Jacob’s happy hour, Vallejo’s pomegranates, food fundraisers, Cheese Factory’s 90th

The weekly roundup of the tastiest news in town, served up hot and fresh by our longtime food and wine columnist.|

Remember the original Pizza & Pinot started by Sondra Bernstein when she had Estate restaurant where The General’s Daughter was before and after?

Jacob’s Restaurant has picked up the baton and has launched a new winter happy hour called Pizza and Vino, which started Monday, Nov. 8.

Guests get a mixed green salad or soup of the day, a personal pizza of cheese, pepperoni or “Sonoma,” and one glass of wine. Interesting wine choices include Eco Terreno Rosé, Schug Chardonnay or Oak Farm Zinfandel. All of this for $20. A few outside tables. Monday through Friday 4 to 6 p.m. 1266 Broadway, Sonoma, next to TrainTown. 996-4024.

Harvey’s Donut Bar opens in El Paseo

Georgia and Harvey Cohn and family have finally officially opened Harvey’s Donut Bar in El Paseo Courtyard off First Street East in Sonoma. It’s been a longtime coming with piles of permits, equipment and more but it is well worth it.

Harvey makes his gourmet mini-donuts in front of your eyes and entertains just by standing there in his top hat. And check out the craft root beers and specialty coffee drinks as well.

On Veterans Day, Nov. 11, Georgia and Harvey honor veterans with a free cup of coffee and donut samples. Then for the Nov. 20 lighting of the tree in Sonoma Plaza they will give a free hot chocolate for every purchase of a dozen donuts from 5 to 9 p.m. during the event.

For the holidays, Harvey offers donut specials such as a pumpkin spice glaze, apple pie donuts and raspberry jam donuts just in time for Hanukkah. And then there are the beverages like a peppermint mocha, eggnog lattes and hot apple cider starting on Nov. 20. 414 First St. E., Sonoma. 246-5928, Harveysdonuts@yahoo.com.

Harvey’s Donut Bar joins their Harvey’s Gourmet Mini Donuts on Railroad Avenue. When can we expect Harvey’s Donut Hole(s)? Not sure if that would be a place or something to eat.

Fundraisers are back in season

A few of or many nonprofits serving the Sonoma Valley have started holding in-person fundraisers again, resulting in lots of locals and others contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars to various organizations.

Sonoma Volunteer Firefighters tri-tip fundraiser

We all need to support our local firefighters, because they need us, and when we need them we really need them.

On Saturday, Nov. 13, hustle on over to Sonoma Springs Brewery for tri-tip sandwiches and salad prepared by firefighters, and Sottile Red Beer to support our volunteer firefighting team and to honor the family of the late firefighter, Eric Padgett. Padgett succumbed to cancer and was a longtime engineer for the Sonoma Valley Fire District.

The Big O and friends will play music, and you can even play corn hole in the former Nicholas Turkey offices parking lot. Noon to 5 p.m. 19449 Riverside Drive, Sonoma.

Miracle on 8th Street

The miracle in this case is the new community-funded Pets lifeline Animal Resource Center, built, finished and now enjoyed by some very lucky dogs and cats who are hoping for forever homes.

This one is Friday, Dec. 10 at the new facility. All attendees must be fully vaccinated and present there card or certification on their phone. Pets Lifeline even provides a link to upload your vaccination card.

The Pets Lifeline fundraisers really do sell out fast, including this one.

The Girl & the Fig menu (Sondra is a super dog lover) includes appetizers passed during the cocktail hour, followed by a beet and citrus salad with French feta cheese, pistachios, and fennel pollen.

Choose your entrée between an herbed risotto cake with fall squash purée, roasted mushrooms, pomegranate and roasted Delicata squash or braised short ribs with polenta and roasted Delicata squash with a Port reduction sauce.

Dessert will be a chocolate cranberry torte with Chantilly cream. Tickets start at $275, and any donation is welcome. More to come soon. Reservations at petslifeline.org.

Pomegranates at Vallejo’s Home

Thanks to some intermittent sunshine, we get to enjoy the after-storm beauty of local nature, with abundant acorns, persimmons, and various seeds.

