Fruit Baskets sold; Feeding firefighters; ‘Big Night’ with tastes at museum; Culinary cruising; Culinary series at Wells Fargo Center

Kathleen Hill with Tony Shaloub

Kathleen Hill with Tony Shaloub

Kathleen Hill


Both Fruit Baskets have been sold to the Homran Brothers, of which Joewad Homran is president. According to my Google search, Homran also runs the Discount Cigarette store in the Fifth Street West shopping center and Lagrande Market in Hayward.

On a visit last weekend I found gnats hovering on over-ripe fruit, no avocados, a lot less produce, and more general store merchandise such as yummy Mexican sodas and Clorox.

Supplies of everything seemed to be down, at least at the Boyes Hot Springs outpost. This stand has been valuable to the entire Sonoma Valley for fruit, vegetables, rice, pastas, olive oils, dried fruit and lots more at prices substantially below that of supermarkets. Hopefully the Homrans will pick things up.


Feeding firefighters:

While I heard Saturday evening that Schellville Grill had closed down to feed the firefighters during the Sonoma Pacific lumber fire almost two weeks ago, the rumor was only partly true.

Matt and sister Emily Nagan did close down at their regular 2 p.m. and geared up to feed any firefighters who showed up. When Matt told second generation Schell-Vista Fire Chief Ray Mulas that he was ready to feed everyone, Mulas said Broadway Market had already stepped up and provided sandwiches for the gang. Thanks for community generosity and willingness to help, though.

So the Nagans reopened as scheduled for dinner to feed a large party of Ferrari drivers hosted by Steve Page of Sonoma Raceway.


As part of my “Kitchen Memories” exhibition, join us to watch the classic and fun food-centric movie “Big Night” Thursday, Sept. 26, at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, in a combined presentation with the Sonoma International Film Festival.

Lisa Lavagetto, Ramekins’ chef ambassador, will prepare her popular take on the timballo, the main dish fussed about in “Big Night,” starring Tony Shalhoub and Stanley Tucci. Shalhoub was here a few years ago for a showing when I introduced and interviewed him.

Lavagetto cooked the whole “Big Night” dinner for Shalhoub and his wife, Brooke Adams, and John and Nancy Lasseter after the two couples watched the movie in the Lasseters’ home theater in Glen Ellen. Muscardini Cellars will pour fine wines.

We will show two more foodie films as part of the “Kitchen Memories” series including “Like Water for Chocolate” on Thursday, Oct. 10, during which Betty Kelly of Wine Country Chocolates and Dana Jaffe of Saddles will recreate a chocolate delectable from the movie. Enjoy Barbara Pascoe’s Barbed Oak Vineyards wines with your chocolate.

On Thursday, Nov. 7, we will show the hit “Julie and Julia” with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, with food prepared by Sondra Bernstein and John Toulze of the girl and the fig, long a French leaning restaurant. Hughes Family Vineyards will serve their Phil Coturri-farmed organic wines. Each film, $15 museum members, $20 non-members includes food and wine tastes. Reserve early (only 60 seats) at svma.org/calendar/events/foodie-film-series or at 939-7862, ext. 13.


Murphy’s Irish Pub has a new menu created by executive chef Derek Belanger. Hugely updated, a couple of nods to the Murphy’s Irish American heritage remain, such as fish and chips of Guinness battered cod with hand cut fries ($13/$17 with coleslaw and other sides each $5 extra). And they still have bangers and mash with onion gravy and bacon-roasted Brussels sprouts ($14) and sides of mushy peas, then jumping cultures again to crispy polenta.

The menu moves into semolina dusted calamari, fish tacos, chicken wings, bacon wrapped jalapenos, pepper jack stuffed tater tots, Angus beef sliders, Santa Maria tri-tip dip, half-pound “Murph Burger,” mushroom burger, kale salad, classic iceberg wedge with blue cheese, crispy goat cheese salad, steak, a savory pie of the day and more ($8 to $19).


At a huge Sunday gathering at the famed McEvoy

Ranch straddling the Marin-Sonoma border to save Drakes Bay Oyster Company and agriculture in West Marin and Sonoma, Richard and Susan Idell were the exclusive wine pourers. Richard Idell represents Drakes Bay Oyster Company against the California Coastal Commission concerning the CCC’s failure to do an environmental impact report on actions taken against the oyster company and related claims.

They joined food providers such as chefs from Farallon, Hayes Street Grill, Waterbar, Zuni Café, Emporio Rulli, Mandarin Oriental, Swan Oyster Depot, Strauss Family Creamery, Della Fattoria, Star Route Farms, Green String, Marshall Store, Nick’s Cove, Cowgirl Creamery, Tomales Farmstead, Russian River Brewing, Gloria Ferrer, Equator, Hidden Star Orchards, the Lunny family and Drakes Bay Oysters.

As they sipped and nibbled at a white cloth covered table for 160, attendees listened to interesting speakers such as fifth generation Marin agriculturalist Sam Dolcini, former Rep. Pete McCloskey, Chronicle Books CEO and McEvoy Ranch co-owner Nion McEvoy, and National Academy of Sciences member and Stanford and Cal biology professor Corey Goodman.


Future Farmers of America (FFA) held its annual fundraiser at the always-generous Larson Family Winery Saturday, who were joined as sponsors by Fred and Nancy Cline of Cline Cellars and Wilbur Ellis, all to support the “From Classroom to Farm to Table” program. Ag teacher Danny Aschwanden kept moving the space heater around to the biggest bidder’s table, which meant it pretty much stayed up at the “head table” where we were not sitting.

