Carlo Cavallo and partners have removed all of the little sheets of paper covering the paned windows at Burgers & Vine across from Mission San Francisco de Solano. So, natch, I peaked in. Sheetrock is up, but lots of finishing touches remain, such as floor and electrical fixtures, the kitchen and furniture. But it’s easy to see great progress in the last month, raising community hopes for an early 2014 opening. That’s my guess anyway.
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Following the super success of the “Kitchen Memories” exhibit at Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, a group has joined me to form the Sonoma Culinary Museum, with our eye on the Patten Street firehouse, keeping the fire station’s footprint just as it is. At that location, with Williams-Sonoma, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, and SVMA across Broadway, we could create a wonderful culinary and fine arts corridor, just a crosswalk apart.
The property will be available for bids in another week, so we are quickly looking for investor commitments. If you are interested, leave me a message at 938-2111.
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My mistake: Barbara White Perry’s exhibit closing party at Hooker House Gallery in El Paseo will be Saturday, Dec. 14, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., complete with hot cider, Fred “The Cookie King’s” cookies, and White Perry’s paintings, ink drawings and note cards for sale. So far she has sold seven of her lovely historic paintings.
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Peter Spann and I were both honored to be mentioned last Saturday on Garrison Keillor’s “Prairie Home Companion” program, thanks to Chris Mueller.
Spann Vineyards celebrates its 13th harvest with the good luck of its best harvest ever with a “Lucky 13” Celebration and Sale this weekend, offering 25 percent discounts on some wines. 111-A. E. Napa St., Sonoma. 996-1330.
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San Francisco’s highly touted Fifth Floor restaurant in the Hotel Palomar will close on Friday, Jan. 17 for an indefinite period and a re-do of concept, décor, attitude and menu into something more casual.
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Avram Goldman and Ken Brown will host their “Hey Neighbor” show at Murphy’s Irish Pub on Wednesday, Dec. 18 with a live show produced by Irma Kay and Laura Benward with Laura and John Benward, Laura Farber, Misty Adana, Morgan Harrington, Greg Grabow and Harry Blum performing. No admission, food and beverage extra. 464 First St. E., Sonoma. Live on SVTV-channel 27. Call Ken at 938-8623 or Murphy’s at 935-0606 for more info.
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Murphy’s Irish Pub also presents the Sonoma Valley Shakespeare Company’s interpretation of David Sedaris’ “The Santaland Diaries” on Monday, Dec. 16 and Sunday, Dec. 22. Aidan O’Reilly produces, Chad Bradford directs, and Jordy Neill performs as a desperate actor who takes a job at Macy’s as an elf.
The ticket price includes a dinner of roasted mushroom salad and Pecorino cheese, followed by a choice of Dungeness crab risotto, pork shoulder confit, or chile marinated grilled chicken. Manager Hunt Bailie says tickets are $30, which includes $15 for dinner and $15 for show, dessert extra. 464 First St. E., Sonoma. 935-0660.
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The Red Grape now offers gluten-free pizza. Liz Monroe, Sam Morphy’s sister, says their gluten-free dough is made with chickpea and rice flour with a little xanthum gum for elasticity. She says the dough is very similar to their regular thin and crispy dough.
Specialty doughs at The Red Grape cost $1.50 extra for whole-wheat crust, and $3.50 extra for the gluten-free. According to Morphy, the gluten-free crust ingredients cost five times more than those in regular pizza.
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Sonoman Lori Goldman sold all of her Lowen’s holiday fruit cake at Sarah Anderson’s Chateau Sonoma container sale last weekend. Lowen is Lori’s grandmother’s family name from Poland, and she made the delicious fruit cake from her grandmother’s old recipe. A bargain by fruit cake standards at $20 for a one-pound loaf. Lori says it keeps for weeks in the fridge. To order, contact Lori Goldman at 510-282-7842 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards made the San Francisco Chronicle’s “Top 100 Wines 2013” with its 2005 Royal Cuvée Brut Carneros among the top four sparkling wines. It joins Roederer Estate Brut Rosé Anderson Valley and its sister Scharffenberger Brut Excellence Mendocino County, and Schramsberg’s 2010 Blanc de Blancs Brut North Coast.
