La Salette expands to Healdsburg; Sonoma Meal deals
Chuck E. Cheese to Olive Feast; New vineyard owners; Fancy Food Show
La Salette owner/chef Manuel Azevedo and his sister, Lucia Azevedo Fincher, have spread his Azores-based restaurant and cookbook success north to Healdsburg where they have opened Café Lucia – Cozinha Nova Portuguesa (new Portuguese cuisine).
Both Azevedos grew up in Healdsburg where their immigrant father worked as a dairyman and the family grew everything they ate, combining Mediterranean and Iberian staples such as olives, garlic, tomatoes, onions and saffron. CIA graduate Jason Santos serves as chef de cuisine.
You might enjoy fried goat cheese, sardine pâté, smelt, pigs feet, baby octopus, grilled sardines, sea bass, meat or fisherman’s stew, pasta with scallops and roasted vegetables with baked polenta, with tasting combination plates available. (Entrées $21 to $28).
255 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, Suite 105, Healdsburg. 431-1113. cafelucia.net.
Has anyone else noticed a new crop of green posts with “rusty” mission bells sprouting up along Highways 37 and 121/12, surely to mark El Camino Real? Originally the bells were meant to mark every mile or two between the 21 missions from Mission San Diego de Alcalá to Sonoma’s Mission San Francisco de Solano.
Annex Wine Bar just expanded its cult wine list to include David Noyes Wines’ pinot noir, zinfandel and more. Celebrate his welcoming reception on Saturday, Feb. 2, at 5 p.m. Annex, led by Bruce MacKay, features a $5 Yappy Hour (dogs welcomed) special dinner entrées from Community Café and Tuesday night “Farmers Market Potluck Socials” where you bring a dish to share and buy their wine or beer. Enjoy special Sunday night dinners (two for $20). 5:30 p.m. on. 875 W. Napa St., Sonoma. 938-7779
Rob Larman offers a tempting cioppino dinner of crab, fish and shellfish served over polenta at Valley Wine Shack on Friday, Feb. 8. A crisp Caesar salad made with Little Gem lettuce will precede the cioppino, with blood orange olive oil cake with fresh berries and lemon curd for dessert. Great wines from $10 a bottle and up are available from proprietor Windee Smith. Seatings from 5:30 to 8 p.m. $35. 553 W. Napa St., Sonoma. Reserve quickly at 938-7218.
Amy and Fred Groth, of Sonoma’s HelloCello and Prohibition Spirits, just raised 140 percent of their goal on crowd funding website Kickstarter. Excited at the support they received to purchase a still, Fred said they welcome Sondra Bernstein, Westwood Winery, Bounty Hunter, Kelly Cleaver, Karen and Malcolm Jones and many other friends to their enterprise. At the Fancy Food Show, they hooked up with Michael Traverso and the Sonoma County Single Malt Society, and Sam Mogannam of Bi-Rite Market. Congratulations.
Ronita and Frank Egger, he the former Fairfax mayor and town council member for 40 years, just won best of class in the 2013 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition for their Cazadero Winery 2009 Sonoma Coast Bei Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon and a silver medal for their 2011 chardonnay.
Egger’s grandfather, Eugene Egger, planted the Cazadero vineyard in the 1920s, succeeded by close friends and neighbor John Bei. Egger currently serves on the Ross Valley Sanitary District board, and is usually unusually outspoken.
Sonoma Meal Deals:
While we enjoy relatively mild weather of mostly clear skies and cold evenings, local restaurants are offering weeknight meal deals that are worth trying.
Saddles Steakhouse at MacArthur Place offers a great nostalgia trip into “Old Fashioned Nights” at old-fashioned prices Sunday through Tuesday with $5 Jack Daniels old-fashioneds or Manhattans and Seagram’s gin or vodka martinis.
Each appetizer or entrée is charged separately, but they are still great deals. Choose between avocado and Bay shrimp salad, French onion soup or tableside Caesar salad ($6 to $6.50) as first courses; entrées of sole Florentine, chicken Kiev or steak Diane ($13.95 to $16.95); and desserts of baked Alaska for two ($10), crêpes Suzanne (just like Suzette) flamed tableside ($12), or an old fashioned sundae ($7). 29 E. MacArthur, Sonoma. 933-3191.