FFA students did most of the work, from setting up to selling raffle tickets, serving dinner and cleanup. Broadway Market provided the tri-tip, oysters and chili, Basque Boulangerie gave bread for the excellent garlic bread, Chickie Vella donated cheese and butter for everything, and Marilyn Costa of A Culinary Affair gave the three cheese polenta. Sonoma Valley High School Culinary Program students made a whole buffet of wide-ranging desserts from fabulous pound cake to even better chocolate chip cookies, all accompanied by Watmaugh strawberries. The Rich Little Band warmed up the crowd in a couple of ways, despite the cold wind that blew and blew, believe it or not.

On behalf of the kids, the ag farm, educational garden and vineyards, we say thank you to all the generous contributors.


During our Les Dames d’Escoffier board meeting at Amaryll Schwertner’s Boulette’s Larder, now called BouliBar, in San Francisco’s Ferry Plaza, President Janet Griggs revealed that her Taste Catering has been feeding the New Zealand-Emirates America’s Cup team for three months. Maybe that’s their secret to success rather than “strategy.” Yes, I am a new board member, much to my surprise.


Last week I slightly mocked Valley of the Moon Winery’s “rising of the new moon” and 150-year celebration, but what a party it was on Saturday!

While the owners have added buildings, they have used old looking wood, which helps. After waiting in line to register, we were served their new pinot blanc from a screw top bottle and pointed to other patios. Rosso Pizzeria of Santa Rosa and Petaluma made wood-fired pizzas, and both Sondra Bernstein and John Toulze of girl and the fig caters prepared meatball sliders, handmade ice cream, appetizers and cheeses, the latter served in the barrel room where a Cirque-style acrobat swung from the ceiling by colorful scarves. I love that stuff and am so jealous. And there was lots of barrel tasting and sipping going on.

George Webber, James Marshall Berry and friends played supposedly historic characters, while “Vinoletta” did a rather stilted walk on four stilts covered with vines. 777 Madrone Road, Glen Ellen. 939-4500, valleyofthemoonwinery.com.


Defrocked southern Food Network y’all star Paula Deen made her tearful “first step back” into her public world with an appearance in Texas where assembled fans gave her a reported 10-minute standing ovation.


Chili’s faux-Mex restaurant chain will soon place computers on each table so guests can order and charge their meals quicker. Restaurant officials admitted that people tend to order more of everything by computer, especially more desserts, apparently because it doesn’t seem to count as calories or real money.


Bellwether Farms presents a new culinary series at Santa Rosa’s Wells Fargo Center for the Arts kicking off with none other than “Alton Brown Live: The Edible Inevitable Tour” on Friday, Oct. 5. Enjoy live music, family-friendly stand-up comedy, and maybe even get to help on stage. VIP $85, $65 and $45.

The second presenter will be Brit Robert Irvine Live (“Dinner Impossible” and “Restaurant Impossible”) on Friday, Jan. 17. VIP $100, $55, $40). And then my favorite, Ina Garten, aka the Barefoot Contessa.

A Food Network star from Connecticut, Ina Garten (is that really her name?) is thought by many to be the anti-Martha Stewart. Garten also started as a caterer, but is a little softic shall we say, and doles out real and simple recipes on her show and in her eight super successful cookbooks. $125, $65, $45. All at 8 p.m. Tickets at 546-3600 or wellsfargocenterarts.org.


What a relief. Dumbwaiters made in the USA are now available. Just now? Actually, these are super commercial, made by Butler Mobility, and can move up to 450 pounds at once. How many of us miss the dumbwaiter that the infamously smart waiter Edsel Ford Wong used to use at the late Sam Wo’s restaurant in Chinatown?


Marcia and Gary Nelson, Mike Benziger and Manuel Merjil recently hosted a delightful gathering at their subtle French chateau-like home to launch a community drive to celebrate and complete the Marcia and Gary Nelson Family Emergency Care Center and Surgery Center.

Suzy and Squire Fridell of GlenLyon Vineyards and Winery donated all wines, and Bob Rice of Breakaway Café gave the hors d’oeuvres, the pièce de résistance of which was the huge bowl of salmon confit served with El Molino Central chips and salsas; as well as stuffed summer squash; Oak Hill Farm melon with prosciutto, figs with blue cheese; and caponata on seeded wafers.

Among the guests were Nancy and Bill Boerum, Sharon and Richard Nevins, Gerry and Bill Brinton, Catherine and David Good, John Gurney, Valerie Pistole, Bob Kowal, Judy Vadasz, Brenda Buckerfield and Tommy Mensing, David Cole and David Brinkley, Paul Curreri, Nancy and Mike Hedley, Inge Hutzel, Kathleen Leonard, Byron Hancock, Ginger Martin, Walter Schug, Tina Shone, Mary Szykowny, Maurice Tagelaar, Cynthia Wood and Diane and Todd Garrett.


Culinary cruising:

Stone Edge Farm Culinary Director John McReynolds and Sonoma’s Best owners Gayle and Tom Jenkins will lead a fabulous 10-day Caribbean culinary cruise on the Oceania Riviera starting in Miami on Jan. 13, 2014. Sonoma’s Best will curate the wines while McReynolds leads hands-on cooking classes because this ship boasts 12 guest cooking stations to actually cook. Fares start at $2,699 per person including airfare, double occupancy (no deals for singles), with $250 extra charge for “exclusive food or wine experience.” For more information contact local Craig Adryan at 509-7588 or gowombat@aol.com.


Words to think about: “humanely slaughtered,” “all natural” and “local.” Send me words you catch at kathleensonoma@gmail.com.