Kathleen Hill: Breakaway sale and holiday parties

More on the Breakaway sale to the Sunflower

Bob Rice’s Breakaway Café, which he has sold to the owners of the Sunflower Caffé, has been a community gathering place, and every town needs one. We don’t have the inexpensive coffee shops that presidential candidates visit to meet retired people holding thick ceramic coffee cups without saucers. But we have had the Breakaway.

When Bob started the Glen Ellen Inn years ago, he walked around the corner and asked Don Shone, then of Shone’s Market, to give him two weeks of food and wine to start the restaurant. Shone did it, of course, and Bob said it took him a good year to pay Shone back. This was old Sonoma.

Bob is a great chef and a quiet, decent gentleman who never sought publicity, and his quality food often got overlooked by guidebook reviewers. James Hahn of the Sunflower Caffé got Guy Fieri to film a segment for “Diners, Drive-ins & Dives,” which helped put the Sunflower on the map.

Now Bob is feeling sad, and who wouldn’t. He will be at the Breakaway until Monday, Jan. 23, so be sure to go several times to say hi. Anita Watson and Sheila Whitney Stanfield were his first employees at the first Breakaway 22 years ago, and they plan to stay. Watch for upgrades in the kitchen and other facilities.

Crab season update

Health officials have again postponed the opening of commercial crab fishing from Pt. Reyes northward to Humboldt County. Be sure to ask your fish monger (butcher most places) where the crabs they are selling came from. Some recently purchased crabs have had black bodies instead of white meat. Sonoma Market manager Al Minero assures us that the crab they are selling comes from Half Moon Bay.

Kenwood Holiday Dinner

Kenwood will host its annual Holiday Dinner, an old fashioned community potluck at the Kenwood Depot from 4 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3. There are no tickets. Just bring your favorite dish to share with other Kenwood residents. A-F bring entrées, G-I salads, M-R appetizers and S-Z desserts. Turkey, ham and soft drinks will be provided, with a no-host wine and beer bar. The Kenwood Community Club sponsors the whole shindig and the “Holiday Spirit Raffle.”

Sonoma Sister Cities Holiday Party

Sonoma Sister Cities Association invites all who are interested in our Sister Cities to come to the group’s holiday party Friday, Dec. 2 at the Sonoma Barracks at First Street East and Spain Street.

Expect to enjoy “rich and vibrant cultures through delicious and diverse appetizers along with a variety of local wines,” according to Hans Steuck. Board members will be there; you can learn about all of Sonoma’s Sister Cities around the world and what is planned for next year. Free admission. 6 to 8 p.m.

Millericks at Schellville Grill

The Millerick clan, one of Sonoma’s great ranching and farming families, took over Schellville Grill temporarily for Thanksgiving dinner. Pam Millerick Hellen cooked the whole feast including “turkey, stuffing, mashed, sweet and scalloped potatoes, Mom’s raspberry Jell-o mold, veg tray, peas and bacon, Basque rolls, creamed onions and a chaser salad! Desserts were pumpkin pies, apple pie, whipped cream fruit cake and a cranberry tart. It was truly a feast!”

Of the Thanksgiving attendees, Pam Hellen said, “The oldest was my mother-in-law, Elaine Hellen at 97, next my Mom, Rose at 96, and my Aunt Helen Larson 92. The youngest was my granddaughter Nina at 6!

According to Michael Millerick, “Thirty-five of us showed up, all descendants of or married into my great-grandfather Michael J Millerick’s line.”

Just an historical note. Mom (grande dame Rose Scarafoni Millerick) remembers walking into the cafe in 1927, which makes the place 89 years old at least. Rose and Sylvia Scarafoni Sebastiani were sisters and very prominent in Sonoma Valley.

According to Michael, “We moved from Texas back to Sonoma when Dad retired in 1959. Mom’s dad, Joe Scarafoni, owned the old Brandt Ranch – at the 12/121 junction – right across the highway from Yeo’s Triangle Café (now Schellville Grill).

Millerick continued, “In high school I pumped gas at Yeo’s and Bill & Dorothy Yeo became an intricate part of our family.

“So did the diner. It was the morning gathering place for area farmers, ranchers and even some Sonoma ‘city’ folks like August Sebastiani and Don Canevari.” That custom continued after Ford’s Café took over, and into Matthew Nagan’s current tenure, although some of those old farmers and ranchers are riding the great plows in the sky.

Santa comes to Larson Family Winery

One of Santa’s first stops will be at Larson Family Winery, Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 3 and 4. Santa will be at the winery from noon to 3 p.m. Bring your own photo device, your family, and even your pet and take a photo with Santa. Pack a picnic and enjoy the holidays in the vineyard. Play a little bocce, taste their gourmet foods, visit with their barnyard animals and their famous three labs.

Larson Family Winery again has a direct mailbox to Santa. Children and adults can go by the Larson tasting room anytime between Dec. 1 and 24 and drop their letters to Santa in Larson’s special North Pole mailbox. For every letter deposited in the mailbox, Larson will donate $1 to Valley of the Moon Children’s Center. They have also donated a new educational vineyard at VOMCC, as well as at Adele Harrison Middle School

You might vote for the Larson entry in the annual Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance Gingerbread House competition, which they won last season. This year’s entry was made by Chef Linda Rodriguez. Reserve at larsonfamilywinery.com or at 938-3031, ext. 20. Noon to 3 p.m. both days. 23355 Millerick Road in Sonoma, just off Highway 121. More information at 938-3031, ext. 20 or larsonfamilywinery.com.

Wine Country Winter Festival

Emily Fitzpatrick of Glen Ellen will show and sell her colorful bags, aprons and lots of other goodies she makes in her studio at the Wine Country Winter Festival at the Santa Rosa Fairgrounds Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 3 and 4. The new event is organized by Janet Ciel and her husband, Michael Ecton, who also organized the Bodega Bay Seafood, Art & Wine Festival since 1993. Watch for hundreds of artists and craftspeople as well as lots of regular fairgrounds foods, beer and wine. Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. winecountrywinterfestival.com.