Gloves are off; No La Hacienda on Broadway; Crepes on Sonoma Plaza; Little Switzerland update;

Kathleen Hill has the inside scoop on food and wine.

Kathleen Hill has the inside scoop on food and wine.

Kathleen Hill


Much to the delight of restaurant workers and owners, the California State Senate repealed a controversial law that would have required chefs, cooks and even bartenders putting olives on toothpicks to wear latex gloves.

The original bill, by Assemblymember Dr. Richard Pan, was rejected in the Senate 32-0, according to the San Francisco Business Times. Apparently Pan was willing to go along with the rejection when he heard and felt the outrage from the Golden Gate Restaurant Association and its members.

Some chefs and home cooks believe that their personal touch, which includes natural oils that come from their hands, improve the food they produce.


La Hacienda Taqueria, super popular Mexican restaurant in Boyes Hot Springs, will not be opening a restaurant at 522 Broadway after all.

Co-owner Juan Sahagun seemed optimistic, and said he was ordering the same brightly colored furniture from Mexico as decorates his cheerfully renovated restaurant here, but apparently negotiations broke down. And this after he and his family had posted their ABC liquor license in the window at 522 Broadway, and many members of the community had looked forward to their offerings.

The liquor license posting has been replaced by an “Available” sign in the front window, as there is next door in the former bicycle shop. We have seen several restaurants come and go at 522 Broadway, often due to rent and other financial considerations.

One of the problems existing or aspiring restaurateurs face in starting new restaurants in Sonoma is high rents. One has to practically own the building to be able to start a new restaurant.


Just around the corner on West Napa Street, Gigi Hayes plans to open G’s Modern General Store in what was Plaza Liquors for many decades and then Historic Plaza Liquors and then Proof’d. We were all told that Chase Bank, which owns the property, had told Proof’d to vacate because the bank was selling the building.

Instead, Hayes says that Chase is putting lots of money into upgrading the roof and more, that she did not buy it, and that she hopes to open for business in late July.

Hayes is the sister of Edna Needleman, who with her husband, Bruce, owns Salsa Trading Company at Broadway and Napa Road. She also worked in many facets of retail business for Williams-Sonoma and Smith & Hawkins, and decided that instead of finding clean-line home accessories for them in Scandinavia that she would do it for herself and her new shop. Each section of the 2,000-square-foot store will feature a different room in the home.

My apologies for saying Hayes’s store is part of a chain. It looked (and looks) that way by googling the name of her store. It is her private and independent effort and she is proud of it, for good reason. 19 W. Napa St., Sonoma. (415) 847-5758.


Aventine at Jack London Village invites the world to a grand opening party today, July 4, with “complimentary BBQ, live music and signature cocktails.” Noon to 4 p.m. 14301 Arnold Dr., Glen Ellen. RSVP to Aventine.rsvpify.com.


Keith and Cherie Hughes will pour their just-won California State Fair gold medal, Best of Class and region, 2010 zinfandel at their barbecue party on Tuesday, July 8, at their Sonoma home as part of Sonoma Valley Museum of Art’s Great Places Great Spaces series of small fundraisers. Hughes wines are all organic and made by Rolando Herrera of Mi Sueno Winery.

Catherine Venturini of Olive & Vine will prepare a buffet of Beltane burgers with cheese or not, Niman sausages and dogs with all the trimmings, barbecued Mary’s chicken thighs, sweet white corn on the cobb with sea salt butter, Catherine’s grandmother’s potato salad, apple horseradish slaw, followed by cookies, brownies, ice cream, berries and sauces.

Catherine’s husband, partner and sommelier, John Burdick, will provide music. Casual attire. $175 inclusive picnic with funds going to SVMA. 6:30 p.m. Address upon reservation. RSVP quickly to Maggie at 939-7862, ext. 14 or at svma.org.


Reminder: Wild Thyme’s Dining Club Rive Gauche on Thursday, July 10, will feature King of Western Swing Tommy Thomsen and a stuffed Anaheim chili, watermelon salad with corn muffins, barbecued baby back ribs, summer slaw, spicy potato salad, summer fruit shortcake and coffee. $40. BYOW, no corkage. 7 p.m. FAHA 197 W. Verano Ave., Sonoma. Reservations required: 996-0900 or wildthyme@vom.com.



