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Kathleen Hill: Aventine closes, Signature Sonoma Valley, and more

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Aventine closes, and here’s why

Many people have wondered and asked if Toni and Adolfo Veronese and family are going to reopen Aventine Glen Ellen. They are not, and here is why, more or less in Toni Veronese’s own words.

Bottom line, both Toni and Adolfo have serious health problems; he is being treated during visits to the Mayo Clinic. They both want their friends, family and community to benefit from their story, so here it is. I remember Adolfo’s mother, Angela Alioto, telling me, “We never sell, we never give up.” And they don’t.

“An end to Aventine Glen Ellen: We have never given up... most of our ‘friends and family’ know of Adolfo’s ongoing medical issues. Thank god, not life threatening, but he has been out for surgeries and recoveries for weeks on end.

“Adolfo and I have had an amazing 3.5 years with Aventine. We’ve made so many new friends and love spending special moments with our guests during their special occasions. During the fires we thought Aventine GE was gone... but thank god the whole complex was spared. It took over a month to get it cleaned and ready to get back in action.

“Adolfo went back to the Mayo for a follow up in January and received some not-so-good news... his big surgery from last July hadn’t completely healed and the doctor wanted him to relax and take care of himself for the next three weeks after another follow up surgery which he had after Valentine’s Day.

“Adolfo and I both laughed... but then decided to close Aventine GE after Valentine’s Day so he could heal and then have the floors redone and repaired in the bar and kitchen. It should all work out as planned we both told ourselves.

“Adolfo went in for surgery and the surgery couldn’t be completed. There were complications and his body wasn’t ready for the surgery. We were very disappointed, but agreed to revisit in six months.

“During the floor construction at Aventine I went for a routine OB appointment... this is where everything changes. I’d had a few concerns that my general doctor wanted me to take to my OB. My OB ordered tests and I thought we’d just take care of it. I went through many tests including ultrasounds and blood tests and I’m now with an oncologist. I’ve been through other tests and now have two surgeries scheduled for the next few weeks. We don’t know my outcome until after the surgeries, so I’m sure you can imagine the stress. Adolfo and I made the very difficult decision to not reopen Aventine GE. With his health issues and now mine we have decided to work on our health and take care of our family.

“We thank everyone for their support and look forward to seeing everyone soon!”

Cancer has touched all of us in some way. Bottom line: Get your medical tests done on time and pay attention.

Tell everyone you know.

Delicious New Chapters

The Delicious New Chapters cookbook giveaway and pickup party for wildfire victims is Sunday, April 8 at 1206 E. MacArthur St. #3, Sonoma. We have received thousands of cookbooks to help rebuild your kitchens. Sondra Bernstein will even store your new collection for you at her warehouse until you are settled. 9 a.m. to 4:40 p.m.

Cochon Volant TGI Pork Friday

Rob Larman, chef and proprietor of Cochon Volant BBQ Smoke House, offers 50 percent off all pork dishes on Friday, April 6.

You will be able to purchase barbecue baby back ribs for $9 a pound, pork shoulder for $8.50 a pound, a barbecued pork or Carolina sandwich for just $5, and chipotle pork cakes for $5. 18350 Sonoma Highway, Sonoma. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday. 509-5480. Cochonvolantbbq.com.

Signature Sonoma Valley next weekend

Signature Sonoma Valley is the fundraising event hosted by the Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Alliance to replace its past involvement in the Sonoma County Wine Auction and return an annual SVVGA event to the Sonoma Valley.

In this, its second year, attendees can go to individual events at singular prices instead of having to purchase the whole package. Here are the highlights:

Major venue update: Bubbles & Brunch Sunday, April 8 has been moved from Sonoma Plaza to the General’s Daughter due to predicted rain, according to SVVGA Executive Director Maureen Cottingham. Ramekins Culinary Center will cater.

Wine and Design Lunches, Friday, April 6 and Saturday, April 7. Includes best wines from each winery. $175. 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Beltane Ranch on Friday, April 6: Just featured in several pages of the San Francisco Chronicle’s 2018 Spring Fashion feature, Beltane proprietor and chef Alexa Wood and Fran Meininger have conspired to prepare a delicious lunch of crayfish hushpuppies on micro greens, served on vintage china along with Mary Ellen Pleasant’s story. Along with Miwok and Wappo Indian stories, guests will enjoy Miwok duck, spring garlic and blackberries, followed by family farming history with open-fire roast lamb, branch-brushed with butter and garlic, and nettle späetzle. Dessert to include ricotta olive oil cake with lemon and almonds.

Buena Vista Winery on Friday, April 6 and Saturday, April 7: Chef Victor Scargle will prepare a lunch of JCB Niege de Torchon with aged Comte Gougères and cured salmon caviar blini, Raymond Estate sunchoke soup with truffled sunchoke chips and herb salad, followed by Liberty Farms duck breast with forbidden rice, estate kale and huckleberry duck jus and Guittard dark chocolate torte with first growth espresso Chantilly and cocoa nibs.

