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Kathleen Hill: Easter eats, pingpong potpourri and Grand Marshal Banquet

Last minute Easter dining options

Both Breakaway Café and Valley of the Moon Winery just sent in their Easter offerings. You can also find those I wrote about last week at sonomanews.com.

Breakaway Café will feature Dungeness crab cake and avocado Benedict; a frittata with asparagus, shiitake mushrooms, ham red potatoes, and spring onions topped with pesto and chive sour cream; lemon ricotta pancakes with banana, strawberry and crème fraiche; and chilaquiles with chorizo, scrambled eggs, crispy tortillas, avocado and sour cream. Dinner features rack of lamb with scalloped potatoes, baby spring veggies and lamb au jus, and Marcia’s famous carrot cake. ($13-$25) 19101 Sonoma Highway, Sonoma. 996-5949. No reservations.

Valley of the Moon Winery will host a three-course food-and-wine pairing featuring fried chicken and waffles, with Applewood bacon, and pure maple syrup, paired with Valley of the Moon 2014 Pinot Blanc. The second course will be an artichoke stuffed with Bellwether Farms sheep milk cheese, served with Meyer Lemon Aioli and paired with Madrone Estate 2015 Chardonnay, followed by spring leg of lamb cacciatore paired with Madrone Estate 2014 Old Vine Zinfandel and Madrone Estate 2013 Cabernet. Contact debbie@madroneestatewinery.com to reserve your spot.

Table tennis for a good cause

You don’t have to play and you might choose to just watch the fast action, but you can still have a blast at the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance’s upcoming Doubles Ping-Pong Tourney on Friday, April 21 at Suite D. Expect music, dancing, and a “quick live auction,” according to Mentoring Alliance executive director Lee Morgan Brown.

The all-inclusive ticket includes pingpong or not, an hors d’oeuvre station of chef John Toulze’s charcuterie and regional cheeses, housemade fig jam, and apricot chutney, as well as passed appetizers of crispy polenta, truffle pesto grilled steak skewers, shrimp po’boys, and three pizza choices of Margherita, fungi (mushrooms) with four cheeses, wild mushrooms and roasted garlic, and a fennel sausage, Quattro formaggio, oregano and chili flakes. Cool off with the chef’s gelato cart with varied flavors and toppings. Enjoy Kivelstadt Cellars’ sauvignon blanc and red blend, along with Three Badge’s Gus the Bus Beer.

All funds will go to the Mentoring Alliance thanks to sponsors such as Sangiacomo Family Vineyards, August and Sylvia Sebastiani Foundation, Three Badge Beverage Corp. and Augie Sebastiani’s Gus the Bus Beer, Sonoma Harvest Olive Oil & Winery, Pacific Union/Kelly Stober, and Sotheby’s/Daniel Casabonne. $75. 7 to 10 p.m. Those who purchase tickets will be contacted about pingpong. Tickets at mentoringalliancesuited.eventbrite.com.

Tailwags & Handbags coming soon

Tailwags & Handbags is a benefit to support Pets Lifeline, Sonoma’s no-kill pet placement service, according to Pets Lifeline executive director Nancy King.

Fans and supporters who have designer bags or just plain interesting purses or bags to spare donate them for you to bid on in a silent auction, all taking place Friday, April 28 at Buena Vista Winery. King says they are offering a discount if you buy tickets for both Tailwags & Handbags and Paws for a Cause at the same time by Saturday, April 15.

Victor Scargle, Buena Vista’s new executive chef hired from the Culinary Institute of America at Copia to replace Michel Cornu, who retired recently, will prepare a lunch of carrot soup with Rock Shrimp ceviche and shaved carrot salad; wood grilled chicken with Vadouvan wild rice and peas with a vegetarian option (must be pre-ordered) of lovage, Parmesan tart with vegetable salad, Lola Rossa (red leaf lettuce) with baby corn and Full Circle Penngrove wheat demi loaves. Dessert served family style will include quarter pints of housemade ice creams and sorbets, with French Press coffee and Tazo teas, all served with JCB wines. Lots of shade umbrellas. $95. 11:30 to 2 p.m. 19000 Old Winery Road, Sonoma. Tickets at 996-4577, ext. 110 or petslifeline.org.

Madrone Estate hires Sam Badolato

Madrone Estate Winery, which many locals remember as Valley of the Moon Winery, has hired Sam Badolato, a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native with Sicilian roots, fresh off his Bado’s Cucina restaurant in Pennsylvania, and other wood-fired pizza restaurants. Chef Badolato trained in Italy and then served as a private chef in Italian homes in Calabria. More locally, he is the 2017 Chowder Day “Best Chowder Recipe” Champion of Bodega Bay.

