Kathleen Hill: ‘Today Show’ and NYT tout Glen Ellen Star; Valley Swim Club; Papa Murphy’s and more

Our contributing food and wine editor has all the tasty news, from new places to try to cooking classes and so much more.|
The Glen Ellen Star, in Glen Ellen, uses their wood fired oven for a variety of menu items including sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts and corn kernels. (Photo: Erik Castro/for The Press Democrat)
The Glen Ellen Star, in Glen Ellen, uses their wood fired oven for a variety of menu items including sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts and corn kernels. (Photo: Erik Castro/for The Press Democrat)

First a writer for the New York Times blesses Glen Ellen Star and Valley Bar + Bottle with being his two favorite Wine Country restaurants, and then Al Roker, weather host of NBC’s “Today Show,” dined with friends and colleagues at Glen Ellen Star. Will we ever be able to get in there again?

Glen Ellen Star Co-owner/Chef Ari Weisswasser told the Index-Tribune that Al Roker and friends “tried a little bit of everything” on the menu. If they visited my restaurant, I would want them to try everything, too.

And a newer Sonoma startup, the super healthy Spread Kitchen catered lunches for the crew which filmed at St. Francis Winery, at the northern tip of Sonoma Valley.

According to Spread owner/chef Cristina Topham, “we did a pita bar with chicken shawarma, falafels and kofta, fattoush salad, baklava and tahini brownies. We’d catered a shoot for them at a winery several months ago and they loved us and wanted to use us again. Apparently the crew was super happy when they saw the Spread van pulling up.”


Valley Bar + Bottle owners are transforming the old Delicious Dish site (pictured) into Valley Swim Club. (Photo: Sonoma Magazine)
Valley Bar + Bottle owners are transforming the old Delicious Dish site (pictured) into Valley Swim Club. (Photo: Sonoma Magazine)

Valley coming to Delicious Dish

Not much has progressed at either the former Reel & Brand, purchased by the Harrises of Lou’s Luncheonette and Jack’s Filling Station, while they await health department approvals.

Meanwhile, Emma Lipp of Valley Bar + Bottle, which purchased the former Delicious Dish site, says that they have a name: Valley Swim Club, or just Swim Club. Lipp says they are “inspired by the bathing culture that the Springs was founded on, as well as the Olompali Swim Club where the Grateful Dead hung out in the summer of '66, as well as seaside-surfside-poolside food culture everywhere.”

This could be super interesting and fun fish shack.

Neither spot is expected to open very soon, but we can always hope.

Caitlin Hamed served up the ever-popular market fare - corndogs. The Tuesday Farmers Market opened for the season on May 2. (Photo by Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune)
Caitlin Hamed served up the ever-popular market fare - corndogs. The Tuesday Farmers Market opened for the season on May 2. (Photo by Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune)

Tuesday evening farmers market delayed

Our Tuesday evening farmers market opening was pushed back to May 9, due to a drizzle of rain. All of the vendors were listed in last Friday’s Sonoma Index-Tribune.

You might have noticed the absence of both Paul’s Produce and Oak Hill Farm from the lineup. Both were late in planting due to our fortuitous heavy rains and mushy farmland.

But both are selling what they have at the Friday morning farmers market at Depot Park along with many other growers and vendors. Enjoy it all!

Bloom Carneros' dinner program began on April 1. (Photo: Bloom Carneros)
Bloom Carneros' dinner program began on April 1. (Photo: Bloom Carneros)

Bloom Carneros joins superbloom

Jordan Kivelstadt has done it again. He is always full of creative high energy. Even if our “superbloom” hasn’t quite shown up.

Kivelstadt created his (made up) namesake winery and turned it into a successful retail operation in Glen Ellen, then bought what had been Matthew Nagan’s Schellville Grill after Palooza owners tried to force Nagan to sell to them by enclosing the parking lot with a chain link fence. Kivelstadt moved in as fast as possible to upgrade the property.

With substantial investment, Kivelstadt’s first effort seemed to be a novel Kivelstadt tasting room with seating and standing areas to appeal to a certain audience, with some food (always good) available. He also spruced up the patio and outdoor area, with water bowls available for dogs who brought their people along.

Then more food variety was added along with a children’s play area, more plants and flowers, more staff, a dog menu, and generally more fun with occasional music.

