Zucchini Races tonight; Estate closing Sept. 30; Community Café Annex opens; Café 522 closed; Eighth Street Wineries weekend; Grange pancake feed Sunday
Respected restaurateurs Sondra Bernstein and executive chef and managing partner John Toulze will leave their increasingly popular Estate Restaurant Sept. 30 in the old Scheiblich family Victorian on Sonoma’s West Spain Street. Sonoma Index-Tribune majority owner Darius Anderson has purchased the property from Jim and Bettie Hall, who bought it and The General’s Daughter from original developer, Suzanne Brangham. Sarah and Darius Anderson also own Ramekins Culinary School & Events Center next door.
In the meantime, Estate will serve dinner Wednesdays through Saturdays from 5 p.m. and Sunday brunch throughout August and September, so make reservations now at 933-3663.
Bernstein’s highly successful girl & the fig, fig café & wine bar, and girl & the fig caters welcome their new sister, Suite D, just off of Eighth Street East. Watch for “pop-up” Estate Italian dinners in the new space, as well as loads of classes, entertaining evenings, poetry readings and other culinary adventures.
Bernstein took me to see Suite D recently, and her unending creativity shows in every angle of the triangular space. Just wait till you see it.
In fact, Bernstein and Toulze will open Suite D tomorrow, Aug. 4, to sell food for the neighborly Eighth Street Wineries tasting event.
Lucky are those who invested in Suite D via kickstarter.com, who get to dine again in the new location on Sunday. 21800 Schellville Road, Sonoma.
Be sure to cheer on zucchini vehicle designers and racers Friday (this) evening, Aug. 3, at 6:30 p.m. at the Sebastiani Winery parking lot and lawn, all organized and sponsored by the Friday farmers market. Go there this morning to sign up, or show up at Sebastiani at 5:15 p.m. It’s always fun and lively.
Zucchini vehicles are first judged for creativity and then hit the racetrack. Celebrating manager Hilda Swartz’s 20th year organizing these races, judges will include Michele Anna Jordan, Scott Sherman, William Spencer, Tony Linegar and me.
Café 522 on Broadway closed for good on Saturday to prepare for the transition to new owners while awaiting ABC approval of the license transfer and from the landlady, Melissa Detert Redmond.
Those passing rumors that Healdsburg’s evicted starred Cyrus restaurant will move in can exhale. It’s not happening. The restaurant purchaser is Rudy Mihal, who previously had a restaurant in Windsor, supposedly trained with Tom Colicchio in New York and worked at the Spoonbar in Healdsburg.
Café 522 co-owner Todd Harbron told me, “We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support we received, both when we opened and now in closing, from you and the entire community. We have made so many great friends here in town and hope to make Sonoma our permanent home, but we will see what the future brings.”
On a much happier note, Margie Brooke, owner of the newish Community Café on West Napa Street and generously active Rotary member, this week opens her new Annex next door to her café, serving as a slightly “cowboy” wine bar with wine and beer on tap.
Expect some of our best “resident wineries” such as Coturri, Hughes, Schug, Sharp and Trecini. Starting in August and in successive months “visiting wineries” will included Sixteen 600, Canihan, Falcor and Bump. Check out Bruce and Kitty MacKay’s antique furniture inside and the attractive and colorful natural elements in the patio.
Bruce MacKay, former host and manager of tasting rooms throughout California’s wine country including Justin near Paso Robles, Landmark in Kenwood and Ravenswood in Sonoma, “is raring to go” as “managing sheriff,” according to Brooke. Open Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., with a dog friendly patio. 875 W. Napa St., Sonoma. 938-7779.
Eighth Street East Wineries hold a collective open house Saturday, Aug. 4, in Sonoma’s “warehouse district” on – guess what – Eighth Street East. Comprised of a group of majorly independent artisan winemakers who stage the event to benefit LandPaths, an environmental educational organization, the event will also offer food trucks and boxed lunches and snacks from Sondra Bernstein’s new culinary arts center, Suite D.
This time all winemaker talks and demonstrations will be open to anyone who shows up, not just various wine club members. Most wineries will provide appetizers, while neighbor girl & the fig caters will offer more substantial food for sale.
Here’s the approximate schedule: 11:30 a.m., star winemaker Steve MacRostie offers barrel samplings; noon, Enkidu winemaker Phil Staehle will pour his Bedrock Zinfandel with dark chocolate flourless cake with raspberry sauce; 12:30 p.m., Patz & Hall will give a cellar tour with wines and La Saison’s pizzettas and mini-BLTs; at 1 p.m., Ty Caton pours; 1:30, Anaba winemaker Jennifer Mason talks wine chemistry and sensory evaluations and comparisons, served with a cheese and charcuterie plate.
At 2 p.m., Talisman winemaker Scott Rich shares his pinot noir with food from Tracy Gentry. At 2:30 p.m., well-known winegrower Steve Hill talking about growing and winemaking at Parmelee-Hill with cheeses from The Epicurean Connection. At 2:30 p.m. Three Sticks Winery’s Don Van Staaveren shares his cabernet sauvignon and offers nibbles of something. And at 3 p.m., Tin Barn’s Michael Lancaster will present his 2011 Joon Rosé of Syrah with Azzurro’s pizza from Napa. $35 advance, $45 at door includes all tastes. No pets or children. Tickets at eightstreetwineries.com.