Badolato will add a wine and cheese pairing, combining five wines paired with local artisan cheeses, and a wine and chocolate pairing, all to be served in the winery’s newly designed tasting room. 777 Madrone Road, Glen Ellen. Madroneestatewinery.com.

St. Francis wins Green Medal

St. Francis Winery & Vineyards of Kenwood just received the Community Award from the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, the California Association of Wine Grape Growers, Wine Institute, and various regional wine growing associations.

St. Francis is honored for being “A Good Neighbor & Employer using the most innovative practices that enhance relations with employees, neighbors and/or communities.” Congratulations, Chris Silva and team.

The other Sonoma County winery honored was Francis Ford Coppola for the “3Es of sustainability – environmentally sound, socially equitable, and economically viable.

Idell Family Winery tastings and dinner

Last week Susan and Richard Idell hosted a rare tasting of wines made by small cult wineries from the Idell’s and Steve Mathiasson’s Michael Mara Vineyard grapes. Mathiasson led the group into the rocky vineyard and explained their “no-till care” since abundant major rocks tear up various tilling machines. Then each winemaker explained his philosophy and technique so guests could compare more than 20 tastes, enjoyed by several winemakers and Esther Mobley, wine writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Susan Idell assembled a light lunch of charcuteries and cheeses and a green salad.

Blue Apron, BN Ranch and Benziger

While Bill Niman already sold his Niman Ranch meat growing operation to Perdue Farms, he just sold his subsequent BN Ranch to Blue Apron, the national food delivery company that sends out eight million meals a month. Coincidentally, Blue Apron is joining with Benziger Family Winery for a Benziger wine club Earth Day celebration Saturday, April 22.

Perdue now also owns Petaluma Poultry Farms, known locally as providers of Rocky and Rosie chickens, all started by Helen and Sam Shainsky at their Shainsky ranch here in Sonoma. Perdue also owns Coleman Natural Foods (more chickens).

Derby Day

Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley will hold Derby in the Vineyards at Terra de Belos Cavalosin Kenwood on Saturday, May 6 – you guessed it – before, during and after the Kentucky Derby. Expect a southern-inspired menu from Elaine Bell Catering, attire and race betting contests, premium wine, beer and cocktails, Dixieland style jazz by the Russian River Ramblers, with DJ and dancing to follow. $200. Tickets at 938-8544, ext. 122.

Sunset Celebration returns to Cornerstone

Sunset magazine will bring its annual celebration back to Cornerstone, site of its test gardens and outdoor test kitchen, May 20 and 21. Watch for lots of product booths, cooking demos by western chefs including Alvin Cailan of the fab Eggslut in Los Angeles’ Grand Central Market, Ryan Scott, Chris Cosentino, Perry Hoffman of Shed, Douglas Keane of Two Birds, One Stone, Ari Weisswasser of Glen Ellen Star, and several others. Sunset Wine Editor Sara Schneider will lead winemaker and spirits seminars about wine list secrets and California zinfandel ($20 each seminar). More to come.

The following weekend, Sarah Anderson’s Chateau Sonoma presents its French Flea Market for the first time since she moved the shop from West Napa Street to Cornerstone. Stay tuned for more details.

Grand marshal banquet June 23

If you have any interest in cars, car races, NASCAR, Sonoma Raceway, Speedway Children’s Charities or none of the above, but like good food, you might want to attend this year’s Grand Marshal Banquet at Cline Cellars on Friday, June 23.

Speedway Children’s Charities donates thousands of dollars annually to Sonoma children through such organizations as the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley, Sonoma Valley Education Foundation, and the Sonoma School Garden Project. And this banquet is a huge part of how they raise the money to give away.

Sonoma resident Elaine Bell will again cater the event starting with passed hors d’oeuvres of watermelon cubes, charred skirt steak on a tortilla tuile, shrimp ceviche with avocado, mini pulled pork tacos, Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam quesadillas with Frog Hollow peach salsa, and mini empanadas.

The first dinner course will be salad with jicama, orange sections and avocado, followed by a duet of hanger steak and Tiger prawns, popcorn puréed Anson Mills polenta, caramelized carrots and parsnips, with a vegetarian alternative main course of large pasta shells stuffed with tofu ricotta, spinach, and vegan mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

Alternating desserts, which usually means the person next to you gets the one you want, will include fresh rhubarb and strawberry shortcake, lemon whipped cream and candied lemon zest with flowers, or salted caramel chocolate flan, followed by coffees and teas. $250, table for 10 $2,500; 6 to 11 p.m. Tickets at: http://www.speedwaycharities.org/events/nascar-grand-marshal-banquet/

Will let you know when they announce the Grand Marshal to be honored.