Cassie O'Mara posted her love of they pomegranates in front of the Vallejo Home along with gorgeous photos and the fact that you can purchase a bag full of the pomegranates for $5 in the Carriage House.

Just a walk or roll on the bike path in the block just east of the Vallejo driveway can bring smiles and joy to anyone with the natural puddles and a large natural pond that forms in the winter.

My favorite symbolic sighting there is the red-winged blackbirds with red epaulets who perch on the tippy tops of reeds that grow in that pond. They look as if they own the world and can control everything from that perch, including when they take off.

We should listen to them.

Thanks to birders Malcolm and B.J. Blanchard for their expert identification of the birds.

Remote pilates benefits Food for All/Comida para Todos

Pay attention because this remote Pilates mat class is tomorrow, Nov. 13, and you can participate from home. Every penny you pay will go to Food for All/Comida para Todos in the Springs.

Jessica Fudim, an accomplished professional dancer and pilates instructor who grew up in Sonoma, has moved back here from San Francisco with her husband and kids. Apparently the funds from the class will pay for volunteers’ gas to deliver bi-weekly, contactless porch drop-offs of some food and household and family necessities to local families in need.

Fudim always gives proceeds from her classes to causes, both social and political, that she believes in. She also teaches in person classes at Vintage House on Tuesdays and Thursdays. No one will be turned away from the class for lack of funds. Register at www.jessicafudimpilates.com. The online class runs from 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday.

Full disclosure: Jessica Fudim and our daughter, Erin Hill Freschi, were exchange students together to Sonoma’s Sister City of Kaniv, Ukraine as part of the organization’s first Global Student Exchange.

Thanksgiving updates

Here are some sweet additions to Thanksgiving food information.

And don’t forget – invite someone over who might be alone.

Sonoma Market meat specialists say they will not have turkeys until about Nov. 17, and will not be taking orders until right before that because they won’t know what turkeys they are getting or what they will cost per pound.

Meanwhile commercial Dungeness crab fishing is still on hold due to humpback whales and leatherback turtles in Pacific waters, although we have seen private “recreational” crabbers selling their catch on social media.

Les Pascals Patisserie

Les Pascals in Glen Ellen has added some super sweets and savory special treats to its normal menu for this Thanksgiving holiday.

Check out the pumpkin macaroons, apple pie with sugar dough, a savory pumpkin galette, honey cake, hazelnut cinnamon cookies, hazelnut raisin bread, cranberry bread, and pumpkin brioche bread.

Les Pascals is taking orders now and will be open for in house dining and pickups on Wednesday, Nov. 24, and closed on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 25. 13798 Arnold Dr., Glen Ellen. 934-8378.

Sonoma Grille

Nima Sherpa and his chef, Saul, have come up with a new Thanksgiving menu and are excited to be back serving a three-course meal, which you can also order to go.

Starter choices include pumpkin and ginger soup, raspberry and watercress salad, or crispy polenta with rock shrimp.

Entrée offerings will be turkey with gravy, flounder roulades, New York steak or truffle mushroom gnocchi.

All of this can be topped off with pumpkin cheesecake, chocolate torte or tiramisu. ($70). Their regular menu is also available. Noon to 8 p.m. 165 W. Napa St., Sonoma. Reservations at 938-7542 or opentable.com.

Sausage Emporium closed for a few days

In response to my query about her Sausage Emporium appearing to be closed, owner Miranda Ives said they are closed “for scheduled maintenance.” The sausage-oriented café, beer and wine bar just opened in July of 2021.

In late October Ives sent out a broad email looking for line cooks. She has had bad luck with chefs and cooks coming and going ever since before she opened. Ives did not respond to my email asking when she hopes to re-open. Hopefully she has opened again by the time you read this.

Check it out and help if you can.

We do know that some landscapers say they can’t find steady helpers because some restaurants are offering “signing bonuses” to “poach” workers from other employers.

The Rosenbergs’ good week

Kenwood residents Gary and Rebecca Rosenberg had a very good week last week. By just staying home.