Bloom Carneros is Kivelstadt’s latest incarnation that now emphasizes the property as a restaurant with Kivelstadt and other excellent wines added to the list. Chef Jennifer McMurry has been able to express herself through new menu items after being there for a year. They even now list publicly their local food sources, a refreshing statement of honesty among several restaurants claiming to use local products.

Many locals remember this spot as the Lazy D and then Ford’s Café, where neighborhood farmers hung out and showed up for breakfast, sometimes before daylight.

When the American flag was flying we knew the Amtrak bus was either on its way to drop off passengers or pick us up to go to the Martinez station to rumble across the country on trains. But most fans remember it for weekend breakfasts, whoever owned it and whatever it was called.

Now McMurry and Kivelstadt generously list local purveyors and here are a few of the more recognizable names: Cowgirl Creamery, Bellwether Farm, Full Belly Farm, Valley Ford Cheese, Goguette Bakery, Sebastopol Microgreens, Point Reyes Cheese, Marin French Cheese, Mycopia Mushrooms, FEED Sonoma and Naysayer Coffee.

On the menu you will find halibut agauchile, glazed pork belly, burrata and pea shoot pesto, carrot arancini, fried chicken bites, a small wedge salad, sweet potato tacos dorado, a mushroom Cubano, and even a KC burger and fries. Desserts can include baked Alaska, s’mores in a jar and more.

Check out the asparagus and spring onion pappardelle pasta, chicken paillard or a New York strip steak. All can be shared. Open Thursday through Sunday from 11 a.m. 22910 Broadway, Sonoma. 707-412-0438. Bloomcarneros.com.

'Pair of Mugs' by ceramics artist Kala Stein.
'Pair of Mugs' by ceramics artist Kala Stein.

Kala Stein + Fiorella Butron = new concept

Kala Stein and Fiorella Butron are combining talents to create “Dish,” a one-day event of ceramics and food.

Unfortunately the duo has just had to postpone this special experience again until June 23.

Stein is the former director of the ceramics program at Sonoma Community Center and Butron is the former culinary director and executive chef of Stone Edge Farm and Edge restaurant.

Stein said, “I inherited Beverly Prevost's studio -- she passed the torch to me quite literally as I now am the owner of her gas kiln (and two state-of-the-art electric kilns.”

She occupies the La Haye studio where revered ceramist Prevost produced hundreds, maybe thousands, of popular bowls, plates and other serving vessels for years. Now Stein’s solo exhibit fills Alley Gallery and will be accompanied by Butron’s food next Tuesday.

Since leaving Edge, Fiorella Butron has formed a food company called Allikai, and she explains that “Allikai is a Quechua word to describe feeling good. Allikai is a culinary group dedicated to creating and elaborating food that nurtures and makes you feel good. We pay attention to the constant flow of the seasons with deep respect for the earth, striving for minimal waste and regenerative practices. We seek to cultivate a connection among ourselves, our purveyors, and our clients. We have an array of culinary offerings; catering, pop-ups, classes and more.”

Butron emailed, “Growing up in a multi-national family in Peru, I cultivated a unique background with Peruvian, Italian and Middle-Eastern cuisines. After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu Lima, I worked with different cuisines in Florida, Hawaii, and California and traveled around Europe, Latin America, Southeast Asia, and India. I became a certified Sommelier and studied Ayurveda bringing a more balanced approach to my cooking. At Stone Edge Farm, I developed a sustainable and regenerative program in the kitchen with less to zero waste while building a larder that has served as the foundation for our cuisine.”

Tickets $175 include wine, shrub, two pieces of handmade pottery (a cup and bowl), and the food menu listed on the ticketing website Tickets at kala-stein-studio.myshopify.com/products/dish.

New at Edge

Since Fiorella Boutron left Edge restaurant on East Napa Street, Stone Edge Farm has been redoing and re-decorating the restaurant inside and opened 139 Tasting Patio outside.

Now Edge has brought in Jiun Ho, an internationally known minimalist designer of space and furniture, to “reimagine” both the restaurant’s interior and the patio. Edge’s address is 139 on East Napa Street.

Tastings are $50 per person for a flight, Thursday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. “by reservation, but walk-in tastings are also available.” Proprietors suggest you allow 60 minutes for a most pleasant tasting experience. For reservations email concierge@stonehedgefarm.com Edge plans to announce a new executive chef soon.

