Janet Fletcher here Nov. 5; Apologies to Burger and Vine; Grange gets kitchen gift; Beltane Zin launched; Suite D pop-ups; McDonald’s drops Heinz


Kathleen Hill


Janet Fletcher, the only weekly newspaper cheese columnist in the United States, will bring her new book, “Cheese and Beer” to Sheana Davis’ Epicurean Connection on Tuesday, Nov. 5. Writing weekly for the San Francisco Chronicle, Fletcher finds cheeses most of us have never heard of and makes us want to find and taste them. And she does it with complete knowledge and charm. Fletcher lives in the Napa Valley, grows vegetables to feed her husband and herself, and joins in his grape growing while he makes wine.

Guests on Tuesday will get flights of beers and cheeses, with a chance to purchase Fletcher’s new book and get her to sign it.

Participating brewers will include Denise Jones of Napa Point Cask & Stone Brewery; Arne Johnson of Marin Brewing Company, and Brian Hunt of Moonlight Brewing Company. $25 includes tastes, book extra. 6:30 to 8 p.m. 122 W. Napa St., Sonoma. 935-7960.

Davis just returned from leading a seminar on “How to Sell to Specialty Food Stores” in Portland, Ore., on behalf of the Fancy Food Show organization known as NASFT. Davis and others who presented will also travel to New York, Los Angeles and Seattle.


My apologies to restaurateur Carlo Cavallo. He does, indeed, have a permit from the Design Review Commission for his brown wrap-around awning and received that permission Jan. 15, citing precedent that Cucina Viansa had a similar awning several years ago.

A city planning commissioner had told me that he did not come before them and did not have permission. It turns out he never needed permission from the Planning Commission, and got it from the appropriate group.

For several years, previous owners, real estate brokers and agents, prospective restaurant tenants and the current owners of the corner building have conversed with me (and many others) on the long-term vacancy and what they would like to see there, primarily a Sonoma family restaurant that locals would like to frequent.

Many Sonomans would just like to see a successful business up and running at a key corner of our Plaza. It’s an ideal location across from the mission. In fact, my late mother and I had a shop in the back of the property when Lonny Dunlap owned the building and had a successful deli and restaurant there.

Let’s pass some good juju along to get Burgers and Vine going and help Cavallo and partners succeed.


Speaking of permits, Sunee Petprasert has received all of the needed permits to install a proper kitchen for her 599 Thai Café at the Marketplace’s former Barking Dog coffee location. Eventually, but not soon, she will have to move out of her current location on Broadway due to Williams-Sonoma’s purchase of the property.


Rumor Department:

A correspondent and I both spotted Envolve Winery co-owner “Bachelor” Ben Flajnik accompanying mama Kris Kardashian to AT&T Park for Kanye West’s made-for-TV proposal to Kim Kardashian, the mother of his child, North. Ben and Kris were also photographed leaving Barneys in Beverly Hills last Friday before Kim Kardashian’s birthday party and shown on “Extra” Monday evening.


Sonoma Valley Grange members feel completely blessed with a gift of $100,000 to develop the kitchen from Leslie and John McQuown, owners of the renowned Stone Edge Farm.

Stone Edge Culinary Director John McReynolds and winemaker Jeff Baker, both longtime Grange members and always-show-up volunteers, helped obtain the gift. McReynolds has also been key in the McQuowns’ generous gifts to the Sonoma School Garden project, particularly to our Altimira and Adele Harrison middle schools.

A new certifiable kitchen at the Grange will help the group host informative meetings and possibly allow community cooks to use space to develop legitimate catering businesses.


Send all good wishes, vibes and prayers toward executive chef Dana Jaffe of Saddles Steakhouse. She fell off a horse in Washington, seriously broke several ribs and other bones, and added a plate and eight screws to her body parts. Her kitchen crew, led by good friend Sanjeev, will continue to produce excellent food and those great martinis until she gets back. Flown by Lear jet, she arrived this week at Kaiser Santa Rosa and is most grateful for her care and loving friends.