Lorraine Reed and Mark Sloop have partnered with Dawn and Troy Marmaduke to bring morning crêpes to Grandma Linda’s Ice Cream on First Street East. It would seem to me that an ideal calorie splurge would be to indulge in a crêpe late morning and stick around for Grandma Linda’s ice cream.

Lori McGovern tipped me off that Reed, who has run her successful Planet Organics delivery service throughout the Bay Area for 17 years, would start making crêpes downtown. In keeping with Reed’s custom and principles, all ingredients are organic and all crêpes are available in buckwheat and unbleached flour, and gluten-free ones are just $1 extra.

On the savory side, I tried the “Ham It Up” ($9) made with thinly sliced ham and Swiss cheese melted slightly between crêpe folds and topped with scallions, a fried egg and sour cream drizzle. They also make one with just scrambled egg and jack cheese, a veggie feta with cilantro pesto, feta and sautéed mushrooms, onions and bell peppers, and a “Goat for It” made with goat cheese, herbed chicken, caramelized onions, avocado and sour cream drizzle.

On the sweet side, “Saigon Cassia” contains cinnamon, sugar and butter; “Pucker Up Sweetie” has lemon juice, powdered sugar and butter, one with brie and fruit, another with fruit and yogurt; and topping it all off is the “Feeling Nutty,” loaded with banana, Nutella and hand-whipped cream. ($5 to $10.

Just for fun, they are calling this The Divewalk Café at the Pink Door, loaded with “laughter and love.” Reed already serves crêpes in her Planet Organics tent at 19449 Riverside Drive, at what used to be Nicholas Turkey offices, and where Sonoma Springs Brewery is building out its new brew pub. 6 to 11 a.m. daily. 408 First St., E., Sonoma. info@divewalkcafe.com.


Speaking of Rudy Mihal, as he said he would, he will resurface soon as the chef and barbecue specialist at Rossi’s, the newest, oldest version of Little Switzerland.

According to bartender Brian Scanlon, the new owners, who bought the place from the Garcia family, have done a bang-up job of remodeling inside and out.

According to Little Switzerland’s old website, the bar and restaurant was founded in 1906 by Al Rossi, hence the “new” name. No more polka dancing, but lots of more hip music and fun.


If you need bubbles and oysters to recover from your Fourth celebration, Muscardini Cellars in Kenwood might be your place Saturday afternoon, July 5. The Oyster Girls will return with raw and cooked oysters. Admission includes four oysters and a glass of Michael Muscardini’s wine. $20 public, $15 wine club members. 9380 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood. 933-9305.


The U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear Drakes Bay Oyster Company’s appeal of lower courts’ decisions in Drakes Bay Oyster Co. v. Jewell, 13-1244, to basically support former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar’s decision not to renew Drakes Bay’s lease in 2012. According to the Associated Press, Salazar contended that Drakes Estero should be returned to wilderness status. Legal minds suggest it isn’t completely over for the oyster company.

NBC News reported Monday that Congress could pass a bill that would allow the Lunny family to continue their oyster farming and canning operation. When I asked Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, by email if he would introduce such a bill, he responded in part, “I’m afraid it’s way too late for that. No such legislation could pass this Congress and/or be signed by the President … I am trying to work with the Lunnys to get them as much time and transition assistance as possible, which at this point is the best that can be done.”


Purist chef and owner of Park 121 restaurant at Cornerstone and Park Avenue Catering, Bruce Riezenman, who will only make BLTs with beefsteak tomatoes from The Patch in Sonoma, will start serving them again next week. Expect Applewood smoked bacon, aioli, Romaine lettuces and toasted organic Full Circle bread from Penngrove. The panzanella salad has similar ingredients plus olives, arugula, cucumber, red onion, olives and, using Olive Press Arbequina olive oil.

Watch for his new pizza kitchen, now under construction outside the restaurant.

Riezenman just appointed local, London Vanderkamp, who has been with Park Avenue for almost 10 years, as manager of the restaurant at Cornerstone. Vanderkamp’s assistant manager, Barrett Eichstaedt, has passed parts of both the Court of Master Sommeliers and of the Wine and Spirits Education Trust Masters of Wine program, which is hard to do. Eichstaedt has been with Park 121 since it opened.


