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Kathleen Hill: Remembering the ‘Linus Club International’


Special note:

Wish the passing from this life of the brilliant Linus Maurer, many of us have lost a dear and adorable friend, as well as a fabulous cartoonist, painter and puzzle creator.

Jerry, Linus, his dear friend and partner Mary Jo Starsiak and I used to spend lots of time together, from the Sonoma Writers’ Group to his art shows, long conversations, and even his hilarious comments while shopping at Sonoma Market.

He drew wonderfully humorous caricatures of both Jerry and me as birthday gifts, and spent several hours with us when we took our son, Mack, to meet him about five years ago. After Mack and his wife, Na Young Ma, named their baby boy Linus, I called the original, who was the model for Charles Schulz’s Linus in “Peanuts.” He was silent, gulped and said, “Oh my.” Soon arrived a Certificate of Authenticity welcoming our Linus as a full member of Maurer’s just-created “Linus Club International” certified by Linus Maurer, the L.C.I. President.” Maurer later told me “there must be at least 72 of us in the world.”

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Super Bowling:

Americans consumed 78 million pounds, or 158 million avocados on Super Bowl Sunday, according to Huffington Post. Sonomans did their part.

Vanessa Robledo and Rolando and Lorena Herrera poured wines from their tiny Mi Sueño winery to the Citrix Owners Club Suites at the Super Bowl in Levi’s Stadium as well as at the Super Bowl 50 NFL Owners’ Dinner at San Francisco City Hall. The elegant dinner was prepared by Thomas Keller of the French Laundry, Ad Hoc, Bouchon, and Bouchon Bakery in Yountville and Per Se in New York.

Sheana Davis and her Epicurean Connection served her Delice de la Vallee cheese blend at the Super Bowl owners’ suite guests, among other foods. Davis says she and hubby, Ben Sessions of Hanzell, will host a cheese and wine pairing class for 49er Foundation Winter Fest gathering at Squaw Creek. Ben will pour his father, Bob Sessions,’ 1970 to 2000 wines.

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Rotary of Sonoma Valley hosted a huge fundraiser at the Red Grape during Sunday’s Super Bowl, complete with chef Todd Thompson’s best chicken wings, stuffed potato skins, the usual guacamole, sliders, big beef and pork hot dogs, and a variety of Red Grape pizzas and desserts.

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Both last Saturday’s Feast of the Olive ($175 per person), which benefits the Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau, and this Saturday’s Sweetheart Gala ($250 per person), which benefits the Boys & Girls Club of Sonoma Valley, sold out. Lots of money being donated by generous fun lovers.

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Check out a private winemaker dinner at Ramekins on Saturday, Feb. 20 that will feature old vines Hendry Winery of Napa with food by mediagenic Hip Latina chef Susie Jimenez starting with chicken empañadas, followed by tomato carpaccio with crispy shallots and watermelon, turmeric potato tacos with fennel cabbage slaw, short ribs with mole and pea cilantro polenta, topped off with a chocolate cake with chile de arbol cranberry sauce. $125. 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Contact Lisa Cavalli at 815-9187 for reservations.

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The Chinese Year of the Monkey will be celebrated by the Sonoma-Pinglai Sister Cities Committee with a festive luncheon at Lily Kai restaurant on Sunday, Feb. 28. $40 committee members, $45 others. Noon to 3 p.m. 3100 Lakeville Highway, Petaluma. RSVP by Wednesday, Feb. 24 to 939-3523.

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In the last few weeks, two well-known old Sonoma food families’ homes have been demolished by companies working for new owners of the properties.

On Fourth Street East, the home of Rocco and Carmela Vella Benedetto was knocked down and scraped away along with all but one tree of their back yard. Not even a brick remains. A new home with pool and pool house is growing. The Benedettos owned the real Sonoma Creamery across from the mission. When we moved here 40 years ago they were still serving good ol’ hamburgers, milkshakes, ice cream sodas and fries at a counter and in old booths. Everyone loved the place from kids to city hall movers and shakers.

A couple of months ago, clouds of dust billowed into the grey sky at the old Pronzini home at the corner of Fifth Street West and West Spain Street. A giant Serres scooper devoured the shed in one mouthful, lifting it, and spitting it into the wood pile like so many matchsticks. Soon to come: “luxury townhomes” on that busy traffic corner. This property was also once owned by Dimitri Giannis, onetime owner of Sonoma Grove restaurant, a legendary cocktail and steak place now occupied by Plaza Tequila.

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Douglas Keane, former chef at the Michelin-starred and now shuttered Cyrus restaurant in Healdsburg, will open a Japanese-style healthy yakitori grill called Two Birds, One Stone with Los Angeles chef Sang Yoon. The “Two Birds” will be duck and chicken if they don’t escape fast and far enough, and veggies will come from local sources such as Kendall-Jackson culinary farmer Tucker Taylor. Master Sommelier Kevin Reilly, formerly of Cyrus and Quince, will be wine manager of the restaurant that will be located in the old Freemark Abbey Winery tasting room in Napa.

Sang Yoon is the chef/owner of the Father’s Office gastropub, and chef/owner of Lukshon Restaurant in Los Angeles. Yoon and Keane met as contestants on Bravo Network’s “Top Chef Masters” season 5.

***

Bon appétit.