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Super Bowl of chicken wings; Grange Pancake Breakfast before football game; Saralee Kunde; more Valentine’s opportunities; how fancy was Fancy Food Show?

Kathleen Hill has the inside scoop on food and wine.

Kathleen Hill has the inside scoop on food and wine.

Kathleen Hill

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The National Chicken Council says that Americans will nibble 1.25 billion, with a “b,” chicken wings Sunday before, during and after the Super Bowl of Chicken Wings, I mean football. These few hours make up 7.4 percent of the Chicken Council’s forecasted total consumption for all of 2014.

Apparently chicken wings go with football and hockey like popcorn goes with movies. We eat them both whether we are hungry or not. Or we “save up room” to indulge in them.

National Chicken Council spokesman Tom Super (as in market) says “Wings are a great group food, and when you go to McDonald’s you’re not sitting there watching a four-hour football game and eating messy wings. It’s a different experience.” Which apparently explains why McDonald’s ended up with tons of chicken wings that didn’t sell late last year.

While each wing has about two bites of chicken, and the pointy part is skin and bone, some sources say the meat is white meat and, therefore, better for you than legs and thighs.

Speaking of legs and thighs, what do you think happens to the rest of the chicken whose wings are clipped? It must be a big day for the paper napkin industry as well.

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Sonoma Valley Grange offers its fun and filling organic Pancake Breakfast this “SuperSunday,” Feb. 2, so you don’t have to clean the kitchen before the Super Bowl. Enjoy pancakes made with organic grains ground that morning, free-range egg frittata, organic breakfast sausage, juices and espresso or organic coffee and tea. Meet new and old friends in a casual community atmosphere. $10 adults, $5 kids. 9 a.m. to noon. 18627 Sonoma Highway, Boyes Hot Springs. 935-1322.

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On the Super Bowl theme, Murphy’s Irish Pub manager Hunt Bailie approaches the afternoon with good humor and a good deal.

Disappointed that the 49ers aren’t involved, Bailie offers a “Who Gives A S#it Burger for a Super Bowl that no one cares about! A half-pound handmade Angus beef patty, Basque potato roll and fries or coleslaw, served with your choice of any/all of these: bacon, cheese, avocado, mushrooms and grilled or fried onions at no additional cost. Why? Because we don’t care. $10.”
During the game they will also offer Happy Hour prices that include $3 pints and $4 glasses of wine. 464 First St., E., Sonoma. 935-0660. Sonomapub.com.

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So sorry that the world has lost Saralee McClelland Kunde, a generous and tireless worker for Sonoma County agriculture, 4-H, FFA, winegrowers throughout the county including in the Russian River Valley, and the Sonoma County Harvest Fair. If anyone fought cancer, it was she, posting details of her progress or lack thereof on Facebook. When you enjoy daffodils blooming along Sonoma County roadways in the next couple of months, think of Saralee, who, with her husband, Richard Kunde, purchased and distributed hundreds of thousands of daffodil bulbs to make pretty.

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Sonoma Mission Gardens has bare root onions in stock, such as Super Star, Italian Red Torpedo, Red Candy Apple, Candy, Borettan Cippolini, Copra and that sweet Walla Walla from Washington. At least 50 per bunch at $4.99, Lancelot Leeks $5.99.

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China has become the world’s largest consumer of red wine, beating out France, Italy, and the U.S. in that order. According to Vinexpo Asia-Pacific, red wine has been marketed in China and Hong Kong as healthier than rice-based spirits. Possibly more important is the symbolism of the color red, long associated positively with good luck, wealth and power, while also being China’s official color. At business lunches people can toast to each other’s health and success with red wine and feel the act is patriotic.

Apparently more than 80 percent of wines consumed in China are made there, making it the fifth largest producer in the world. While this may be true, some American wineries are trying to market their wines there, and we personally know winemakers whose labels, bottles and wines have been copied in China.

