Behind the pink door; Cooperage sold; Sonoma Restaurant Week next week; Beltane story coming to Depot Museum

Kathleen Hill has the inside scoop on food and wine.

Kathleen Hill has the inside scoop on food and wine.

Kathleen Hill


So much kerfuffle over a local ice cream shop’s newly pink door.

I remember when the Marmaduke family opened a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop in the same location, there was some objection to a “chain” store of anything.

But the Marmadukes have always been known for their great support for youth athletics and other charitable organizations.

As a Ben & Jerry’s franchise, they had blue trim on the entrance and awning. Once upon a time, the same storefront housed a cookie shop where our daughter and a colleague got held up at gunpoint on a Sunday morning while we were all at the then Kiwanis pancake feed at the Vets Building.

Along came Top That Yogurt on Broadway. Golly. They have the same pink trim all over their storefront.

Now that the Marmadukes have disassociated themselves from the dreaded Ben & Jerry’s ice cream chain and are running their own Grandma Linda’s shop dedicated to, and painted to honor, Troy’s late mother Linda Marmaduke, their approved color was challenged, with the appeal denied, allowing them to keep their pink door.

Pink often signifies ice cream, sweets and candy, in several countries. It makes me think of Peppermint Patty. Homeowners and merchants in historic Mexico, England and Ireland paint their doors bright colors to cheer themselves up. All of the doors in the central patio of our home are painted different bright colors, and apparently Frida Kahlo did the same thing.

What do the pink objectors think of the black skull and cross bones flag flying over the historic creamery building? Incidentally, Burgers & Vine owner Carlo Cavallo has told several people that “business is booming.” We all want him to succeed. That corner was dark for way too many years.


Chef Neela Paniz,”Chopped” finalist on the Food Network and former owner of the former Neela’s Contemporary Indian Cuisine in Napa and Bombay Café in Los Angeles, teaches a class in “Contemporary Indian Cooking” at Ramekins Culinary School Saturday, March 8. Learn to make eight dishes and experience taste sensations possibly new to you. Hurry to reserve. $95. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. 450 W. Spain St., Sonoma. 933-0450.


Sonoma County Restaurant Week comes up March 10 through 16, featuring new lunch offerings at lower prices than previous dinner categories.

For this annual event, designed to get us to try dining spots we might overlook or hesitate to try, check out these Sonoma Valley restaurants and the prices of meals they are serving next week. Enjoy!

Some people prefer to dine out for lunch. You can enjoy two-course prix-fixe specials at Sonoma restaurants at $10, $15 and $20 at Ledson’s Centre du Vin, Saddles Steakhouse at MacArthur Place, Swiss Hotel, and the girl & the fig during next week.

Serving $19 three-course prix fixe dinner: Breakaway Café, Palms Grill, The Swiss Hotel, Café Citti, and HopMonk Tavern.

Serving $29 dinner: Ledson’s Centre du Vin, Glen Ellen Inn Oyster Grill & Martini Bar, The Kenwood, Vineyards Inn, Burgers & Vine BBQ Joint, Plaza Bistro, Della Santina’s Trattoria, Mamma Tanino’s, the fig café & wine bar, Yeti Restaurant, and Sonoma Meritâge Martini Oyster Bar & Grille.

Serving $39 dinner: Saddles Steakhouse at MacArthur Place, the girl & the fig, 38 North (Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn), Café La Haye, Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar, and Glen Ellen Star.


Sonoma’s Best will host legendary winegrower and vintner Anne Moeller-Racke and her daughter, Dorothe Cicchetti, on Tuesday, March 11 for your wine tasting pleasure. They will offer their rare Donum Estate pinot noirs, Anne’s Blue Farm Ernest Bloom Carneros and Marin County pinot noirs, along with Stemmler Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Vin Gris Pinot Noir Rosé. A do not miss for wine fans. $15 tasting fee. 5 to 7 p.m. 1190 E. Napa St., Sonoma. 996-7600.


Erica Larson, Becky Larson, Isidro Corona and the Larsons’ Sonoma Creek Land & Farming, Inc. crew recently taught Adele Harrison Middle School students from both a horticulture class and the Lego Robotics class how to prune the educational vineyard donated by Larson Family Winery.

