Burgers and Vine update; Foster Farms chicken revisited; Jewish winemakers Taste and Nosh; Nibs and Sips; Weekend events; Start your rain dances

Burgers and Vine now occupies the Old  Creamery building on Spain Street at First Street East (Index-Tribune file photo)

Burgers and Vine now occupies the Old Creamery building on Spain Street at First Street East (Index-Tribune file photo)

Kathleen Hill


What’s happening with the Old Creamery corner? What’s happening with Burgers and Vine? How did they get permission for that big advertising awning?

Carlo Cavallo, owner of Sonoma Meritâge Martini Bar & Grill, says he has finally begun construction on the corner because, “We received our permits a week ago (now two weeks) from the City of Sonoma, County of Sonoma water agency and Sonoma County PRMD Agency. We needed all three agency approvals in order to begin construction.”

Cavallo says he will announce Burgers and Vine’s opening date after they finish their “rough-in work sometime in late November early December.”

According to one member of the Sonoma Planning Commission, Cavallo did not come before them to ask permission for that brown wrap-around-the-corner advertising awning on what many see as a historic building. Apparently they are going to let it slide, while other businesses have had requests for one-word signs turned down.


You can still order last-minute lobsters from Soroptimist International of Sonoma Valley for this weekend’s lunch or dinner. Call Juliette Andrews immediately to order yours. According to Andrews, the lobsters are 1-1/2 pounds, and come live or cooked for $25 each. She calls in the order tonight. The lobsters are flown overnight from New England and delivered to the Chamber of Commerce early Saturday morning. For more info, call Andrews at 338-1874 or email julietteandrews@aol.com.


Foster Farms chix update:

Rarely have I had so many responses and opinions as I received from telling my personal chicken experience. At least I wasn’t chicken.

Ron Foster, third-generation president and CEO of Foster Farms, told the San Francisco Chronicle that “his staff has identified the flaw in the processing procedure that not only explains why people were becoming sick, but will set a higher standard for how the industry tests for salmonella.”

While lots of poultry carry salmonella, cutting chicken into parts in factories can spread disease and the meat doesn’t get retested by the USDA after getting cut up. Foster Farms has now begun to retest meat during the cut-up process and says they throw away the bad parts. Robert O’Connor, the company’s veterinarian, said Foster Farms has now started to clean the equipment continuously.

Meanwhile, Costco continues to sell Foster Farms chicken parts. The head meat guy (not sure he is a butcher) told me that they are still selling it “because it hasn’t been recalled.” According to the Chronicle, the USDA didn’t shut down the Central Valley plants because Foster Farms was working on the problem.

A friend says she bought a Foster Farms chicken at Sonoma Safeway last week. When she got it home, she compared its lot number to those we had published in the Index-Tribune and bingo. Safeway apparently is still selling chickens from the same lots that all media warned should be removed from shelves, thrown away or returned for a refund. ABC7 news reported Wednesday that they found these lots in a San Jose Safeway. The lot numbers to remember: p6137, p637A, p7632, and there could be more.


Enoteca Della Santina will host Michael Traverso, of the original Traverso grocery family, to present the wines of Healdsburg pinot noir producer Williams Selyem tonight, Friday, Oct. 25. Owners Burt Williams and Ed Selyem started their winery in a Forestville garage and look at them now. $5. 6 to 8 p.m. 127 E. Napa St., Sonoma. 938-4100.


Nibs and Sips:

El Molino Central is the only Sonoma restaurant that made the San Francisco Chronicle’s “Bargain Bites 2013” list of “best bets for eating on the cheap,” citing Karen Taylor Waikiki’s organic corn tamales and tortillas … Baker Emily Luchetti heaped praise (for good reason) on Bonnie Tempesta’s old and new (Boncora) biscotti companies in her Chronicle column last Sunday … The Golden Gate Wine Society just named Robert Rex, proprietor and winemaker of Deerfield Ranch Winery, Best Overall Professional Winemaker … Catch the cheerful art of Lynn Hennessy and Judy Theo newly at Sonoma’s Best. Theo painted the covers of most of our Wine Country guidebooks, when the publisher’s staff argued over who got to purchase her originals. 1190 E. Napa St., Sonoma. 996-7600.