Muscardini Cellars on Saturday, April 7 will feature a luncheon created by Catherine Venturini of Cuvée Wine Country Events at the modernist home of winemaker Michael Muscardini and museum curator Kate Eilertsen, designed by Sonoma winegrower and architect Jeff Zimmerman. This is a rare chance to check out their unusual art collection.

Expect a lunch of wild mushroom, leek and cresenza bruschetta and tuna tartare on endive spears as appetizers, then green garlic and Pecorino flan with gulf shrimp, roasted blush tomato with squash and sheep’s milk ricotta tarts with haricot vert, Liberty duck breast with forbidden rice, grilled Angus beef filet with Trumpet mushrooms and pommes Anna, capped off with Muenster Gougères and sweet red vermouth.

ICON on Friday, April 6 at Ram’s Gate Winery overlooking San Pablo Bay and Sonoma Raceway will include a walk-around tasting with the who’s who of Sonoma Valley vintners and growers, accompanied by tastes created by Ram’s Gate chef Taylr Behnam. $250. 6 to 10 p.m.

Legends Dinner, Saturday, April 7 from 6:30 to 11:30 p.m. ($500) at the Italian style home of Nancy and Don Sebastiani with lots of interesting features if you get a tour. Ari Weisswasser of Glen Ellen Star will prepare the dinner.

Bubbles & Brunch, Sunday, April 8 at the General’s Daughter (change of venue). Buffet of minibagels and smoked salmon with shaved tomatoes and red onions, capers and lemon; breakfast pastries, baguettes with jams and butter, soft and sliced cheeses, deviled eggs, and fresh strawberries; croissants, pan au chocolat, apple turnovers, lemon poppy seed muffins, house jams; Straus organic vanilla yogurt and house granola; breakfast cheese and charcuterie platters with Marin French brie, Laura Chenel Chèvre and other cheeses, hard boiled eggs; bacon, chicken apple sausage, roasted potatoes, spring vegetable hash and assorted donuts. $65. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. 450 W. Napa St., Sonoma.

Easter Updates

Last week I gave the Easter menus for several Sonoma Valley restaurants including Depot Hotel Restaurant, El Dorado Kitchen, Ramekins Culinary Center, Saddles Steakhouse and Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn. Now we share the offerings of some interesting late comers.

Glen Ellen Star chef Ari Weisswasser will again offer a Rabbit Pot Pie from Friday, March 30 through Sunday, April 1. No kidding. Glenellenstar.com. Also available to go.

Breakaway Café will add leg of lamb hash, vegetable toast with fava beans and oyster mushrooms, and strawberry and blueberry upside down pancake with orange honey butter to its breakfast and brunch menu ($12 to $16), and a braised lamb shank with lemon risotto and spring vegetables to its Easter dinner menu $27). Brunch hours 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., dinner 5 to 9 p.m. No reservations.

B&V Whiskey Bar & Grille adds a Dungeness crab cake Benedict with hollandaise sauce and fresh fruit, a buttermilk-battered fried free-range chicken and homemade waffles, a Basque Boulangerie and Grand Marnier cinnamon French toast stuffed with mascarpone cheese and Applewood smoked bacon to its regular menu. Easter specials served 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Corner First Street East and East Spain, Sonoma. 938-7110.

Whole Foods offers both Easter and Passover menus, as they do for Christmas. Specials include Easter ham dinner for eight ($119); platters of shrimp, deviled eggs or cheese; uncooked rack or leg of lamb, Diestel non-GMO turkeys, asparagus, potatoes gratin, roasted beets with shallots, dinner rolls, quiches, cakes and pies.

For Passover, Whole Foods hired Jewish food maven Joan Nathan to consult and devise a full Passover dinner for eight ($119.99) or $129.99) of wine-braised beef brisket, uncooked whole turkey or brisket; matzo ball soup, Joan Nathan’s Brazilian Haroset with apples, potato latke, spinach with pine nuts and currants and Tunisian carrot salad, broccoli with cumin, and tzimmes (a sweet stew made from carrots, root vegetables).

Waste Nots

Cindy Daniel, co-owner of Healdsburg Shed, is a thoughtful farmer and restaurateur, whose Shed and restaurant design have won several awards. Healdsburg Shed is loosely based on British granges that focus on a family (or now occasionally corporate) farm’s products and sell prepared food and fresh produce, and sometimes fish and meats.

According to the U.S Department of Agriculture, we waste between 30 and 40 percent of our food supply, partly by growers or retailers just throwing it away because it isn’t pretty or by consumers taking, cooking, or ordering too much and then throwing it away. Think of all the people we could feed by eliminating that waste.

Daniel has given permission to reprint what I call her “Waste Nots” guide to reducing the enormous quantity of food we waste in the United States.

Check this space next week for easy ways to waste less food and what you can do with what resources you save.