Foster Farms chicken caution; Chuck Williams at Ramekins; New Zagat ratings out; Rudy’s update


Kathleen Hill


A warning has been issued to caution us for a while to not purchase or to throw away raw chicken from Foster Farms, from which more than 300 people have become sick from salmonella, and many have been hospitalized. Stricken packages carry the numbers p6137, p637A and p7632, but there could be more.


Last minute news from the Muse dinner tonight:

Sonoma Community Center’s annual Muse fundraising dinner at Ramekins tonight is practically sold out, undoubtedly because it honors the fabulous nonagenarian Chuck Williams, founder of Williams-Sonoma right here on Broadway. Williams helped Suzanne Brangham open Ramekins when she built the rammed-earth cooking school.

According to Brangham, longtime solid supporter of the community center, Williams-Sonoma has donated dinner for 10 at their flagship Post Street store, which the community center will pair with a Fairmont Hotel stay and nearly $1,000 in gift certificates to spend around Union Square. Only four live auction items supplement the silent auction and most have them have super rare food fan opportunities.

The dinner will be at Ramekins Culinary School will include include carrot soup with coriander and crème fraîche, poached salmon with vegetables or a risotto and spinach vegetarian alternative, followed by a chocolate pot de crème. $235. 5:30 p.m. 938-4626 or sonomacommunitycenter.org/muse.


In reporting Zagat’s new ratings of restaurants, we approach cautiously. Tim and Nina Zagat founded the guides, originally just to restaurants, in 1979. Eventually Google bought the whole works in 2011 for a reported $151 million.

It is rather easy to cook the books, so to speak, as it is with many consumer-based reviews and polls, including Yelp. You just have your friends write in favorably and stack the vote.

The North Bay ratings in the new “Zagat 2014 San Francisco Bay Area Restaurants” are a little suspicious and smack of possible laziness. Very few restaurants show movement up or down and many remain exactly the same as last year.

Things that don’t make sense include how in the world The Red Grape, given a 24 for food last year, disappeared from the book; and Breakaway Café still isn’t mentioned.

Those local restaurants that stayed at the same rating include fig café and wine bar at 26; Carneros Bistro, Della Santina’s, Fremont Diner, the girl and the fig, and La Salette at 24; Harvest Moon and Hot Box stayed at 25; Glen Ellen Star was too new to be rated in 2013 but achieved a 27 for food this year; Santé got a 25 last year but had no rating this year because of renovations.

A few local eateries dropped in ratings such as EDK went from 23 to 22, Café Citti declined from 24 to 23, Café LaHaye got a 27 this year instead of last year’s 26, Glen Ellen Inn went from a 24 to 23, and HopMonk and Sonoma Meritâge both dropped from 20 to 19. The moral of this story is: If you enjoy a restaurant’s food, ambiance and prices, go.


Now I must agree with Carey Sweet that Rudy’s new rotisserie Mary’s chicken is very good, as are the sweet and sour eggplant caponata and kale and speckled Romaine salads. Four of us tried several offerings. But they still don’t offer sparkling water or beer. Our party was all journalists, and we hope you have the same experience. Rudy also told us that he has been selected by the new owner of Little Switzerland as the best local chef to open a barbecue restaurant at the historic site.


The Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley’s “Punk” themed fashion shows last Saturday and Sunday were innovative and packed with fun. Several people dressed with the punk theme, which included a pun on safety pin piercings. Always stunning Rebecca Rosenberg of Sonoma Lavender showed up in a tight fitting black dress covered with rows of safety pins, which brought big smiles to the large crowd. And she wasn’t even a model.

Rosenberg and three tables of other ChaChas (Children’s Home Auxiliary) enjoyed every moment to support Marchelle Carleton, outgoing president of the Boys & Girls Club and immediate past president of ChaChas.

Lombardi’s catered the “appetizers” dinner at Nicholson Ranch Winery Saturday evening with a wide array of barbecued oysters and prawns; vegetable skewers; Chinese chicken salad in boxes with Lilliputian forks; pulled pork sliders; cheese-covered roasted potato halves; lots of cheeses, presumably from Gary Edwards who was honored for work with a pretzel cart and starting the Junior Cheesemaking program organized by Slow Food Sonoma Valley; and gallons of Nicholson Ranch wines.

Sunday afternoon took everyone to Gundlach Bundschu winery for hipster “Punk from SoHo to Sonoma” clothes, music and even bigger mohawks, all accompanied by cheeseburger sliders, fries, poke tuna tacos and Caesar salads from Gott’s Roadside food truck. Front and center along the “runway” in the GunBun barn, with panels painted in high punk by Rosemary McNeely, were Nancy and Katie Bundschu, always generous and always involved. Thank you.