This weekend:

A few tickets remain for Sonoma International Film Festival’s 007 Masquerade Ball at Buena Vista Winery on tonight, Friday, Oct. 25, to benefit the outstanding Sonoma Valley High School media arts program.

Diana Bugg and Denise Nelson co-chair this spectacular with big help from committee members Kimberly Hughes, LeeJay Olness and Beth Fox.

Guests will be greeted with sparkling wine or sake-based Cosmos and martinis and trays of Shiso sushi. Park Avenue Catering cater appetizers. Don’t miss James Bond’s Aston Martin and Audi R8 parked outside, two of the fastest sports cars in the world. Expect Bond girls, tarot card readers, shadow dancing and 007 movies will fill the bubble room, along with multiple food stations, gaming tables, live music and belly and fire dancers. $150. 6 to 10 p.m. Get tickets via sonomafilmfest.org or call 933-2600.


Sonoma Chili Cook-Off stirs the pot again on Saturday, Oct. 26, at Carneros Brewing Co. to benefit our local Meals on Wheels, an always worthy cause that feeds a hot meal and a bag lunch to 60 house-bound clients daily.

Twenty-five chili cooks will compete. Judges will include John Toulze of the girl and the fig, Norman Owens of Hot Box Grill, Jesus Ceja of Carneros Brewing Co., and Sue Holman and Susan Weeks of Meals on Wheels


All of this is organized for the second year by Roger Declercq of Sonoma Gourmet Specialty Food Company. Soft drinks and Carneros Brewery beer available for purchase. Admission is free, but donations to Meals on Wheels are encouraged. Noon to 4:30 p.m. 22985 Burndale Road at Highway 121, Sonoma. roger@sonomagourmet.com.


Sonoma GayDar hosts its fourth annual Halloween Bash at the newly elegant Valley of the Moon Winery on Saturday, Oct. 26. Bound to be hilarious, guests are invited “whether you’re a brother or whether you’re a mother, macho men or bad girls” to wander over to Valley of the Moon for a disco-costume party. Guests will sample food bites by Peter Roodhouse, former sous chef at Napa’s Oenotri and graduate of the CIA Hyde Park, with Valley of the Moon wines available for purchase. $30. 7 to 11 p.m. Send checks only to Out in the Vineyard at 16926 Eveton Lane, Sonoma 95476. RSVP to gary@outinthevineyard.com.


Kunde Family Winery will attempt to replace the Harvest Fair’s former pumpkin contest with Kunde’s own Giant Pumpkin Festival this Saturday, Oct. 26, with pumpkins weighing 200 pounds or more, Nellie’s Oysters’ tacos, French fries, quesadillas and oysters; Cup-cra-very’s Cupcakes for A Cause with Halloween desserts; Auntie Stacey’s Face Painting and the Dirty Red Barn band playing live all day.


Pancake and firefighter fans can gather for the Sonoma Valley Fire’s pancake breakfast and open house Sunday, Oct. 27, at the Second Street West fire station. Great pancakes, sausage, juices, milk, coffee and Halloween costume contest at 11 a.m. $6 adults, $5 seniors, $4 kids 5 to 12. 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 996-2102.


Wine lovers (and other lovers) should not miss the upcoming Jewish Winemakers’ Tasting & Nosh: Kugels, Knishes & Cabernet with music by fabulous Stephanie Ozer and Shameless on Sunday, Oct. 27. The event has expanded from Congregation Shir Shalom’s home at the First Congregational Church to the Sonoma Valley Veterans Memorial Building.

Enjoy kugels, latkes, mini matzoh balls, gefilte fish sushi, matzoh ball shooters, mini-Reuben sandwiches and much more.

B.R. Cohn, Blue Rock, Cline, Coho, Hagafen, Hobo, Honig, Idell Family, Judds Hill, Kamen Estate, Longboard, Orpheus, Paint Horse, Singer, Stein Family and Tres Hijas (Avram Goldman) will pour their fine wines. $45 advance at Readers’ Books and Tiddle E. Winks, $50 at door. 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. 126 First St. W., Sonoma.


