Williams-Sonoma buys Broadway building
A Fiat 500 for $20? Swiss Scottish haggis dinner; Roller Babes’ diets; Museum dining experiences
As first rumored in this column, Williams-Sonoma, the now enormous corporate retailer that the beloved Chuck Williams first opened here in Sonoma, has apparently closed escrow on the building where it all started next to the U.S. Post Office on Broadway.
As of this writing, none of the tenants has heard a word from either the seller or the purchaser and all plan to stay right where they are.
Broadway Catering co-owner Tom Romano says his and Linda Gilbert’s lives are deeply entwined with Chuck Williams’. They bought the business 16 years ago from Jim DeJoy, who later went on to the CIA and then to his wife’s native Toronto, Ontario.
When Williams came to town to dedicate the plaque marker on the building that had housed a hardware store when he bought it, he told Romano and Gilbert that he had lived on Burndale Road, they asked where, and they had, indeed, purchased his home and have lived in it ever since.
Broadway Catering, known for its organic and sustainable catering service food, has loads of engagements scheduled well into 2013 and will continue to produce its great food for events. Worry not. 835-1273 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Brians of The Frame Factory remains cheerful, positive and busy. While I visited him, four customers came in for immediate and long-range picture framing and more power to him. He’s there for the duration as well. 996-2253.
If you are free for lunch today, Friday, April 20, and love animals, head on over to Estate Restaurant for Pets Lifeline’s Tailwags and Handbags fundraising luncheon that includes a baby beet salad, spring vegetable penne pasta and chocolate polenta cake. Expect wine and a silent auction with slightly used vintage purses and accessories available. $85. Noon to 2 p.m. Reserve at 996-4577, ext. 109, or petslifeline.org.
Rob Larman and his Cochon Volant present a seared and smoked prime rib of beef dinner at Valley Wine Shack tonight, April 20, that looks terrific for meat eaters. The menu includes a salad of chopped Romaine lettuce, ripe tomatoes, avocado and Bermuda onion tossed with blue cheese vinaigrette; prime rib with horseradish cream, garlic mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach; followed by mixed berry crumble with crème Chantilly. Wines available. $38. 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Call Valley Wine Shack immediately to reserve at 938-7218.
April in Carneros opens 20 Carneros region (along San Pablo Bay in both Napa and Sonoma counties) wineries to tasters, live music, great food from local caterers and restaurants, oysters, chocolate, art and wine discounts both Saturday and Sunday, April 21 and 22. Wineries stretch from Ceja to the east to Gloria Ferrer, Jacuzzi and Cline, Schug and Robledo on the west end of the district. $45 at any participating winery. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days.
Earth Day at Benziger and Ravenswood wineries:
Benziger Family Winery again celebrates Earth Day and their biodynamic farming on Saturday, April 21. Mike Benziger will explain their farming process with seated wine tasting and hors d’oeuvres. All net profits from the day’s wine sales will go to La Luz Center/Vineyard Worker Services. Throughout Earth Week, wine shops and stores across the U.S. will offer “green flights” of Benziger wines. 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. 1883 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen. Reserve at 800-989-8890 or email@example.com.
Ravenswood Winery celebrates Earth Day Sunday, April 22, with two-for-one deals for those who walk or ride their bikes to the winery. Enjoy a brisk hike to the top of Mt. Raven certified organic vineyard and learn green and sustainable wine making practices with Joel Peterson, Ravenswood founder and “The Godfather of Zin.” $10 to $15, waived for walkers or bike riders. 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with tours and hikes at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 and 3 p.m. 18701 Gehricke Road, Sonoma. 933-2336.
Yes, you might win one of those extremely cool little Fiat 500s by just purchasing one measly $20 raffle ticket for the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation’s Red and White Ball this year. And this car will be, drum roll, red and white. Of course, if you buy several $20 raffle tickets, you increase your chances. Info on how to get your lucky tickets to come soon. Now this is one raffle I would like to win.
I first got into Fiats via my good friend Pia Lindstrom, daughter of Ingrid Bergman. Pia went through several stick-shift transmissions on San Francisco hills, but who cared then?
Hanna Boys Center’s “Evening with the All-Stars” pops up on us Saturday, April 21, to celebrate the opening of their new buildings with hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, silent auction, ribbon cutting with Father Crews, dinner by chef Bruce Riezenman of Park Avenue Catering, the famously and infamously hilarious Squire Fridell as emcee, a live auction by Greg Quiroga and dancing to the Richard Olsen Orchestra.
Enjoy a menu of butter lettuce salad with roasted beets, pan-seared duck breast and confit, mushrooms, saffron risotto cakes and asparagus, and Penngrove’s Full Circle Bakery ciabatta bread. Vegetarians may order roasted eggplant stuffed with quinoa and vegetables, all followed by a brownie with strawberry mascarpone parfait. Wines will be donated by Kivelstadt Vineyards and Chandelle Vineyards. $200 on up. 5:30 to 11:30 p.m. For last minute reservations, call 933-2555 or Tamara Stanley at 933-2504. hannacenter.org.
Don’t miss Wild Thyme’s “Dining Club Rive Gauche” at its new location on Wednesday, April 25, at Sonoma Valley Grange. Enjoy Chef Keith Filipello’s Brazilian cuisine such as Bacalhau fish; sweet potato, pepper and black bean salads; spice rubbed chicken with coconut milk sauce, rice, kale and Brazilian cheese rolls; and tropical fruit with Brazilian coffee cookies (recipe available at event). Tudo Bem’s Dave Aguilar and Peter McCauley will play Brazilian music. Bring your own wine, no corkage. $35 or $25 for Grange members.7 p.m. sharp. Reserve at 996-0900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The “Sir Billi World Premiere Scottish Feast” last Friday at the Swiss Hotel provided one of the better taste surprises of last weekend’s Sonoma International Film Festival. The Whisky Thieves bars of San Francisco shared tastes of many light to dark scotches before dinner. Suzy and kilted Squire Fridell generously poured their “single malt” GlenLyon wines with each course and hammed it up as usual.