The Swiss Hotel takes the cake, so to speak, with its Monday night choice of minestrone soup or mixed green salad; fried half (four pieces) chicken with green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy; and tiramisu for $20. On Wednesday, the Swiss offers its decades-old tradition of pot roast with a glass of house wine or dessert, and Thursday brings barbecued ribs with pineapple cole slaw and choice of a draft beer or house wine, also $20. 18 W. Spain St., Sonoma. 938-2884.
Rudy’s, which replaced Café 522 and a succession of other restaurants on Broadway, offers a Wednesday night fried chicken dinner of an excellent Caesar salad; followed by three pieces of fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy, collard greens and a buttermilk biscuit; followed by Gravenstein apple crumble with cream Chantilly, all for $20.13. 522 Broadway, Sonoma. 938-7373.
Sonoma Meritâge has a terrific $25 lobster dinner Thursday nights that includes a good Caesar salad, a whole lobster with mashed potatoes and broccolini, and housemade gelato. 165 W. Napa St., Sonoma. 938-9430.
Ridiculous to sublime: Chuck E. Cheese to Feast of the Olive
Last Saturday took me to the long life headquarters of noisy games and kids, Chuck E. Cheese in Walnut Creek, and I actually had a blast. The occasion (and it took one to get me there) was our grandson Sawyer Freschi’s sixth birthday party. That meant 17 girls and boys, ages 5 and 6, playing games, dancing and singing, eating pizza and ice cream cake and having a great time.
“Chuck” comes out to greet and prank with the birthday kids, and the rest of the varied dancing characters now appear in videos with famous performers.
Food? We all had not great memories of Chuck E. Cheese pizza, and were surprised that it was, indeed, fairly good. Daughter, Erin, ordered a vegetable platter for adults as well, but had some brown around the carrots’ edges. Lemonade and punch flowed freely, and a salad bar and chicken wings have been added.
And then there’s the “prize” store. Game players amass tickets for spending money tokens and “winning,” and then cash them in on prizes. Only problem is that the prizes cost many more tickets than the retail equivalent price in many stores. Oh, well!
The same Saturday evening, as Yo-Yo Ma performed at the Green Music Center at Sonoma State, brought the Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau’s Feast of the Olive dinner at Ramekins Culinary School. Joel Riddell, successor to “Dining Around with Gene Burns,” and Gary Saperstein of Out in the Vineyard and president of the visitors bureau, did an excellent job as co-emcees, with KCBS Food and Wine Editor Narsai David quietly enjoying his dinner.
For this event three long tables run the length of Ramekins’ largest room, with different menus served jointly by Sonoma Valley chefs for each of the three tables. So there were three distinct menus. Every dish had to have olives in it, in some form.
Everyone got the same appetizers prepared by Saddles Steakhouse executive chef Dana Jaffe and crew, including beef and olive empanadas, olive oil poached prawns and shots of spicy tomato soup. During the cocktail hour, guests sipped Gloria Ferrer Va de Vi Ultra Cuvée, while Fred Groth of HelloCello and Prohibition Spirits made cocktails such as a White Manhattan made with white corn whiskey and an apricot old fashioned with his Hooker’s House bourbon.
All wines were donated by Cline, Jacuzzi, Landmark, Larson, B.R. Cohn, Benziger and VJB wineries, with bottles of olive oil for each guest from the Olive Press and Fignone’s Olive Oil.
Our table enjoyed John Toulze’s fabulous poached duck egg with house-made bacon and fingerling potato salad with Castelvetrano olives. Antonio Ghilarducci made salt cod three ways, while Doug MacFarland of Ramekins cooked a seared lamb loin and braised lamb shoulder with yummy warm farro and Brussels sprouts leaves. For our cheese course Catherine Venturini made a great fried semolina-covered Grappa Tallegio with heirloom chicory, topped off with Carlo Cavallo’s warm pear cheery and olive oil frangipane tort.
