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Kathleen Hill: Crab, farmers market and Thanksgiving

Crab is back!

Yes, Dungeness crab is back in stores, but it is not local.

Everyone from Sonoma Market to Costco seems to have some. At Sonoma Market it costs a mere $13.99 a pound. So a crab might cost anywhere from $20 to nearly $30, obviously a real treat for Thanksgiving, or any time for that matter.

While the ban on commercial fishing for Dungeness crab applies from Mendocino County to the Mexican border through Dec. 1, at least, it does not pertain to Oregon and Washington.

So what you get at Sonoma Market, we are told, is from the Pacific Ocean off of the state of Washington, most likely around Puget Sound.

We once did a comparison of the cost of “crab meat” and crab in the shell from Sonoma Market, by shelling the crab, weighing the shell, and then weighing the crab meat extracted from the shell, and after a lot of picky work, discovered the crab comes out to about the same price. We pay a lot for crab shells, but save them and boil for a broth.

Thanksgiving farmers markets

As happens every year, Sonoma’s Friday morning farmers market will be open with adjusted dates before Thanksgiving.

They are open Nov. 20, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and Nov. 24 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for your last minute and ultra-fresh needs.

There will be no farmers market the day after Thanksgiving, meaning Friday, Nov. 27.

Sonoma’s Friday farmers market keeps to all of Sonoma County and city requirements for safety and distancing. Located in the Depot Park parking lot on First Street West.

Park Avenue pop-up at B.R. Cohn Saturday

Ari Weisswasser and Bruce Riezenman’s Park Avenue Catering will stage a “pop-up restaurant” Autumn Lunch at B.R. Cohn Winery on Saturday, Nov. 21. They say the weather will be sunny and 64 degrees.

The menu will include autumn chicories salad with honey crisp apple slices, candied pecans and Roquefort dressing; chicken thigh tagine, cauliflower couscous with chickpeas, toasted pine nuts, blood orange, currants, and chili flakes; and persimmon pudding cake with brown butter frosting for dessert, along with two glasses of wine.

They assure that “every party will be seated at their own private table in the outdoor pavilion.” Maximum party size is six people per table. $85 for 21 and over, $68 per wine club member guest up to four guests. Seatings from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Reserve at 793-9645 or sales@parkavecater.com.

Adele Harrison’s Willie Bird turkey sale

Adele Harrison Middle School PTO is holding an unusual local fundraiser selling both fresh and smoked Willie Bird turkeys to be picked up Tuesday, Nov. 24. Today (Friday, Nov. 20) is the last day to order.

As many of us have known, Willie Bird turkeys are free-range, raised on natural grains and vegetable proteins with no hormones or antibiotics in their diets. This remains true since Willie Bird was recently bought by Diestel, an equally conscientious farming family and company. Willie Bird worked closely for decades with the Nicholas Turkey family of Sonoma.

Fresh turkeys will be available as long as they last in extra-small, small, medium, large and extra-large sizes ranging from 10 to 12 pounds to 24 to 28 pounds, costing from $48 to $112. Delivery $10. $1 per pound of turkey sold goes to classroom supplies, seventh grade outdoor education, and Safe School Ambassadors. Pick up Tuesday, Nov. 24 in the Adele Harrison breezeway bus loop, 9:30 to 11 a.m. Order at squareup.com/store/ahms-turkey-sales. Make checks payable to AHMS PTO.

Delicious Dish buys coffee cart

Lauren Cotner just has to update some things on the coffee cart at the south end of her Delicious Dish on Arnold Drive, then she will open her drive-up coffee joint loaded with her baked goods and sandwiches as well.

The cart will be called West Side Grind and “will feature traditional coffee, espresso drinks, fresh-pressed juice, Delicious Dish made breakfast sandwiches, breakfast burritos, fresh pastries, and Mexican pan dulces as well as salads and sandwiches for commuters to pick up on their way to work,” according to Cotner.

Service will be drive through with car service. She doesn’t have an opening date yet while waiting for the Health Department’s final inspection, but says “We are poised to start as soon as we can.”

Alone for Thanksgiving? Here you go…

You may be alone, but you are not alone in being alone. Many among us are alone this Thanksgiving due to the pandemic, travel restrictions, family members’ desire not to make each other sick or get sick, maybe for some people the cost of traveling to a family’s home, especially if out of work due to coronavirus layoffs, or maybe you just don’t have any family nearby.

But we have solutions!

Sonoma Community Center & Vintage House

Once again the Sonoma Community Center and Vintage House are combining efforts to produce and distribute a free Thanksgiving meal for all of those who wish or need it until food runs out on Thanksgiving, Thursday, Nov. 26.

This tradition was started by the late Jerry Casson, for whom Vintage House was originally named, a tireless social worker and kindhearted member of the Community Center board of directors who started her Thanksmas Party. She placed it between Thanksgiving and Christmas and served it at the Community Center after a few of us took our children to her house on East Napa Street to do the prep work.

Eventually the community dinner expanded to Andrews Hall and then to the vets building, where hundreds of people looked forward to cooking, serving or eating dinner in community. Some people who are not physically alone still feel alone, so getting together to share a meal can be important.