Servers brought large bowls of cock-a-leekie soup full of chicken, prunes and rice, which could have been a meal in itself.
Next came the “haggis with tatties and neeps.” In case you haven’t experienced haggis, it consists of sheep’s heart, liver, lungs and shoulder with onion, oatmeal, suet, salt and pepper all boiled in a sheep’s stomach sack. In Scotland, the resulting delectable is often proudly displayed on a platter, still in the sack.
The “tatties” are potatoes and the “neeps” are supposed to be turnips or rutabagas, both boiled and mashed separately. All of this was followed by large lamb shanks, mashed rutabagas and potatoes with roasted vegetables.
And then there were the tall, tall signature cakes from the new Crisp Bakeshop ($45 for a 6-incher on up). Anyone who ever had trouble stacking a last minute homemade cake for a birthday party will appreciate these cakes, which also could have been a meal in themselves. Guests got dinner plates full of sliced brown butter cake with salted caramel filling, a vanilla bean malted cake with Nutella chocolate filling, and an apple spice cake with butterscotch cream filling, which were served with Ancnoc 12-year-old Scotch.
Tallia Storm, the 13-year-old singing sensation daughter of the “Sir Billi” film creators, Sasha and Tessa Hartmann, told me at the dinner that Storm is her middle name and that she will open for star Elton John when he tours Scotland in June.
Speaking of the film festival, we should all visit Rancho Viejo as often as possible for the job they did in the Backlot Tent. They served unending chicken and pork tacos, nachos, guacamole and other goodies for Claudia Mendoza-Carruth’s quinceañera party Friday night. Then they produced tons of breakfast burritos, both meat and veggie, for the media breakfast Saturday morning, followed by more food on Sunday throughout the day.
Book Passage’s “Cooks with Books” luncheon at Estate honoring Sondra Bernstein’s new book, “Plats du Jour,” provided a relatively quiet respite from the film festival, after which I left to join the mob of roller babes in front of the Sebastiani Theatre.
Estate Executive Chef John Toulze cooked from the book serving appetizers of BLT gougères, Parmesan croquettes and goat cheese and lavender honey toasts. The next fabulous course was a healthy dungeness crab and avocado salad, followed by slow-cooked rabbit and spring vegetables on creamy polenta, and an addictive rosemary olive oil cake with lemon glaze.
Bernstein also announced her “Suite D” plan where she is taking over 2,000 square feet of warehouse next to the girl & the fig’s catering space and welcoming others to do all things culinary, for which she is raising funds via kickstarter.com.
Roller babes’ diets:
As often happens, I enjoyed in depth conversations with a couple of smart-as-a-whip roller babes in the Sebastiani Theatre restroom. It turns out that several of them are on “Blood Type Diets.” By that they mean that “Type O is the oldest type in the world, and cave people were carnivores, so they eat a lot of meat. Blood Type A people eat vegetables, fruits and grains.” My “babe” went on to say “I’ve lost lots of weight, so it must work. But maybe it’s because I skate on three teams now.” Uh-huh.
Margie Brooke’s Community Café will serve a “Buena Vista Winemaker Dinner” Friday, April 27, to include sherried shrimp bisque and a mushroom and heirloom tomato mini grilled cheese sandwich; Sonoma Artisan Duck confit with poached cherries and farro, flax seed and rye pilaf; and Michoacana’s chocolate and Mexican vanilla ice cream with cherry wine sauce, all paired with Buena Vista wines. $49.95. 6:30 p.m. 875 W. Napa St., Sonoma. Reserve at 938-7779.
Ram’s Gate Winery Chef’s Table will host San Francisco’s Bi-Rite Market owner Sam Mogannam and his book, “Bi-Rite Market’s Eat Good Food: A Grocer’s Guide to Shopping, Cooking and Creating Community Through Food” on Saturday, April 28. $75 public, $60 wine club members includes two glasses of wine, talk with author, nibbles, and a signed book. Noon to 2 p.m. 28700 Arnold Drive, Sonoma. 721-8700.
Glen Ellen resident Bernie Krause’s new book, “The Great Animal Orchestra: Finding the Origins of Music in the World’s Wild Places,” made the cover of the New York Times Book Review section. Congratulations to the Krause family for this hugely flattering achievement.
Sonoma Valley Museum of Art’s “Great Places Great Spaces” dinner series announcements arrived Friday and by Monday the dinner at Harriet and Randy Derwingson’s cave and orchard sold out (shucks). Other hosts for whose elegant meals you can still reserve include Penelope MacNaughton, Nancy Kivelson and Tom Angstadt, Marcelo DeFreitas and Scott Smith, Jean Simpson and co-host Douglas Fenn Wilson, Bonnie Tempesta and Jack Robinson, Kate Eilertsen and Michael Muscardini and Diana Sanson and Ben Compton. $125 to $195. Reserve quickly at 939-7862, email@example.com, or svma.org/gpgs.
Carneros Bistro Chef Andrew Wilson is properly excited to be included in online restaurant critic Brad. A. Johnson’s “Top 5 Restaurants in Napa and Sonoma.”
The Lodge’s Carneros Bistro joins Cindy Pawlcyn’s new Brassica, Michael Chiarello’s Bottega, Mateo’s Cocina Latina and the Restaurant at Meadowood. Johnson recommends Wilson’s grilled lamb chops with foie gras yogurt sauce and filet of sturgeon with quinoa.