Hanzell’s 2012 Sebella Sonoma Valley Chardonnay was the only other truly Sonoma Valley wine that made the extensive list.
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Leslie and Donna Pinsof, who split their time between homes in Glen Ellen and Chicago, are proud parents of Jeanne Nolan, founder of The Organic Gardener, Ltd., which designs, installs and maintains organic gardens.
Having followed the decades old trip through various experimentations, Nolan has a new book out called “From the Ground Up,” with a preface by Alice Waters of Chez Panisse fame and published by Random House, an accomplishment in itself.
If you read the book, Leslie says, “you will shortly know all of the inner workings and secrets of our family over a period of 18 years.” Will let you know if she comes to Sonoma.
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Sonoma Valley Museum of Art held a lively art sale last Friday evening, complete with Santa driving by in his decorated fire engine on his way to City Hall. Locals donated art of various values, which was purchased by guests who saw it as just what they were looking for. Ample substantial food and beverages encouraged people to stick around. Just as people were leaving, co-chair Martha Rosenblatt called out and emcee Rick Wynne announced that what was still hanging on the walls was now available for half the opening bid price. Guests raced and paintings quickly jumped off their hooks.
The result: the fundraiser way topped the museum’s goal of $20,000 and took in approximately $32,000.
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In the past couple of weeks, Bruce Riezenman and his Park Avenue Catering provided substantive – if different – repasts for Vintage House’s Holiday Evening, the Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers’ slightly raucous holiday party at Atwood Ranch, and an elevated French quality dinner served in Artifact & Salvage for members and guests of the Sonoma-Napa chapter of La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.
For the Vintage House fundraiser, which honored Don and Sherry Shone and Dale and Erin Downing of Sonoma and Glen Ellen Village Markets, Park Avenue served an ample butter lettuce salad topped with walnuts, cranberries and oranges, followed by an excellent cabernet braised short rib, au gratin potatoes and sautéed sugar snap peas. The chocolate “oyster shell” was a little hard to crack but was filled with chocolate mousse and a candy pearl.
Loyal Vintage House supporters in the crowd included Katherine and Tom Culligan, Harriet and Randy Derwingson, Helen Fernandez, Millie and Tom Ferrando, Peggy and Mike Fuson, Susan and Norman Goldstein, Jennifer Hainstock, Byron Hancock and Len Handeland, Kathleen Kiernan, Rev. L. A. King, Jean and Roy Knapp, Linda and Jim Kuhns, Kent and Sandy Larson, Rich Lee and Dr. Rhonda Stallings, Paulette Lutjens, Bill and Dottie Lynch, Bill Mabry, Robyn Makaruk, Andy and Louise Massie, Kay Maynard, David McFarland and Mary Evelyn Arnold, Michele and Al Minero, Bob and Carole Nicholas, Byron and Jeni Nichols, Hope and Jack Nisson, Bill O’Neal, Alain and Jacquey Piallat, Stella Riley Polling, Beth and Bob Records, June and Herb Sabel, Bill and Mabeth Sanderson, Lorraine Sangiacomo, Janice and Dr. Dan Stites, Marcie and Dave Waldron, Valerie Pistole and Jeff Walter, Judy and George Weiner, Hon. Diane Elan Wick, Vicki and Dave Stollmeyer, and Diana and Andre Tolpegin.
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Last Saturday evening, members of La Chaîne gathered for Domaine Chandon’s California AVA Brut Classic and hors d’oeuvres in Riesenman’s Park 121 restaurant at Cornerstone, accompanied by slow roasted tender lamb on won ton crisps and lobster bites with pomegranate glaze.
Guests migrated to a colorful setting at David Allen’s elegant and fun Artifact Design & Salvage for dinner, surprised by lots of dining tables and glistening wine glasses to the music of Diego Garcia’s Little Big Band, which truly created big band sounds with a tiny band. Madison Tyler of Piedmont, a La Chaîne transfer after a career with Aramco in Saudi Arabia, serenaded the crowd with his elegant voice.
