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Bangkok 9 and Burgers & Vine open, finally; Last Wednesday Food Group good news; Rancho meat recall update; Rural Chicks cluck and rule; Stone Edge cookbook makes IACP finals

Kathleen Hill has the inside scoop on food and wine.

Kathleen Hill has the inside scoop on food and wine.

Kathleen Hill

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After many of the usual ever-delaying “just a couple more things” from health and building inspectors, who can truly control restaurateurs’ lives and extend their pre-opening misery, Sunee Petprasert finally got the go ahead to open her new Bangkok 9 restaurant this week in the Marketplace shopping center at West Napa and Second Street West.

For the former proprietor of the popular 599 Thai Café on Broadway, apparently the number 9 signifies the ninth king of Thailand (there have been many) and good luck, and Petprasert has nine employees.

Guests will find a much more elegant atmosphere than at the 599 Broadway location and most of the same curries, larb, and noodle dishes as you enjoyed at 599. Also a sushi menu, stuffed chicken wings, salmon soup, other soups with or without coconut milk, several fried rice options including pineapple, fried tofu, spicy catfish, and no MSG anywhere. Thanks for that. Open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with later 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 938-8477.

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Carlo Cavallo and investors also got their permits and will host a “soft opening” at Burgers & Vine
Saturday, Feb. 22.

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Our Last Wednesday Food Group book club meets next Wednesday, Feb. 26 at Readers’ Books with a great program. But first, Readers’ has cut through a wall and enlarged the audience space so more people can see, hear and converse with speakers.

Next Wednesday we will compare Michael Pollan’s “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual” to Marion Harland’s “The Favorite Cook Book: Food for the Hungry – A Complete Manual of Household Duties” (1896) and “Mrs. Beeton’s Household Management.”

Maybe more exciting, Last Wednesday Food Group member Maria Lobanovsky will bring her grandmother’s fragile 1880s edition of “The Molokhovets,” which she says paralleled Mrs. Beeton’s “Book of Household Management” in time, purpose and popularity from England to Russia.

Lobanovsky will also prepare and serve tastes from this famous Russian cookbook.

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The Rancho Feeding Company slaughterhouse’s voluntary closing in Petaluma has jeopardized lots of businesses, including themselves, cattle ranchers whose good meat they process, retailers, a federal school lunch program and restaurants.

My big questions: If the USDA has forced the recall of Rancho’s meat because it wasn’t inspected, is that the fault of the slaughterhouse or of the USDA’s inspection service? Might that be why the government agency has made so little comment on what’s going on? Or could it be a slacking in paperwork by inspectors, rooted in Los Banos and Fresno slaughterhouses to close down an independent, as is widely rumored?

Now Nestlé has asked vendors of their Hot Pockets to remove them from shelves and freezers because the beef in their Philly Steak Hot Pockets and croissants came from Rancho Feeding, according to NBC Bay Area news. WalMart has even removed some hamburger sourced from Rancho.

According to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, retail stores in Sonoma and Napa counties that received the beef include La Corona Market in
Calistoga; Brown’s Valley Market, La Morenita and Vallergas markets in Napa; Bud’s Meats in Penngrove; G&G markets; La Luna Market in Rutherford; several carnicerias in Santa Rosa, and Sonoma Market.

Meat clerks at Sonoma Market assure me that the moment they heard of the recall they sent all meats from Rancho back to the company.

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A fabulous group of actively farming women, who call themselves the Rural Chicks, met for dinner recently at Sondra Bernstein’s Suite D. Since organizer and Two Rock Canvas Ranch owner Deborah Walton had a little trouble finding the triangular block and building, one Rural Chick stood on a chair and suggested we engage in “speed clucking,” meaning talk to someone you don’t know until someone clinks a glass and you move to meet another guest. A great idea and it worked.

Dinner was fabulous and included an artistic and ample roasted beet salad with coriander crème, duck confit over Canvas Ranch farro, and citrus cheesecake with dime-sized candied kumquat slices. Canvas Ranch owner Deborah Walton is the primary organizer of the group and is famous for raising grains, chickens, Baby Doll sheep and scads of other wonderful things.

In this intimate crowd were Suite D proprietor Sondra Bernstein, Andrea Davis-Cetina of Quarter Acre Farm (which started on Walton’s property in Two Rock), Anita Kilty, Anne Coughlin, Caiti Hackmeyer, Carmen Snyder, Cynthia Ramirez, Deb Kiger, Glen Ellen llama raiser Debbie Emery, Gwen Gentry, Gwen Kilchherr, Heidi Herrmann, Janice Peters, Jennifer Dahut, Joan Griffin, Kate Hendricks, Laura Mendes, Lynn Holty, winery owner Margaret Foley, Pat Cassata, Shannon Erickson Lee, Shannon Taylor Reiter, Susan Kravolec, Suzanne Alexandre, Suxanne Harmon, Vicki Baughn, Jennifer Hainstock, Kate Farrell, Cindy Studdart, Ariana Strozzi, Kristine Beck, caterer and retailer Tricia O’Brien, Stepahine Callimanis, and mother-daughter team of Lori and Marissa Thornton, the latter of whom became famous for raising $50,000 on Kickstarter to purchase a herd of milk-producing cows to make cheese. We certainly looking forward to more time with these people.

