Savor Sonoma this weekend; Saffron closes
Breakaway Café’s hot pot roast special; Sonoma International Film Festival around the corner; SVVGA new event; Nibs and Sips
Savor Sonoma Valley, meaning savor the 24 wineries in Kenwood and Glen Ellen, whose association has dubbed itself “Heart of Sonoma Valley,” invites everyone to sample the 2010 vintage straight from the barrels. Each winery will provide food prepared either by their own chefs or local caterers and restaurants this Saturday and Sunday, March 19 and 20.
Make the rounds to Audelssa, Benziger, Chateau St. Jean, Deerfield Ranch, Enkidu, Eric Ross, Family Wineries, HKG, Imagery, Kenwood, Kunde, Landmark, Ledson, Little, Loxton, Mayo, Moondance, Muscardini/Ty Caton, Paradise Ridge, St. Francis, VJB, Valley of the Moon and Wellington wineries. Drive carefully. $55 advance for weekend. Sells out. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. 866-794-9463, 479-9979 or heartofsonomavalley.com.
After 11 years and a recent façade remodel, Saffron Restaurant in Glen Ellen is closing on Saturday, March 19. Proprietor Sandie Nalezny, who owns the place with her husband, posted “If you have a gift certificate, or just ‘always wanted to try that place,’ now is the time” on Facebook.
Run don’t walk: Breakaway Café owner Bob Rice just launched a Monday night only three-course special that we enjoyed this week, and it is an absolute must-try at $15. We started with a large green salad with candied walnuts and crumbled blue cheese (soup is another choice), followed by a generous portion of proper fall-apart juicy pot roast, perfect mashed potatoes and even more perfect green beans.
As our son Mack said, “Wow. That is really home cooking cooked by someone else!” It was as close to my grandmother’s as anyone’s could be, and better than my own.
Other Breakaway news for steak lovers: Rice’s Saturday night “Cowboy Steak” special has been so popular that he is offering it every night, including hormone-free, grass-fed angus beef 8-ounce Flatiron steak ($17.50), a 12-ounce rib eye for $19.50, and a 10-ounce filet at $21.50, all with two accompanying sides that change daily. All of this is followed by a choice of any gelato or sorbet available, such as raspberry or chocolate-dark cherry.
Sonoma Valley Grange hosts its Spring Chicken Fling Saturday, March 19, featuring a locavore menu of grilled organic chicken, soup, seasonal local vegetables, bread made with freshly ground flour, coffee and dessert, with live music and wine available. $25 Grange members, $30 non-members. 7 p.m. Tickets from Jim Callahan at 996-4373 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gathering no moss, the Grange holds its Spring Flea Market on April Fool’s Day (no fooling) Friday, April 1, featuring local art work, crafts, “re-purposed junk and no-purpose junk.” Enjoy Breakaway Café bean soup and homemade cornbread and member-baked fresh pies. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Wild Thyme’s “Dining Club Rive Gauche” fans have another chance this month to sample Chef Keith and Filipello’s culinary creations on Wednesday, March 23, with an authentic Basque menu from the western Pyranées.
Enjoy Basque tapas, stuffed mussels and salad; garbanzo soup; chicken braised with vegetables and Gâteau Basque, a cherry-filled tart. $30. 7 p.m. BYOW. Reservations required at 996-9453 or email@example.com.
Chili Bowl Express steams back into the Sonoma Community Center next Friday, March 25, at Andrews Hall. For your ticket you get to select a handmade ceramic bowl and have it filled with Chef Rob Larman’s three-meat or vegetarian chili, and after you lick the bowl clean you get to take it home.
Cadillac Converters will play live music to turn up the heat and cheer you up for the silent auction to benefit arts education programs at the Community Center. This event always sells out quickly and it’s a yummy and fun way to help our Community Center. $20. 5 to 8 p.m. 276 E. Napa St., Sonoma. For tickets contact 938-4626, ext. 1, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The same Friday night, Back Trax plays at Sebastiani Winery’s first Food Truck Friday featuring Dim Sum Charlie’s for a family-friendly event. Downtown Napa has succeeded happily with its monthly Food Truck Fridays and a great time is had by all.
Sonoma International Film Festival is coming around the corner April 6 through 10, with the great Susan Sarandon honored as the Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.
Some guests will sneak into the Sneak Preview Reception Wednesday, April 6, and there will be an Opening Night Reception in the Backlot Tent behind City Hall at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 7, followed by the featured movie and an after party at 9 p.m. Star pass holders ($750 individual, $1,400 a couple) and Premiere Pass holders ($325 individual and $600 a couple) will exclusively be able to attend these events.
This year Sonoma Plaza’s “U” in front of City Hall will feature an array of food carts or food trucks and a beer garden, with wine available in the Plaza and at Historic Plaza Liquors. According to the festival press release, wine, beer and food will be available for purchase at various screening venues, with $5 beer and wine tickets available at the Box Office.