Allen set the mood with La Chaîne’s banners, elegant orchids in tall-stemmed vases that didn’t block views across the table, and turned the heat on well ahead.
Riesenman reminded me of his classic French training and how rarely he gets to make true terrines (mousses) in his catering business. This one had a layer of sole and scallop mousse with hard cider and champagne and a layer of salmon mouse with cognac, on a long plate accompanied by celery root salad and a fennel-orange salad and fine herbs sauce, served with Michael Muscardini Cellars’ Sol del Mattino 2012 Sonoma Pinot Grigio. I was the last one at my table to finish because I didn’t want that course to end.
The second course brought Sebastopol’s Gourmet Mushrooms’ wild mushroom and farro ragoût with a goat cheese croustade served with Patz & Hall’s 2011 Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley’s Chenowith Vineyards, presented by Gary Merkel and Heather Patz.
Next came roast loin of veal with lacinato kale, Brussels sprouts, and a potato and leek terrine with a sneaked in foie gras sampling paired with Ron Fenolio’s Veedercrest 2009 Napa Valley Merlot.
Riesenman told his story of calling Andante cheesemaker Soyoung Scanlan and asking her to make a quarto stargioni cheese that would be perfect on Dec. 7, the date of the La Chaîne dinner and it was, indeed, perfect.
Peter Mondavi Jr. introduced Charles Krug 2010 Napa Valley Generations Cabernet Sauvignon enjoyed with the cheese course. His Late Harvest Zinfandel Port accompanied Park Avenue pastry chef Sarah Yardeni’s divine chocolate bites in various forms, zinfandel gelées and a bite-sized Meyer lemon tart.
Gene Daly organized and emceed the whole event, told new jokes, and even sang with the Little Big Band. A great time was had by all, and those from out of town stayed at member Suzanne Brangham’s MacArthur Place.
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Sheana Davis and Ben Sessions just returned from exploring the “bourbon trail” in Kentucky. Their families spent Thanksgiving feasting at The Epicurean Connection, where Davis has lots of new locally produced gift items such as Gypsy cheese from Two Rock, Sonomic Vinegar by Caryn Reading, John McReynolds’ Stone Edge Olive Oil, Rob Larman’s Cochon Volant BBQ Sauce and Tom Manielli’s olive oil.
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Joanna Devrais, a long time caregiver and careful cook and eater, now offers her Heart Cuisine soup delivery. The last one of the year will be French onion soup with gruyère cheese and a small baguette (she apologizes that she has not yet found a good gluten-free baguette). You can order two quarts for $25, three quarts for $35, or four quarts for $45. Order by Friday, Dec. 27 for delivery in the morning of Monday, Dec. 30. Freeze some or don’t. Should be yummy. 227-2942 or email@example.com.
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Head start on New Year’s:
Depot Hotel Restaurant is first out of the blocks with pumpkin soup; choice of Tuscan bouillabaisse called cacciuco, dungeness crab cannelloni, mushroom and fontina ravioli with vegetables, boneless short ribs with potatoes and Swiss chard, or pollo alla Toscana with pancetta, crispy polenta and broccolini; and dessert choices of tiramisu, cheesecake with berry coulis, Kahlua chocolate decadence or limoncello cake. $50. From 5 p.m. 938-2980.
Community Café offers a New Year’s Eve buffet at its Annex, featuring Sinatra channeler Stan Pappas. Expect a buffet of mini Caesar salads, stuffed mushrooms, grilled prawns, truffle deviled eggs, meatballs with mushroom sauce, lobster bisque, crab cakes and more. $50. 7 to 10 p.m. 875 W. Napa St., Sonoma. 938-7779.
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Please consider FISH’s Adopt-A-Family program, much needed to help local families through the holidays. Check it out at fishadoptafamily.org. Thanks to Constance Grizzell and Celia Canfield for organizing with passion.