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Eiko restaurant owner killed by former husband; Sonoma foxes; Vida Blue coming to NASCAR banquet; 10-pound bags of charcoal; Tante Marie Cooking School closing

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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Napa sushi restaurant owner Eiko O. Nakamura, co-owner of Eiko restaurant on First Street in Napa, apparently was stabbed to death last weekend by her estranged husband. Her restaurant manager, Allison Hallum, confirmed Eiko’s death, according to the Napa Valley Register.

Shozabur Nakamura apparently opened the front door of Eiko’s home to allow police inside, and then “admitted to killing his ex-spouse at about 9 a.m. Saturday in a domestic dispute. Mr. Nakamura was booked into Napa County jail at 4:20 p.m,” reported the Register.

Eiko Nakamura ran her Fujiya Restaurant at the Napa Premium Outlets for 24 years, and then partnered with brothers Rick and Mike Zaslove, in 20011, to open Eiko’s in downtown Napa. Restaurant staff cancelled their booth at BottleRock and closed the restaurant Sunday, but vowed that her kind and fun spirit will be honored in the restaurant’s future.

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In a slightly more peaceful way, the food and wine world lost Lorenzo Petroni last week, he the enormously popular owner of North Beach Restaurant in San Francisco and Petroni Vineyards on Cavedale Road, which produces fine Brunello, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and pinot noir.

Petroni was a true Italian, born in Lucca and arriving on the Christofo Columbo from Genoa to Napes and then New York. Once the train brought him to San Francisco, he worked his way up in classic local Italian restaurants starting at Piro’s, New Joe’s Oreste’s, Quo Vadis, Paoli’s and finally Scoma’s at Fisherman’s Wharf.

According to his San Francisco Chronicle obituary, “it was at Paoli’s that Lorenzo learned the art of restaurant promotion from Joe Paoli, considered by some to be the best in the business.” Guess who handled Paoli’s public relations.

Petroni opened North Beach Restaurant with Bruno Orsi, who was well connected in San Francisco politics, and it seemed to become an instant magnet for the powerful deal makers of San Francisco. Petroni ruled his entertaining world from a back table in a fashion similar (but different) to Mary Fazio at Mary’s Pizza Shack. He leaves his wife, Maria Elena. Services already took place at Saints Peter and Paul Church in North Beach.

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We’re talking red headed, slightly furry, slinkly, smart foxes, both male and female.

And they are animals, but not frat-boy type animals.

After I posted on Facebook that we had a red fox in our backyard and that Christine Mueller and I saw one in the parking lot behind Murphy’s Irish Pub after my Last Wednesday Food Group at Readers’ Books, 23 people said they had seen “it” as well. Of course that assumes there is only one, and “she,” as it was often referred to, moves around a lot.

First response came from friend Anne Brodie, a film critic in Toronto, who said, “Foxes like an occasional drink too.”

Single foxes and whole families of foxes were reported on West Spain, Second Street East (several reports of foxes underneath things, and one “family” on a garage roof), Eighth Street East, Agua Caliente, off Watmaugh and Shainsky Road, two blocks of Patten Street, at the former Arnold Drive golf driving range, Third Street East, the flat part of Lovall Valley, First Street East, at the Medical Plaza on Second Street West and Andrieux, East Walnut, Boyes Hot Springs, “a whole den behind our house on First Street West” and lots of deer sightings in yards and intersections.

Comments included: “A little beauty. My favorite was the cow grazing on the corner of Fourth Street East and East Napa a few years ago. Traffic was stalled with everyone watching” until the fire department steered her back home. The foxes at the driving range “are probably glad there are no longer golf balls flying everywhere.”

More: “I think they have helped with the rat problem.” “They visit here all the time. They are clever, sleek and have wonderful manners. We love them.” “Charming creatures like phantoms moving about… magical.” “On Thursday night we woke up to one barking on the sidewalk in front of our house.”

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In the same vein, Dianne Reber Hart posted about the new sign at Sonoma Developmental Center cautioning about rattlesnakes, while Mark Vogler put up a photo of a king snake he saw locally. Is there a message here?

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Michael Muscardini and Muscardini Cellars in Kenwood will again host the popular Oyster Girls who are stunning shuckers, of oysters that is, on the old red schoolhouse deck on Saturday, June 7. Enjoy Tomales Bay oysters, raw and/or cooked with a glass of Muscardini pinot grigio, rosato, or sparkling wine. Yes, rosato (rosé) is back.  Price includes four oysters and a glass of any of these wines. $20 public, $15 wine club. 1 to 5 p.m. 9380 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood. 933-9305.

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By the way, if you like rosé or any other wine, drink it, regardless of fads and marketing.

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Beer, chicken and BackTrax music lovers check out the Bear Flag Celebration Chicken BBQ & Microbrew Tasting Saturday, June 14 at Sonoma Plaza, hosted by the Native Sons of the Golden West Sonoma Parlor #111.

Expect Congressman Mike Thompson and General Anthony Jackson, Director of California State Parks, speaking at 11 a.m., followed by the chicken and hot dog barbecue ($5 to $15), 25 microbrewers’ beers, with the Bear Flag Re-Enactment at 1 p.m. at the Barracks.  For more info call Dean Zellers at 996-5282 or sonomanativesons.org.

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Watch for Paul Wirtz and Candi Edmonson to open their Paul’s Produce roadside vegetable stand Saturday morning, June 14, right across Arnold Drive from Brocco’s. This a great way to shop for their fine produce if you don’t like the hustle bustle, or can’t get to, the downtown farmers markets. Plenty of parking, but don’t wash your car before you go.

