Fridge needed for good cause, Aunt Momo, Cannard Farm CSA, Ghilarducci news

Sonoma Meals on Wheels (MOW) is putting on a Christmas Craft Fair and Lunch Box Café on Dec. 4 to raise money for a new refrigerator. Every decade or so, one of their heavily used refrigerators conks out, and that is now, say organizers.

The event will include a coffee truck, foods canned by MOW Executive Director and Chef Anea Kamahele, new board member Esther Oroz-Carranza, and $5 box lunches like the ones delivered to clients are much better than you might expect.

"Cowboy Kamahele," aka "The Real Hawaiian" and Anea's father, will provide live ukulele music.

Sonoma Meals on Wheels delivers two meals a day, Monday through Friday, to 50 to 65 homebound neighbors in Sonoma Valley. Volunteers deliver the food on six routes around town. Recipients are all homebound and cannot leave to shop or cook and need food delivered to survive.

Join me at the fair on Saturday, or you might prefer to send a check to Sonoma Meals on Wheels, P. O. Box 623, Sonoma. The Christmas Craft Fair and Lunch Box Café are free. $5 for Lunch Box. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 275 E. Spain St. (Trinity Episcopal Church), Sonoma.

Sign of the Bear proprietor Laura Halvek hands customer Nicci Vaiarello her purchase on Black Friday, Nov. 26,2021. (Photo by Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune)
Sign of the Bear proprietor Laura Halvek hands customer Nicci Vaiarello her purchase on Black Friday, Nov. 26,2021. (Photo by Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune)

Holidays and friendly tourists are back

Here we go into December, with lots going on between Thanksgiving, Chanukah, and Christmas.

Sonoma was packed last weekend, with loads of tourists, tasters, and shoppers seeming to have a good time as they strolled in several directions across streets around Sonoma Plaza. Hopefully, they bought lots from our local and independent merchants recovering from pandemic closures or economic slumps.

Readers' Books turns 30

Many visitors and locals found their way into Readers' Books 30th-anniversary party on Saturday. Unfortunately, we missed it because I didn't read the Readers' newsletter until Sunday, which might teach us a lesson (i.e., read the newsletter!).

Those of us who missed the birthday party of our revered community bookstore founded by Andy and Lilla Weinberger in 1991 across East Napa Street, also missed a one-day-only 30% discount on everything in the store in addition to bubbly and a fabulous yellow cake with chocolate frosting (the late Lilla's favorite) made by bookstore friend Kate Cherry. For many years Cherry made chocolates at Betty Kelly's Wine Country Chocolates and happens to be married to Ross Cannard of Cannard Family Farm. Readers' Books: 130 E. Napa St., Sonoma. 939-1779.

"Lots of people came for cake — it was lovely to see the store jumping again as this time last year we were limited to five customers inside at once. So nice to see people browsing and taking the time to pick and choose their books, and of course you know we love to recommend our favorites--and it's so much easier to do in person," commented Jude Sales, manager of Readers' Books.

Cannard Farm has long been a provider of produce for Alice Water’s Chez Panisse, pictured here in 2013 before the fire that damaged the building. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Cannard Farm has long been a provider of produce for Alice Water’s Chez Panisse, pictured here in 2013 before the fire that damaged the building. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Cannard Family Farm update

Bob (Bobby) Cannard and family, including son Ross Cannard, have long been among the storied providers of organic vegetables to Alice Waters and Chez Panisse. And not coincidentally, both Ross and his brother Marcus worked at Readers' Books. And their mother is Ditty Vella of the cheese family.

Ross Cannard and family are back in the produce box businesses. This week's box contained radicchio, chard, onions, leeks, persimmons, Kabocha squash, fennel and broccoli, a sample of what subscribers or first-timers to the Cannard Family Farm boxes might receive.

In his newsletter, Ross Cannard emailed, "Nothing like a slightly bitter radicchio salad to cut through the fog of post-Thanksgiving overindulgence. In fact, I remember suggesting a week or two ago that you make a radicchio salad with anchovy dressing. I guess I'm doing it right, because Samin Nosrat (internationally famous cookbook author and TV star) just ran the same recipe in the New York Times. Though hers is slightly fancier and more complicated, as befits the Times." To sign up for their newsletter to get each week's box content information and subscribe to their CSA program, email Ross Cannard at

No community breakfast this Sunday

The first Sunday of the month is (almost) always time for the Community Breakfast put on by Valley of the Moon Knights of Columbus on St. Francisco Solano School's playground or inside at Father Robert's Hall. But not this Sunday. As Aunt Momo puts it, "Next weekend the Knights are taking me out to dinner as a thank you, so the next breakfast is Dec. 12.“

Brendan Roche, Aunt Momo's brother, tells the Index-Tribune that, "We had a great turn out for our November breakfast, which proceeds helped us make a $700 donation to this year's Adopt-a-Family program, assisting local families in need by making sure they have gifts to open and a meal to eat at Christmas."

