Emerys sell estate; Plaza Tequila opens;
Kathleen Hill/Index-Tribune Food and Wine Editor
Dr. John and Deborah Emery sold their 360-acre estate this week to Michael and Xochi Birch. Since the 1980s, the Emerys developed the property into an Arabian horse breeding ranch and vineyard, and added a sublime lake where throngs of friends and their families have had the pleasure of boating, swimming, dining and sipping.
Michael Crain of Blakeslee and Crain Vineyard Advisors and Brokers was the listing agent representing the sellers, with affiliate Linda Yenni of Wine Realty International assisting. Pacific Union of St. Helena represented the buyers.
Deborah Emery grew up in Oakland, attended Skyline High School and UC Berkeley, and became an Oakland Raider Raiderette. Cheerleading led to her extensive career in modeling for Vogue and Glamour and elsewhere, as well as appearances on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and eventually winning the Mrs. United States pageant. She has served twice as president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley. Both of the Emerys are generous donors to local nonprofits.
Dr. John Emery, a native of Montreal, Quebec, attended Trinity College and got his M.D. at Queens University in Ontario. Emery won a gold medal for Canada in the four-man bobsled in the 1964 Olympics, and then studied surgery and cosmetic surgery in Munich, Oxford, Vancouver, Glasgow and San Francisco, where he opened his practice in 1968, later moving his office to Sonoma.
The estate's purchasers, Michael and Xochi Birch, founded social networking site Bebo in 2005 and reportedly sold it to AOL in 2008 for more than $800 million. AOL subsequently sold the site to Criterion Capital Partners.
We welcome the Birches and look forward to the Emerys continuing to live with us in Sonoma Valley.
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Plaza Tequila Cocina Mexicana Bar & Grill opened Wednesday at the site of the old Amigos, once the home of Sonoma Grove restaurant.
Plaza Tequila specializes in the cuisine of the Puerto Vallarta region such as chilaquiles (fried tortilla triangles with chili sauce and cheese), tacos al carbon and a mixed grill trio of prawns, beef and chicken. I do hope they include that Puerto Vallartan lovely rice with (probably frozen) peas and carrots cooked into it.
Plaza Tequila owner Juan Sahagun also owns the popular Taqueria la Hacienda in Boyes Hot Springs and a restaurant in Plainview, Mass. At La Hacienda, a favorite of all parts of our community, Sahagun recently added a full bar and tables and chairs covered with colorfully painted Mexican tiles.
Sahagun has told me he wants to "offer people even more authentic Mexican cuisine, including seafood" at his Plaza Tequila. Recently he said, "We want everybody to feel like they're on a vacation in Mexico having a great meal and service."
Plaza Tequila will employ 14 people. As happens with many new restaurants, Sahagun discovered there was much more work to be done to install a new kitchen and redecorate in his typical cheerful manner full of Mexican tiles and murals than he and his family expected.
We are ready for that vicarious trip to Mexico and look forward to trying Plaza Tequila. 19315 Sonoma Highway, Sonoma. 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 933-9496.
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Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, will host a Sonoma County Family Pancake Breakfast tomorrow, April 2, at our own Schell-Vista Fire Station. Schell-Vista and Santa Rosa and Windsor volunteer firefighters will flip flapjacks, scramble eggs and grill sausages. Bring your spare electronics for free recycling as well. $15, free under 12. 9 to 11 a.m. 22950 Broadway, Sonoma. 226-8989 or 433-4187.
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Murphy's Irish Pub chef Sarah Pinkin has launched a new spring menu that includes slider choices, Irish frickles, buttermilk chicken spears and a new 50/50 burger of house-ground bacon and grass-fed beef, crispy gnocchi, beer-soaked chicken and leg of lamb - all under $20. Don't worry: fish and chips and Shepard's pie are still there. 464 First St. E., Sonoma. 935-0660. sonomapub.com.
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Sage Fine Food & Provisions closed its Cornerstone doors last Sunday, to be replaced on April 9 by Alsina Station Grill.
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Meadowcroft Wines will host a "bud break picnic" tomorrow, April 2, in the Cornerstone vineyards. Tom Meadowcroft demonstrates good vineyard care and Chef Darby Tarantino prepares local cheeses and vegetables, frittatas, Spanish tortillas, salads and triple chocolate brownies. $25. 11 a.m. 23574 Arnold Drive, Sonoma. 934-4090.
Apparently several grazing sheep were shot or stolen from Meadowcroft's Mt. Veeder vineyard last week.
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Chef Janine Falvo, one of Sonoma's all-time popular and giving chefs, will leave Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar in a week to become executive chef of the Renaissance Atlanta Midtown and oversee Briza restaurant. Falvo has served as chef de cuisine at Carneros Bistro at The Lodge at Sonoma for five years and has attracted attention from major newspapers, television networks and magazines.
Having hosted her first radio interview, I will miss Falvo tremendously and congratulate her on this great promotion and move back to the East Coast.
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Next weekend's Sonoma International Film Festival brings three differently fascinating food films for fans of film and fans of food, which may include everyone.
