Kathleen Hill: Pets and Passaggio plus some menu updates

Gay fun in Sonoma, new happy hour item at Picazo and a whole lot more in this week’s food and wine news.|

Gay Wine Weekend is here!

Most of the events that are part of Gary Saperstein's Out in the Vineyard Gay Wine Weekend, July 18 through 21 are sold out except for a couple of the big ones.

And you don't have to be gay to attend.

All of the winemaker dinners have been sold out for a while, but there is a change. The chef at Sonoma's Williams-Sonoma just resigned to pursue the retail side of the business. Executive Chef Kyle Kuklewski and Sous Chef Denise of Ramekins have stepped in to create the dinner in Williams-Sonoma's back patio tonight, July 19. Sam Coturri of neighboring Winery Sixteen 600 will provide wines.

Gay Wine Weekend's 'signature event' is the Twilight T-Dance, which was Saperstein's first event 11 years ago at Atwood Ranch. This year the T-Dance is at Chateau St. Jean, where gay people and straight people alike will see many great physiques in t-shirts. The VIP reception, featuring food by Chef Chad, is sold out. During the larger part of the event which includes the actual T-Dance that often rocks into the night, Rob Larman of Cochon Volant Smokehouse & BBQ and Betty Lou's Diner will have their food trucks available.

Los Angeles DJ Ryan Kenney, straight from Fire Island, will spin tunes while guests sip Chateau St. Jean wines. $80.

And then there's Saperstein's first ever Drag Queen Recovery Brunch and Wine Auction to benefit Face-to-Face, the Sonoma County HIV/AIDS Network. Catch the brunch on Sunday, July 21 at the headquarters hotel, Lodge at Sonoma. Enjoy a huge buffet along with wines from Equality Vines and Big Bottom Market, both of Guerneville. Auctioneer Michael Tate returns along with his humor and skill that have helped raise $350,000 for Face-to-Face. $75 tickets for these two remaining events are available at gaywineweekend.com.

Teen Center's Lovin' Oven introduces new sauces

The fabulous Lovin' Oven culinary training program at Teen Services will introduce their new line of Southeast Asian sauces at the Sunday Springs Farmers Market on July 21. Started several years ago by Anea Kamahele, Lovin' Oven provides on-the-job training for teens who have graduated from Teen Services' Ready-to-Work program.

Drop into the Springs Farmers Market for their red or green Thai curry sauce, Malaysian peanut sauce or Indian chutney, and check out the crafts and vegetables available as well. More information at 939-1452 or casey@teenservicessonoma.org.

Passaggio Wines vineyard luncheon

Passaggio Wines owner/winemaker Cynthia Cosco will host a luncheon in the vineyard at one of her favorite fruit sources, Thomson Vineyards in the Carneros region just over the border in Napa County, on Saturday, July 27. A great chance to meet the grower, the winemaker and the chef.

Chef Bruce Yelner will create the barbecue menu. Guests will receive a glass of sparkling wine with cactus chicken bites on cornbread when they arrive. Lunch includes Yelner's tender smoked beef brisket with his 'Dark Secret Mole BBQ Sauce,' spicy smoked Cajun sausage, drunken beans, marinated bell pepper slaw and dessert of homegrown peaches grilled and served with burnt sugar sauce.

Passaggio wines to be served include Cosco's Aglianico Rosé, Trousseau Gris, Thomson Vineyard Merlot and Connect Red Bordeaux Blend. $80 wine club members, $95 others. 12 noon to 4 p.m. 1605 Los Carneros Ave., Napa. Reservations via Eventbrite or 934-8941.

Pets Lifeline Menagerie fundraiser

Every year Vintage Kennels hosts Pets Lifeline's always fun Paws for a Cause fundraiser. Next weekend brings 'Tails from the Menagerie,' this year's wild theme.

This time you won't have the fun of having horses lean back into their stalls to nibble your salad, but attendees will have the wow experience of watching the donated talent of a whole troupe of Las Vegas acrobats and dancers, with dinner served in the tent, on Saturday, July 27.

The Girl & the Fig will cater starting with passed appetizers of apricot-cured salmon, wild mushroom and chèvre tartlets, avocado-radish toast, and crispy pork belly.

Dinner will include tomato and watermelon salad; a choice of smoked short ribs on summer corn purée or pan-fried goat cheese gnocchi with roasted corn, heirloom tomatoes, and basil.

Deserts will be served family style with salted chocolate chip cookies and other sweets.

Breathless, Crosby Roamann, Mayo, Bella Vineyards, Muscardini Cellars, La Chertosa, Enkidu, Jasper Ridge and several cases of Atwood Ranch Cowboy Cabernet wines have all been donated. $200. 5:30 to 9:30. 996-4577, Ext. 110 or Petslifeline.org.

Lobster Bake coming at Bonneau and Opal Moon

Check out the under- known Bambury Wine Collection while enjoying their upcoming Lobster Bake at the family's Catherine Bonneau Vineyard behind Carneros Deli and the 76 gas station on Bonneau Road on Saturday, Aug. 3.

The Bambury Wine Collection includes Bonneau, Egret, and Opal Moon wine labels, spearheaded and steered by family winemaker John Bambury, grandson of Catherine Bonneau, whose family owned that corner where Arnold Drive and Highway 121 come together.

Catherine Bonneau was a tough, hard-working lady with many opinions who loved her wine and cigarettes. She was also very proud of her French heritage and tradition.

At their Lobster Bake, guests will be greeted with a reception featuring Hog Island oysters, caviar, and smoked salmon with Bonneau sparkling wine. Lunch will include lobster, shrimp, artichokes, potatoes, sausage, corn on the cob, and French bread, all served with Bonneau and Opal Moon wines.

Come at noon for the oysters, take a guided stroll through their vineyards and enjoy lunch at 1:15 p.m. $125. 75 Bonneau Rd., Sonoma. For tickets call 934-4086 or email marie@bonneauwine.com.

Zucchini Races today, July 19

Be sure to catch the Zucchini Races today at Sebastiani Winery's Arbor Park. Get zucchini race cars there by 6 p.m., races begin at 6:30 p.m. Free.

Menu updates

As they often do seasonally to make their menus more appealing, some restaurants have added new items.

Picazo Bar & Kitchen

Picazo at the old Breakaway location has changed up its Happy Hour menu, adding a half Caesar salad (guessing it's half a salad, not half Caesar), street corn, chicken tenders, pulled pork tacos and a patty melt ($4 to $9). Happy Hour 3 to 5 p.m. 19101 Sonoma Highway, Sonoma. Closed Tuesday.

Layla at MacArthur Place

While rumors of big changes of menu were recently floating around the bar at Layla, the changes seem only to be 'a few fresh, seasonal additions,' according to Liddy Parlato of MacArthur Place.

Layla has added 'the best local summer produce from neighboring farms and our own estate, inspired by Mediterranean cuisine,' such as salads such as local greens with figs from the property and panzanella (bread salad) with heirloom tomato, a chilled Salmorejo soup, plus the carbonara and vegan Bologneses that are already on the menu.

The favorite Porter House rolls now come with 'chicken drippin' and they have added zucchini fritters, octopus and a melon salad. ($7 to $18).

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