The middle table got Ramekins chef Lisa Lavagetto’s smoked duck frisée salad with Olive Press Arbosana olive oil, followed by Bruno Tison and Andrew Cain’s filet of wild striped sea bass, saffron braised salsify and a fennel bulb and frond. Norm Owens made the pork presse over white bean ragout with olive and bacon jus. Gary Edwards presented a pesto cream cheese combined with some of his Carneros Caves cheddar, Humboldt Guido di Oro and Peppercorn Vella Asiago and green olives stuffed with smoked gouda for the cheese course. This table’s dessert, made by Andrea Koweek and Moaya Scheiman was a divine chocolate macaroon torte with olive oil citrus cake, chocolate mousse and olive caramel brittle and black olive dust.
The third table started with Ari Weiswasser’s sorrel salad with shaved fennel and black olive lavosh, followed by Manuel Azevedo’s poached salt cod with a potato and leek cake. Armando Navarro produced braised short ribs with olive-crusted bone marrow and olive oil mashed potatoes and baby carrots. Sheana Davis made a Crème de Fromage filled buratta, which was followed by Peter Smith and Andrew Wilson’s olive oil cake with macerated citrus and mascarpone.
While Guy Fieri bought a five-acre pinot noir vineyard off Willowside Road in the Russian River Valley appellation and Steve Ledson just bought Mountian Terrace vineyard vineyard on Moon Mountain (where Audelssa was formerly made), Bill Price of Classic Wines and Price Family Vineyards and Robert Magnuson just bought Sonoma Coast AVA Gap’s Crown vineyard. Of 406 acres, 106 acres are planted in pinot noir and 32 in chardonnay. The grapes have sold primarily to Patz and Hall, Paul Hobbs and Kosta Browne wineries.
Price also either owns or has interest in Durell Vineyard, 111 Wilson Vineyard, DuPont Vineyard, One Sky, Kistler, Buccella, Price Chanin and Three Sticks, the last of which will be headquartered in the Gregory Jones/Robert Stemler adobe on West Spain Street. Price also serves as chair of Kosta Browne and Gary Farrell wineries.
Fancy Food Show:
Thousands of food folks descend on San Francisco’s Moscone Center every January for the Winter Fancy Food Show put on by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade. Here chefs, shopkeepers, and producers of food and everything that might go with it show their products and wares from around the world.
Many thanks, primarily to Kevin McGovern, and to other locals for their reviews of this year’s show. Sonoma was well represented by Karin Campion of Sonoma Syrups; Jens Hoj of Krave jerky; Bill Weber of Sonoma Gourmet sauces, tapenades and olive oils; and Brendan Kelly and Holly Milner of Mia’s Kitchen with pasta sauces, olive oils, reduction sauces and vinaigrettes.
Lezette Yearby represented B.R. Cohn’s olive oils, Diana Callahan sampled Bellwether Farms cheese, while Joanie Benedetti represented Clover Stornetta Farms. Carol Kozlowski showed the family’s baked goods, salad dressing, garlic sauces and jams.
Max Sherman represented Marin French Cheese Co. (now part of Sonoma’s Laura Chenel) and Jennifer Bice gave out her fabulous Redwood Hill Farm and Creamery goat milk cheese and other products.
Watch for my stories on Bice and her enterprise and on Vella Cheese Co. in the next issue of Edible Marin and Wine Country.
Locals seen walking off what they consumed in miles of convention aisles included Sondra Bernstein, Sheana Davis, Nancy Lang, Marcy Smothers, Dave and Julie Mock of Hot Shots, and Tony and Danielle Westphall.
Watch for more than 20 new cheeses at Sheana Davis’ Epicurean Connection that she found at the Fancy Food Show, saving you the trip and the price of admission. Be sure to attend the public day of her 10th annual Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference Feb. 24.
Clarification: An earlier published version of this colum stated, "Steve Ledson just bought Audelssa’s Moon Mountain vineyard." The vineyard purchased by Ledson is Mountain Terrace (which is on Moon Mountain), from which Audelssa wines were formerly made. Audelssa wines are now made from a nearby vineyard called Moon Mountain Vineyard. The Index-Tribune regrets any confusion that may have been caused.