How privileged we were to attend Beltane Ranch’s fabulous barn dinner to celebrate and taste their first-ever estate zinfandel. Beltane doyenne, Rosemary Wood, dropped in and joined other family including her daughter Alexa Wood, and Alexa’s daughter, Lauren Benward Krause and son, Alex Benward. Fabulous food by Beltane chef Greg Markey, who is also executive chef de cuisine for Stark Reality Restaurant Group, whose restaurant repertoire includes Willi’s Wine Bar, Stark’s, Monte’s and Brava.

Many of the Beltane friends who were there celebrated Beltane’s 2012 Zinfandel, but felt the passion for the family and their growing practices. All of the food came from their organic gardens, including their grass-fed cattle. Winemaker Kevin Holt purposely kept the first zin yield low by limiting each vine to two clusters of grapes instead of the normal 20 or so, making this wine even more select and allowing the vines to use their energy to develop their systems for the future. Bravo.


Sondra Bernstein has several more pop-up dinners coming up at her Suite D, to include wines and a harvest dinner of slow roasted pork loin on Nov. 8, ($52); “Southern Suppers” Nov. 14 and 15 of deviled eggs, country fried chicken and slow cooked brisket with mac ‘n’ cheese, collard greens, creamy grits, tater tots and apple cobbler and pecan tartlets ($48); and a lobster dinner on Dec. 18. thegirlandthefig.com.


Sonoma Valley Museum of Art’s final summer Great Places Great Spaces party at John and Pam Story’s hilltop residence was spectacular with breathtaking views in many directions and a luscious sunset.

Maryann Kirchner, Tery and Dan Parks, Jill Spencer, Diane and Stephen Bieneman, Arline and Buddy Pepp, Deborah and Joseph Baratta, Laurie and Bill Hake, Erin and Frances Collins, Susan Orb, Richard and Susan Idell, Susan Walker, Diana and Peter Ferris, Harriet and Randy Derwingson, Claudia Sims, Gary Seifer, Brenda Buckerfield and Tommy Mensing, Cherie and Keith Hughes, Susan and Lew Cook, Yvonne Hall, Marcelo Defreitas and Scott Smith, Julie and Bob Coplon, Douglas Fenn Wilson, Ginger Martin, Fred Favero, Steven Bohlen, Gerry Snedaker and Diane Krause, Kathy Witkowicki, Bob and Gretchen Gardner, Gretchen Schoch, Nancy Kivelson and Tom Angstadt, Troy and Steven Hightower, Sharon and Bob Kahn, Chris Cahill, and Kathe and Fred Hodgson all enjoyed Olive and Vine’s laden appetizer buffet of perfectly cooked salmon filets, risotto cakes, zucchini frittata, and loads of other goodies.

It’s such a pleasure to watch Catherine Venturini performing her art, delicately dabbing dollops of caviar and crème fraîche on quarter-sized blinis.


Now the government of Mexico has banned Foster Farms chicken from the company’s three Central Valley plants. Let’s hope Foster Farms cleans up its act beyond full-page ads in major newspapers. Meanwhile, Petaluma Poultry, Fulton Valley Farms and Mary’s Chickens are available at Whole Foods and Sonoma and Glen Ellen Markets. Tom Martin reports that Lucky’s uses Tyson chickens for its cooked chickens.


Congregation Shir Shalom’s Jewish Winemaker’s Tasting and Nosh was a huge success again. Mara Kahn and Alexandra Allen and a bevy of great volunteer cooks produced tons of yummy “from scratch” Jewish foods, which you do not have to be Jewish to enjoy.

The leftovers went to Sonoma Valley’s Meals on Wheels on Monday, gratefully received by Susan Weeks and Sue Holman and their own bevy of great volunteer cooks.