Vineyard Market

An updated Vineyard Market has opened with a bright red sign in what many of us remember as Foster’s Freeze and then accounting offices in the same complex as the shuttered Palms Grill. Looks mostly to be a beer, wine, booze and smoke shop with snacks and some specialty frozen foods for our health care workers from Fiji.

Bye-bye Papa Murphy’s

Papa Murphy's Pizza folded its operation in Sonoma on Friday, April 28.

Haulers were ripping apart emptying out the West Napa Street take-out pizza place Friday morning.

Known for selling take-and-bake pizzas, Papa Murphy's absence might well be a boost to local pizza makers such as longtime Sonoma original Mary's Pizza Shack on Sonoma Plaza and in Boyes Hot Springs, The Red Grape, Il Fuoco in the Springs, Jacob’s on Broadway, the Swiss Hotel, and other pizza pop-up menus.

The Papa Murphy's chain originated in Vancouver, Washington and has no relationship at all to Sonoma's Murphy's Irish Pub.

Cinco de Mayo at Kina’s Kitchen

That’s today, Friday, May 5.

Kina Chavez Is offering $5 margaritas, $5 guacamole and chips from 5 to 9 p.m., with karaoke and cocktails (always) from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. 19101 Sonoma Highway, Sonoma 707-935-3287.

Certainly other restaurants and bars will have a few specials as well.

Mother’s Day at Larson Family Winery. (Photo: Larson Family Winery)
Mother’s Day at Larson Family Winery. (Photo: Larson Family Winery)

Mother’s Day May 14

We all had mothers, and most of us loved and depended on them.

Those of us who are fortunate enough to be mothers have a lot to be thankful for this year: Water and (hopefully) food and shelter. And maybe a pot or two of soil or a garden where we and our offspring or friends might plant some vegetable starter plants to feed ourselves and others as we make our way through summer and fall.

If you want to take mom out for a treat, here are some possibilities of restaurants that let me know their Mother’s Day Specials far enough ahead for this column. Surely others will have special drinks or flowers for anyone who might be a mom.

Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn

FSMI always does a splendiferous job to help celebrate holidays and special occasions. This year Santé Restaurant’s pre-fixe menu includes butter poached lobster Benedict, pastrami smoked salmon, or a grilled lamb rack, along with a crepe station and dessert buffet with Watmaugh strawberry cheesecake or chamomile tart. 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. $125 adults, $39 for children 5 to 12, and free to children four and under. 707-939-2407.

Kina’s Kitchen

From 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Mother’s Day Kina Chavez and crew will offer two specials in addition to their regular menu: pan Frances (French toast) with mixed berries and orange sweet cream ($17), and smoked salmon eggs Benedict with an organic arugula side salad or breakfast potatoes ($24).

Larson Family Winery

The Larson family finally gets to bring back their Mother’s Day brunch after the pandemic, fires, and floods.

Winemaker Shane Ryan will offer complimentary barrel tastings on Mother’s Day – a real treat.

This time the celebratory meal will consist of boxed brunches prepared by Out to Lunch Catering. Mom will get a complimentary glass of sparkling rosé wine with her meal, with more wine available for purchase, of course. $45 wine club members, $55 non-members, $25 for kids. Reserve at 707-938-3031, ext. 20. 23355 Millerick Road, Sonoma.

Muscardini Cellars

Muscardini Cellars will host “an immersive candle-making experience using all natural soy, phthalate-free fragrance oils, and fresh botanicals as a special Mother's Day event that includes the candle making workshop, a glass of Muscardini Cellars wine, and two beautiful homemade candles.” Sonoma 707 Candle Co. offers the materials and the workshop.

Additional wines will be available for purchase by the glass or bottle along with sharable cheese and charcuterie boards during the event. Picnicking is always encouraged as a favorite springtime option. $45 wine club members $55 general public.

Tips Roadside

Andrew and Susie Pryfogle invite everyone for their Tips Roadside Bottomless Brunch served family style from 10 a.m. to 3 .m.

It starts with their classic cornbread with honey butter. Mains include a vegetable scramble, fried chicken, and shrimp and grits, accompanied by breakfast sausage, Applewood smoked bacon, potato hash and “red eyed gravy.” All of this is topped off with their famous beignets. Bottomless mimosas and bloody Mary’s are $19 additional. $55 adults, $20 age 12 and under. Reservations required. 509-0078 or tipsroadside.com.