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Cheese Conference Reminder:

Sunday, Feb. 23, brings the big 11th annual Sonoma Winter Artisan Cheese Fair at Ramekins complete with mac ’n’ cheese cook-off, a beer and cheese tasting with Alec Stefansky’s Uncommon brews (Alec is Nancy Lilly’s son) and Denise Jones of Napa Cask with “Cheese and Beer” author Janet Fletcher at 2 p.m. $55. 1 to 4 p.m. Tickets at sheanadavis.com or 935-7960.

Davis has added a three-course dinner open to the public at her Epicurean Connection Sunday night, Feb. 23, to be cooked by Mathew Elias of Saltwater Oyster Depot in Inverness to include cheeses from Redwood Hill Farm, Roelli Cheese and Valley Ford Cheese Co. $45. Tickets at sheanadavis.com or 935-7960.

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Cabernet sauvignon fans might want to splurge on the “Cab is King Dinner” on Saturday, March 1, at the Culinary Institute of America’s “Conservatory” in St. Helena. Wines to be enjoyed include Groth Vineyards Reserve 1994, Dalla Valle Maya 1996, Dominus Estate 1997, Bryant Family Vineyards 1999, Corison Winery’s Kronos Vineyard Premier Napa Valley Lot 2002, and Joseph Phelps Insignia 2004. The menu was not available by press time.  $500. 7 p.m. 2555 Main St., St Helena. Reservations via Michelle Sanchez at 967-2568.

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Freaky freekeh? Not really. Possibly the next ancient grain to become popular will be freekeh, a wheat grain that contains lots of protein and fiber, as well as gluten. Freekeh Foods apparently wants to partner with organic farmers to grow this grain popular in the Middle East and Australia.

Mediterranean food expert Paula Wolfert refers to freekeh as green wheat, picked in spring in the Middle East. I look forward to trying some.

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Mike the Bejkr Zakowski leaves soon for Paris and yet another bread baking competition, “The Bakery Masters 2014” or “The Masters de la Boulangerie.” This one is an individual contest instead of a national team effort, in which he represents the whole United States during the March 8 contest.

In what appear to be heats, Zakowski competes first against Dean Hesseling of The Netherlands. Other bread finalists represent Australia, U.K., Brazil, Italy, and Japan, all selected for their outstanding breads created during previous team bakeoffs.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Bejkr will be at the Arnold Field/Depot Park farmers market this morning (Friday), with his bread available at his at-home pop-up sales, where he also sells his hard cider. Get on his email list to know when those occur (mzsnail@gmail.com). He will return to the Friday farmers market on March 28.

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Stone Edge Farm Culinary Director John McReynolds’ cookbook was just announced as a finalist in the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) 2014 awards. A former Sonoma resident now living in Pasadena and longtime IACP member, Jill Hunting served as editor of the six-pound cookbook and nominated it for the awards. It made the cut in the “Chefs and Restaurants,” “First Book,” and “Photography” (Leslie Sophia Lindell) categories. Both McReynolds and Hunting will attend the award ceremonies in mid-March. The book was commissioned by Mac McQuown, owner of Stone Edge Farm and a hugely generous supporter of our Altimira and Adele Harrison middle school gardens. Dan Gustafson served as project manager on this well financed endeavor. What a treat.

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The Glen Ellen Community Farmers Market is moving to Kenwood Plaza when it reopens, thought by organizers to be more beneficial to vendors.

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Out of towner:

Prior to a recent concert at Weill Hall of the Green Music Center at Sonoma State, a group of us dined at the center’s restaurant, Prelude. The modernist design, menu and food pleasantly surprised all of us.

Marchelle and Curt Carleton, Marchelle’s mother Barbara Adams and her sister, Gloria, Deborah Emery, Ginny and Larry Krieger, and Rosemary and Kevin McNeely and their daughter, Hannah Rose were all impressed. Students make up the staff, and our server was majoring in French and Wine Business. Eric Lee serves as executive chef.

We found the dungeness crab salad with a bottom layer of smished avocado with English cucumber and a lemony chive aioli to be shockingly delicious. Everyone enjoyed their rib eye steak with housemade bacon and sweet potato croquettes and roasted root vegetables as well as the vegetarian baby squash and cherry tomato crêpes with butternut squash caponata (two courses $35, three courses $45). Excellent wines reasonably priced by glass or bottle. Open before, during and after performances. Reservations via opentable.com or 664-2747.

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The exodus from the old/new Williams-Sonoma Building is complete. John Brians is moving his Frame Factory to the LaHaye Art Center at 148 E. Napa St., and will re-open about March 1. 996-2253.

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Today is National Sticky Bun Day. Let’s see – where can you actually find a sticky bun in Sonoma?

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Thinking of Jerry. Today would be/is our anniversary.

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Bon appétit!