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Kathleen Hill: Festival food shorts, Oscar nibbles and pot brownies from Alice B. Toklas

‘Delicious Shorts’ coming to film festival

Those of us who are food and wine fans will enjoy a food and wine film orgy at the upcoming Sonoma International Film Festival, running Wednesday, March 21 through Sunday, March 25.

There actually is a film package called “Delicious Shorts,” a collection of short films about food and wine to be shown together on Thursday, March 22, at 2 p.m. at Burlingame Hall, and again on Friday, March 23, at the House of Docs & Shorts at the Veterans Memorial Building.

The Filipello family of Wild Thyme Catering & Events and Deborah Del Fovo are preparing nibbles pertinent to the short films.

The shorts include “Bacon and Greens,” about Ireland’s oysters, bacon, poetry and greens; “The Chef at The Palace, a Polish film about a chef and historian who researches early Polish cookbooks; and, from Spain, “Excellence,” about chef Quim Casellas who invites leaders of castell groups (who stand on each others’ shoulders to create human towers) to cook local products and talk about food and human towers. Then there’s “The Miracle of Alto Adige,” an Italian film about a remote part of Italy that produces unusually good wine that hardly anyone has heard of; and, from Germany, “Saffron: The Search for Red Gold,” which shows saffron as the “the golden spice and soul of Iran” traded for thousands of years and revealing an insider’s view of the valuable saffron business.

Feature-length food films at this year’s SIFF will include “Grand Cru: The Quest of Alain Ducasse,” “Jacques Pépin: The Art of Craft,” “Patisserie Coin de Rue,” “Food on the Go,” and “Off the Menu,” all of which this writer will present. Tickets and passes at sonomafilmfest.org.

Glen Ellen Star’s new schedule

Chef and co-owner Ari Weisswasser announced that Glen Ellen Star is now open for dinner daily through 2018. It opens at 5:30 p.m. and serves until 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and until 9:30 Friday and Saturday. Get on their email list to hear about Locals’ Wednesday Night specials. Glenellenstar.com.

‘Secret Life of Mrs. London’ at Readers’ Books

Rebecca Rosenberg will bring her fun and suspenseful novel, “The Secret Life of Mrs. London,” to a large crowd at Readers’ Books on Thursday, March 15, along with a magician to remind us of Charmian London’s alleged affair the famous Houdini.

Rebecca and her husband Gary have been generous donors to various causes, including serving as co-chairs of Worth Our Weight (WOW), a culinary apprentice program for at-risk young adults in Santa Rosa. WOW will provide some of Jack London’s and Houdini’s favorite foods including Houdini’s deviled eggs, Houdini’s cherry bread pudding in little fancy red papers, Jack London’s duck gumbo, Jack’s Roquefort stuffed celery, and his lomi-lomi salad. Rosenberg will hand out fliers that included recipes for these dishes.

Rebecca is also an active member of the ChaChas, the auxiliary of Valley of the Moon Children’s Center. She and Gary sold their Sonoma Lavender company and a few months later lost their lavender farm, home and barn off Highway 12 to the October fires.

Her “Secret Life of Mrs. London” novel has already been selected for Reese Witherspoon’s book club. Call Readers’ Books at 939-1779.

‘Cork Dork’ uncorks, undorks March 16

Bianca Bosker, a respected national tech reporter who became slightly obsessed with tasting wine, brings her book “Cork Dork: A Wine-fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught me to Live for Taste” to Readers’ Books next Friday, March 16.

According to Readers’ Books, Bosker is currently a contributing editor to The Atlantic and co-founded Huffington Post’s tech section. Rhône wines will be poured and the Epicurean Connection’s cheeses will be served. Free. 5:30 p.m. 130 E. Napa St., Sonoma. 939-1779.

Eating like the stars at the Academy Awards

While you watched the Academy Awards at the Sebastiani Theatre or at home, the movie glitterati were greeted at the post-event Governors Ball in the Ray Dolby Ballroom by a 2,600 pound sculpted ice bar loaded with caviar parfaits topped with 24 karat gold, king crab legs, lobster, and scallop crudo (with citrus juices and soy sauce). Just like home.

