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Kathleen Hill: Food news from the Sonoma Valley


Dave Viviani switches family food businesses

Longtime scion of the Viviani cheese family, Dave Viviani, participated in the family’s Sonoma Cheese Factory business, which was sold, taken back, and sold again. Dave marketed Sonoma Creamery’s Mr. Cheese O’s, high-end flavored cheese puffs.

But he decided it was time to move along after 50 years in cheese and has found his new Sonoma family with Donny Sebastiani’s U Gottabee Nutz, which includes flavored almonds, pistachios and cashews.

Sebastiani’s product brochure quotes generations of reactions to Sebastiani family new ideas as “You gotta be nuts,” as they did to his new snack business. Hence, U Gottabee Nutz.

So there was Dave Viviani at Sonoma Market the other day lining up his display on Joyce Parsons’ sample table, moving things around and adjusting placement just as we had seen him with Mr. Cheese O’s a few years ago. Now with his main residence in San Francisco’s Marina, Viviani seemed truly happy and stays a few nights a week here in Sonoma as well.

Sonoma Cheese Factory’s remodeled retail store is owned by Viviani sisters and is doing very well.

Saddles Steakhouse spring cleaning

Several Sonoma restaurants closed in January for annual spiff-ups, but Saddles Steakhouse will close for a few days, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday Feb. 5, 6 and 7 for “early spring cleaning.”

Santa Rosa JC Wine Classic

Honoring pasta king Art Ibleto and Worth Our Weight (WOW) founder Evelyn Cheatham, the JC hosts its third annual Wine Classic to raise funds to support the JC’s Wine, Culinary Arts and Hospitality programs, a career training school.

Thirty wineries, including Buena Vista, Kunde and St. Francis from Sonoma Valley, will pour their finest wines to go with ample appetizers prepared by Culinary Arts students and pounds of cheese donated by Oliver’s markets.

Nonagenarian Art Ibleto runs his Art’s Place and pasta stand at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds and is known for donating pasta for many nonprofits and political groups, and Evelyn Cheatham is founder of the WOW culinary program for young people and others who need a new start in life. Chris Silva of St. Francis Winery chairs the event. $75 includes parking. 2 to 5 p.m. Tickets before they sell out at srjcwineclassic.com.

Beltane Pruning and Pig Roast Party

Beltane Ranch will host an unusual and fun-sounding learning experience and feast on Saturday, Feb. 25 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Beltane will provide rubber boots, a crew T-shirt and pruner so you can join Beltane winemaker Kevin Holt and the Beltane Ranch family and crew for hands-on experience and “friendly competition” with pruning coaches, taste previews of Beltane wines throughout the day, and an Argentine-inspired open fire roasted suckling pig feast.

Beltane executive chef Lauren Kershner will add winter garden vegetables, pineapple, heirloom beans and grilled-on-site handmade tortillas paired with their pre-release estate wines. Live Latin music and bonfire all day, and pruners, rubber boots and crew T-shirt included in ticket price. $135 wine club members, $165 public. Purchase tickets immediately at beltaneranch.com.

What’s brewing with Picazo food truck

Picazo Café’s truck will serve its full menu of burgers and fish and chips on Thursday evenings at Sonoma Springs Brewing Co. starting now, perfect to wash down with the brewery’s just-released wildflower saison beer called “Women Are Smarter!” on tap or in the bottle.

More food and wine events

Sonoma Community Center’s annual Chili Bowl Express fundraiser is also Saturday, Feb. 25 featuring chili made by Sonoma chefs served in bowls created and donated by Sonoma ceramic artists.

So far chefs contributing chili to fill your bowl include the Girl & the Fig, Carneros Bistro, Ramekins, Spread Catering, Sonoma Golf Club, and Woodfired Napa, with Madrone Ridge wines and Lagunitas brews, music by “Take Your Medicine.”

You choose your own favorite bowl and get it filled with the chili of your choice, with seatings at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 and 5:00 p.m. $27 early bird ticket price, $30 day of event. Tickets at sonomacommunitycenter.org.

The Eighth Street Wineries will hold their annual open house on Saturday, Feb. 25 throughout the small warehouses where they actually make their wine. Enkidu, William Knuttel, Tin Barn, Stone Edge Farm, Victor Hill, Vulture Winery, Talisman, Ty Caton, Poseidon and Obsidian Ridge will all pour and serve small bites to keep everyone sober. $45. Designated driver $10. Noon to 4 p.m. 21692 Eighth St. E. Tickets at 939-3930 or eighthstreetwineries.com.

Atwood Ranch party of parties

Beltane neighbors Tom and Julie Atwood hosted a Glen Ellen and Kenwood neighbors and friends party that included lots of ranchers and vineyardists in Atwoods’ always beautifully decorated barn.

Sage Catering did the honors with stations featuring local oysters with Kettle One cocktail sauce and citrus and pepper mignonette; skirt steak tacos, pork carnitas, and pinquito beans; tortilla soup that warmed the soul in the indoor breeze; arroz con pollo and arroz con veggies; Little Gem lettuce roll-ups; mac and cheese; small BLTs made with Zoe’s bacon and Star Route lettuces on fresh baguettes, and three flavors of pots de crème. All that followed up with French roast coffee, teas, and Mexican hot chocolate.

Stone Edge Farm Thursday dinners

Finally! Chef John McReynolds, culinary director of Stone Edge Farm, is starting to serve Thursday night dinners to the public at Edge on East Napa Street.

Until now, Edge has been reserved solely for club members, so this will be a real treat. McReynolds will prepare, serve and explain three-course tasting menus with Stone Edge’s cabernet sauvignon wines matched with local ingredients, many from Stone Edge’s 16-acre west side farm. $150. 138 E. Napa St., Sonoma. 935-6520. Stoneedgefarm.com.

BottleRock food

Yes there actually will be food at the annual BottleRock music and wine festival, which is almost sold out for the May 26 through 28 event.

But you won’t go hungry, if you take enough money. Among the big Napa-centric food names whose booths you might find will be Hurley’s, Cole’s Chop House, Bounty Hunter, Angèle, Tra Vigna pizza, Bistro Don Giovanni, Norman Rose, Bouchon Bakery, Morimoto, Meadowood, La Toque, Oenotri, Redd, Ca’Momi, Gerard’s Paella, the Farmer’s Wife, Kara’s Cupcakes, Sweetie Pie Bakery, Krave (Sonoma), and Ben & Jerry’s everywhere.

Chocolate Lunch at Suite D

Lloyd Davis and his Corner 103 winery are partnering with Sondra Bernstein of Suite D to present a “chocolate lunch” on Saturday, Feb. 11 at Suite D. The five course meal includes a salad of citrus, dandelion greens, chocolate dusted almond toffee, shaved Vahlrona white chocolate and vanilla vinaigrette served with Corner 103’s 2013 Pinot Noir; chicken and Mexican chocolate mole with poblano peppers, pickled veggies and jicama with Davis’ red blend; double chocolate short ribs with white chocolate polenta and 2013 Cabernet Franc; cocoa-marinated venison, winter squash and chocolate bread pudding with chocolate butter with 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon; and German chocolate cake with chocolate sauce and 2012 Zinfandel. Salivating yet? $85. Starts promptly at 1 p.m. 21800 Schellville Road, Sonoma. Reserve at 931-6141 or at figsuited.com.