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Charlie Trotter gone; Ben & Jerry’s to change; John McReynolds’ Stone Edge cookbook; new restaurant menus; Larman restarts Wine Shack dinners

Charlie Trotter

Charlie Trotter

Kathleen Hill

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Much awarded Chicago chef and restaurateur Charlie Trotter, 54, passed away Tuesday in his Lincoln Park home. Winner of 10 James Beard Awards, Trotter bravely closed his eponymous restaurant last year to pursue a Ph.D. in philosophy.

Trotter never went to cooking school, wrote lots of cookbooks and starred in “The Kitchen Sessions with Charlie Trotter” on PBS. A stickler for detail, Trotter trained many chefs and near-disciples, including Grant Achatz of Chicago’s Alinea and Next restaurants, whom many of us saw featured in the movie “Spinning Plates” at last year’s Sonoma International Film Festival.

Trotter frequently appeared at Cakebread Cellars’ cooking events in Napa. Owner Dolores Cakebread was just honored as “Grande Dame” at the annual Les Dames d’Escoffier meeting in Austin, Texas, and I had the honor of interviewing her for the video that introduced her on stage.

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This weekend:

Come join us cooking with old kitchen gadgets at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9. We will be making old-fashioned ham salad on Ritz crackers right out of the display tin, and other goodies. Lots of fun, as usual. $10. 2 p.m. 551 Broadway, Sonoma.

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A celebration of Andean Music and Dance Concert comes to the Sonoma Valley Veterans Memorial Building Sunday, Nov. 10, complete with Peruvian appetizers by Mama Moni’s Bake Sale from Alameda, Hawkes wine and soda.

Trio Chaskinakuy and Colectivo Anquari will perform music and dance to benefit “a Sonoma nonprofit Chicuchas Wasi School for Girls in Cusco, Peru,” according to organizer Rae Lewis. Expect a pre-concert reception, raffle, silent auction, beverages and small bites. $35 adults, $10 under age 12. 1:30 to 5 p.m. Tickets at Readers’ Books, 939-7162, or chicuchaswasi.org.

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Master olive miller Deborah Rogers, who left The Olive Press earlier this year, is now working as custom milling coordinator at McEvoy Ranch, the renowned olive and wine growing property that straddles the Sonoma-Marin county line and is owned primarily by Nan and Nion McEvoy.

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Well-known chef and Stone Edge Farm culinary director John McReynolds will introduce his new book, “Stone Edge Farm Cookbook,” at Readers’ Books on Thursday, Nov. 14.

The lovely big book includes 102 recipes and 300 color photographs and stories from McReynolds of how he uses Stone Edge’s organic gardens and foraged foods, which he even tells our local students how to find.  Former Carmenet winemaker Jeff Baker now makes the Bordeaux-style red wines at Stone Edge and even enters into the book, along with Stone Edge proprietor Mac McQuown. McReynolds was founding chef and co-owner of Café La Haye and has cooked and learned everywhere from a hotel on a Norwegian fjord to George Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch.

McReynolds has been instrumental in the McQuowns’ generous gifts to support our Altimira and Adele Harrison middle school gardens. 7 p.m. Free, nibbles and sips included. Book $60. 130 E. Napa St., Sonoma. 939-1779.

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Napa Valley Film Festival kicks off next Wednesday (Nov. 13 to 17) with film screenings throughout the Valley, tons of parties and winemaker dinners. Sonoma residents Marc and Brenda Lhormer lead the giant organization. The gala will be Thursday, Nov. 14, at Oxbow featuring foods from Napa’s Angèle, Brix, Celadon, Grace’s Table, Hurley’s, Lucy and The Thomas.

You can pick up a full festival schedule at Sonoma’s Whole Foods or visit napavalleyfilmfest.org.

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Our local Ben & Jerry’s, owned by the Marmaduke family, seasoned franchise owners and community donors, will cease as a Ben & Jerry’s and morph into their own Grandma Linda’s Ice Cream Shop after they run out of B&J’s scoops, going at only $2 each.