Academy members found another 59 star-studded dishes from culinary star Wolfgang Puck as they swooped and elbowed around the ballroom, such as Miyazaki Wagyu beef tartare on black rice, caramel passion fruit lollipops, little taro tacos with spiced eggplant and lime pickles, truffle-baked cavatappi and cheese, and spinach campanelle with English peas, Cipollini onions and roasted tomatoes. Puck and friends have catered the Oscar parties for 24 years. Some of his regulars include Wagyu beef sliders, pizzas and chicken pot pies, the latter supposedly Barbra Streisand’s favorite.

Desserts included miles and stacks of pastries and chocolates, lychee-rose-raspberry tarts, a “mocha beehive” made of a Ferrero Rocher dark chocolate shell filled with liquid honey, ganache and mocha mascarpone mousse, and maroons in every color and flavor imaginable.

Plus there were 7,000 chocolate mini-Oscars.

In addition to the 1,400 bottles of Piper Heidsieck Cuvée Brut, Francis Ford Coppola provided 2,400 bottles of his wines with special 90th Anniversary labels to serve 14,000 glasses of 2016 Chardonnay and 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon combined.

Frances McDormand opted for a Double Double In-N-Out Burger after she recovered her stolen Oscar.

Wondering about excess? Apparently if there is any excess food, aside from other excesses, it will go to downtown Los Angeles food banks.

Cannabis cookies – 1954 to present

Hashish, or hash, is a drug made from cannabis. While herbal cannabis is referred to as marijuana, hashish is cannabis resin.

It is consumed by smoking a small piece, typically in a pipe, bong, vaporizer or joint, or via oral ingestion.

Alice Babette Toklas’s father and mother were Polish Jews who moved to San Francisco in 1863. Three years later Ferdinand Toklas married Emelia Levinsky, resulting in Alice and her brother Clarence. In 1890 the Toklas family moved to Seattle where her father was one half of Toklas, Singerman and Company.

Alice attended local Seattle schools, including Mount Rainier Seminary, and later studied piano at the University of Washington.

The family moved back to San Francisco when mother Toklas became ill and then died there in 1897 at age 41. Alice was just 20 at the time.

Five months after the big 1906 earthquake, Alice B. Toklas left San Francisco and moved to Paris, always a good idea. She met Gertrude Stein on Sept. 8, 1907, and their instant friendship turned into a romance that lasted nearly 40 years until Stein passed away in 1946.

Together Stein and Toklas hosted a salon in their home that attracted expatriate American writers, such as Ernest Hemingway, Paul Bowles, Thornton Wilder and Sherwood Anderson; and avant-garde painters, including Picasso, Matisse and Braque.

Here is Toklas’s recipe page from the “Alice B. Toklas Cook Book” for what she called fudge, now known as brownies:

“This is the food of paradise – of Baudelaire’s Artificial Paradises: it might provide an entertaining refreshment for a Ladies’ Bridge Club or a chapter meeting of the (Daughters of the American Revolution). In Morocco it is thought to be good for warding off the common cold in damp winter weather and is, indeed, more effective if taken with large quantities of hot mint tea. Euphoria and brilliant storms of laughter, ecstatic reveries and extensions of one’s personality on several simultaneous planes are to be complacently expected. Almost anything Saint Theresa did, you can do better if you can bear to be ravished by ‘un évanouissement reveille.’

“Take 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, 1 whole nutmeg, 4 average sticks of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon coriander. These should all be pulverized in a mortar. About a handful each of stoned dates, dried figs, shelled almonds and peanuts: chop these and mix them together. A bunch of cannabis sativa can be pulverised.

This along with spices should be dusted over the mixed fruit and nuts, kneaded together. About a cup of sugar dissolved in a big pat of butter.

Rolled into a cake and cut into pieces or made into balls about the size of a walnut, it should be eaten with care. Two pieces are quite sufficient.

“Obtaining the canibus may present certain difficulties, but the variety known as canibus sativa grows as a common weed, often unrecognized, everywhere in Europe, Asian and parts of Africa; besides being cultivated as a crop for the manufacture of rope. In the Americas, while often discouraged, its cousin, called canibus indica, has been observed even in city window boxes. It should be picked and dried as soon as it has gone to seed while the plant is still green.”