The trouble is, unlike last Friday’s caption of a photo in this newspaper, the Rosenbergs no longer own Sonoma Lavender. They sold it to Scott Maddock in 2017 just before our huge fires turned their entire lavender farm and home into ashes. Subsequently they went to live with their son near San Diego and then returned to Sonoma and rented a house here until their new George Bevan III-designed house was completed on their original land.

Their wildly popular lavender farm tours have not resumed, but the lavender field itself is more beautiful than ever.

Having created the entire lavender fad in the U.S. themselves, including an attractive coffee table book based on their farm, the Rosenbergs are super proud that the current Sonoma Lavender owners just found their lavender teddy bear among Oprah’s Favorite Things for 2021.

Widely traveled, the Rosenbergs now fly to France frequently to research Rebecca’s newest enterprise as a ”historical novelist.”

Locals might remember her book “The Secret Life of Mrs. London,” a great story of Charmian’s life and loves that many enjoyed and some Jack London Park docents questioned.

But now Rebecca’s first book in her series on champagne widows on Veuve Clicquot’s Barbe-Nicole, has made the cover of Reading Nation magazine, which is subtitled, “The International Pulpwood Queen and Timber Guy Book Club,” published by “dogs write press llc.”

Rebecca is currently working on her second Champagne Widows book on Madame Pommery in an effort to tell about “the real women whose remarkable stories deserve to be told from their point of view.” And in the process she tells the women’s actual roles so often hidden behind their men in the champagne world.

Rebecca’s covers are always evocative, and as a super attractive person herself, she easily dresses up well as her main character, adding a big bit of fun and glam to any appearance.

So between Oprah and Reading Nation magazine, the Rosenbergs had a very good week, indeed. Congratulations!

Sonoma Cheese Factory’s 90th birthday

Celso David Viviani, former president of Sonoma Cheese Factory, reminds us that next Tuesday, Nov. 16, is the 90th birthday of the founding of the Sonoma Cheese Factory.

David’s grandfather, Celso Viviani, and Tom Vella founded the Sonoma Valley Cheese Company on Second Street East on Nov. 16, 1931.

Since David Viviani’s sisters recently sold Sonoma Cheese Factory to Stacy and Ken Mattson, it has been “quiet,” Viviani told the Index-Tribune. But he added that “the Vella Cheese Factory” where his grandfather and Tom Vella began is “still very strong in the marketplace” in the historic stone building where it all started. Vella Cheese is now run by Chickie Vella and is more than well worth the one-block trip up Second Street East from East Spain Street.

Cheese has not been produced in the Sonoma Cheese Factory building since a listeria scare decades go, although Sonoma Creamery, owned by John Creen, continues to make Sonoma Jack cheeses, crisps and chips.

Vella has expanded its offerings to include extra-large organic eggs from Silver Sky Ranch in Petaluma at $7 per dozen. The mama chickens are “pasture-rotated” and free to enjoy the outdoors. Vella Cheese: Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. 315 Second St. E., Sonoma. 938-3232.

New culinary program and classes at Community Center

Elise Gonzales-Sahota is the new director of culinary arts at the Sonoma Community Center, among whose goal is to establish ongoing series of classes and other culinary programs.

The first series of cooking classes will be her own. The Sonoma native spent 10 years in India, during some of which she served as an intern at a spicy restaurant called Gunpowder in the Hauz Khaz artisan market in New Delhi, followed by working with home chefs across the Indian subcontinent and in her local village in the Indian Himalayas where she became fluent in Hindi.

Back here in Sonoma with her Indian husband and child, she offers a four-class series called “Food Nirvana.” Briefly the four sessions will include paneer from scratch; vegan South Indian staples like coconut curry, savory sambhar and idli; tandoor and butter chicken; and North Indian delights such as daal, tamarind chana masala and raita. Nov. 16 through Dec. 7. 6:30 to 8 p.m. PST. $250 all four sessions. $225 members. Intro level, age 18 and up. Register at sonomacommunitycenter.org.

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