Kathleen Hill: Lupercalia, Reel and Rocket, Ferrer flutes and more
More Valentine’s treats
Let’s remember that Valentine’s Day has its roots in Lupercalia, an ancient Roman fertility festival originally celebrated on Feb. 15. Pope Gelasius I turned it into a Christian feast day around 500 A.D. and changed the celebration to be St. Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14.
So if you forgot about it, just ignored the Hallmarkian advertising, or got lost in Super Bowl hype, you can still dash out and purchase something to make your loved one happy. If that doesn’t work, a visit with a big smile or a phone call will work, too.
Quick fixes that make most people happy include locally made chocolates, of which we have an abundance, given our population size, meaning three producers for 30,000 people plus tourists, and you can do the math.
The Pond family at the Chocolate Cow have been making chocolate fudge, peanut butter cups, chocolates and even sugar-free almond bark for more than 25 years in the Mercado off of First Street East.
Betty Kelly and daughter Caroline hand form chocolate truffles beyond all others made with both Guittard and Scharffen Berger chocolate and filled with wine, honey or just about any mousse or ganache filling you can think of. You can zip out to their little factory and shop in Jack London Village in Glen Ellen or stop in to the shop in El Paseo off First Street East for samples and even little boxes of truffles.
CocoaPlanet is Sonoma’s hottest new chocolate producer with a gluten-free and lactose-free French café and chocolate tasting room attached to Anne McKibben’s factory on Broadway where Sonoma Print Shop used to be across the street from MacArthur Place and Sonoma Valley High School. You can purchase one chocolate with “pearls of flavor” or a whole “sleeve.” These could be happy gifts to the calorie- or sugar-conscious recipient because there are only 100 calories per candy.
And our nurseries have lovely little (or big) blooming plants at good prices to bring a smile to someone’s heart.
‘Tangled Vines’ coming to Community Center
Sonoma Valley Historical Society brings author Frances Dinkelspiel to the Sonoma Community Center Saturday, Feb. 11. A terrific researcher, Dinkelspiel brings extra motivation to this book about the 2005 arson fire at Wines Central’s warehouse at Mare Island.
The warehouse held many valuable wines, including 175 bottles of Port and Angelica made by Dinkelspiel’s great-great grandfather, Isaias Hellman, with grapes planted in 1839 near Rancho Cucamonga. Hellman was the I.W. Helllman of Wells Fargo Bank and several other banks and ranches in California. Hear the whole gory story from Dinkelspiel on Saturday, Feb. 11 at the Sonoma Community Center. 2 p.m. $5 public. Free to Historical Society Members and docents. 276 E. Napa St.
Three Sticks winery partners with Crisp chefs
Three Sticks Winery is partnering with chefs Moaya Schieman and Andrea Koweek of Crisp Bakeshop to offer food pairing with Three Sticks wines. Guests can experience five Three Sticks wines and savory bites created by Moaya to go with the winery’s chardonnays and pinot noirs. All of this takes place at what Three Sticks calls “the Adobe,” which it was originally, and was known for decades as the Gregory Jones house.
I was astonished to find Moaya Schieman as chef preparing private lunches at both Viansa and B. R. Cohn wineries, and producing some of the finest food in Sonoma Valley. $85 for 90-minute experience with seatings at 10:30 a.m., 1 and 3:30 p.m. Reserve in advance at 996-3328, Ext. 105 or at threestickswine.com/request-reservation/
The Reel Fish Shop & Grill
This is not your father’s San Francisco Tadich Grill or Swan’s Oyster Depot where you might salivate over lightly sautéed sand dabs, Petrale sole or a hangover recovery Hangtown Fry.
This is a next generation fresh fish house featuring baskets of fried fish of the day with addictive matchstick fries, some poke, and a few grilled items and salads.
Hillary and Aiki Terashima have done a terrific job of re-decorating the interior of the old Little Switzerland and Rossi’s 1906, and the bar is particularly cozy. Aiki even makes his own Bloody Mary mix.
Both lunch and dinner menus offer special freshly butchered fish, even in tacos and fish and chips (no cole slaw available though), shrimp po’boys, a burger, steak and frites, and curry steamed clams, or mussels with chorizo at dinner. Grilled salmon or steak salads come with pickled veggies, there’s an Ahi poke or Portobello mushroom salad at dinner. I haven’t yet tried some dinner items, including the Flaming Lip Roll of tempura fried crab, cream cheese and avocado roll topped with chili sauces or the sticky ribs made with habanero-lemongrass ginger braised pork ribs appetizers. I might taste the Chowder Fries of their shoestring fries topped with excellent clam chowder and chopped bacon if someone else orders it and gives me one. Sounds like seafood poutine to me. Lots of great music on weekend nights – a perfect match. 401 Grove St. 343-0044.