Because of COVID-19 this year’s Thanksgiving Dinner will be a drive-through where you can pick up your warm meal in back of the Community Center’s patio at the rear of the building.

Longtime volunteer Thanksgiving chef and cheese distributor Gary Edwards leads the team with co-chef Daniel Quijada. Other locals contributing food and supplies to the effort include Bright Events Rentals, Paul’s Produce, Sonoma Market, Clover Sonoma Dairy and Joanne Romanini Distributing. Starts at 1 p.m. until food runs out. 276 E. Napa St., Sonoma. 938-4626. Sonomacommunitycenter.org.

Other ideas: This week I asked again on Facebook what people who will be alone are planning to cook on Thanksgiving.

Two of the most contrasting responses came from my own cousins, who are siblings. Carol: Cornish game hens, Jim: beer, chips and football.

Several singles said they are cooking Cornish game hens, which usually come frozen, and one woman said homemade fudge and potato chips. Some said they would roast a chicken or turkey or parts of a turkey and buy the side dishes, one said they are barbecuing rabbit, another honey baked ham and Susie Allen said “Ruth Reichl’s pork tomatillo stew.”

You can also splurge on Dungeness crab (sometimes you can get parts at Sonoma Market), buy a turkey breast or thighs, or just ignore the whole thing and have a beverage of your choice.

Cochon Volant celebrates five years

Cochon Volant (Flying Pig) owner and chef Rob Larman ventured out into the Pacific Ocean last week for a little recreational crabbing, caught one, and suddenly heard the engine of his boat making unusual noises, so he headed back to Tomales.

Larman had thought of hosting a big party to celebrate his first five years smoking and barbecuing meats at Cochon Volant on Highway 12, with him and his crew doing all the cooking for the tasty party.

But since we are not supposed gather in crowds, he decided to invite his kitchen crew, some of whom have worked with him for 17 years, to go for a boat ride up the Napa River. They all piled in (at least on that river you can swim to the shore) and he took them all to Bettina Rouas’ Angèle restaurant for lunch, where he presented large bonuses to them while giving them Thanksgiving thanks for their service.

Larman just added a “pastrami short rib,” which he brines for five days, to his Cochon Volant menu.

Sausage Emporium progress update

Everyone who drives on the Napa Street block on the Plaza must wonder what’s going on with Sausage Emporium that seems to be forever wrapped in plywood.

Answer: Lots has been going on, after a series of delays dominated by COVID after getting city permits.

Miranda Ives, proprietor of both Sausage Emporium and its predecessor, Hare & Hatter, says that they have “a beautiful newly renovated restaurant (almost),” and that they have replaced the front of the building behind the plywood temporary façade. Since the last tenant was a men’s clothing store, Ives also had to install a completely new kitchen.

As to when Sausage Emporium might actually open for business, Ives wrote in an email “Still in purple (Sonoma County’s COVID-case rating), winter coming, and the expense of perishables, payroll, building and populating parklets, dry goods etc... has me leaning toward spring.”

Apparently their online business is cooking with 18 kinds of sausage, more salumi and cheese, and hand-tied porchetta, plus a collaboration with Fifth Hill Wines, a La Prenda Vineyards venture with acclaimed winemaker Mike Cox, formerly of Schug. Catch their products and Berkshire hams at societysonoma.com.

Changes at Sunflower Caffé

While Sunflower Caffé has succeeded in adding outdoor heaters to their patio and are again seating guests at sidewalk tables, co-owner James Hahn emailed “New Beginnings” in which he states, “In an effort to reduce expenses and continue to employ staff and support our community, some of our partners have decided to branch out from Sunflower Caffé.“ What this means, apparently, is that James Hahn is pumping up his home loan business on weekdays and expects to be in the café on weekends.

Giving thanks to hungry four legged friends

Our cats and dogs are precious to all of us, and we need to recognize that fact and help feed the “best friends” of many among us who can no longer afford pet food for a variety of reasons.

Pets Lifeline is politely begging those who can to donate dry pet food to the no-kill kennel that works hard to find forever homes for stray animals of those who survived their people parents.

“All food donated will be distributed to pets in need in our community,” according to Nancy King, executive director of Pets Lifeline.

If you can help, you can purchase and take food to Pets Lifeline at 21045 Broadway, buy dry pet food at local pet stores and Pets Lifeline will pick it up, or order at Chewy or Amazon and have itsent to PLL at the above address.

Holiday treats from Les Pascals

Glen Ellen's Les Pascals chef Pascal Merle has added some typical French treats to the Les Pascals menu.

Run, don't walk for:

Buche De Noel: In France, and other European countries, a yule log is a traditional dessert served around Christmas. It's made of sponge cake to resemble a miniature actual yule log and is a form of sweet roulade.

Buche Praliné et chocolate: Similar to the buche de noel, the buche praline consists of spongecake, praline buttercream and chocolate ganache.

Busche Royale: Another classic French holiday dessert made for chocolate lovers. This cake offers decadent chocolate with a crispy praline layer, chocolate mousse and chocolate glaze.

Snowman meringue: A festive meringue cookie, made from whipped egg whites and sugar.

Croquembouche: A French dessert made of choux pastry puffs piled into a cone and bound with threads of caramel. In addition to the holidays, this dessert is often served at celebrations like weddings and baptisms.

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