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More Valentine’s menus and events:
Ramekins Culinary School’s Chef Ambassador, Lisa Lavagetto, will lead you to make a super Valentine’s dinner, whether you endorse the holiday or not, on Thursday, Feb. 13. In fact, this could actually be your special Valentine’s dinner. Go alone or with your favorite person.
Guests will learn to make tuna tartare with grilled toast points, smoked salmon and crab custards, mini beef Wellingtons with mushroom duxelle and gorgonzola, Dauphinoise potatoes with Gruyère and Parmesan cheeses, and a chocolate orange tart with Chantilly cream. $100 a person or $190 a couple. 450 W. Spain St., Sonoma. Sign up at ramekins.com or call 933-0450.

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Saddles Steakhouse presents a Valentine’s Day Dinner on Friday, Feb. 14 of smoked salmon mousse en croûte; truffled potato-leek soup; roasted beets and mâche salad with endive and apple. Entrée choices include grilled filet mignon with smashed red potatoes and winter vegetables, lamb chops with honey yams, braised greens and barley pilaf; seared day-boat scallops; or edamame ravioli with braised greens.

The dessert course brings Valentine shortcake with brandied cherries and berries or chocolate sweetheart chocolate cake. $58, $29 for children 12 and under. Wine pairing available for $35 extra per person. 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. 933-3191 or saddlessteakhouse.com.

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Napa Valley’s Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Theater in Yountville will present the San Francisco Martini Brothers Band on Friday, Feb. 14 for a Valentine’s Day Swing Dance Celebration, highlighted by a great dinner from Cindy Pawlcyn Catering, all to support the Lincoln Theater and center. Cindy Pawlcyn, of Mustard’s and Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen, will serve a dinner of navel orange, fennel and red onion salad on Napa mixed greens with lemon-caper vinaigrette; roasted beet salad with Laura Chenel Chèvre, chocolate-chili braised short ribs with polenta torta and Fontina cheese, all followed by a double chocolate cake with brandied cherry ganache and Chantilly cream. $25 general admission, $75 VIP includes table and bottle of sparkling wine, $175 per VIP couple includes dinner. 6 p.m. Reserve at lincolntheater.com.

The Arts Center announced Tuesday that it just formally partnered with Cindy Pawlcyn Napa Valley to provide her popular cuisine for all of its events. Congratulations.

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Ramekins Culinary School presents a rare local chance to learn Japanese cooking with chef Chat Mingkwan on Saturday, Feb. 15. Guests will learn how to make grilled fish with unagi-teriyaki glaze, udon noodles with tempura, tamako omelets, green salad with ginger and sesame dressing, kabocha squash with mirin chicken, and mocha. $95. 10:30 a.m. 450 W. Spain St., Sonoma. Sign up at ramekins.com or call 933-0450.

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Chef John McReynolds, hugely generous culinary director at Stone Edge Farm, will lead a class at Ramekins Culinary School featuring the art of cooking with very local and foraged foods on Friday, Feb. 7.

He and attendees will prepare recipes from his new “Stone Edge Farm Cookbook,” such as celery root schnitzel with sauce gribiche, cara cara orange and beet salad with black olives and feta, cabernet-braised beef short ribs with green onion mashed potatoes, and savoy cabbage with bacon and caraway, topped off with a bittersweet chocolate pot de crème. $95. 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. 450 W. Spain St., Sonoma. Sign up at ramekins.com or call 933-0450.

McReynolds just returned from leading a culinary cruise through the Caribbean, and dove right back into helping with our Sonoma School Garden Project. He and I will be touring schools and showing students how to cook what they are growing in their school gardens.

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Good news:
Saddles Executive Chef Dana Jaffe is back in the saddle, so to speak. Back at work part-time, Jaffe has braved a tough recovery from eight broken ribs, two breaks in her humerus (bone between shoulder and elbow), and two breaks in her pelvis suffered on a horseback ride with other top chefs deep into Washington back country toward a secret and remote Kobe cattle ranch operation.

