Kathleen Hill: Figone at Readers’ Books

Figone at Readers’Books

Meet Laurie Figone, an upcoming star in the food world who has appeared on several television shows and has won loads of cooking contests, at Readers’ Books, Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m.

Figone grew up on a dairy farm west of Petaluma and has loads of stories to tell along with her fun cookbook, “Cooking with Laurie.” Show up, have some fun, and bring nibbles if you wish. 120 E. Napa St. Free.

Meaty news

Molly Best has sold her famed Thistle Meats on Petaluma Avenue in Petaluma to Christopher Lee, who will take over in May. Best weathered several storms, one of the most damaging of which was an allegedly drunk driver spinning his truck through the front of the shop. On the happier side, Sonoman Liam Watson, who recently won a Good Food Award for his Thistle duck liver mousse, will stay on with the new owners, while Molly Best goes home to happily be a full-time mom. Liam’s mom, Anita Watson, friend of many who is also a favorite server at the Breakaway Café, brought our Tuesday lunch group some small slices of that melt-in-your-mouth mousse. Their beef bologna is out of sight if you eat meat.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Marin Sun Farms added meat processing to its operation and now offers a certified organic slaughterhouse. The company is now merging with organic Mindful Meats, in more ways than one.

David Evans, CEO of Marin Sun Farms, and Claire Herminjard, CEO of Mindful Meats, recently got married. He will be CEO and founder, and Herminjard will become co-executive of Marin Sun Farms, hopefully a great source of organic local meats.

Rhône Rangers honor Bernstein

The Rhône Rangers organization will present its fifth annual Lifetime Achievement to restaurateur Sondra Bernstein of the Girl and the Fig in recognition of her significant contributions to the American Rhône wine movement, which she has helped champion for over 20 years.

“Sondra is a true pioneer,” said Rhône Rangers board member Stuart Montgomery, who also chairs the Rhone Rangers Scholarship Program.

The Rhône Rangers are a group of about 150 wineries dedicated to making wines from the 22 grape varieties originally made famous in France’s Rhône Valley. These varieties range from the better-known syrah and viognier to the up-and-coming grenache, mourvèdre and roussanne, counoise and picpoul.

Kuklewski is Worth Our Weight

Ramekins’ Executive Chef Kyle Kuklewski recently kicked off Worth Our Weight’s 2017 Visiting Chef Dinner Series, Thursday, Feb. 16. Visiting chefs prepare a delicious dinner with Worth Our Weight’s apprentices. The proceeds from these monthly dinners help fund W.O.W.’s culinary apprentice program.

The goal of the Worth Our Weight program is to transform at-risk young adults into food industry professionals in a 12-week boot camp-type training and place them into jobs. The 12 apprentices accepted per session have faced major challenges in their lives, including abandonment, foster care system, legal difficulties, homelessness and significant family disruption. Apprentices can live at the W.O.W. house for a nominal fee or on their own.

The Worth Our Weight program includes training in professional cooking, sustainable farming, life skills, developing appreciation of high-quality food prepared by chefs, and food service professions, both front and back of house.

Partnering with MacRostie Winery, Chef Kyle was proud to place third in wine and food pairing last weekend at the Corks & Forks professional food and wine event in San Francisco.

Fat Tuesday

A “Mardi Gras Bash” is the new fundraiser from Vintage House on Friday, Feb. 24, bound to perk up its Stone Hall used for so many quiet activities. Vintage House officials say, “Laissez les bons temps rouler,” and promise good times rolling when they turn the place into Bourbon Street.

Self-styled “King of Gumbo” Garry Baker will prepare chicken and sausage gumbo, red beans and rice, “magic” cornbread, Cajun cole slaw, King Cake and Bourbon bread pudding. Pat O’Brien’s signature Hurricane cocktail (rums, fruit juices and grenadine), wine and craft beers with dancing to New Orleans music. All this keeps the programs going at Vintage House for seniors (and just about everyone else). $75. 6 to 9 p.m. 264 First St. E. 996-0311.

Ramekins just chimed in with another Mardi Gras event, also on Friday, Feb. 24 and also $75. Hurricane cocktails, cheese and charcuterie, jalapeno cornbread, hushpuppies, Dungeness crab cakes, Jambalaya with oxtail, duck and andouille sausage, dirty rice, collard greens, beans, crawfish étoufée, beignets, and King cakes. $15 corkage, cash bar. “Proceeds go to a local Sonoma charity.” 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. ramekins.com.

Sons of Italy scholarship dinner

Expect good appetizers, tri-tip dinner with pasta and salad ,and a no-host bar with solid drinks at the Sons of Italy in America/Valley of the Moon Lodge annual dinner Saturday, March 4 at the Sonoma Valley Veterans Memorial Building, all to raise funds for their scholarships for high school graduating seniors. Tommy Thomsen will rock the joint, and these people can cook. $40. 6 to 11 p.m. Reservations required by March 2. Call Karen Carroll at 938-1295 to reserve your place.

Let’s All Dig In

Do not miss “Let’s All Dig In,” the first ever fundraiser for our Sonoma School Garden Project Saturday, March 11 at Ramekins. Local chefs will donate their finest local food and local wineries will give their local wine, while Ramekins donates the space and the entrée. Local music, silent auction and much more.

“Let’s All Dig In” is the senior project of Michael Daly who attends Cardinal Newman. His mother, Colleen Daly, is kitchen manager at Sassarini School and will transfer to Sonoma Valley High School at the end of February.

All of our public school children benefit from the school gardens where they learn where food comes from, how to grow it, the importance of healthy food and eating, and how to prepare it for their families. Many students are tasting certain vegetables for the first time. The gardens teach math, English, science, biology and horticulture, to say nothing of social and cooking skills. All funds go to Sonoma School Gardens.

Our school gardens have also become safe places for every student who experiences nurturing a plant for the first time. $75, 6 to 10 p.m. Tickets at ramekins.com.


Don’t forget the Sonoma Community Center’s Chili Bowl Express fundraiser on Saturday, Feb. 25 featuring 700 handmade bowls made by more than 30 artists, and chili made by Ramekins, Woodfired Napa, HopMonk Tavern, Sonoma Valley Community Hall (Grange), Spread Catering, John McReynolds, Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar, wine from Madrone Estate Winery (Valley of the Moon), beer from Lagunitas Brewing Company, and music by Take Your Medicine. $27 advance, $30 at door. Seatings at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 and 5 p.m. Tickets at 938-4626 or sonomacommunitycenter.org. If you would like to make cornbread, call 938-4626.