Williams-Sonoma back to Sonoma?
Bachelor Ben's meal at girl & the fig; Martin Yan coming; E. Secon St.? Glitz's great success; Charlie Trotter's closes
Strictly rumor department:
A winery owner poured tastes last weekend to someone who works for the famed Williams-Sonoma and said the company is planning to open a store here in Sonoma on Broadway in 2012, "about where Chuck's old store was."
Chuck Williams bought an old hardware store at 605 Broadway (now John Brians' Frame Factory) next to the U.S. Post Office and Broadway Catering, and, following a trip to France, imported fine kitchenware and cooking implements and converted to a cookware shop. He moved the store to San Francisco and it all took off from there, eventually led by the late Howard Lester.
Sonoma City Council's chain store conversations might just take a new twist if this is true. Have the fire station developer hopefuls found a tempting way around town? What does the town say to a "chain" that started here humbly?
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Actually, I will be showing a few of the utensils in my Kathleen Thompson Hill Culinary Collection and making grilled cheese sandwiches at Williams-Sonoma Corte Madera on Saturday, Jan. 14, from 1 to 3 p.m.
Nancy Lang helped me with my first two demos in December, where we made retro-ham salad and stove-top macaroni and cheese, with an age 11-ish young man announcing loudly, "Ma'am, on a scale of 1 to 10, this is a 13." What better compliment!
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Estate, the girl & the fig, the fig café, EDK, and the Swiss Hotel have all been closed this week for annual spiff-ups. The Swiss reopens at lunchtime on Jan. 11, and Maya will reopen as soon as possible after repairs from last Monday's kitchen fire.
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Ben the Bachelor (Flajnik)'s Jan. 9 (8 p.m.) episode of ABC's reality show's new season was filmed partly at the girl & the fig where he and his date dine on the Fig's signature fig salad, heirloom tomato and watermelon salad, pan-seared trout with lemon butter sauce and haricots verts and lavender crème brûlée.
I wonder if owner Sondra Bernstein will have to feature a Bachelor Ben menu from now on, much like Los Olivos Café has a special "Sideways" menu where guests can eat everything the movie's characters enjoyed there. We have tasted every dish on that one.
In the same episode, Ben and his girl du jour also have a special pool and spa date at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn's Willow Stream Spa.
Sonoma Market just added a "Bachelor Ben Wine Centre" where collectors can pick up bottles of both the Flajnik/Benziger team's Evolve and Envolve labels for $37.50 each.
The Fairmont's Big 3 quickly scheduled a "Bachelor Party" for Monday, Jan. 9 to watch the program, and will serve a burger and beer for $15, with glasses of Evolve available. 7 to 10 p.m. 938-9000.
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Someone has erected street signs at intersections along the east-west bike path. The signs face path users only (not the street) and signify that it is a bike route.
One has to wonder who ordered, proofread, and put up the signs at Second Street East that read "E. Secon St."
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Keith and Joanne Filipello of Wild Thyme Catering held their final "Dining Club Rive Gauche" at their current location on Railroad Avenue last Wednesday. Watch for the clubby dinners to rise like a culinary Phoenix elsewhere in the Valley, while Wild Thyme continues to cater throughout the Bay Area. email@example.com.
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Junny Gonzalez of Sonoma Foie Gras casually invited a few girlfriends to drop by recently and all received rillettes, smoked duck confit and terrines of foie gras. Paula Wolfert, Nancy Lang, Ana Huson, Marilyn Albright, Teresa Pardini, Sylvia Bernard and Joanne Fusco lucked out.
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Watch, but don't drool, for the March or April opening of Ari and Errin Benziger Weiswasser's new Glen Ellen Star restaurant at the old Saffron location in Glen Ellen. Ari will combine his French Laundry experience with local produce and meats. Should be a great addition to our Sonoma cuisine scene.
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Karen Collins and Kathleen and Jack Carter held an ingenious eastside "neighborhood party" for some us to chat and celebrate the neighborhood, with Andy and Louise Massey, Susan MacMillan, Kay and Roger Heigel, Tom and Katherine Culligan (who bought Pat Sajor's house), Jill and Jim "Cowboy" Kamahele, Hon. Diane Wick, Dottie and Bill Lynch, Nancy and Hank Schultz, Bud and Adrian Fiske, 'Zanne Clark and her brother Macon, and Cindy Clayton. Jerry and I thought the party was the following week - shucks!
Everyone enjoyed Champagne, smoked salmon, pâté, cheeses, fresh veggies, Dottie Lynch's famous pecan and cheese cookies, killer brownies, gluten-free pastries and cranberry and white chocolate bars. Won't miss the next one.
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Last week I referred to "Miller's Landing" and meant "Moore's Landing" on the Napa River at the foot of Cutting's Wharf Road. My apologies.
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Famed PBS chef Martin Yan will help celebrate Chinese New Year at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards on Saturday, Jan. 21, sponsored by Sonoma Sister Cities Association to foster relations between Sonoma and Penglai, China. Apparently the Penglai area grows 80,000 tons of grapes a year, has 45 wineries and produces 20 percent of wine made in China.
Yan will give a cooking demo at Jacuzzi, along with performances of Chinese dances, a silent auction, dim sum tastes and wine. 1 to 4 p.m. $60. Tickets at sonomacommunitycenter.org or 938-4626, ext. 1.
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Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance's annual "Puttin' on the Glitz" was a huge success at the Lodge on New Year's Eve. Mentoring Program Director Tina Baldry served as "Snow Queen" and served "Mentinis" during the cocktail hour next to a four-foot high ice sculpture bar. Since I was sick, I missed getting my boa and Jerry missed his top hat, but we will survive.
