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Kathleen Hill: Olive gold, ‘Sunset’ celebration and farewell to Rosemary Wood


Rosemary Wood

As you might have picked up in reading her formal obituary, Rosemary Wood was a pioneering woman from whom some of us had the privilege of learning lots. Self-sufficiency. Do it whether you have done it before or not. Honesty. Hard work. Importance of clean growing and eating practices. How to laugh. Just to name a few. And then there were those bright blue eyes.

As you may have read, she restored Beltane Ranch’s 1892 house one room at a time and eventually opened it as a bed and breakfast – one where Julia Child stayed occasionally when she came to visit M.F.K. Fisher.

It was at M.F.K. Fisher’s “Last House” where I met both Rosemary Wood and Julia Child and ended up somehow cooking lunch for them. Child, Fisher and I worked after that on translating an old French cookbook and, after they passed on, I loved seeing and reminiscing with Rosemary Wood at events at her Beltane Ranch.

She was one of those people who remembered everyone, and came to all of Beltane’s parties from her retirement in Mendocino, even if the summer heat decked her occasionally.

And she loved the Glen Ellen Fire Department’s barbecued oysters and the fact that they used to bring an ambulance in case she needed it.

Wood replanted olive trees and expanded the vineyard, joined in the Olive Press when it was in Glen Ellen, loved to paint, and recently came back home to Beltane to be with her daughter, Alexa Wood, grandchildren Lauren Benward-Krause and Alex Benward and their children. I will always look around Beltane for Rosemary Wood. And weep.

Farmers Market food vendors

Tuesday Farmers Market manager Christopher Welch sent out a press release this week announcing some of the confirmed vendors for the coming market season which begins May 2. On the list are three food truck, including Tips Tri Tip Trolley, Croques & Toques, and the Fig

Rig, which will set up on the second and fourth Tuesdays when the music is in Grinstead Amphitheatre. Weekly prepared food vendors will include Mike the Bejkr, E-Saan Thai restaurant, Divewalk Café, the newest version of Rancho Viejo, Uber Spud, Sweet Scoops, and Vineyard Crust Company’s wood-fired pizza. Among new food vendors will be Petroni Vineyards Olive Oil and Sonoma Mountain Beef Company.

More gold for the Olive Press

The Olive Press just won two more gold medals from the California State Fair Olive Oil Competition, reaffirming its status as the most award-winning olive oil company in the U.S.

Their Italian Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil won gold for the second year in a row. The Sevillano Extra Virgin Olive Oil also took gold, and they also won two silvers and three bronzes for other oils. Theolivepress.com.

New pizza news

Garcia Bakery’s New Haven Apizza is now making pizza, grinders, and salads starting at 11 a.m. Tuesday through Friday in the same Fifth Street West shopping center with the Shanghai and Pearl’s

At the film festival we discovered new pizza guys, aka Vineyard Crust Co., who took a wood burning oven around making pizzas in 90 seconds. The four cheese pizza with prosciutto was perfect. Locals Randy Martin and James Crompton say they will be at the Tuesday night farmers market every week.

Easter food and wine outings

Easter bunnies sometimes want to let others do the work, so here are some chances to let others hop around and serve you. Originally a pagan holiday celebrating spring, Christians celebrate Christ’s resurrection, and kids often think of it as another hide and seek candy event.

El Dorado Kitchen will offer a three-course prix-fixe brunch featuring eggs Benedict with smoked salmon, braised spinach, poached eggs, Hollandaise sauce, potatoes, and mixed lettuces; a Maine lobster sandwich with bacon, tomato and lemon aioli; Dungeness crab cake, Wagyu beef carpaccio, or English pea and potato Vichyssoise. Other choices include an omelet, lamb Bolognese, brioche French toast, or a breakfast flatbread, and desserts include chocolate peanut bar with chocolate sorbet, coconut tapioca with rhubarb and strawberry sorbet or a banana crisp. $55. 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. 405 First St. W. 996-3030. Eldoradosonoma.com.

Larson Family Winery hosts the Easter Bunny with special treats for kids from his basket on Sunday, April 16. Take your cameras. Adults taste some of Larson’s gold medal winning wines or their new Three Lab releases. Noon to 2 p.m. 23355 Millerick Road, Sonoma. 938-3031.

Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa’s Santé Restaurant will serve its always extravagant buffet with omelet and carving stations with local produce, meats, poultry and seafood including jumbo shrimp cocktails, a terrine of Mary’s free range chicken and Delta crayfish, salmon, Alsatian brioche cakes, Fra’ Mani charcuterie, pickled vegetables, significant local and imported artisan cheeses, vegetable and fruit salads, Dungeness crab “cole slaw,” smoked and cured fish with bagels, Tsar Nicolai caviar, Niman Ranch beef Wellington and leg of lamb, English pea risotto, frittata, French toast, breakfast meats, and a whole buffet of desserts. Easter egg hunts at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. $99, $49 children age 5 to 12, free for kids four and under. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with “live entertainment.” Reserve at 939-2415.

Carneros Bistro at the Renaissance Lodge at Sonoma offers a buffet of breakfast and made-to-order entrées such as Belgian waffles, omelets, buttermilk pancakes, French toast, meats, a seafood and raw bar of ceviche, King Crab legs, oysters and caviar, a whole soup and salad buffet with antipasti and cheese selections, and a carving station of prime rib, King Salmon, Petaluma chicken, plus multiple desserts. $70, children 12 and under $30. 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Ramekins will have omelet, buttermilk waffle and garlic and herb roasted prime rib stations; kale salad, mini bagels, biscuits and gravy, granola, fresh fruit and polenta strata, plus pastries and desserts such as pan au chocolat, savory scones, chocolate ganache, sea salt brownies, carrot cake, and tangerine mousse. Easter egg cookie decorating for kids, and wine and cocktails available for purchase for adults. $65, kids six to 17 $25, five and under free. 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. 450 W. Napa St. Reserve at ramekins.com.

Saddles Steakhouse at MacArthur Place presents a buffet of smoked salmon and prosciutto, croissants and other breakfast pastries, and Sonoma County cheeses as starters, as well as a seafood buffet of King crab and jumbo prawns with drawn butter, oysters on the half shell, and New Zealand Green Lip mussels and clams. The cold buffet features lots of Sonoma salads including sweet potatoes and yams and chilled penne.

The hot buffet brings leg of lamb, prime rib, ricotta stuffed Rocky chicken with wild mushrooms, crêpes with fresh ricotta and strawberries, cheesy grits with fresh corn, creamy mac-n-cheese, and eggs Benedict, and Saddles’ crispy potatoes. Lots of desserts. $75, $35 children 12 and under. 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. 29 East MacArthur, Sonoma. Macarthurplace.com.