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Kathleen Hill: Murphy's Irish Pub reopens under new management


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Murphy’s Irish Pub reopens better than ever

As promised, Sondra Bernstein, John Toulze, Bob Smith and Bill Pollock have re-opened Murphy’s Irish Pub after two weeks of truly spiffing it up with “repairs, spring cleaning, and reorganization. The team used elbow grease, giving the place a shine and a new coat of paint,” according to Bernstein.

In fact, Smith got back from Dublin via a slightly scary 24-hour “non-stop” United Airlines flight early Tuesday, so trivia night re-starts next Wednesday, June 28.

The menu includes fish & chips with fries and cole slaw, real bangers and mash, mussels & frites, Shepherd’s Pie made with ground lamb, pork chops, mac ‘n’ cheese, a corned beef Reuben, Little Gem, green, or smoked trout salads, grilled cheese and bacon on country bread, burgers, a maybe best ever fried green tomato BLT with a thick slice of tomato from Sondra’s farm and lots of brown sugar bacon, deviled eggs, chicken liver spread, crispy corned beef poutine, mushy peas, roast potatoes, cabbage slaw, and sweet buttermilk battered onion rings or frickles (fried dill pickles made by John Toulze), all reasonably priced.

Kitchen hours--for now--will offer dinner 5 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and lunch and dinner Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. “Bar is open til last call,” according to Bernstein. Lots of music in the snug that Rose and Larry Murphy made so popular. Check JM Berry’s column for the music lineup.

Whiskey fans might check out the list of 29 Irish whiskeys, six blended and 17 single malt Scotches, 14 ryes, and 38 bourbons, adding up to well more than 100 whisky choices.

Get on Murphy’s email list to get history of Irish whiskey, recipes, and other lore. 464 First St. E. (Place des Pyrenées), Sonoma. 935-0660. Sonomapub.com.

Aventine NOT closing and other Glen Ellen rumors

Two giant rumors have been swirling around Glen Ellen and even spinning out to the greater Sonoma Valley.

Flying fastest and longest is the rumor that Aventine is closing or has been sold. Neither is true, according to managing partner Gian-Paolo Veronese.

Veronese, whose brother, Adolfo Veronese is executive chef at Aventine Glen Ellen, returned my call promptly and openly.

He said very frankly, “We were honored to receive an offer, but the number wasn’t high enough,” so he turned it down. “If they come in higher we might consider. Everyone has a price, Kathleen, right?”

And that is so true. Most restaurants, in fact most businesses, are for sale if the right offer comes in. Which is also how we follow so many homegrown wineries being bought by large wine corporations, but Aventine is definitely not closing now.

Both Veroneses are the high energy sons of San Francisco lawyer and former president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Angela Alioto and the late Adolfo Veronese, Sr., and the grandsons of the late Mayor Joseph L. Alioto of San Francisco.

The Veroneses also have restaurants in Hollywood and San Francisco.

As well, rumors circulate that Giulio Tempesta will recreate his closed San Francisco restaurant, Ristorante Umbria Italian, in the former Wolf House next to Jack London Saloon.

Georgeanne Brennan coming to Readers’ Books next Wednesday

Georgeanne Brennan, the revered food philosopher and cookbook author, will be at Readers’ Books next Wednesday, June 28, at 7 p.m. as a guest of the Last Wednesday Food Group.

Brennan is a James Beard Award-winning author of several books including “A Pig in Provence,” and a journalist whose work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Gourmet, Food & Wine, San Francisco Chronicle, and Edible Marin & Wine Country. She will bring her newest book, “La Vie Rustic.” She also has La Vie Rustic: Sustainable Living in the French Style online store. She lives the life lots of us would love, dividing her time between a farming community north of Sacramento and her home in Provence. She grows all the vegetables and animals she writes about.

Brennan and her husband moved to France and she started a cooking school in an old convent, later she and friend Charlotte Glenn launched Le Marché Seeds, which resulted in them being featured in national magazines and newspapers from Family Circle to Organic Gardening and Vogue, while appearing on “Oprah” and “Good Morning America.” All this with a master’s degree in history.

Do not miss this one. Bring tastes to share if you wish. Remember, Readers’ Books gives a 15 percent discount on Last Wednesday Food Group books. 7 p.m. 130 E. Napa St., Sonoma. 939-1779.