Chef Rob Larman’s Cochon Volant (Flying Pig) catering business is smoking and growing exponentially, expanding to two smokers. Larman is also now engaged (yes, engaged) to Lizzie Adair, who commutes Mondays and Fridays to a job in the Sierra foothills and apparently makes killer cookies. Several of us have encouraged her to sell them along with Larman’s smoked meats. Congratulations!


Rocket Catering did a great job catering the Sonoma Valley Teen Services annual Cowboy Cab fundraiser behind the barracks. With a wide range of barbecued chicken and ribs and salads, Rocket also brought Teen Center members to their kitchen to learn how to cook what was being served. The involvement showed in their pride of service. This event started in the home of wine collector Doug and Dr. Marcia Charles Mo, and has grown to serve hundreds who care about our teens. Great job, all.


Let’s acknowledge our community’s fairly recent loss of both Gayle “Uncle Bill” Hunter and Debra “Corn Dog Queen” Hunter, a couple who served thousands of quality chicken corn dogs to farmers market and fair goers for decades. Their family and corn dogs continue at the Tuesday evening farmers’ market.


Gordon Ramsay, the popular, foul-mouthed British star of Fox’s “Kitchen Nightmares” television show, will give up the program following the taping of the current season. In his announcement on his website, Ramsay accounted for 10,197 swear words and consuming, supposedly, 234 Zantacs.

Ramsay’s antics seemed to fuel the public’s fascination with the bad boy who did and said everything most of us wouldn’t. Ramsay began his show in the U.K. in 2004 and brought it to the U.S. in 2007. Admittedly, he learned his “bad boy” persona from British chef Marco Pierre White, from whom Mario Batali says he learned the bad boy ropes.


The New York State Court of Appeals ruled last week that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ban on big soda sales was out of bounds of the city’s Board of Health’s powers. Bloomberg’s goal was to ban sugary soft drinks larger than 16 ounces.

Much of the passion for and against the sweet ban was stirred up by First Lady Michelle Obama’s efforts, on the one hand, to get everyone eating healthier, and conservatives’ efforts, on the other hand, to not have government regulate freedoms of any kind.We do remember Sarah Palin thumping a package of cookies on a school podium demanding rights to eat whatever we want and for kids to have their rights to cookies instead of fruit.

The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously this week to put a similar ban on the ballot in November.

Can’t a person just buy several smaller drinks to satisfy his or her sugar craving?


Happy and safe Fourth and forever.


  • Al Fred

    hmm, let’s see “H”…… ok, your knowledge of Organic is also pathetic… your tone lends itself to more polarization and ignorance not in-depth understanding of the issues, and you cite an article that was written by you… kind of a little self-promotion as well… or at least not an unbiased third party. But other than that, …..

    if you’d prefer to lo-rent your health with non-organics, that, of course, is your deision. Here are afew reasons I prefer highre qauilty organis produce:

    • Organic food cannot be grown using chemical pesticides that make
    us sick and put a burden on our healthcare system. Pesticides used in
    chemical farming have also been implicated recently in colony collapse disorder in bees, a
    disaster that threatens our food supply. (Bees pollinate our food crops.)

    • Organic food cannot be grown using human sewage sludge, a nasty
    by-product of wastewater treatment plants that must deal with heavy
    metals, plasticizing chemicals, chemicals from personal-care products,
    and pharmaceutical drugs. **I have witnessed this first hand in the fields near my house, and its very disgusting odors.

    • Organic meat and dairy animals cannot be raised using growth
    hormones or antibiotics, both of which are used to prop up animal health
    in crowded, filthy conditions such as cattle feedlots or battery-cage chicken operations.

    • Organic farming nourishes the soil, creating better conditions for
    crops to thrive during droughts. Healthy soil’s spongelike quality also
    reduces flooding, saving taxpayer money and headaches. The beneficial
    microorganisms in soil also trap carbon, helping to keep it out of the
    atmosphere where it exacerbates climate change. **This is especially true with the Biodynamic / Permaculture farmers that have soil-building and even community-building as part of their work ethic, the ones that practice poly-culture farming not soil-deadening monoculture growing practices.

    • Organic food cannot be grown using genetically engineered seeds.
    These manipulated seeds, commonly used to grow corn, soy, cotton, and
    canola, are made to withstand heavy doses of pesticides that cover the
    plants and eventually end up inside them (and us).