Venues include Sebastiani Theater, Sonoma Community Center, Vintage House, Sonoma Valley Woman’s Club, Veteran’ Building, Sonoma Valley Museum of Art and Sebastiani Winery’s Barrel Room. For tickets and information call 933-2600 or sonomafilmfest.org.
Harvey’s Gourmet Donuts are being gobbled up everywhere. Willie Brown even mentioned them as one of his best memories from George Marcus’ recent birthday party at Bimbo’s 365 Club. Nibbling the one-bite treats were Gov. Jerry Brown, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Mayor Ed Lee, Gov. Gray Davis and Mayor Art Agnos. You can catch a sample at Benziger Family Winery during Savor Sonoma.
Kraft Foods admits it uses BGH/BST milk from cows fed GMO Bovine Growth Hormone developed by Monsanto. That would include Kraft Dinners, folks.
Marin Organic presents famed food conscience writer Michael Pollan talking about “The Sun Food Agenda” to cut our dependence on fossil fuel and help solve our climate crisis on Thursday, March 24, at Marin Center in San Rafael. Presentation $20 to $45, reception tickets include seating at $75 for Marin Organic. email@example.com, michaelpollan.com.
Larry Blake’s, the only place where I used a fake I.D. while a student at Cal, apparently has closed for the final time. The upstairs dining room and counter were most famous for Larry’s Parmesan salad dressing, while the downstairs was most famous for sawdust-covered floors, cheap weak beer, stinky air and great music.
While the East Bay has lost many institutions, now we hear that the Claremont Hotel, which straddles the Berkeley/Oakland city line, has filed for bankruptcy. But then $400 rooms (to start) and an empty restaurant can’t bode well. While my girls’ school reunion luncheon was there last year, Jerry dined alone, I mean alone, in the restaurant and paid $39 for a steak sandwich. No wonder.
Todd Humphries and Richard Miyashiro will open the Kitchen Door this spring in Oxbow Public Market highlighting the fabulous wild and foraged mushrooms Humphries featured at his last restaurant, Martini House in St. Helena. Humphries served as executive chef at the Spectator Greystone Restaurant, while Miyashiro cooked at Boulevard, Farallon and Jardinière. Watch for everything from chorizo hand pies with lime crème fraiche, cream of mushroom soup and a variety of organic meats and flat breads. 644 First St., Napa. Lunch and dinner.
While we have had a series of events where guests buy a wine glass at one regional winery, nibble, sip and drive to another winery and another, Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers have come up with a new and refreshing idea, which will roll out Saturday and Sunday May 14 and 15.
The new offering includes a series of specifically themed daytrips to experience four unique hidden wineries, a fresh, locally grown picnic lunch and transportation by Sonoma’s California Wine Tours, $85 for one day, $135 for two days, with optional transportation from San Francisco or Mill Valley for additional $30. 935-0803 or sonomavalleywine.com.
Nibs and Sips:
Carlo Cavallo of Sonoma Meritâge sold his consulting interest in a Las Vegas restaurant and is back serving Sonomans fulltime…Friday Farmers Market vendors celebrated “Spring Forward” with dinner provided by 45 vendors and hosted by Maggie and Russ Bedord, former crêpe makers whose stand is missed by all…Blue Tree fans can watch it being taken down at Cornerstone on Sunday, March 20, at 2 p.m., and you can take home your own blue ball….Rhône Rangers Grand Tasting will be March 26 and 27, and the girl & the fig will cater the Saturday winemaker dinner accompanied by wines from 15 featured wineries…Sondra Bernstein and John Toulze just returned from the biennial Découverts en Vallée du Rhône in France….Sonoma International Film Festival hosts a special Bungalow mixer for under-40s at Gundlach Bundschu on Thursday, March 24, 6 p.m. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 933-2600…Jewelry designer Monica Frank will have a trunk show all weekend at the B.R. Cohn Winery tasting room, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Garden Snippets: Grow your own
For seven years I have been writing in this column about growing your own vegetables in pots, planters, borders, backyards, acreage and orchards to enjoy the finest, richest veggies available.
This year you might try a system used by early pioneers and organize with your neighbors what each of you wants to grow, and plant different vegetables and herbs so you can share and trade. It makes sense and expands the variety of fresh vegetables in your collective garden and kitchen.
You can start some seeds indoors now, but resist temptations to plant tomatoes or any other summer veggies until at least around May 1. Longtime Italian Sonomans used to say April 15 was the big day, but climate is a-changing. It’s ok to plant lettuces, chards and spinach, as well as bare root onion sets, now on sale at both nurseries.
I have never had great success with seeds and rely on starter plants from nurseries, and prefer organic ones, although they do, occasionally, bring with them more bugs or disease.
If you planted fava beans or other cover crops, let them grow another couple of weeks before turning under for natural nitrogen.
Again this year, I will guide you through your planting and harvesting, whether in a few pots or in your backyard farm, as we are doing in the Sonoma School Garden Project and at the Sonoma Children’s Home.
Today is National Oatmeal Cookie Day.