Aunt Momo cooked free soup at Vintage House's former soup Fridays and currently offers tasty bar food at the Moose Lodge in Sonoma on Thursdays and Fridays, in addition to leading the kitchen at St. Francis Community Breakfast almost every first Sunday of the month. She deserves a treat from the Knights of Columbus for all she does to help them raise money for local scholarships.

Great Ghilarducci news

Gianna Ghilarducci Kelly, who grew up in Sonoma the daughter of Gia and Michael Ghilarducci, then owners of the Depot Hotel Restaurant, remembers watching her father select wines with the Italian food he prepared both at home and the restaurant. Eventually, the family developed their own vineyard.

While her brother Antonio (Tony) became a chef and worked at great restaurants and Executive Chef at the Depot Hotel, Gianna quietly graduated in chemistry from Santa Clara University. After working at the IBM Almaden Research Center, she decided chemistry in the wine field appealed to her more.

That interest led her to Leo McCloskey's Enologix back here in Sonoma, after which she leaped to Stag's Leap Winery as an enologist where she "fell in love" with Bordeaux varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. Learning at every stop, Kelly then moved to St. Francis Winery and, in 2018, joined the team at Cardinale as assistant winemaker. A year later, Kelly moved on to Galerie wines, where she is now head winemaker focusing on making Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc wines from Knights Valley and the Napa Valley.

While doing all of this, she is raising her three children right here in Sonoma.

Face to Face

Sonomans Gary Saperstein and Mark Lyon are helping Face to face (F2F) in Sonoma County during this holiday giving season — and way beyond.

Gary Saperstein reminded me that 30 years ago, gay men came to Guerneville and Sonoma County "to die" of AIDS. They came from San Francisco and all over the country and world. It was, and is, a beautiful, tolerant, and understanding place. I remember that M.F.K. Fisher's sister, Norah Barr, served as a counselor at a clinic in Guerneville.

Saperstein does double duty with his Out In The Vineyard business (that just announced Gay Wine Week for July 15-17) and also works with Face to Face, our Sonoma County HIV/AIDS Network, as their director of development.

Mark Lyon, longtime head winemaker at Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery before it was sold and now owner and winemaker of Eco Terreno winery, has a long history with F2F as a member of the board of directors several years ago. Lyon and many other Sonoma residents remain passionate about their mission to end HIV in our region while supporting the health and well-being of those living with HIV.

Eco Terreno is donating $1 from every bottle sold of their fabulous Pink Pride Rosé or their 2018 Cuvée Acero Sauvignon Blanc to Face to Face from now through December 31. You can purchase the wine on the Face to Face website If you don't know what to give someone during the holidays, buying an excellent bottle of wine to benefit those who need help with HIV/AIDS can be a great way to spread holiday cheer this season and support a worthwhile cause.

You can also support Face to Face on Dec. 18 by attending the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus performance at the Green Music Center in Rohnert Park. This will be the 30th year that the Gay Men's Chorus has come up to Sonoma County to perform their holiday show. Last year the concert had to be canceled due to COVID.

Out in the Vineyard, which Saperstein runs, just announced the return of Gay Wine Week from Friday, July 15 through Sunday, July 17.

Having had to minimize this traditional fundraiser for Face to Face during the past two pandemic years, Saperstein is now inviting everyone "for a weekend of wine and celebrations with winemaker dinners, winery tours, and other events" in-person again next year.

VIP All-Access Passes are available, and Saperstein says The Lodge at Sonoma, Autograph Collection is the host hotel again this year. Tickets and passes at

Giving to SOS

Elaine Bell Catering confirmed Tuesday that her company would be delivering about 600 pounds of hot dogs, and 300 pounds of hamburgers with individual bags of chips and condiments to Sonoma Overnight Support (SOS).

More Pets Lifeline Miracles

There are 25 dinner tickets left for Pets Lifeline's Miracle on 8th Street fun- and fundraiser December 10 and an infinite number of raffle tickets ($50) left. And you don't have to be present to win the raffle.

The Girl & the Fig dinner, complete with vegetarian option, will actually be in a "festive holiday tent that will span Pet's Lifeline's entire lot," according to Mary Catherine Cutclffe, in case people are concerned about dining inside.

To purchase dinner and show or raffle tickets online, go to and purchase a ticket on the specific item you hope to win. Raffle tickets are also available at Community Supply, a spinoff of the Yoga Community at 577 W. Napa St., Woof at 107 E. Napa St., and at WineSnob! in Glen Ellen.

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