The Giant Steps Therapeutic Equestrian Center offers a traditional New England lobster bake with wine, beer and music at Cornerstone Sonoma on Sunday, Oct. 27.  Giant Steps works to “enrich and change the lives of children and adults with disabilities through the extraordinary benefits of therapeutic horseback riding and related equine-assisted therapy,” according to executive director Beth Porter. Enjoy a delightful feast and walk or roll through Cornerstone’s nine acres of gardens. $200. 4 p.m. 23570 Arnold Drive, Sonoma. For tickets or to make a donation visit giantstepsriding.ejoinme.org/lobster. 769-8900.


Tricycle Wine Partners opens its new tasting room at Cornerstone Sunday, Oct. 27, with food, wine, music by the Wildcats, bocce and garden tours for the whole family. Tricycle includes Arpad G. Molnar of Molnar Family, Michael Terien of Kazmer and Blaise, and Peter Molnar of Obsidian wineries. 255-4929. tricyclewineco.com.


Sondra Bernstein will reprise an Estate dinner with a pop-up opportunity at her Suite D on Saturday, Nov. 2. Enjoy antipasti of salumi, chickpeas, pickled veggies, burrata, Asiago cheese meatballs, wild mushrooms, grilled squid and more.

The pasta course includes papardelle with wild boar ragout and bucatini with oven-roasted tomatoes and mano formate pancetta, followed by roast leg of lamb, cauliflower with Romanesco gratin and sautéed rapini. Cap it off with chocolate Budino with sea salt and olive oil and biscotti. Wine included. $55.85. Tickets through eventbrite or figsuited.com.


Plan ahead:

The Wine Country Marine Corps Birthday Ball will be Saturday, Nov. 2, at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards. This year’s event honors Gen. Richard D. Hearney, USMC (Ret.), former assistant commandant of the Marine Corps.

Expect a big traditional prime rib dinner (vegetarian option available) to include a fabulous Marine Corps birthday cake crafted by Javier Lopez of La Mixteca Bakery (behind Palms Grill), all followed by dancing.

Dinner will be catered by the Lodge at Sonoma. As they have for many years, Nancy and Fred Cline will donate their barrel room and Jacuzzi wines. To honor Benziger Family Winery’s late founder Bruno Benziger, a Marine and original member of Wine Country Marines, Benziger pours special label wines as well. Gary Edwards, who stores and ages his cheeses at his Carneros Caves at the Clines’ winery, donates yummy cheeses. Vietnam veteran and former Sonoma mayor Doug McKesson donates free shuttle service from the Lodge at Sonoma and El Pueblo motel for out of town guests’ safe travels. $130 a person. No-host cocktails 6:30 p.m., ceremony 7:30 p.m., dinner follows. Call Katie Kearney to reserve at 537-8576 or winecountrymarines.org.


B.R. Cohn Winery will give away recipes for its wine and food products and host musicians Jonathan Wright and Jason Bodlovich the first two weekends in November, along with a “cash only live sushi bar” to attract holiday gifters. Nancy Kiernan’s art will be available in the tasting room and gourmet shop throughout November and December. 15000 Highway 12, Glen Ellen. 800-330-4064 or brcohn.com.


Sonoma Broadway Farms, just south of Broadway Market, has gorgeous healthy pumpkins galore in many colors. Plenty of picking on weekends. 20675 Broadway, Sonoma. sonomabroadwayfarms.com.


Start doing your rain dances. Fields and hillsides throughout Sonoma and Napa valleys have progressed from green to tan to gray. Scary.


Happy and safe Halloween and Day of the Dead.

  • Mike Stephens

    Thank you for finally writing about the disgraceful awning at Burger and Vine. Again, the owner of the building, tenant, investors etc. should be ASHAMED for allowing such a hideous awning. I would rather see the building shuttered than have this awning. Pies Ice Cream Gelato BBQ Live Music, Ribs, Chicken. Tacky!!! I guarantee this place won’t survive 1 year. How can it? Shame on Sonoma for making such a big deal out of quality hotel, but not having any concern over an existing historic structure. How can an awning go up without approval from planning or an architectural committee?

    • Jay Tierney

      deleted. why bother.

      • Mike Stephens

        Deleted? Why bother with?