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Anyone want a yogurt shop? Vineyards in drought, BottleRock bites, Kylo the kitten

Top That Frozen Yogurt closed for good last week, ending a local favorite founded by the Solis family in 2009.

Loads of sorrowful comments followed the initial posting from many people who went in after school started, before school resumed, or on special occasions for a treat we thought wasn’t really so bad for us, and many other rationalizations.

Our grandkids grew up thinking Top That Yogurt was ice cream, our daughter having managed to have convinced them of that due to one child’s food allergies. She could always find combinations she could enjoy and be safe with.

My favorite was anything with chocolate, low sugar, and supposedly little or nothing bad for you topped with their warm chocolate that hardened when it hit the frozen yogurt, kind of like we used to have at Foster’s Freeze here.

The Top That Frozen Yogurt shop on Broadway closed its doors permanently on Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021. (Photo by Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune)
The Top That Frozen Yogurt shop on Broadway closed its doors permanently on Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021. (Photo by Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune)

And all those fresh or frozen berries, peaches and even candy sprinkles, but it seemed to change a little when they redecorated and took down the ‘50s Elvis-era photos. And their Boba tea was good too.

Earlier in August the Solis family posted several times that they were hiring, and just couldn’t find anyone to work. Certainly it was tough to compete with three local ice cream shops, along with not being able to find staff. While it’s easy to say that service workers are receiving too much government money or are lazy, it’s also possible that they don’t want jobs where they can easily get exposed to COVID viruses.

To one person’s inquiry of whether the owners would be willing to sell the business, Top That Yogurt responded that might be possible. The Solis family are smart people and own other businesses, so someone go for this one.

Please someone. Please!

Oak Hill Farm in Glen Ellen, Saturday, June 19, 2021. (Photo: Lukas Wynne/Special to the Index-Tribune).
Oak Hill Farm in Glen Ellen, Saturday, June 19, 2021. (Photo: Lukas Wynne/Special to the Index-Tribune).

Ovaries in your fruit bowl?

Learn from Oak Hill Farm in Glen Ellen that “botanically speaking, fruits are the mature ovaries of the plant and contain the seeds of the next generation. Cleverly, many fruits have evolved to spread those seeds by containing them in a sweet delicious outer package.”

Oak Hill Farm offers a variety of sweet and delicious ovaries for us to enjoy such as Bartlett, d’Anjou, comice and seckel pears; charentais, water and orange honeydew melons; kadota, mission and tiger panache figs; and el star and jonagold apples.

Tomatoes are also technically considered fruits and ripen on the vines.

Farmers Jimi Good and Melissa Bucklin will lead a farm tour this Saturday, Sept. 4. They will show off their new tractor-mounted potato digger and guests will be able to harvest some of the bounty.

Meet at the Red Barn at 10 a.m. this Saturday. Wear closed-toed shoes. Kids are always welcome. No dogs allowed. 15101 Sonoma Highway, Glen Ellen.

The importance of food and social history

Last week Renea and Damien Magnani went to the Swiss Hotel for a date-night dinner, during which they ran into Pam Hellen and family, out for Pam’s birthday dinner.

Magnani added, “We also saw Denise Mulas and Mike with friends. Then Lisa Mertens and Mike. As we drove home we spoke about living in the small town and being inspired by so many who have been together for so long. Our anniversary is Sept. 11 and I’m grateful for those who remind us to spend time together, enjoy, and celebrate us. I continue to remind myself that ‘it’s not always easy but it’s always worth it.’”

Then Magnani remembered some longtime friends who attended their wedding, some of whom are no longer with us but are important to remember as part of Sonoma’s social and food-related foundation, including “Darla Brocco Kobza and Duane, Georgi Koepp and Bruce, Barbara Nuss and Bob, Joan Riebli and Arn, A.J. Riebli and Anne Appleman, Dave and April Church, Jacqui Beiden and Ron Beiden, Diane Merlo and Rich, and Lillian Brunton and Ray.

“Here is to love and small towns,” Magnani reminds us all.

Ned Hill, proprietor of La Prenda Vineyard Management, holds pinot noir grapes from one of his vineyards in 2015. (Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune)
Ned Hill, proprietor of La Prenda Vineyard Management, holds pinot noir grapes from one of his vineyards in 2015. (Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune)

Catching up with the drought

While a few weeks ago, Ned Hill, whose La Prenda Vineyards Management handles more than 30 vineyards, said so far no vineyards’ wells were lacking water and that Sonoma Valley agriculture doesn’t draw from the Russian River. He now reports that some wells on the east side of Sonoma Valley are starting to run dry.

Hill also says that the harvest is a bit weird this year because due to lack of heat, of all things, resulting in some grapes ready early and others late.

‘Only locals know’

Last week’s Bite Club, a product of Sonoma Magazine, named “18 Sonoma County restaurants only locals know about.”

The only restaurants mentioned in Sonoma Valley were the Depot Hotel, the new Sausage Emporium, Juanita Juanita and the Fig Café in Glen Ellen.

Apparently “only locals know” that the Fig Café & Wine Bar closed three months ago. Fans are lining up at the Girl & the Fig in downtown Sonoma instead.

Welcome party for Emily Charrier

Former Sonoma City Council member and attorney Amy Harrington hosted a (outdoor and distanced) late afternoon fete last week at Sonoma Woman’s Club to honor Sonoma Index-Tribune editor and publisher as only the second woman to lead the paper.

Celeste Murphy was the first. Charrier is the only woman to be promoted to the position without some family tie to the ownership.

