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Kathleen Hill: Luau, BottleRock and Mickey D’s


Italian cooking class at SCC

Chef Maria Capdevielle will give a cooking class in making Mother’s Day Brunch on Saturday, May 13 at Sonoma Community Center. While her name looks French, she grew up in Abruzzo, Italy and learned her fine baking and pastry skills from her family.

Chef Maria previously cooked at Rose Pistola and the Waterfront, and learned lots about selecting and preparing produce from Alice Waters as an intern at Chez Panisse. Incidentally, Alice Waters gets most of her vegetables from Bobby Cannard here in Sonoma.

You will see Chef Maria make bellini, artichoke and goat cheese strata, arugula salad with strawberries, ricotta salata and walnuts, and Italian bignès with cream, cinnamon and sugar. $85 public, $76 members. 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sign up at 938-4626.

Overlook Trail benefit lunch

Sonoma Overlook Trail Stewards will host a hike and picnic lunch on property that is not usually accessible to the public at Sonoma Raceway on Saturday, May 13 to help raise money for a rehabilitation project on Overlook Trail. Sonoma Raceway president Steve Page will lead the hike, which offers 360-degree views, spectacular wildflowers in bloom, and an opportunity to see the “woolly weeders” and their spring lambs in action. The cost covers the guided hike and a picnic lunch catered by Levy Restaurants, which handles food at many speedways. Lunch will include a variety of assorted sandwiches, pasta and veggies. For dessert, enjoy a seasonal fruit platter and gourmet dessert bars. Bedrock wines and non-alcoholic beverages will be served. $50 inclusive. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Register at overlookmontini.org. For more information, contact Jeni Nichols, jeninichols@icloud.com, 738-3791.

Luau swings into the Moose Lodge

The Sonoma Moose Lodge will host its third annual California Luau on Saturday, May 20 at its building on lower Broadway.

Funds raised from the event will be used for upgrades to the Lodge’s kitchen. The menu, prepared by Moose member Roger Declercq of Sonoma Gourmet, will feature crispy whole roasted pig with three salsas, smoked chicken thighs with pineapple-soy glaze, slow-smoked beef brisket with horseradish barbecue sauce, and plenty of side dishes. Homemade desserts will be prepared by the Women of the Moose.

Tickets include dinner, one free drink, and live music by the band Showcase. The Hula Mai dancers will be back performing traditional Hawaiian dance, followed by a raffle and silent auction.

A social club dedicated to serving the community, the Moose Lodge gives money to local schools, the Sonoma Valley High School culinary program, 4-H clubs, the Lions Club, and local families facing hardships. $40. 4 to 11 p.m. 20580 Broadway. For tickets visit sonomamoose.org or call 996-3877.

Carniceria tours are back

Want to learn about all those interesting cuts of meats, inexpensive fruits and vegetables, and Mexican spices tucked away in Sonoma’s local Mexican markets, or carnicerias?

Join our Friday, May 26 tour of several markets, lunch at a local Mexican restaurant, visit the Flowery School salsa garden, get a hot-off-the-barbecue chicken at El Brinquito, and finish the day off with Mexican ice cream at a local ice cream factory and shop. And the day starts at 10 a.m. with Mexican pastries and coffee at Ramekins Culinary Center. Loads of fun and learning, to say nothing of tastes. $70 inclusive (alcohol drinks extra). 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ramekins.com.

Big shot chefs coming to BottleRock

Can you believe it? Martha Stewart and José Andrés in Napa together? And alongside Napa restaurateur Masaharu Morimoto on the Williams-Sonoma Culinary Stage at Napa’s BottleRock?

Andrés, who owns several restaurants around the country, and worked with the legendary Ferran Adrià at his El Bulli in Spain, is credited with bringing the “small plates” concept to the United States.

Andrés, himself an immigrant from Spain, is also well known for refusing to put a restaurant with his name on it in Donald Trump’s Washington, D.C. hotel after Trump referred to Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and as people “bringing drugs” and “bringing crime” while announcing his candidacy for president in June 2015. He also closed all of his restaurants to honor the recent nationwide “Day Without Immigrants.”

Martha Stewart, of course, is best known for her mass market products and television shows teaching people how to be homemakers.

Others on stage will be Ayesha Curry, Roy Choi, Adam Richman, Chris Cosentino, Hubert Keller, Stephen Barber, Cindy Pawlcyn and Napa middle school baker Justice Faustina. Competitive eating champion (hot dogs at Sonoma Raceway) Joey Chestnut will also show up.

The Girl and the Fig and Krave jerky will represent Sonoma Valley in the food offering lineup. Liam Mayclem, the KCBS “Foodie Chap” will emcee the culinary stage.

The Napa Valley Wine Train will host a BottleRock after party taking on board the train on Friday, May 27, and Saturday, May 28 from 8 p.m. to midnight for beer, wine, small bites, music, and mingling. Festivities will take place on the vintage Pullman rail car parked off Third Street and Soscol Avenue Might be a wee bit crowded.

Lisa Lavagetto past tips

Ramekins’ Chef Ambassador Lisa Lavagetto was featured recently in the Press Democrat, offering food tips on making your own pasta, such as the fact that success depends on the weather and humidity. Use large eggs. Use your hands. Rest the dough for a while. Sylvia Sebastiani also recommends using your hands for the special personal oils that come from your skin. Which does not mean to perfume to sweeten your dough.

Lavagetto gives of her personal time in our community, teaching occasionally at the Boys & Girls Club and cooking for various nonprofits. She also teaches several classes at Ramekins Culinary School every session. Check them out at ramekins.com.

McDonald’s news

Astonishing! McDonald’s announces it will serve fresh beef in 2018. Can you wait?

Apparently they will only serve fresh-beef quarter pounders, cooked to order, by mid-2018, according to the Wall Street Journal. The move comes in an attempt to improve quality – and perception of quality – since other restaurants and chains have been improving their burgers.

I must ask the question: What have they been serving in quarter pounders besides frozen beef anyway?

Soon after McDonald’s announced its three sizes of Big Macs and Taco Bell came out with a chicken-shelled taco, I resolved to catch up on fast food, which I avoid.

I started with In ‘n’ Out Burger in Petaluma, down Lakeville Highway.

The In ‘n’ Out was clean with sparkling white surfaces and constant wipes of the catsup dispensary counters. Their No. 2 cheeseburger can be in a bun or “protein style” wrapped in an Iceberg lettuce leaf. The No. 2 comes with crispy fries cut on site and a soft drink, which can include low sugar lemonade and slices of fresh lemon available, all for about $6.

Next stop a week or so later was McDonald’s. McDonald’s is testing McCafés in Northern California to bolster their beverage business, but not yet in Sonoma Valley. Most of the people who ran in the door darted for the restroom and then left on their way to play tennis or drive to their next destination.Watch for their next effort to increase sales, the “Signature Crafted Recipe burger,” according to “Restaurant News.”

Taco Bell discontinued its chicken-shelled taco before I got there. But I have not tried their fried egg taco shell. Have you?