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

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.

Gloria Ferrer flute collection

This flute is a champagne glass, not a musical instrument. And, yes, Gloria Ferrer exists and she is a real-life person, as is her husband, Jose Ferrer, not the actor.

Gloria started collecting stemware in 1956 on Venice’s Piazza San Marco just as she started getting involved in the family wine business. An uncle suggested she start to collect, and she did, rummaging through antiques shops and small curio shops anywhere. She now owns more than 2,000 pieces and many of them are on display at the Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards tasting room here in Sonoma.

The winery has launched a blind tasting experience with assorted stemware to show how to get the most out of your favorite wines. “Glassware Explorations” take place at 10 a.m., noon, and 2 p.m. daily. Reservations should be made 72 hours ahead. $45. Wine club members get 20 percent discount. Reserve at 933-1932 or

Rocket lunch

Rocket, now back in its front space facing Highway 12, is now open for lunch on Saturdays, with a Valentine’s Day brunch on Sunday, Feb. 12. So now they are open from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, serving piroshkies on Thursday, Friday and Saturday as well as poke bowls, sandwiches and salads. Valentine’s menu might include ham Benedict with leeks, spinach and Hollandaise, beet cured salmon with potato pancake and avocado schmear, sausage and oat cakes, and a layered omelet with salad. Reserve for Valentine’s Day at 939-8612 or

Nibs & Sips

Marcy Smothers, who is working on a book on the history of Disneyland food, will do a demo on April 10 called “Eat Like Walt,” (also the name of her upcoming book) during the Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival (March 10 through April 16.)… When he’s back from Cuba, Gary Saperstein will interview Jim Obergerfell who was lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court case legalized gay marriage in the U.S. The two will converse in a “fireside chat” at Big Bottom Market in Guerneville Thursday, Feb. 16, with wines served by Equality Wines. $80. 6:30 p.m… Mary’s Pizza Shack in Boyes Hot Springs now closes at 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.

Today is National Cream Cheese Brownie Day and Valentine’s Day is National Cream Filled Chocolates Day. Go for it!

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