Fewer wineries poured because of momentarily enforced laws that kept home winemakers from sharing their wines. Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation that will allow home winemakers to pour their wines for charities starting Jan. 1, so they will be back next year.


Speaking of Meals on Wheels, its Saturday benefit at the Ceja’s Carneros Brewing Company attracted 300 hungry guests who went through all 30 chili cook-off contestants’ free chili and were gone from the grounds by 3:30 p.m. Several friends who also got there too late gathered in the friendly and pleasant beer tasting room. Many thanks to Roger Declercq of Sonoma Gourmet for organizing this fundraiser for the second year.

I missed the whole thing because I was celebrating my granddaughter’s third birthday and covering my daily walking miles at Chuck E. Cheese in Walnut Creek.


Last Friday morning I suddenly had a little time to kill and went to the farmers market, which I usually miss due to a meeting and my radio show from 10 to 11 a.m.

Down at the end of the vendor isle, I discovered the Physis booth, selling a healthy looking kale and cabbage slaw in a clear plastic full-looking container marked $4.50 and 16 ounces on the lid. That would be one pound, right? Seemed like an über healthy breakfast.

When I got to KSVY the guys at the station weighed it on a computerized scale: Exactly 8.8 ounces, not 16 ounces. A big difference.

After an hour of great radio chat with Mara Kahn and Maddy Leader, and then Avram Goldman about the Jewish Winemakers’ Taste and Nosh, I noticed the volume of the slaw in said container was only about two-thirds its original, which is understandable.

So I went back to the farmers market. Manager Hilda Swartz was shocked and had her board president march down to the Physis booth with me. While market folks said they are “the nicest people,” they didn’t seem surprised at their own mislabeling, but gave me my money back. I left the unopened slaw with them.

It seems as if they should fill the container with a full pound of slaw, reduce the price for a half-pound or get new lids with accurate measurements and prices. Apparently the weights and measures fine is pretty steep for such practices. Let’s hope it was some sort of mistake. Thanks to farmers market management for following up.


Lots of learning opportunities:

The Culinary Institute of America now offers a vast range of wine and cheese classes at its new Wine Studies Annex in downtown Napa for the public. You can just be interested and don’t have to be a professional.

Learn to be a better taster, pair food with wines you like or wine with foods you like, find out secret Napa Valley wines and about “California’s best cheeses and wines that love them.” Prices vary. 500 First St., Napa. 967-2385.


Food Network stars Robert Irvine and Ina Garten are coming to the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa early next year, but it would be smart to order your tickets now. Sonoma County’s Bellwether Farms cow and sheep dairy farmers and cheese producers sponsor the culinary series.

Irvine is the belligerent British host of “Restaurant: Impossible” and “Dinner: Impossible” on the Food Network. Apparently the softy curmudgeon will present “a multi-media and multi-sensory theatrical experience” with lots of cameras, music and videos on Friday, Jan. 17. VIP ticket includes a pre-show cooking seminar with Irvine. Tickets: VIP $100, $55 and $40.

But my favorite, Ina Garten (did she make up that name?), known as the “Barefoot Contessa,” will show up Wednesday, April 2. Known in some circles as the anti-Martha Stewart, Garten was also a caterer in Connecticut whose first cookbook, “The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook,” was published in 1999, and led to eight more books and one of the Food Network’s most popular shows.

Garten’s low-key, homey-while-elegant style is comforting, and she actually gives real and doable recipes. Q&A after her show.  VIP tickets include pre-show meet and greet with Ina Garten and an autographed copy of her newest book. Tickets: VIP $125, $65, $45. Both presentations at 8 p.m. Tickets at 546-3600, at wellsfargocenterarts.org, or in person at 50 Mark West Springs Rd., Santa Rosa (noon to 6 p.m. daily.)


McDonald’s has dropped Heinz ketchup, formerly known as catsup, because a Heinz executive left that company to run McDonald’s rival, Burger King.


Bon appétit and peace!