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Kathleen Hill: Glorious Bites, SV Crush and more


Gloria Ferrer’s Glorious Bites Challenge

Gloria Ferrer Caves and Vineyards just announced it has opened its third annual appetizer contest that decides the best appy to go with Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut sparkling wine. The ultimate national prize will be $5,000, which was won last year by Chera Little of Leander, Texas. Little beat 1,800 other entries with her Miso-Maple Glazed Cod Wonton-Cho with Crispy Bok Choy Slaw.

This year 12 semi-finalists will be chosen at three live cook-off events to be held in Boston (Oct. 3), Minneapolis (Oct. 5), and Denver-Englewood (Oct. 7). Chef Jennifer Luttrell of Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company will again serve as Keynote Judge, who will give cooking demonstrations at all three sites where Gloria Ferrer wines and savory bites will be served.

The finals will, of course, take place at Gloria Ferrer Winery in Sonoma on Saturday, Oct. 14 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. The three finalists will get VIP visits to the Giacomini family farm and ranch overlooking Tomales Bay where their Holstein cows graze in the cool fog, as well as a three-course dinner prepared by Chef Luttrell. Lutrell is executive chef at the Fork, a Culinary and Educational Center on the Giacomini dairy in Point Reyes. For official rules, entry deadlines and more visit gloriousbites.com.

Sonoma Valley Crush

Sonoma Valley Crush is an event hosted by the Heart of Sonoma Valley Association, which is made up of wineries along Highway 12 in Glen Ellen and Kenwood, this year on Friday, Sept. 8 through Sunday, Sept. 10.

Guests can visit 12 boutique wineries and get a behind-the-scenes look at what happens during harvest and sometimes actually get involved. Sample grapes, taste wine while it’s fermenting, learn how to read a refractometer and meet winemakers.

Passes include a souvenir wine glass, all activities and wine tastings at participating wineries. Those involved include La Rochelle, Loxton, Manzanita Creek, Mayo, Muscardini, Orpheus, Paradise Ridge, Spann, St. Anne’s Crossing, Suncé, Ty Caton, and Willington wineries. Tickets: one-day pass $35 advance, $45 at door; two day pass $50 advance, $55 at door; designated driver (not wine tasting) free. Tickets at 431-1137 or heartofsonomavalley.com. For advance bookings use discount code 17SCRUSH for $5 discount.

Starbucks’ Horchata Almondmilk Frapp is not Horchata

Starbucks is marketing a Horchata Almondmilk Frappuccino in an apparent attempt to attract those who want to avoid lactose, either by intolerance or choice. It turns out the Horchata Frappuccino contains no horchata, but is made with almond milk, according to eater.com.

The horchata we know came from Mexican tradition and is made from ground rice that is made into rice milk, with sugar and cinnamon and sometimes lime juice added. In Spain it is apparently made with tiger nuts, and in Puerto Rico where it is made with sesame seeds.

If you want real Mexican horchata, try it at La Michoacana Natural Ice Cream in the Springs, where owner Teresita Fernandez grinds rice into milk herself for their horchata. Or even at La Hacienda Taqueria. Both drinks are a little sweet, but soothing.

If you want sweet with caffeine, Starbucks’ horchata is made with almond milk, their Cinnamon Dolce syrup, coffee and ice with whipped cream, caramel drizzle and cinnamon-sugar sprinkles.

Sonoma Valley Uncorked

Wine lovers, get your tickets now for the Sonoma Home Winemakers annual Sonoma Valley Uncorked Sip and Savor event on Sunday, Sept. 17, which has grown so much that they are moving it this year to the Sonoma Veterans Memorial Building.

Previous Sonoma Home Winemakers events have ranged from banquets at Vintage House to tastings on the Swiss Hotel’s back patio, always raising funds for local organizations.

Forty home winemakers will pour their finest, and some of these wines even surpass commercial wines lots of us love. Some grow their “estate” grapes in their backyards, while others buy or glean grapes left in vineyards after the official harvest.

Among the many winemakers will be Doug Ghiselin, John Randazzo, David Parr, John Gibbons, JW Nickel and Rick Suerth.

Food will be provided by the Swiss Hotel, Plaza Bistro, La Casa, Gary Edwards Cheese, Burgers & Vine, Ramekins, El Molino Central, Whole Foods and the Oakmont Country Club.

Funds will be divided between Sonoma Plaza Kiwanis and Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance with the support of Sonoma Home Winemakers. $40 advance, $50 at door. 2 to 5 p.m. 126 First Street West, Sonoma. Tickets at sonomavalleyuncorked.eventbrite.com. More info at lee@sonomamentoring.org.

Copia adds Chef Polly Lappetito

The CIA at Copia just announced that they have a new Director of Restaurants and Executive Chef: Dolly Lappetito. She was formerly executive chef at Ciccio Napa Valley, working with Chef Waldy Malouf, the CIA’s senior director of food and beverage operations. Under her direction Ciccio was named one of the “Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants” by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Lappetito said, “The Culinary Institute of America gave me my start in my culinary career and holds a special place in my heart. I hope to continue its tradition of creating memorable dishes that convey the spirit of Napa Valley.” She also served as executive chef at the CIA’s Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant in St. Helena (now closed) and worked as a commercial fisher in Alaska.

