatoes and eggs Benedict, plus assorted desserts. $49.50 adults, $24 children 12 and under. 933-3191.
Saddles also offers a Monday and Tuesday prime rib dinner with small soup or salad, and ice cream for $24.99 and 50 percent off all bottles of wine through April.
Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant will feature potato and artichoke frittata, roasted beets, Five-Dot grass-fed strip loin with pancetta mushroom sauce and truffled pecan crust or roasted Pacific salmon and brioche bread pudding with fruit compote and vanilla bean ice cream. Wines from Iron Horse, Heitz Cellar, Etude and Robert Mondavi available. $52 tasting menu, $23 for wine pairings with each course. 2555 Main St., St. Helena. 967-2322.
Santé at Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn: Buffet with omelet, smoked fish and carving stations, plus shellfish and desserts. $89 adults, $44.50 children 6 to 12, free children 5 and under. Easter egg hunts at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. with Monsieur Easter Bunny, ballon artist and clown.
Peace, love and enough food, wherever you are. Kthill.com.