Sonoma Valley Grange’s pancake breakfast was back in organic style last Sunday. Stone Edge Farm donated all of the vegetables that went into the frittata, with Stone Edge culinary director John McReynolds was cooking in the Grange kitchen. Be sure to show up at the next pancake breakfast, which will be in February. It was excellent this time.


Speaking of Stone Edge Farm, its Edge dining venue at the former Rin’s Thai site on East Napa Street has taken on a new hue. That would be a lovely brown that resembles the trunks of the fully grown old olive trees planted recently in front of the building


Altimira Middle School will turn its gorgeous school garden into a Harvest Festival with homemade salsa competition on Saturday, Oct. 12, as an effort to build fun community among students, staff and parents. Horticulture students will also prepare other food goodies. Free. 2 to 6 p.m.


Sonoma Garden Park will hold its Fall Festival Saturday, Oct. 12, with a straw-bale fort, tractor rides, live music, pie baking contest, scarecrow building, harvest market and food and beverage sales for all-around family fun. $16 adults, $7 kids at the door or call immediately for advance tickets. 19996 Seventh St. E., Sonoma. 996-0712, ext. 111. sonomaecologycenter.org.


Sonoma Valley Teen Services and friends will enjoy an “Oktoberfest Bier Garten and Marketplatz” fundraiser featuring Ceja family beers at Carneros Brewing Company on Sunday, Oct. 13. Food will come from Rocket Catering, Harvey’s Gourmet Donuts, Quarter Acre Farms and Valley Girls Food Stuff, with music by Backtrax Rock Band and so-called “pop up” food-related product sales. $25 includes two drink tickets. Noon to 4 p.m. 22985 Burndale Road, Sonoma. More info and tickets at 939-1452 or svteens.org.


Another Oktoberfest will be hosted by the Veterans of Foreign War Bear Flag Post on Sunday, Oct. 13, at the Sonoma Valley Moose Lodge with music by the Joe Bajuk Trio, dancing, door prizes and contests, and “a traditional Bavarian meal.” Proceeds will help support youth programs, local veterans and active-duty military. $25 with meal, $12 without dinner. 3 to 8 p.m. Tickets at Tony’s Barber Shop or the Moose Lodge or by calling 938-3543.


Sheana Davis’ friends will host another fundraiser Sunday, Oct. 13, at the Maysonnave House’s lovely courtyard to help cover her medical expenses. The Depot Hotel, Hot Box Grill, the Red Grape, Rainbow Grocery Co-op, Good Earth, Oliver’s Market, Real Food Company, Rise Pistola, Bi Rite stores and creamery and Kenwood Restaurant’s new chef Anthony Paone will chip in. The French Laundry has donated 12 dinners, presumably to be auctioned.

According to her press release, “The fundraising goal from all sources is $45,000” and says she “has had to delay medical treatment until she can gather the funds …” A Kaiser member, Sheana says her medical expenses are so high because of her “pre-existing condition.” Friends recently raised more than $30,000 for Davis as well. $50 includes food and wine. 1 to 4 p.m. 291 First St. E., Sonoma. Tickets at Readers’ Books or at the door. Or contribute directly at Sheanadavisfund.com.



Many residents of Sonoma Valley have horrendous medical bills (in the hundreds of thousands of dollars) and loss of work and do not have the ability to hold fundraisers to meet their financial needs to either pay their bills or keep their jobs or businesses open.

Again, we are the only industrialized country in the world where people have to hold bake sales, car washes and wine tastings to pay for vital care, or even health insurance. Why, as a nation, don’t we care about and for each other?

Suggestion: Perhaps we need a broad community medical fund to raise money to help Sonoma residents with medical bills. Most people don’t have press releases or friends who can supply elegant food and wine, but just plain need help. Let’s try to help everyone.


Plan ahead:

Sheana Davis’ Epicurean Connection will have a Stone Edge Farm and BN Ranch Dinner on Wednesday, Oct. 16, featuring guest rancher Bill Clausen and Stone Edge culinary director and Chef John McReynolds.

Guests can expect roasted Kabocha squash soup, turkey leg confit and cider-brined turkey breast with apple and brandy sauce, farro salad over oven-dried grapes and kale and savoy cabbage with bacon. Cornmeal and olive oil cake with Delice de la Vallee cheese will follow. $55, Stone Edge wines available by glass and bottle. 122 W. Napa St., Sonoma. RSVP: 935-7960.


Sara Remington and Ethel Brennan and Ethel’s mother, sister Dame d’Escoffier writer Georgeanne Brennan, bring their fabulous book, “Paris to Provençe,” to Ramekins Culinary School for a great conversation and three course demonstration.

On Sunday, Oct. 20, they will tell stories (or courses) of creating the book will be accompanied by aperitifs with tapenade, rôti de porc and tomates Provençales for the main course or making of the book, and the final stages of the book with Iles Flottantes, all with French wines. $95. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. 450 W. Spain St., Sonoma. Reservations at 933-0450 or ramekins.com.