"A Matter of Taste" (renamed last week from "A Mouthful") relates an insider look at driven, controversial and talented chef Paul Liebrandt, a 24-year-old New Yorker who received three stars from The New York Times for hyper-modern dishes such as eel, violets and chocolate, espuma of calf brains and foie gras and beer and truffle soup.
Eel, violets and chocolate seems to fall into the "because-I-can" category of doing anything.
Apparently the Sally Rowe-directed film follows Liebrandt from age 14, showing his dedication, hard work and showmanship. Screenings: 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 8, at Murphy's Irish Pub; and 12:15 p.m. Saturday, April 9, at Vintage House.
Two short documentaries feature food trucks, mobile restaurants and other creative uses of urban space to serve food. "Tacos or Tacos" by Robert Lemon and "Plasticity" by Ryan Malloy shows how people have redefined uses of space in San Francisco, ranging from an occasional moveable restaurant, a rooftop aviary and a mobile pizzeria. "Plasticity" will screen at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, April 9, at the New Belgium Lounge at the Sonoma Community Center and at Mia's Kitchen at Vintage House at 3:15 p.m. on Sunday, April 10.
Rob Larman's "Cochon Volant" pork smoker has been added to the "food truck court" in the horseshoe in front of City Hall during the film festival.
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If you missed Wild Thyme's last Dining Club Rive Gauche with Chef Keith Filipello's excellent Basque food (the stuffed Salt Spring Island mussels were divine), you can sample "Provençe in Spring" on Wednesday, April 6, with French music by Sheri Mignano and Micahel Van Why.
Enjoy a crudities plate with French vegetables, a daube de boeuf Provençal (braised beef stew), green salad, selection of cheeses and quince tarts. A bargain at $30. BYOW. 19030 Railroad Ave., El Verano. Reserve at 996-9453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Sonoma Home Winemakers (formerly Valley of the Moon Dilettante Enological Society or VOMDES) just elected Tami McKay as the first female president of the winemaking group. Joanne Snyder became vice president and Philip Sales continues as treasurer. Chris Kukshtel served as president for the past two years and now becomes secretary and webmaster.
With a personal goal of becoming a professional winemaker, McKay currently studies viticulture and winemaking technology at Napa Valley College and works as a quality control intern at the college's winery.
Snyder's small vineyard, co-owned with Bette Kolstad, Philip Sales and Joanne's husband Chris Wall, grows on the southern fence of the Patch, bordering the bike path. The group makes field blends of chardonnay and viogner, and cabernet sauvignon and syrah under the label "Danza de las Uvas."
Sonoma Home Winemakers strive to learn and share expertise to produce great wines, and hold annual wine competitions and fundraisers for local organizations, including Sonoma Valley High School Boosters Club. For more information, visit sonmahomewine.org.
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Sonoma Valley Grange hosts its fun flea market today and tomorrow, April 1 and 2. Plan to have a classic light lunch of organic local foods. They can use some kitchen help to ladle soup, cut homemade pies, collect cash, wash dishes, laugh and smile. All of this fundraising will help revamp the kitchen upgrade interior walls, fix bathrooms and lots of other updates. Contact: email@example.com.
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Nibs and sips:
Jon Sebastiani of Krave jerky is off to Florida's Home Shopping Network (HSN) studios to prepare two live sessions featuring Krave and its Sonoma Valley story ... Carneros Wine Alliance hosts an industry-only barrel sampling on Tuesday, April 5, at Cuvaison Estate Wines on Duhig Road in Napa ...Artist and Grange activist Michael Acker will show his work at Sanchez Art Center's Arts on Fire XV juried exhibition in Pacifica from April 8 through May 15 ... Fine artist Lori Goldman's drop-in knitting classes at Readers' Books are a big hit, which reminds me of the ladies in the old Hink's basement in Berkeley who helped and taught knitting. But Lori has a real flair and teaches all over the Bay Area. 7 to 9 p.m. Mondays, 1 to 3 p.m. Fridays. 939-1779.
Loads of Sonoma Valley Rotary members turned out on a recent Saturday to clean up and reconstruct the lovely school garden at Prestwood School ... Apparently another hopeful restaurateur hopes to open a "Grist Mill" at Jack London Village in Glen Ellen ... Tomorrow's Trashion Fashion recycled show and fête at Sonoma Community Center will feature a "White Trash Cocktail" as well as cheeses from Gary Edwards' Carneros Caves. This should be one wild and wooly fashion show. $25. 5 p.m. 276 E. Napa St., Sonoma. 938-4626, ext. 1.
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Sonoma Mission Gardens' tomato expert Denise Ward will present a comprehensive talk with tips on how to grow great tomatoes at home on Saturday, April 9. She will cover everything and most varieties. Buy your tomatoes at local nurseries to get the varieties that grow best here. Learn tricks to protect tomatoes if you "accidentally" plant them too early and too eagerly. 11 a.m. 851 Craig Ave., Sonoma. Reserve your space at 938-5775.
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Today is National Sourdough Bread Day!