Incidentally, Three Sticks hopes to turn the historic Gregory Jones/Robert Demmler adobe home on West Spain Street into a tasting room.
Don’t miss Sonoma Valley Grange’s organic pancake breakfast Sunday, Aug. 5, with everything grown free-range and locally, grains for pancakes ground by artist Diana Lee Craig, lots of help from volunteers such as chef John McReynolds and Tom and Linda from Broadway Catering. $10 adults, $5 kids. 9 to 11 a.m. 18627 Sonoma Highway, Boyes Hot Springs.
Reportedly, developer Stephen Coates has purchased Jack London Village in Glen Ellen. Great news: his engineers have already scoped out Olive & Vine restaurant to install air conditioning, which will be a relief to customers, given the restaurant’s western window exposure.
Community Café will host a unique “Breakfast for Dinner” fundraiser for Sonoma Valley Community Health Center on Wednesday, Aug. 8. Who doesn’t like breakfast for dinner once in a while? Indulge in French toast with eggs and bacon or sausages, sweet potato and chicken or veggie hast, buttermilk pancakes with eggs and bacon or sausages, Chai pancakes with coconut milk syrup, or crab and salmon cake benedict. $20 to celebrate 20 years’ service, mimosas $5. 7 p.m. 875 W. Napa St., Sonoma. 939-2374.
Don’t forget: Wild Thyme’s next Dining Club Rive Gauche will be Wednesday, Aug. 8, under the oak trees at FAHA, to the tunes of White Trash bluesman Ron Hacker.
The Spanish tapas menu includes gazpacho with tuna empanadas; grilled summer vegetables salad; paella with chicken, sausage, shrimp and vegetables; and poached figs with almond meringues. $35 or $30 euro. 7 p.m. sharp. BYOW, no corkage. Reservations required at firstname.lastname@example.org or 996-0900.
Holly and Steve Kyle recently returned from another family reunion in Wheeling, W.Va., and relayed “a couple of taste treats served by a local restaurant called The Ye Old Alpha.”
What the Kyles did not try: the Blue Suede Burger, a hamburger with onions sautéed in peanut butter and Moose Cream, which is maple ice cream with chocolate covered bacon.
Sheana Davis hosted two significant events last Wednesday at her Epicurean Connection, including a West Coast meeting of the National Association of Specialty Foods Trade, which stages gigantic annual food trade shows in San Francisco and New York.
Ron Tanner, vice president of NASFT nationally, came to Sonoma from New York to host the sharing session where members traded information, experiences, tastes and ideas. We met Craig Colvin of Bear Pond Farm, Susie Chevalier and Steve Casselman of Beercandy, Inc. in Santa Clara, Karin Campion and Mary Schenone of Sonoma Syrup Co. of Sonoma and Napa, Cathy Leland of The Pasta Shop of Oakland and Berkeley, Laxmi Hiremath who makes Indian sauces as Laxmi’s Delights in the East Bay, and Jack Harkins of Wine Country Kitchens in Napa.
At the same time, the Epicurean Connection hosted Costeaux French Bakery’s head baker, Will Seppi, for a bread tasting. Many local chefs and bread lovers showed up to taste a wide range of breads and pastries. All of the breads were excellent, some a little chewier than others. I love the multi-seed one I got, having tried others when I was in Healdsburg working on a story for Edible Marin & Wine Country.
Davis promises to order Costeaux’s bear claws, loaded with a generous half inch of filling, for this weekend. Show up and try them with coffee or tea. Superior.
Davis sells their delivered-daily ciabatta, sourdough wheat, multi-grain and Dutch Crunch rolls in her West Napa Street shop. Davis can also special order from Costeaux with one-day’s notice. Margie Brooke serves Costeaux’s products at Community Café.
The Red & White Ball, which benefits the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation and the programs it funds to help our schools, comes up on Saturday, Aug. 18, in the Plaza.
This time ticket options range from a $25 Dance Only DIY Zone where you bring your own everything; to a Picnic Party where a barbecue dinner is served at provided tables at $75; to an elegant catered sit down dinner with cocktail reception, dinner and dessert with veggies from our Sonoma School Garden Project, dinner prepared by Grapevine Catering and local wines at $150.
The $150 guests will enjoy hors d’oeuvres, local salad, hanger steak with blue cheese potato dumplings, roasted school garden vegetables and wild berry galette. Picnic guests will receive a choice of four meats and sides, such as pulled pork, ribs, tri-tip or chicken and baked beans, salad and coleslaw, with desserts made by school district bakers. Music by the Cork Pullers and David Martin’s House Party Band for dancing. Raffle tickets for an adorable bright red Fiat 500 are only $20. Tickets at svgreatschools.org.
VJB Winery in Kenwood celebrates its “grand opening” of its new wine center this weekend and Aug. 18 and 19 with wine tasting, wood-fired pizza, cheeses and salumi, chocolates, gelato, souvenirs and art, all for sale. 10 to 5 p.m. 60 Shaw Ave., Kenwood. 833-2300.
Our Tuesday lunch bunch indulges occasionally at Della Santina’s sharing gnocchi with duck ragu, quail on wild rice risotto, melon wrapped in prosciutto and dessert samples of strawberry shortcake, tiramisu with lots of rum and a chocolate mousse torte. The rumpled bricks and Italian music can transport guests to Italy, if only temporarily.
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