Gundlach Bundschu hosts Chaplin film Saturday

While most GunBun events are fun, this one is a little different. This Saturday, June 24, they will show Charlie Chaplin’s “City Lights,” a slapstick silent film released three years after “talkies” entered the picture.

The Sonoma County Philharmonic will play the film’s original score live during the screening. Dana Keeton, a 20-year resident of Sonoma, plays violin in the orchestra.

According to Keeton, “The Sonoma County Philharmonic is a nonprofit organization made up of local professional-level musicians who donate their time and talent to present low-cost concerts to those who might otherwise not have the opportunity to enjoy the thrill of live orchestral music. The screening of ‘City Lights’ is a fundraiser for the orchestra’s community outreach program that includes offering free admission to its regular season concerts to students 18 and under and sponsoring a young artist program that features young musicians who have gone on to become world-class performers, such as former Sonoman Nigel Armstrong.”

You can purchase great thin crust pizza from the Vineyard Crust Co. mobile oven and GunBun wine on site. $75. 7 to 10:15 p.m. in GunBun’s outdoor amphitheater. 2000 Denmark St., Sonoma. Gunbun.com.

Sushinoma at Community Café scores

Eight of us invaded Community Café on Master Sushi Chef Jacob Talbert’s first evening of his Sushinoma popup and soon after swarms of people sauntered in until that large room was full with Jacob fans waiting in line for tables.

Servers were his wife, Camillia Wire, and a bunch of friends whom he called to come in to help, almost all of whom have lots of winery and restaurant experience. If you missed this launch, Sushinoma will be there Friday and Saturday nights through September and hope to add days as they go.

Apparently they didn’t know the air conditioning hadn’t worked for five years, so they are getting it fixed this week and, in the meantime, sportingly giving out “cold oshi bori towels for all.” We found a nice breeze on the patio.

Many creative names force guests to ask questions, such as the Noma Balls, Baby Makers, Green Eggs & Ham, garlic Tombo Bomb, Caterpillar Roll, Ccsonoma, Godzirra, Cosmic Shogun, Tekcor, I’d Rather Be Surfing, and Valley Samurai, all part of what he calls on his website “unique fusion sushi with a hint of aloha and traditional roots.”

You will also find generous portions, reasonable prices, fresh fish, and lots of well-prepared sushi standards as well. More info at 732-4330. Sushinoma.com.

Amazon buys Whole Foods: what does it mean?

While some grocery retailers think Albertson’s and others might still have a chance to answer Amazon’s bid for Whole Foods, Whole Foods itself put out an email to “valued shoppers” saying that “we’ve entered into an agreement to merge with Amazon.”

Following the “everyone has a price” remark above, the price in this case appears to be $13.7 billion, according to Associated Press, although the New York Times said $13.4 billion. Pretty soon it looks like real money.

Several news reports said all Whole Foods managers and staff would remain in place “for now,” which was repeated often late last week, and we have all heard that before in other buyouts.

Also known in the vernacular as “Whole Paycheck” for its higher than usual prices, the Whole Foods email continued: “We want to assure you that Amazon shares Whole Foods Market’s deep commitment to quality and customer service. We will continue to operate our stores and deliver the highest quality, delicious natural and organic products that you’ve come to love and trust from Whole Foods Market.

“No artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, sweeteners or hydrogenated fats will ever be in any of the food we sell. Meat will still come from animals raised with no added growth hormones, ever. And all eggs in our dairy cases will continue to come from cage-free hens that aren’t given antibiotics. Those standards are core to Whole Foods Market and we will remain committed to them.”

While Amazon has devastated many independent bookstores by selling books as its original product, it has now opened a few physical bookstores, with one soon to come to Walnut Creek.

The big questions are: Will Amazon close “brick and mortar” Whole Foods stores in favor of lowering costs? Will Amazon lower prices in physical stores? Will Amazon limit the choice of foods available to us by what they carry? What kind of competition will their presence in the retail food business bring to other big stores such as Costco, Walmart, Target, and other super stores that have entered the supposedly “organic” food market?

Bottom line: Shop at locally owned stores and support our local farmers at the Tuesday evening and Friday morning farmers markets.