Kathleen Hill: Good Food Awards honor Sonomans, and a ‘shrub’ from Kansas

Good Food accolades

Every year, just before the Winter Fancy Food Show at San Francisco’s Moscone Center, awards are presented to outstanding innovative food and beer producers. The Good Food Awards Foundation is separate from the Fancy Food Show.

In its seventh year, Good Food Awards were presented in 14 categories: beer, cider, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, coffee, confections, honey, pantry, pickles, preserves, spirits, oil, and our newest category, preserved fish from each of five regions of the U.S.

Nancy and Fred Cline’s Olive Press won for its Jalapeno Olive Oil, and McEvoy Ranch won with its Meyer Lemon Marmalade.

Liam Watson of Thistle Meats, Sonoma native and son of Anita Watson who has worked with Bob Rice at the Breakaway Café from the beginning, won an award for his Duck Liver Mousse.

Laura Chenel’s Ash-rind Buchette is made on Eighth Street East and won in the cheese category and is available at Sonoma Market and other Nugget Markets.

Regional neighbors Foggy Morning from Nicasio Valley Cheese Co. and Point Reyes Farmstead Co.’s Original Blue also won in the cheese category.

Possibly the funniest winning product name was the Las Californias Shrub Company’s “Pineapple Cilantro Habanero Shrub” from, of all places, Kansas.

Bob Rice’s last day as owner of Breakaway

Last Sunday was Bob Rice’s last day as owner of his beloved Breakaway Café, and one of mixed emotions for sure.

He told me that, “I’m over the moon excited about being free to shop at our Friday farmers market every week. These last days are full of many tender goodbyes, a rich time for sure.”

Rice thinks that the new owners realize how dear the Breakaway is to Rice’s customers and friends and do not yet have a renovation schedule. As far as staff know, their schedules remain the same, not having heard otherwise.

It will be great to see Bob Rice around town looking relaxed, and even a little wistful.

La Salette renovation

After a month of renovation of décor and menu, Manuel Azevedo’s La Salette no longer feels like the former location of Mary’s Pizza Shack before Mary’s moved to Spain Street.

The new La Salette brings together Azevedo’s lifelong wish to prepare and share the food that reflects everything about his parents’ and grandparents’ culture in the Azores, combined with his own acquired skills, and to share it with the world.

The décor features warm and soft yellowish beige with a large shell looking wall-mounted light fixture that somewhat mimics the tiles over the wood burning oven.

Azevedo has created a work station for himself where guests can watch the master chef finish the artful touches on his dishes with such delicate tools as long, pointy tweezers.

Sommelier Jason Santos shares his wine knowledge as he teaches guests about Portuguese wines and wine regions. Azevedo also offers some local wines as well. Do not miss the ports.

Charcuterie shop coming to Napa Street

According to property owner and manager Sylvia Bernard, catering and private chef Andrea Marino is taking over the space on West Napa Street that most recently housed Studebaker Cheesecake and Fiorini’s bakery before that.

Marino will at first develop his line of charcuterie in the back and eventually expand to a retail shop and possibly a café in the front.

According to his website, Marino began his career in Europe working in over 20 restaurants before opening his own restaurant in Barbaresco, Italy, where he earned a Michelin star for 10 of the 15 years that he was open. He is from Piemonte in Italy and grew up learning family recipes and techniques from his grandmother before attending culinary school.

Marino is married to Dr. Doreen Marino, an internist who is taking on some of the late Dr. Rolf Olness’s medical practice here in Sonoma.

Sonoma Grille celebrates first anniversary

In the same grand fashion with which he opened Sonoma Grille, Nima Sherpa gave a huge party to celebrate his first year in business just before he took off for a brief break in his native Nepal.

The whole shebang was on the house, from cocktails to Cline, Rosenblum and St. Francis wines, Gloria Ferrer bubbles, and Nima’s own house brewed Avalanche Pale Ale.

Appetizers seemed endless including spicy chicken dumplings, chicken on skewers, vegetable flat bread, raw oysters, meat balls, beef taquitos, chicken wings and calamari.

If they could just fix the noise level. Many of us are waiting for outdoor dining on the patio where it is usually quiet enough to hear each other.

What will happen to the White House Kitchen Garden?

Sam Kass served in the Obama White House from 2009 to 2014, as President Barack Obama’s Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition Policy, as Executive Director for First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign, and as an assistant chef. He also helped develop the Kitchen Garden, having been selected for the job over Alice Waters of Berkeley’s Chez Panisse.

Here’s hoping the new administration keeps this garden that has served as an example of good eating and gardening for so many Americans and inspired school gardens throughout the world, a movement Alice Waters is credited with starting.

Free fruit tree pruning clinic

Speaking of kitchen gardening, Sonoma Mission Gardens offers a free home orchard fruit tree pruning clinic on Saturday, Jan. 28 at 10 a.m. Dave Fazio, owner of SMG, will give the clinic himself and is a recognized expert on all things garden.

Some of us prefer to do our own trees, so this is a perfect chance to learn. Reserve your seat at 938-5775. 851 Craig Ave., Sonoma.

Trump’s inaugural luncheon

The first inaugural luncheon honored the swearing in of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower was organized by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies in 1953. Creamed chicken, baked ham and potato puffs were on Eisenhower’s menu in the Old Senate Chamber.

These days, menu selections often feature products from the committee leaders’ states or districts, sort of a perk of helping in some way.

Barack Obama’s 2013 Inaugural Luncheon included steamed lobster, grilled bison and apple pie.

Donald Trump’s luncheon in Statuary Hall included Maine lobster and Gulf Shrimp with saffron sauce and peanut crumble served with J. Lohr 2013 Arroyo Visa Chardonnay, followed by grilled Seven Hills Angus beef in dark chocolate and juniper jus with potato gratin, served alongside Delicato Black Stallion 2012 Limited Release Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

For dessert, guests tasted a chocolate soufflé and cherry vanilla ice cream served with Korbel Natural “Special Inaugural Cuvée” California Champagne.

Trump cake plagiarism?

Donald Trump inauguration committee organizers asked the Buttercream Bake Shop in Washington, D.C. to replicate famed baker Duff Goldman’s cake that he made for Barack Obama’s second inauguration four years ago. No copyrights on cake designs, apparently.