She had mentioned before they left the horse ranch that her horse seemed to be stumbling and was told it was fine. Then on the hours-long ride it went a wee bit berserk (my interpretation), jumped on other horses and flipped chef Jaffe off, in more ways than one.

Hats off to Jaffe, though. There she was, doing her part of the cooking for the visitors bureau’s Feast of the Olive dinner last Saturday night. Check out Saddles’ “Old Fashioned Nights” Sundays through Tuesdays for old-fashioned dinner at old-fashioned prices with old fashioneds, martinis and Manhattans at $5.

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Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance’s VinOlivo ’14 Weekend kicks off Valentine’s evening with its Grand Tasting at The Lodge at Sonoma on Friday, Feb. 14. This is a hugely popular evening of wine tasting and food that sells out every year. Tons of wineries’ winemakers will be present, along with food from Aventine Glen Ellen, Café Scooteria, Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar, Crisp Bake Shop, Drums & Crumbs, EDK, HelloCello, Hopmonk Tavern, Krave Jerky, Olive & Vine, Scandia Bakery, Epicurean Connection, the girl & the fig, The Olive Press, Three Twins Ice Cream, Valley Ford Cheese Co., and Whole Foods Sonoma. $75 advance, VIP $95, $85 at door. 7 to 10 p.m. 1325 Broadway, Sonoma. Get tickets at 935-0803 or sonomavalleywine.com.

As well, SVVGA hosts an elegant winemaker’s dinner at Ram’s Gate Winery on Saturday, Feb. 15 ($150) and offers a VinOlivo weekend ticket for three days of wine tasting for $50, or one day for $25.

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Last Sunday architect Gary Baker served his famous red rice and beans at the Sonoma Valley Woman’s Club to raise money to support Judy Baker’s care for peritoneal cancer before she obtained health insurance recently and to help with a deposit on the Bakers’ new home. Friends enjoyed Gary’s barbecued baby back ribs, Cajun chicken thighs, Margie Brooke’s fabulous corn bread and mango coleslaw. Native Sons of the Golden West provided the bar, and Vox Populi members came to support their friends. If you were unable to attend but want to help, email Gary at glb@glbarchitects.com.

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How fancy was the Fancy Food Show?
Thirteen-thousand hopefuls spent at least $4,000 each to appeal to retailers and distributors of their ideas of the latest, hottest new food concoctions that might make their fortunes. None of these foods is essential, which we need to consider in times of climate change.

I was most attracted to the “mom ‘n’ pop” vendors, who made everything from scones to chocolates and the occasional new crunchy chip. Among Sonoma’s producers who exhibited were Laura Chenel Chèvre and Marin French Cheese, Karin Campion’s Sonoma Syrups and Sonoma Gourmet, whose sauces are increasingly available under contactors’ and their own labels.

Food trends, according to the Winter Fancy Food Show’s appointed trend identifiers, included chips made of pasta, quinoa, sprouted grains, seaweed popcorn, super food chips. Low-sugar drinks made the list from almond milk to Britain’s Bruce Cost Ginger Ale (at Whole Foods), coconut water and organic teas; use of mint in just about anything; mayonnaise, ketchups, mustard and barbecue sauces flavored with herbs, truffles, caramel and kalamata olives, and anything that contained sriracha sauce, the “picked on” sauce producer in Los Angeles forced twice to close for neighborhood odors.

What caught my eye was the number of gluten-free and sugar-free everythings, as well as divine cheeses and charcuterie. As I inquired of various vendors whether their products were available in Sonoma, a few said some were stocked by Sonoma Market, and many said theirs are carried by Whole Foods. Kendall-Jackson’s Whole Vine Products using flour from syrah grape skins and other parts of the vine, and grape seed oil were interesting along with Wild California crackers made from syrah grape skin flour.

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Bon appétit!