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Rob Larman starts up his warm and cozy winter dinners at Windee Smith’s Valley Wine Shack on Friday, Nov. 15. Watch for a chopped salad of Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, avocado and blue cheese vinaigrette; seared and smoked prime rib of beef au jus, garlic mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach; and a sundried cranberry and quince crisp with crème Chantilly. Smith has plenty of excellent beers and inexpensive and expensive wines for sale to go with each and every course. $38. 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. 535 W. Napa St., Sonoma. Reservations: 938-7218. Cioppino and cassoulet dinners coming through the winter.

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Tracy Hall, writing to me for Physis foods at the Friday farmers market, says that the kale and cabbage slaw that I mentioned last week was marked “16 oz. – $4.50” by volume, not by weight, as Jason (by all counts a really nice guy) sells his liquid soups and broths. While I have never, personally, noticed a salad sold by volume rather than by weight, I am willing to give Jason the benefit of the doubt. Wish he had told the market management and me that when we went to return my slaw. It looked very good, even at $4.50 for two cups. Do try it.

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Lori and Avram Goldman will introduce their new 2011 Tres Hijas Sabroso Rojo on Saturday, Nov. 16, along with Willie Bird smoked turkey and other treats, and lots of music. $10. 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. 21481 Eighth St. E., Sonoma.

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A whole crew of Sonomans sail soon on a Wine, Dine and Music Cruise to the Cayman Islands. Olive & Vine’s Catherine Venturini and John Ash will star as guest chefs, accompanied by wines from Flora Springs, Dutcher Crossing, Two Amigos, Sapphire Hill and Robert Young.

And here they were trying to get John Burdick, Venturini’s husband and partner, on as a sommelier (legitimate because he is one), when they up and sent a CD of the John Burdick Band, which led to a gig playing on board.

This means that Burdick, James Marshall Berry, David McKee and Michael Miller get to play on the same stage as Kenny Loggins and Three Dog Night, each group with its own headline shows. Bon voyage!

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Joann Devrais is delivering organic soups monthly around Sonoma Valley. The remaining November delivery left will be Nov. 26, butternut squash soup with pumpkin seed and mint pesto or pomegranate relish. For prices and to order, contact devaj@earthlink.net.

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Abigail Zimmerman and Dean Borgioni gave a wild and wooly annual barn party at their Annadel Estate Winery kicked off with music by Twang Ditty, which gives you a feeling of the whole escapade. Dean cooked his famous homemade sausages and pizzas and guests brought either wine or a dish to share. Lots of wine, food and Abby’s artwork.

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Sonoma Valley Teen Services will again make and sell their super popular fresh apple, pumpkin and pecan pies from the loving pastry chefs of Lovin’ Oven, part of Teen Services, founded by chef and State Farm agent Anea Kamahele. Kamahele has taught the Lovin’ Oven ladies to cook, hopefully working toward culinary professions.

All pies are nine inches and will be ready for pick up on Wednesday, Nov. 27, for Thanksgiving. Apple and pumpkin pies are $10 and a pecan pie costs $12. To quote Pat Coleman of the Teen Center, “You should probably order two pies, one might not be enough.” Order pies at 939-1452 or email lovinoven.svts@gmail.com. 17440 Sonoma Highway, Agua Caliente.

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Book Passage in Corte Madera will present famed Chez Panisse chef David Tanis and his new book, “One Good Dish” at one of its great author dinners at Left Bank Restaurant in Larkspur on Wednesday, Nov. 13. The longtime previous boyfriend of founder Alice Waters, Tanis cooked at Chez Panisse for almost 25 years. He is definitely worth hearing and now writes the weekly “City Kitchen” column for the New York Times. $110 includes dinner and book, or $185 per couple and one book.

On Nov. 15, Marie Simmons brings her newest of 20 cookbooks, “Taste of Honey: The Definitive Guide to Tasting and Cooking with 40 Varietals,” ($19.95) to Book Passage’s Corte Madera store. Learn everything from bees to sweet and savory honey recipes and many surprising uses of honey. 5:30 p.m. 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera.

