Googleburgers, Burgers and Vine update

Kathleen Hill


Ledson Hotel and Centre du Vin turn 10; Kyle swims to fame; Fish and lettuce cautions; Another tasting room

What is a Googleburger? Who knew Google founder Sergey Brin was financing Dutch scientists to create meat from cattle stem cells by extracting them from cattle’s shoulders?

Apparently each stem cell grew into a small strand of meat, and it took 20,000 of those strands pressed together to make one thin patty. And the burger only cost $325,000 to make.

Brin’s intentions are interesting. As demand for meat and burgers rises around the world, partly thanks to the spread of fast food corporations’ “stores,” and cattle herds are sold off due to drought, beef is in higher demand and lower supply. Brin is also concerned about the abundance of methane gas released by bovine digestive systems into the atmosphere.

Hence the synthetic meat experiment by scientists at Maastricht University in the Netherlands.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) officials praised the development because no animals would have to die to create burgers and feed people, but the few who tasted the first experimental “Frankenburger” were less enthusiastic.

Like some of you, I watched the grilling of that burger several times on television news and couldn’t figure out what the liquid is that they kept sloshing on the cooking meat and why they needed to do it.

But don’t worry about menu choices too soon: Commercial sales of the synthetic beef won’t show up for about 20 years, according to lead researcher Mark Post.

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Burgers and Vine update:

Those who have been downtown probably noticed new partial wine barrel planters attached to the Creamery Corner’s stucco walls and the new 
awning that appeared last week around the circumference of the building.

Facing the corner, the awning proclaims “BBQ Joint.” The part facing East Spain advertises “gourmet burgers, homemade pies, gelato and shakes, whiskey bar, live music, smokehouse, brewery, dine in or take out” and then repeats around on the First Street East side.

A peek in the one slightly uncovered window pane shows no interior progress, with stacks of lumber, dangling wires and no action. Carlo Cavallo, who also owns Sonoma Meritâge on West Napa Street, says “We are submitting our plans for the fourth and final time this week.”

According to Wayne Wirick of Sonoma’s building department, Cavallo’s plans have not yet been approved because “they weren’t approvable. He needs to hire licensed professional commercial restaurant architects” who know the ins and outs of restaurant requirements. Hopefully Cavallo now has hired appropriate designers.

Having signed his lease with building owners Dick and Mary Ann Cuneo in November 2012, Cavallo optimistically hopes to get his building permit a week after his revised plans are approved and then expects 30 to 40 days of construction.

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Winemaker, developer and entrepreneur Steve Ledson invites everyone to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his Ledson Hotel and the renamed Centre du Vin, which (I guess) opened in 2003. The “1999” year on the hotel itself refers to the year Ledson bought the property after the Mission Hardware fire that also damaged the adjoining building then owned by Patricia and Ken McTaggart.

Greatly praised by “Condé Nast Traveler,” Ledson built his own hotel from the ground up and created a dining and sipping space that feels like Paris or London. Recently I enjoyed excellent French onion soup, smoked salmon salad and my companion’s fabulous cheeseburger, which suggests the full range of Centre du Vin’s new menu. Also, pay attention to Ledson’s musical lineup, which has included Jeff Bridges, Jefferson Starship, Jonathan Poretz and Luna Itzel.

Ledson invites us all to celebrate with him to enjoy cocktails and passed hors d’oeuvres on Tuesday, Aug. 20. 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. 480 First St. E., Sonoma. 996-9779. ledsonhotel.com, centreduvin.com.