Erica Larson’s senior project is to revitalize the ancient vineyard at Valley of the Moon Children’s Home with lots of supervision from mother Becky, a tiny bit from me in my Cha Cha role, and lots of work by the Larson vineyard management team – all donated. Several of the residents at VOMCH participated and had a great time in the vineyard. Larson will eventually create wine labels to benefit both the Sonoma School Garden Project and the Cha Chas to support our school gardens and special events at VOMCH. Thank you all Larsons and friends.


Sondra Bernstein’s Suite D changes up and amplifies her Pizza & Pinot Pop Up from her Estate Restaurant on Thursday, March 13 and Friday, March 14, this time featuring an antipasti bar, hearts of Romaine salad, wood fired pizza, and zeppole with dipping sauce. All this and two glasses of wine per guest, one of pinot grigio and one of pinot noir. Bring more wine with no corkage charge. $45. 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Check it out at eventbrite.com.


The City of Sonoma’s reception at Vintage House anointing Suzanne Brangham as alcaldessa was an enormous success, to no one’s surprise. Bob Rice of Breakaway Café provided perfect asparagus spears and truly bite-sized potatoes stuffed with smoked salmon, while Brangham’s Saddles Steakhouse served oodles of prawns, served with help from Teen Center members.

Spotted in the sizeable crowd were  Kimberly Blattner, Lynne Joiner, Robin Lyon, Sy Lentz, Helen Fernandez, Blythe and Bob Carver, Nancy Parmelee, Ethel and Gene Daly, Susan Scarborough, Gayle and Tom Jenkins, Audrey Chapman, Cathy Gellepis, Carolyn and Bob Stone, Mary Evelyn Arnold, Alex Mitchell and Penny McNaughton, Les and Judy Vadasz, Alan and Sandy Piotter, Peter and Lori Hohorst, Kathy Mazza, Bill Jasper, Jack and Kathleen Carter, Cindy Scarborough, Whitney Evans, Chuck and Judy Young, Denise and Rae Young, Pat and Ambassador Ted Elliott, Carole and Bob Nicholas, Vicki Stollmeyer, Carrie and Dick Fogg, Arlene Curry and Ann Weeks, Patsy and Rick Wynne, Steve Page, Beth and Joe Aarons, and Jeff Walter.

Former alcaldes and alcaldessas Mary Evelyn Arnold, the Vadaszes, Phyllis Carter, the Stones, Elizabeth Kemp, Whitney Evans, the Piotters, Lee Booker, and Kathy Mazza representing her late husband Al Mazza, all met for lunch the same day at the Breakaway Café to welcome Brangham into their small club. Almost everyone ordered what Bob Rice called “Suzanne’s Cobb Salad.” Unfortunately, Helen Fernandez and Sy Lenz went to the Palms Grill where the group had met for several years instead, but are rumored to have had a terrific time together.


Ken and artist Claudia Wagar have sold their significant two-story Cooperage building on First Street West to a local family who moved here from Piedmont. Realtor Daniel Cassabonne represented the Wagars and Bari Williams brought the buyers, who prefer to remain anonymous, to the sales agreement. The Wagars had lived in the building for 20 years, and created all sorts of artistic products while there.

According to Williams, the buyers purchased all of the old and antique furniture in the stone and concrete building, massive even after the Wagars held several “garage sales.”

Apparently the purchasers will not live in the interesting building, have rented it out for now, and are thinking about “having guest chefs for food tasting events.” Obviously more to come.

According to Casabonne’s YouTube posting, the building has been used as a bed and breakfast, wine barrel factory, jail, “boarding house,” wine storage, and the Wagars’ home and art studios. Congratulations to all involved.


Alexa Wood will tell the colorful history of Beltane Ranch where she, her mother Rosemary Wood and Rosemary’s parents all grew up on what was once the infamous home of Mary Ellen “Mamie” Pleasant and Wappo Indians. Catch her fascinating presentation at the Depot Park Museum on Friday, March 14, sponsored by the Sonoma Valley Historical Society. Alexa lives there now and runs the bed and breakfast, and her son, Alex, manages the Beltane Vineyards ranch, which produces some of the finest genuinely grass-fed beef and organic vegetables and wines in Sonoma County. Free. 2 p.m. 270 First St. W., Sonoma adjacent to Arnold Field and across from Depot Restaurant. 938-1762.


