Kathleen Hill: Gays with skates, Glen Ellen Inn, and MacArthur Place goes for a bundle

According to cookie researchers, 35 percent of Americans named Oreo's as their favorite cookie. Whether they eat the cream first or bite the sandwich in its entirety, however, remains unclear.


Gays on Ice tonight at Cornerstone

Out in the Vineyards starts its “Holigay” season with Gays On Ice at the skate rink at Cornerstone tonight, Friday, Dec. 8.

Nomad Chic will sponsor and host eggnog and light bites from Ramekins at 6 p.m. Skate off into the sunset from 7 to 9 p.m. The Fig Rig will be there for substantial nourishment along with a specialty cocktail available from Prohibition Spirits. There will even be an area for everyone to make their own s’mores. Donations to Redwood Credit Union Fire Relief Fund will be accepted.

Best dishes in Sonoma County

Sonoma magazine’s “50 Best Dishes in Sonoma County” include a few from Sonoma Valley. According to Editor Heather Irwin, the Girl & the Fig’s fig and arugula salad, Ravioli alla Citti at Café Citti, fish tacos at El Molino Central, La Salette’s Day Boat Scallops, and Fremont Diner’s Nashville Spicy Chicken and waffle make the cut.

Everyone who has the privilege of dining out has their favorites, whether it’s the burgers at Happy Dog or filet mignon at Saddles. Our tastes are all different, and not everyone is attracted to the newest creative cuisine.

At those named restaurants, some people prefer the flounder meunière or mussels and frites at the Fig, roast chicken and Caesar salad at Café Citti, enchiladas mole at El Molino, sardines at la Salette, or Hangtown Fry at Fremont Diner.

Some of us order our favorites over and over again, such as PEI oysters on the half shell or risotto at El Dorado Kitchen, pot roast at the Swiss Hotel, steak at Harvest Moon, fajitas at La Casa, pork chops at Café La Haye, pasta at Della Santina’s, pizza and a salad at Mary’s, or brick chicken or pizza at Glen Ellen Star.

Glen Ellen Inn good news

Karen and husband-chef Christian Bertrand have now officially reopened their Secret Cottages behind their Glen Ellen Inn in Glen Ellen after putting on new roofs, a new patio, a new soldier wall, and a new coat of paint to brighten up the partially fire-ravaged neighborhood.

The Bertrands are still working on remodeling, redecorating, and reopening the inn’s restaurant, as well. They lost all of their walk-in refrigeration, freezer and food during the fires, so they are taking advantage of replacement time to spiff up the whole restaurant.

As Karen Bertrand said, “We are very excited and looking forward to having some fun!”

MacArthur Place update

IMH Financial Corporation of Scottsdale, Arizona allegedly paid upward of $38 million for MacArthur Place.

According to a source who received the request, Lawrence Bain and IMH are offering “investment units” of $25,000 or more and hope to raise $20 million to $25 million to give IMH its equity back and provide funds for renovation.

Bain wants to “reposition” the property to a “high end hotel” by creating a casual restaurant and lounge area in the current reception building with a connection to the “barn” where Saddles, the main kitchen, and meeting spaces are located; reconceive Saddles making it more upscale; refurbish the meeting space; add an indoor-outdoor wedding and reception venue; and gradually refurbish guest rooms with remodeled bathrooms.

After all this, the memorandum to potential investors reportedly suggests IMH plans to sell MacArthur Place in three to five years.

According to the IMH website, they will put MacArthur Place “on par with the elevated bounty of Sonoma County, one of the world’s largest wine regions, plans include careful renovation of the arrival, reception, guest rooms and suites, culinary venues, spa and pool.” The website also says IMH owns L’Auberge de Sedona and Orchards Inn around Sedona, Arizona.

Zagat restaurant reviews

While Zagat no longer prints its books, which bore a striking burgundy and white resemblance to Michelin guides, they do continue to publish online.

Guess why. Tim and Nina Zagat started their guides in 1979 after a gaggle of friends and dinner mates complained about a New York newspaper’s restaurant reviews. So they devised a way to let their friends help review their favorite New York restaurants.

Fast forward to 2011 when Google paid $125 million for the company whose guides then covered 70 cities at the time of purchase. Now they cover many fewer cities and allegedly laid off most of Zagat’s original full time employees in 2012.

Despite all that wonderful news, Zagat recently released its list of “15 Essential Sonoma County Restaurants.”

They like Saul Gropman’s Café La Haye and Karen Taylor Waikiki’s El Molino Central.

In the El Molino case their freelance writer cited the tamales (Waikiki’s famous Primavera tamales), tacos, and chicken mole enchiladas, as well as handmade tortillas. Their favorites at Café La Haye are a goat-cheese-horseradish crema on a beet-orange salad or aioli on a beef carpaccio with a fried oyster (which is fabulous, I know.)

Other restaurants on the Sonoma County list include Farmhouse Inn near Forestville, Hana Japanese Restaurant in Rohnert Park, Diavola in Geyserville, Single Thread in Healdsburg, Bravas Bar de Tapas in Healdsburg, Healdsburg Shed, Spinster Sisters in Santa Rosa, Dry Creek Kitchen and Valette in Healdsburg, the Drawing Board in Petaluma and Chalkboard in Healdsburg.

National Cookie Day

Whether you missed the official day or not on Monday, every day is cookie day for some of us. And Dec. 8 is National Brownie Day, so make up for it now, however you like your brownies.

According to websites that keep track of these things, 35 percent of Americans have eaten a whole package of cookies in one sitting, 70 percent eat cookies once a week or more, 33 percent prefer raw cookie dough, and 65 percent of Americans like chewy cookies while 36 percent prefer crunchy cookies.

America’s most favorite cookies, in order and by percentage, are: Oreo – 35; Chips Ahoy – 21; Girl Scout cookies – 17; Pepperidge Farms – 9; and Keebler’s – 8 percent. A pretty quick drop from Oreo.