Nancy and Fred Cline offered their annual super generous $50,000 matching gift, and the "matches" topped $110,000 in the fund-a-need, for which Rick Wynne served as auctioneer. When Wynne reached final add-on offers of $20,000, Lori and Rick Miron raised their paddle and called out "$25,000," a generous gift following the sale of their Triology Glass company.
Besides the Miron family, others in the giving crowd included Cherie and Keith Hughes, John and Pam Story, Karen and George Rathman, Jerry and Bill Brinton, Rick and Patsy Wynne, Brenda Buckerfield, Bill and Laurie Hake, Stephen and Diane Bieneman, Jean Barnier and John MacConaghy, Louann Carlomagno and Brian Wirick, Deborah and John Emery, Marchelle and Curt Carleton, Simon and Kimerly Blattner, Kelly and Hal Stover, Patsy and Tim Wallace, Bob and Gretchen Gardner, Gary and Ruth Edwards, Cynthia and Tom Degenhardt, Nancy and Bill Pollack, John and Sydney Randzzo, Cee Cee and Darryl Ponicsan, Nancy and Tony Lilly, and Jeff Walter and Valerie Pistole.
A cannon shot off Mylar confetti at midnight and the dance floor throbbed until 12:30.
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A couple of active Sonomans have written to plead for their friends and owners of Papa Murphy's pizza, who suffered a horrible burglary last weekend, while, according to one correspondent, owner Scott Walthard was playing one of the wise men at St. Andrew Church. Even their safe and credit card machine were stolen, to say nothing of money.
The point is that while Papa Murphy's is a pizza franchise, owners Scott and Tracy Marmaduke Walthard do, indeed, give most generously to the community including to FISH, Willmar, Hanna Boys Center, soccer teams, Young Life, Hospice, and the Boys & Girls Club. Tracy's family, which has owned 7-Elevens and now own the local Ben & Jerry's, have always given hugely to local organizations, and they all deserve community support during the challenging times they are experiencing.
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Cee Cee and Daryl Ponicsan hosted an elegant vintage port tasting party last week featuring their collection of ports that began on their French honeymoon. As Cee Cee tells the story, at every restaurant where they dined in Paris, a server would place a bottle of port on the table after they heard the couple were just married.
After the Ponicsans returned to their then home in Ojai, where Daryl was writing successful movie scripts and novels, Cee Cee started browsing through liquor stores asking for ports. Usually the proprietor would find a dusty bottle or two in a back room, and Cee Cee saved everything she found, most of which are now vintage and highly rated by wine critics.
Guests tasted a Taylor Fladgate 1977, a Smith Woodhouse LBV 1999, a Presidential 2000, Whitwhams Vinho de Porto 2000, and served a meal of hors d'oeuvres she assembled from Oxbow and Sonoma Markets. Great cheeses, Aidell's mini chicken and beef sausages wrapped in bacon with brown sugar, handmade mini-crab cakes, petit potatoes with sour cream and caviar among many others. CeeCee found Debra Friedman, former owner of the Robin's Nest discount kitchen store, managing the fish market at Oxbow.
Lucky attendees included Rebecca and Gary Rosenberg; Maureen and Adam Cottingham; Lori and Kevin McGovern; Rose Jager and Neil Colwell; Ed Curry of Hall Winery; Marchelle and Curt Carleton with Marchelle's mother, Barbara Adams; Joan and Rich Little; and Deborah and John Emery and family.
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Slow Food Sonoma Valley, under the principal leadership of realtor Kathy Leonard, participated in and led several events in 2011, including the Art of Eating tribute to M.F. K. Fisher at Audubon Canyon Ranch, launched an Intimate Outings Series that included tours of McClelland's Dairy, Green String Farms and my Carniceria Cruises.
Members also visited schools to talk about healthy eating with help of Kid Scoop publisher Vicki Whiting; a tour of San Francisco's Mission District with Augustín Gayten; and held its inaugural Cookie Exchange and Soup Dinner at Sonoma Valley Grange, with cookie donations to Meals on Wheels Sonoma and the Brown Baggers.
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Martini Madness rolls around on lucky Friday, Jan. 13 at Saddles Restaurant at MacArthur Place. Bartenders from Saddles Steakhouse, the girl & the fig, El Dorado Kitchen, Maya, Estate, Sonoma Meritâge, Santé, Mary's Pizza Shack and Murphy's Irish Pub will concoct their best and most imaginative martinis, which must include an olive.
An always sold-out evening, Martini Madness is part of the Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau's Olive Season. Bill Blum and Gary Saperstein organize the event as volunteers, even though Blum is general manager of MacArthur Place. $40 advance, $45 at door if available, $85 with dinner. 5 to 7 p.m. 29 E. MacArthur, Sonoma. Tickets online at olivefestival.com or macarthurplace.com.
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Charlie Trotter, who raised Chicago's culinary bar 25 years ago, announced to his staff last weekend that he is closing his restaurant. While admitting the elegant restaurant had grown slightly out of style, Trotter said he wants to pursue graduate degrees in philosophy and political theory, believing he can always return to the restaurant business.
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Pricey planning ahead:
The American Truffle Company's Napa Truffle Festival will take place Jan. 13 through 16 at Raymond Vineyards and Robert Mondavi Winery, both now owned by large corporations elsewhere, but each will host a festival lunch. Attend seminars on truffle cultivation, truffle orchard tour and dog training demo at Sinskey Vineyards. There is a seminar on "The Economics of Truffle Cultivation," cooking demos, wine tastings and a Napa Truffle Festival Marketplace at Oxbow Public Market. $25 marketplace food tasting to $1,250 weekend package ticket. Napatrufflefestival.com.Bon appétit! More food news at kthill.com