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Kathleen Hill: Crab update; unmerry Xmas for Pasta Pomodoro staff


Crusty Crab update

Dungeness crab fans are finding slim pickings along the Pacific Coast, from Half Moon Bay to the U.S-Canadian border.

While San Francisco-based crabbers are still being paid $3 a pound for their catch, they joined the North Coast fishers in solidarity, striking after the buyers/distributors cut the agreed-upon North Coast price from $3 to $2.75.

Fishers from Pillar Point Harbor near Half Moon Bay, along with those in San Francisco, announced Friday they too wouldn’t venture to sea until a better price is negotiated, according to the Daily Journal.

“We’re all fishermen and we all got to be fishing for a fair price. So if they’re trying to send boats out on a price that we can’t succeed on, then we’re all going to stand behind the other fishermen,” said commercial crabber Jim Anderson, who sits on the state’s Dungeness Crab Task Force and is a member of the Half Moon Bay Seafood Marketing Association.

Momentary Sonoma Valley restaurant closures:

A few local restaurants close annually for a couple of days or weeks to remodel or just spiff-up their décor and kitchens. Here is the latest for this month.

Glen Ellen Star is closed Jan. 2 to 9 for a remodel of the main dining room and restroom and will reopen at 5:30 p.m on Tuesday, Jan. 10.

Santé at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn is closed through Jan. 12, reopening for dinner service on Friday, Jan. 13.

The Red Grape is closed for a remodel and will re-open for dinner on Thursday, Jan. 12.

The Girl & the Fig will be closed Jan. 10 and 11 for “deep cleaning,” always a good idea, while the Fig Café will be closed Tuesday, Jan. 10 only.

The Swiss Hotel will close after lunch on Monday, Jan. 9 and re-open at lunch on Thursday, Jan. 19.

As well, Oxbow Public Market in Napa will be closed Jan. 9 and 10.

Pasta Pomodoro closes

Pasta Pomodoro gave all staff the bad news by text message that it was closing all restaurants or “stores” immediately, the day after Christmas. As one articulate, suddenly jobless staffer said on ABC7 News, “I just charged all my Christmas presents” expecting to pay for them and “now I have no source of income to do that.”

We actually once had a Pasta Pomodoro here in Sonoma where Maya is now at East Napa Street and First Street East. All I remember about it coming to the Petersen Building was that they painted the window trim bright red. We never tried the restaurant since we had plenty of Italian restaurants where Italians and Mexicans made excellent pasta, so why an outside chain?

As that quoted former employee said, “At least you would think they would give us two weeks’ notice.” Very too bad.

The bright side: the Wendy’s hamburger chain has suggested they will try to hire former Pomodoro employees as soon as possible.

Famous chefs series comes to Suite D

Suite D is launching a four-part series of pop-up dinners cooked to honor some of the country’s most famous chefs.

These events include My Dinner Inspired by Julia Child on Jan. 13; My Dinner inspired by M.F.K. Fisher on Jan. 20; My Vegetarian Dinner inspired by Deborah Madison on Feb. 2; and My Dinner inspired by Paul Prud’homme on Feb. 24 – all to include these culinary legends’ most famous recipes.

Each evening Suite D owner Sondra Bernstein and I will chat about the featured chef’s history and our interactions with them, including some stories, such as my cooking an impromptu lunch for Julia Child at M.F.K. Fisher’s house by checking what was in the fridge.

The Julia Child inspired dinner will include her soupe au pistou, quiche Lorraine, chicken liver pâté, Julia’s “Near Niçoise Salad,” Beef Bourgignon, collards, lake, turnip greens and roasted marble potatoes and Babas au Rhum.

The M.F.K. Fisher menu will be her favorite oyster stew, pork chops baked with cabbage, cauliflower gratin, glazed white onions and chocolate mousse, which I once made for her with my secret ingredient.

The vegetarian Deborah Madison honor event will include shaved fennel salad with celery and egg, lemony risotto croquettes with green vegetables, gnocchi, winter squash, radicchio, Brussels sprouts and mushroom ragout, chickpeas and chard with cilantro and cumin, and coconut rice pudding cake.

To honor Paul Prud’homme the menu will include salmon cakes, ham poppers, smoked trout, chicken gumbo, blackened redfish, garden greens and Andouille sausage, parsnip hash and Double Banana Cake.

Each dinner is $45 and starts at 6:30 p.m. Book your reservations at figsuited.com.

Nibs & Sips

Malolo Sushi now brings its delectables on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to Rob Larman’s Cochon Volant barbecue throughout January, starting at 5 p.m. Cochon Volant is open Friday through Sunday …

Food trucks park selves

Picazo Food Truck is now open for business at 18017 Highway 12 (at Armando’s Auto Center) from 5 to 9 p.m. nightly and during late night hours on the weekends.

Tips Tri-Tip Trolley will plant itself at the Kenwood site of the Pryfogles’ soon-to-be Tips Roadhouse where the Vineyards Inn used to be on Highway 12. The trolley will serve as the restaurant’s test kitchen while offering breakfast and lunch, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., while they see how it goes.

Menu items you can expect at first will be a Biscuit Sando (sandwich) with scrambled eggs, cheese and ham or bacon on a biscuit, eggs poached in a smoked ham broth with sweet and spicy peppers and grilled rustic bread; a Monte Cristo, Sugarloaf Sticks of French toast with spiced syrup, a Tri-tip burrito, and a tri-tip egg bowl. Several sides available $1 to $11.

The Fig Rig will serve ramen and more while parked at the Lanning Building in Boyes Hot Springs every Thursday and Friday evenings from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Check it out to warm your soul where the Mattsons, who also bought Sonoma’s Best and Boyes Market, plan to erect a small container park, where Bernstein’s noodle shop will eventually be located. 18010 Highway 12. And of course we have our taco trucks that show up at their regular spots some weekday evenings and weekends.

A personal thought:

When our adult children come home for the holidays with their little kids and after a few days say, “Mom, it doesn’t feel like Sonoma anymore,” we have to wonder where Sonoma is headed. It makes us sad.