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Kathleen Hill: Breakaway Cafe offers deals, El Molino Central on Bauer list

Breaking news at Breakaway Café

Renaming it the “Breakaway Bar & Grill,” the Breakaway Café’s new owners stepped up their game starting Monday with a new Happy Hour, an “express lunch” menu, and a full three-course Blue Plate Special dinner on weekdays, with a real effort at using organic ingredients.

Realizing a loss of former owner Bob Rice’s customer base with raised prices, elimination of some favorite dishes, and departures of some popular employees, the Breakaway is fighting back with some great offers.

Happy Hour cocktails range from $3.50 to $7, and glasses of house beer and wine from $3.75 to $6.

Express lunches include choice of soup or salad, a choice of tuna melt, a turkey sandwich or Reuben with house-made corned beef, a Bakeshop cookie and iced tea or soda ($15). The Blue Plate Special dinner offers soup or salad (full size) and choice of chicken piccata, meatloaf or vegetarian housemade organic rigatoni, plus a Bakeshop dessert, and coffee or tea ($29).

The grilled yellowfin tuna Niçoise salad has returned to the dinner menu, but the fish tacos now include deep fried rock cod. Nightly specials range from pasta to fried chicken and baby back ribs, and fish & chips are now served only on Sundays. Their “Burger Bar” now features Five Dot Ranch grass-fed beef, with toppings available. Red Lentil, coconut and spinach soup is on the menu daily. 19101 Highway 12, Sonoma. 996-5949.

Top 100 Restaurants from the ‘Chronicle’

Michael Bauer, San Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic and editor at large, came out with his 2018 Top 100 Restaurants list last weekend.

El Molino Central was the only Sonoma Valley restaurant to make the list. Strictly local owner Karen Taylor Waikiki fastidiously uses organic ingredients, including the masa used in everything from handmade tortillas to tamales. While she was a semi-finalist for this year’s James Beard awards as Best Chef West, the Chronicle’s Top 100 is a great list to be on as well.

Speaking of her tamales, you might try them cooked in a banana leaf topped with spicy mole, or even buy them at Whole Foods, the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Saturday farmers market, or other grocery stores. And, yes, she is still working on her pizza idea at the former Uncle Patty’s in the triangle opposite the entrance to the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn. 11 Central Ave., Boyes Hot Springs. 939-1010. Elmolinocentral.com.

Also new to Bauer’s list this year were the SHED and Single Thread in Healdsburg, the only other Sonoma County restaurants to make the cut.

Napa scored a minor plethora of rankings including Bottega, Charter Oak, the French Laundry, Oenotri, and the Restaurant at Meadowood.

Prohibition Spirits Sonoma Julep for Kentucky Derby

Prohibition Spirits has “concoctailed” a Sonoma Julep just in time for your Kentucky Derby party.

Amy and Fred Groth have created a bottled Sonoma Julep that they make with brandy, sweetened slightly, and then aged in bourbon barrels for a year. $20 to $35 a bottle. They even have Kentucky Derby glasses ($20) to go with the cocktail you just pour over ice and add a little fresh mint. Available only at Prohibition’s tasting room at Cornerstone.

Speaking of the Groths, after the Sonoma Valley Fund’s lovely celebration and presentation of Volunteer of the Year awards at the Barn at Tyge William Cellars, the Groths hosted a reception in their Cocktail Garden for Boys & Girls Clubs board members to honor the clubs’ super volunteers Connie Sangiacomo and Andrea Driscoll McGinty. Appropriately, the Groths named the cocktail they served the “McGiacomo Stars,” which was made with their Solano Vodka, Limoncello di Sonoma, Paul Newman’s lemonade, and simple syrup infused with lavender. Absolutely delicious.

Vella Dry Jack lauded by ‘Bon Appétit’ magazine

Bon Appétit magazine just named the “25 most important cheeses in America,” and guess what was among them?

Vella Dry Jack. It is made like fresh Monterey Jack and then aged seven to nine months longer than regular Jack. It’s hard, grateable, pale yellow and often has a dark outer layer. Many locals grate or shred it over pasta or soups instead of Parmesan.

Vella’s Mezzo Secco is a slightly softer than Dry Jack.

Ty Catons’ Cinco Pick Up Party

Ty Caton and his vineyards will hold a Cinco de Mayo Pick-Up Party on Cinco de Mayo, May 5, at his winery on Eighth Street East.

This is not a pick-up party in the sense of a bar, but it is a monthly chance to pick up your wine allotment if you belong to Ty Caton’s wine club, or anyone in the public.

Caton is encouraging people to bring a few friends for light appetizers, music and wine discounts. Free to wine club members and three guests, $20 others. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 21684 Eighth St. E., Sonoma. Reserve at angela@tycaton.com or 938-3224, ext. 1.

Sangiacomos make wine

After growing prized grapes for almost 50 years and selling them to others, the Sangiacomo family is now making their own wine.

Respected for their sustainable farming practices and humanitarianism, they were also the first farming family in Sonoma Valley to build a dorm for workers and pay someone to cook for them.

It all started when Grandfather Vittorio Sangiacomo worked in the fields around Genoa, Italy, came to the United States in 1913, and first worked in the Bay Farm Island fields in Alameda County at age 17. He soon moved on to working in the San Francisco garbage business, and in 1927 was able to buy a 52-acre fruit tree ranch, now known as the Sangiacomo family’s Home Ranch.

In 1969, they planted their first grapevines, then pulled out the fruit trees, and planted more grapes, always abiding by what are now called “sustainable farming practices.”

Now the Sangiacomo family have estate vineyards in Carneros, Napa Valley, and on the Sonoma Coast, and use only their own proprietor-grown grapes in their wines.

James MacPhail serves as winemaker.

Their limited signature Appellation Series includes a Sonoma Coast Chardonnay and a Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. Their Single Vineyard Designates consist of a Green Acres Vineyard Chardonnay, Roberts Road Vineyard Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast, Home Ranch Chardonnay from Carneros, and Oakview Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Oakville in the Napa Valley.

And the very special proprietary ViMaria Pinot Noir pays homage to Steve and Mike Sangiacomo’s and Misa Sangiacomo Pucci’s grandparents, Vittorio and Maria Sangiacomo, who started it all.

Nibs & Sips

Mike the Bejkr will not be selling his breads and flatbreads at the Tuesday farmers market this year, but he will be selling and doing bike deliveries on Tuesdays. To get on his list for deliveries email mzsnail@gmail.com.

Schellville Grill no longer serves breakfast. Owner-chef Matthew Nagan says he wants to focus more on his barbecue.

Thomas Keller has started his own fine chocolate factory.

McDonald’s is serving camembert donuts in Germany.

Dunkin’ Donuts eliminated all foam/polystyrene cups at its restaurants in California on May 1, and will now use double-walled paper cups for hot beverages.

Starling Bar’s Cannabis Cocktails

Starling Bar has a printed “secret menu” of Cannabis Cocktails at $11 each. They come with the names Sleepytime, Cannabis Collins, and Stony Negroni all made with cannabis gin; Pineapple Express, made with cannabis vodka, Purple Haze containing MaryJane vodka, Humboldt Grass-Hopper with peppermint-infused hemp liqueur and Mr. Ganjas Shandy with cannabis gin and Cali Coast Kolsch. 19380 Highway 12, Sonoma. From 3 p.m. 938-7442.