New community center cooking classes

As the Sonoma Community Center reorganizes, interim Executive Director Vanessa Rognlien has arranged interesting new cooking classes for what they hope is a true Culinary Center, trying to fill a gap left when the Ken and Stacy Mattson bought and closed Ramekins Culinary School.

If you have a special chef whose class you might like to attend, or if you want to give a cooking class, contact Rognlien directly at vanessa@sonomacommunitycenter.org.

The next opportunities for adventurous cooks will be given by Lisa Lavagetto, who was, indeed, manager of the Ramekins Culinary School for more than 20 years, through the Ramekins ownerships of founder and developer Suzanne Brangham and then Sarah and Darius Anderson (Darius Anderson is the managing partner of Sonoma Media Investments, which owns the Index-Tribune).

Lavagetto has long been admired for her fabulous Italian cooking classes, which always sell out, including the timbale from the hit movie “Big Night.”

The community center is applying a sliding scale pay system for Lavagetto’s classes, ranging from $50, $75 to $100, so consult sonomacommunitycenter.org for pricing. Here are the mouthwatering-sounding menus to look forward to. All of her classes are hands-on and include the same style recipe packets she designed for Ramekins. Plus you get to eat what you have prepared.

May 13

•Clams and Mussel Soup with Pasta

•Spaghetti alla Carbonara

•Abacchio alla Cacciatore-Spring Lamb Cacciatore

•Braised Escarole with Almonds, Garlic and Anchovies

•Ricotta Cheesecake with Cherries

June 10

•Orecchiette al’Amertriciana-Spicy Tomato and Pancetta Sauce

•Gameroni alla Toscana-Grilled Jumbo Shrimp with Rosemary, Mint Oil and White Beans

•Gnocchi al Sugo di Coda di Bue -Gnocchi with Oxtail Ragu

•Malfatti con Saliccia e Finocchi – Spinach Dumplings with Sausage Sauce

•Fagottini di Pollo- Chicken Bundles stuffed with Vegetables and Baked with Bacon and Cheese

July 22

•Mixed Seafood Soup with Peppers, Chard, and Plum Tomatoes

•Tuna, Caper, and Potato Salad

•Fresh Cavatelli with Eggs, Applewood Bacon and Fontina Val d’Aosta

•Fresh Linguini with Scallops, Shrimp, and Calamari with Fresh Basil and Cherry Tomatoes

•Fried Ricotta with Jam and Whipped Cream

July 7

Sheana Davis of the Epicurean Connection will take learners on her culinary journey to Dubai, using ingredients and spices from the region with a slide show of her experiences and insights into the Dubai food scene. Sheana will prepare, demonstrate, and serve guests a four-course course tasting. $100.

The menu:

•Samossa Pie of Lamb Curry: A savory lamb pie, aromatic curry spices, wrapped in crispy pastry.

•Spice Box Chicken: A chicken dish cooked with spices, yogurt, and tomatoes, served with fresh cilantro and lime.

•Indian Spiced Greens: A healthy side dish of greens sautéed with garlic, ginger, cumin, and turmeric.

•Majboos: A basmati rice dish with Arabian spices, such as cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and saffron.

•Knafeh: A sweet and creamy dessert of phyllo dough layered with cheese and date honey.

•Ruya Cocktail: A refreshing drink made with sparkling wine or sparkling water, pomegranate molasses, and citrus juice.

You will receive the recipes for all the dishes after the class, so you can recreate them at home and share them with your family and friends.

Savory Mango Compound Butter from chef Sheana Davis of Epicurean Connection, who will teach a class on butter compounds with her daughter Karina. (John Burgess / The Press Democrat)
Savory Mango Compound Butter from chef Sheana Davis of Epicurean Connection, who will teach a class on butter compounds with her daughter Karina. (John Burgess / The Press Democrat)

July 8

Wacky Butters & Waffles with Sheana and Karina Davis.

Learn how to make your own compound butters with a variety of cereal flavors, such as Fruit Loops, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Apple Jacks, Cocoa Crispies and more. You’ll get to taste your creations on fresh made waffles and enjoy a cup of hot cocoa or coffee. Recipe packet to take home to recreate these butters. $25 per person, $80 for family of four.

Best known for her Epicurean Connection, Sheana says that for “almost 30 years, she has been creating delicious butters, and Karina has been helping since she could walk.”

A copy of their book, “Buttermonger” is not included, but will be available for sale the day-of. ($20, 76 pages).

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