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The Sonoma Leadership Council of the Greenbelt Alliance celebrated its 20th anniversary recently at Buena Vista Winery, but preceded by an elegant cocktail/wine hour at the neighboring home of Fred and Barbara White Perry. Guests were fascinated by the surrounding vineyard’s fall colors as well as White Perry’s paintings in her studio.

Wild Thyme Events catered the White Perry’s party as well as the dinner in Buena Vista’s cave. Dinner included caterers Joanne and Keith Filipello’s homegrown French pumpkin bisque, galantine de volaille aux duxelles (mushroom filled chicken breast) with their delectable California wild rice and roasted vegetables; green salad with Marin Triple Cream, Laura Chenel Goat, Pt. Reyes Blue and St. George Matos cheeses; and Gravenstein apple tarts, all accompanied by some of Buena Vista’s best wines.

Buena Vista owners Jean-Charles Boisset and Gina Gallo attended the dinner along with Greenbelt Alliance leader Laney Thornton and Pasha, Boisset vineyards manager Tom Blackwood and Kim, Anderson and Sara Barnes, Ralph Benson and Carolyn Saarni, Beth Brown and Tom Peters, Mayor Ken Brown and Jewel Mathieson, Brenda Buckerfield and Tommy Mensing, Daniel Casabonne and Daniel Rocks, Bob and Chandra Friese, Ray and Laurie Gallian, Bob and Gretchen Gardner, Maud Hallin, Lorna Goode and David Grohol, Susan and Richard Idell, Maggie Kaplan and Lisa Micheli, Fred Perry’s son Xavier, Ellie Price and Chris Towt, Deborah and Harvey Shein, David and Nancy Simpson, Margaret Spaulding, Dee and Peter Swanhuyser, Fei Tsen and Wayne Lew, George Tuttle and Ben Cushman, the White Perrys, and Tom Jenkins, whose wife, Gayle, decided I should go as Tom’s date since she would be on the East Coast with her mother.

Actually, Barbara White Perry sold seven paintings at last Friday’s opening of her new show at Hooker House in El Paseo courtyard. Husband Fred’s cookies were gobbled up quickly by 85 guests.

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New menus

around town:

The Red Grape has some interesting new specials for the month of November. Fifty percent (that’s one half) of November’s proceeds will go directly to Redwood Empire Food Bank, so you can definitely feel even better than usual about dining at the Red Grape.

Check out its butternut squash soup with pomegranate molasses and crème fraîche; wilted frisée and tat soi greens with pancetta and goat cheese; nettle fettuccine pasta with chanterelles and grilled broccolini in a white wine pecorino broth; and its famous chicken pot pie loaded with grilled chicken breast, peas, carrots and celery baked in a bowl and just topped with flaky puffed pastry, accompanied by a side Caesar salad ($4.75 to $14.75).

Ledson Hotel’s Centre du Vin has added prawns Bouillabaisse, mussels and frites, prosciutto and fig salad, a BLT&D (duck confit) and a pecan-crusted halibut, a duo of duck and a Burgundy-braised pork shank served over sweet potato and parsnip purée ($14 to $26). The blue fries are still shoe-string French fries with blue cheese butter ($4). Time to try Ledson again. Full bar with Ledson and Zina Hyde wines. 480 First St. E., Sonoma. Open from 11:30 a.m. daily. 996-9779. ledsonhotel.com.

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Plan ahead:

Valerie Arelt will perform her art at Sonoma Country Antiques’ “Festival Floral Arrangements Benefit” on Thursday, Nov. 21, this time to help our Sonoma School Garden Project. Arelt is an internationally renowned floral designer who will also offer a raffle and refreshments. Your donation goes to the school gardens through the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation. Last year Arelt’s effort gave $15,000 to the Boys & Girls Club. $65. 10:30 a.m. 23999 Arnold Drive, Sonoma. RSVP required. 938-8315.