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Sonoma Raceway and Speedway Children’s Charities will host Vida Blue as grand marshal for its annual gala fundraising banquet on Friday, June 20 in conjunction with NASCAR weekend. Elaine Bell will create the menu to be served at Cline Cellars. Speedway Children’s Charities helps all sorts of programs that benefit Sonoma Valley children, including our Boys & Girls Club and the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation.

Drivers Michael Waltrip, Larry McReynolds, Boris Said (always funny), and Lyn St. James are scheduled to appear and speak at the banquet.

Attendees will savor appetizers of smoked duck breast on Nueske’s bacon blini, pesto arancini with burrata, ginger jalapeno rice cakes with Hamachi tartare, baby red potatoes stuffed with Asiago soufflé under the tent on Cline’s lawn.

Once in the barrel room, you will enjoy a seated dinner of salad featuring organic greens, roasted black grapes, St. George white cheddar cheese, spiced black walnuts, shaved Fuji apples and Balsamic apple cider vinaigrette.

The main course will include pork tenderloin and jumbo prawns with root beer Medjool date sauce, turnip purée, Brussels sprouts leaves, and roasted baby carrots and parsnips, or vegetarian lasagna with spinach, Bellwether Farms ricotta cheese, Bechemel sauce, Vella’s Asiago and Fontina cheese, tomato sauce, carrots, peas and pearl onions. Then you can hope you get the right “alternating dessert” of lemon cheesecake with raspberry sauce or chocolate raspberry Chambord cake, all with extra raspberries. Attire: Sonoma formal, meaning clean jeans.  $250. 6 to 11 p.m.  27437 Arnold Dr., Sonoma. RSVP to Cheri Plattner at 933-3950 or cplattner@racesonoma.com.

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Cline Cellars staff says theirs will be the exclusive wine sold at Sonoma Stompers baseball games at Arnold Field, alongside Gordon Biersch and Lagunitas beers.

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Many thanks to the 45 or so guests who attended our Last Wednesday Food Group at Readers’ Books last Wednesday, and to chef John Ash who was charming and super informative about food and birds at every level. Readers’ now has plenty of next month’s book, “Provence 1950: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard and the Reinvention of American Taste,” written by Fisher’s nephew, Luke Barr. Remember, 15 percent discount at Readers’ Books. Special big thanks to Susan Idell of Idell Family Vineyards for sharing her fine wines with attendees.

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Harriet Derwingson relays that Mary Risley, proprietor of San Francisco’s Tante Marie’s Cooking School and Food Runners, has closed her famed cooking school after 35 years. Risley hosted everyone from Ken Hom and James Beard to Julia Child, Alice Waters and Chuck Williams, and received the James Beard Humanitarian of the Year Award. Check her YouTube video, “Just Put the F*cking Turkey in the Oven” and watch for more of her vibrant newsletters and videos.

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Since so many people have asked, Aventine in Glen Ellen’s Jack London Village is just as good as I said it is. At least it was on one of the two press nights when Paula Wolfert and I sampled the fare. Just got the menu, which is well priced for as good as it is.

Of the dishes I mentioned, here are some sample prices: popcorn popped in black truffle oil $4; a big meatball (ours were small) stuffed with mozzarella, basil pesto and golden raisins of soft organic polenta $15; pizzas ranging from simple Margherita to meatball, artichoke, prosciutto or black truffle $13 to $20 (also available gluten-free); pastas and risotto from spinach pasta lasagna, gnocchi, ravioli, and several others, also can be gluten-free $14 to $18; excellent melt-in-your-mouth, seared Maine day boat scallops with faro salad ($28); chicken Parmigiana and grilled beef filet $24 to $41). Lots of side dishes and desserts. We had the butterscotch pana cotta, flourless chocolate cake and gelato, with a fun kids menu, $6 to $12.

Will let you know as soon as I know when they will open.

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Diminishing returns:

What do you know? Ten-pound bags of Kingsford charcoal now contain only 8.3 pounds of briquets. Quarts of mayonnaise only have 30 fluid ounces in them, and previous half gallons of ice cream hold only 1.5 quarts, all while these items’ prices have increased, not decreased.

What else have you noticed less of?

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Stone Edge Farm Culinary Director John McReynolds has now given cooking demonstrations at Altimira, Creekside, Flowery, Sonoma Charter, Woodland Star, Sassarini and Prestwood schools. Many thanks to McReynolds, recent winner of the “Cookbook of the Year” award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals, and to Stone Edge Farm for sharing him so generously with our School Garden Project.

Next year, McReynolds will make himself available two days a month so that schools can sign up for his cooking demos ahead of time and with some regularity. We have heard nothing but raves from students and families.

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Plan ahead:

The General Hap Arnold Roundabout will be dedicated on Wednesday, June 25 at the Hanna Boys Center, Auditorium Terrace, overlooking the roundabout on Arnold Drive. Apparently organizers decided this was safer than climbing on the actual roundabout and causing gawker accidents.

Hosted by Sonoma Valley veterans organizations, the event will feature Chandelle wines by Hap Arnold grandson, former Sonoma resident Robert Arnold. He and his wife Kathy will take emcee, Talk 910/960 AM radio’s Tom Benner, known on the air as Officer Vic, and his wife, for lunch at the Swiss Hotel, long an Arnold family hangout.

Arnold first contacted Benner after hearing him do an Arnold Drive traffic report in full Arnold Schwarzenegger “Terminator” accent.  Free. 1:30 p.m. RSVP by Wednesday, June 18 to robert@chandellewinery.com.

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Assemblyman Marc Levine announced that he introduced a bill in the state legislature that would allow wine tasting at farmers markets, but only for small production wineries without tasting rooms. Interesting timing right before primary election week.

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Cheers!