Some of us stayed away unfortunately due to the delta variant but those who made it included Harrington’s husband, John Hahn, Mayor Madolyn Agrimonti, City Councilmen Jack Ding and Kelso Barnett, new City Manager Garrett Toy, Planning Commissioner Sheila O’Neill, Chamber of Commerce Director Mark Bodenhammer, Cary Snowden of the Boys & Girls Club, Patricia Cullinan of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society, Suzanne Brangham, Annie Falandes, Ann Colichidas, David Eicher and Josette Eicher, Brad Day and Holly Kulak, Amy Alterman, former editor and publisher Bill and Dottie Lynch, hospital board member Bill Boerum, Linda Keaton of Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, Joanna Kemper, John Gurney, and Lynette Lyon of Lyon Ranch.

Sheana Davis of the Epicurean Connection catered, passing out bags of goodies such as a three-cheese tortellini salad with Little Paradise Farm cherry tomatoes, basil and Belfiore mozzarella; olive tapenade, Carr Valley gruyere cheese, olive oil crostini and Leonardi biscotti and chocolate cigars, all packaged so guests could enjoy individually in the back garden of the Woman’s Club or take home.

Davis made a vegetarian bag of berries from Little Paradise Farm, fresh pasta with olives, and a vegan tapenade and crostini for Charrier, a vegetarian.

This weekend’s food extremes: Sublime to ridiculous – you decide which is which.

Ayesha Curry at BottleRock Napa Valley's culinary stage, Friday, May 26, 2017. (Heather Irwin / Press Democrat)
Ayesha Curry at BottleRock Napa Valley's culinary stage, Friday, May 26, 2017. (Heather Irwin / Press Democrat)

BottleRock Napa Valley food star lineup

This weekend’s BottleRock in Napa has the best lineup of stage food demos in their history. Many of the famous foodies are paired with musicians who may or may or may not like to cook. But they all eat.

None other than the food saint José will be there with occasional disciple/helper and Food Network stars Guy Fieri, Aarón Sanchez, Gail Simmons, Roy Choi, Ayesha Curry, Michael Mina, Tyler Florence, Michael Voltaggio, Bryan Voltaggio, Todd English, Ming Tsai and Brooke Williamson.

Williams-Sonoma sponsors the Culinary Stage, and Liam Mayclem will emcee.

But you have to be there are the right time to see your culinary and musical heroes and be willing to brave the crowd as delta dances around.

Guests arrive for tastings at Deerfield Ranch Winery in 2017. (Jeremy Portje / For The Press Democrat)
Guests arrive for tastings at Deerfield Ranch Winery in 2017. (Jeremy Portje / For The Press Democrat)

Fun from Deerfield Ranch Winery

It all started when Deerfield Ranch co-owner P.J. Rex received a new kitten for her birthday.

That led to following their Star Wars fetish by naming the kitten Kylo Ren.

Their announcement of the adoption said, “You know we had to keep it in the Star Wars family. Kylo Ren, also known as Ben Solo, Son of Hans Solo and Princess Leia, grandson of Darth Vader and Princess Padme.”

The Rexes’ next step was for P.J. to release her 2018 Blonde Ambition and “May All Fours Be With You” Obi Wine Kenobi label that includes malbec cuvée, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and sauvignon blanc, all “clean wines.” 10200 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood. 833-5215. Desk@deerfieldranch.com.

In this photo taken Thursday, June 20, 2013 Alice Waters poses outside the new front entrance to her Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
In this photo taken Thursday, June 20, 2013 Alice Waters poses outside the new front entrance to her Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Chez Panisse turns 50

It’s hard to believe that Chez Panisse founder Alice Waters’ influences on farming, cooking, and eating has been going on that long. She started with friend investors, UC Berkeley professors, and others who have remained friends until today. And soon she will open her first Los Angeles restaurant to be run by David Tanis.

Some of Chez Panisse’s more famous alumni, who have gone on to become food leaders and influencers (in the old sense of the word), and occasional lovers, include the following.

Suzanne Goin began with prepping field greens for Waters and later founded A.O.C. and Lucques in Los Angeles; Vivian Ku who opened several Taiwanese and Chinese restaurants in Los Angeles; Mark Peel started as an assistant pastry chef and later helped developed Spago, and then opened La Brea Bakery and Campanile with then partner and wife Nancy Silverton. Dan Barber went on to build the Blue Hill restaurants in New York; April Bloomfield did a summer apprenticeship at Chez Panisse and eventually started the Spotted Pig and Breslin Bar & Dining Room in New York, then opened and closed Tosca Café in San Francisco with troubled partner Ken Friedman, and then Mayflower Inn in Connecticut. Deborah Madison became founding chef at Greens Restaurant in San Francisco and author of several cookbooks; Mark Miller started Fourth Street Grill and Santa Fe Bar & Grill in Berkeley in the old train station; Judy Rodgers was a Waters’ protégé who cheffed and owned Zuni Café in San Fancisco until her passing in 2013; Lindsey Shere helped start the Berkeley restaurant with Waters in 1971 and served as Chez Panisse pastry chef for 30 years.

Steven Sullivan baked bread at Chez Panisse and later founded Acme Bread Co. with his partner and wife, Susie Sullivan. Jeremiah Tower became head chef and a partner in Chez Panisse, later claiming to have created it all, left and worked at Balboa Café, then opened Stars restaurants and kept moving.

Food writers Samin Nosrat and Cal Peternell both cooked at Chez Panisse, as did David Tanis who writes for the New York Times and cooked off and on at the restaurant for more than 20 years. Tanis will rejoin Alice Waters at her new Lulu restaurant set to open in October at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.

Primary source: Los Angeles Times.

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