The CIA at Copia has been through several chefs since it re-opened in downtown Napa nearly a year ago in October, 2016. Located in what used to be called Julia’s Kitchen (no connection to Julia Child) that restaurant closed when Copia sank into bankruptcy.

Since the purchase and re-opening by the CIA, executive chefs have included Christophe Gerard and Victor Scargle. Scargle left to join Jean-Charles Boisset and replace Chef Michel Cornu, whose fabulous French cuisine many Sonomans enjoyed at Buena Vista Winery. “Michu” retired, and Scargle now oversees all food services for Boisset properties in California, including Buena Vista.

The well-manicured CIA farm at Copia near Oxbow Market provides many of the vegetables for the restaurant. Hopefully the restaurant will support many of the educational programs at CIA at Copia that includes bachelor’s degrees in management, culinary science and applied food studies, as well as associate degrees in culinary arts and the baking and pastry arts, and executive education through its Food Business School.

The Chuck Williams Culinary Museum is now expected to open in late spring of 2018.

Hailey Hickman new Suite D manager

With a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management and experience managing her parents’ distillery, Hailey Hickman was just named Events Manager at Suite D.

Hailey hails from Bangor, California, yes California and not Maine. She says it’s east of Oroville, and I believe her. Her mother worked at Korbel on the Russian River and then she and her husband found affordable property in the Gold Country. Now Hickman Family Vineyards produces a variety of wines, and opened the winery doors to the public on Mother’s Day 2011.

On the job for two weeks as of last Sunday’s paella dinner, Hailey now faces the sold-out dinner for 600 in the horseshoe in front of Sonoma City Hall to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Girl and The Fig. Fifty percent of the price of attendees’ tickets will go the nonprofit of the diner’s choice among Sonoma Fig Foundation, Pet’s Lifeline, La Luz, Sonoma Valley Community Health Center and Sonoma Valley Education Foundation.

Sheana Davis’s new directions

After a slight business break with lots of fun travel, Sheana Davis and husband Ben Sessions are working together to grow her cheese business and toward representing American artisan cheeses abroad.

According to her email, Davis will soon be teaching cheese classes in Florida, Nevada, New York and Colorado. She and Sessions worked at the U.S. Dairy Export booth “to meet cheesemakers for our next shipment in September to Hong Kong and Singapore.” She has joined a team of two California and Wisconsin partners to work “globally on behalf of exporting American artisan cheeses.”

Davis has a new cheese, P-1 Brie, an imported double cream brie named for the P-1 Mountain Lion tracking program headquarter at Audubon Canyon Ranch. The P-1 is used at Jackson Family wineries, the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, Archetype in Napa and the Depot Hotel here in Sonoma.

Davis’s Epicurean Connection rents the the General’s Daughter kitchen for catering and events. Sessions, James Fanucchi and Jess Wade have all progressed to help teach the cheese classes.

Wine Country Weekend’s Taste of Sonoma

This year’s “Taste of Sonoma” Wine Country Weekend festival will be at the Donald and Maureen Green Music Center at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park on Saturday, Sept. 2. More than 200 wineries will pour varietals, with 60 Sonoma County chefs preparing tasty bites.

Food will be prepared by chefs Thomas Schmidt of John Ash and Co., Carl Shelton and winemaker Nicole Hitchcock of J Vineyards & Winery, and Steve Rose, formerly Kenwood’s Vineyards Inn and current farmer at organic and biodynamic Rose Ranch, will offer cooking demos. Timothy Bodell of Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Ariel Nadelberg of the Drawing Board, Ale Graham of County Bench, Travis Day of Thistle Meats, Cookie-Take A Bite, Werowocomoco, Sauced BBQ & Spirits, Sazon Peruvian Cuisine, A La Heart Catering, Mommy’s Yammys, La Marie French Macarons, Sonoma Crust, Gerard’s Paella, the Oyster Girls, Gallo, and Pascaline Fine Catering. Tickets range from $150 to $255 per person at sonomawinecountryweekend.com.

Tickets to the big Wine Auction are available for the Saturday, Sept. 16 event. Over the years, this county-wide auction has raised $24 million for Sonoma County charities, most recently those with the purpose of improving reading and academic skills among young students.

Sponsored by the Sonoma County Vintners, this year’s Wine Auction will be at La Crema Estate at Saralee’s Vineyard in the Russian River Valley.

Jackson Family Wines chairman and proprietor Barbara R. Banke, who just received Wine Spectator’s 2017 Distinguished Service Award, will be Honorary Chair of the wine auction, having been recognized by the County Vintners as “an individual who demonstrates community leadership, dedication to innovation and commitment to helping others.”

Saturday preview parties and vintners dinners precede the main wine auction event on Sunday.

Sonoma Valley Unified School District’s Summer Reading and Writing Academy, which targets elementary school students to prevent a “summer slide” back in learning, as well as a “Fund the Future” program to support innovative literacy programs for at-risk elementary school students.

The ticket package for the whole weekend costs $2,500 per person, which includes an Auction Lot Preview Party at Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate and Gardens, and vintner-hosted dinners on Friday, Sept. 15, and the actual Sonoma County Wine Auction at La Crema on Saturday, Sept. 16, followed by an al fresco dinner. Reservations at sonomacountywineauction.com.