Join in Jazz at Jacuzzi to benefit WillMar Family Grief and Healing Center on Saturday, March 15 and sample Jacuzzi, Gloria Ferrer and Benziger wineries’ best. Doug McConnell of “Bay Area Backroads” will emcee.

This year’s gala will feature a reception in Jacuzzi’s “Grand Piazza” with Gary Edwards’ Carneros Cave cheeses, appetizers by Petaluma’s Water Street Bistro, and a silent auction with many collector wines.

The Dorian Mode Quartet will play jazz and dinner will be held in the barrel room with Water Street Bistro’s New Orleans cuisine to include gumbo and pecan pie tarts, a “short live auction,” a “restaurant frenzy” and, of course, fund-a-need, of which WillMar fills many. $175. More info and tickets at willmarcenter.org or 935-1946.


As a follow-up to Valentine’s Kenwood Inn and Spa offers “The Great Italian Adventure: Food, Wine and Romance in Sonoma, an Exclusive Culinary Getaway” on March 12 and April 23.

Kenwood Inn and Spa’s getaway includes a welcome beverage and tour of the inn, tour of Wise Acre Farm’s chickens and egg growing operation, a pasta demonstration using Wise Acre eggs gathered by guests, and two dinners created by chef Steven Snook and HKG Estate winemaker Chuck Mansfield.

The resort is now owned by Columbia Hospitality, Inc. of Seattle. Event starts at $640 per night for two excluding taxes and resort fees. For more info and reservations call (800) 353-6966 or kenwoodinn.com


Sonoma Valley Grange is taking reservations for its super popular Spring Fling Dinner on Saturday, March 22, featuring very local food prepared on the spot by even more local chefs. Reservation isn’t valid until Grange president Michael Acker receives your check. Only 80 tickets to be sold. $45. Send checks to P. O. Box 1897, Boyes Hot Springs 95416. Benefits Grange kitchen remodel project.


La Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs and the Société Mondiale du Vin invite guests to “A Dinner Under the Sea” fundraiser at the Aquarium of the Bay on Pier 39 in San Francisco on Saturday, March 22. Organizer Gene Daly hopes to raise “a substantial profit to secure school buses to transport children from underprivileged school districts to the Aquarium of the Bay for a hosted our, then a sit-down lunch to learn about and enjoy sustainable foods.”

Chef Adolfo Soto will serve only seafood that follows the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program. (Get your own list of those fish at the Sonoma Index-Tribune office.) $250. Black tie. Rooms at Hyatt Regency $199. Call Gene Daly at 996-8666 for more info.


While Taco Bell introduces a waffle taco, probably destined to popularity, Santa Rosa’s La Tortilla Factory has launched a new website loaded with recipes (latortillafactory.com) and some unique natural tortillas.

Jose and Mary Tamayo started La Tortilla Factory in 1977. It is now led by their children (Sam Tamayo) and grandchildren (Jenny Tamayo), who have made the first fat-free flour tortillas in the world, the first low-carb/low fat tortillas, gluten-free tortillas, extra virgin olive oil wraps, and handmade-style corn tortillas.


Dan Gustafson passed on the good news that local winemaker Jeff Gaffner presented his wines to accompany the food of chef David LeFevre’s “Old vs. New School Seafood” dinner at James Beard House in New York on Wednesday, a true accomplishment. LeFevre, a James Beard Foundation Award semi-finalist, cooked his way through Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago and the Water Grill in Los Angeles before he launched his own MB Post and Fishing with Dynamite restaurants in Manhattan Beach.

A graduate of El Verano, Altimira, Sonoma Valley High School and Chico State (political science), Gaffner has his own winery, Saxon Brown, and consults at Durrell Vineyards, Ram’s Gate, and Black Kite. Saxon Brown is “named for Jack London’s heroine in “Valley of the Moon.” Gaffner’s wines from all of these entities were served with LeFebre’s Hamachi sashimi, Atlantic black bass, British Columbia honey mussels, uni and blue crab, and braised and charred Spanish octopus.


Next week: Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference and surprise “Out of Towner.”


  • Ardyth Brock

    Wondering what’s up over at Rudy’s… anything??

  • Mike Stephens

    A very good observation, although how others in this town haven’t noticed the dreadful black flag with skull flying is beyond me. I would take a pink door any day to this flag. Has this been approved? Sonoma needs to get it together!