Williams-Sonoma opening updates; Corner 103 tasting room coming; got figs? Travels with Henri episode No. 2

Williams-Sonoma has a string of events scheduled for their “re-opening” on Broadway next weekend. Sondra Bernstein and John Toulze, of the girl & the fig, will cater some private doings and pizza and prosecco for company folks and local office holders, on Thursday, Oct. 2, followed by media tours and a ribbon cutting on Friday, Oct. 3, and a Valley-wide free thank-you breakfast Saturday, Oct. 4, from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. in the two “front” quadrants of Sonoma Plaza facing Napa Street.

Everyone, meaning everyone, is welcome to attend the breakfast, which will feature pancakes made from a Williams-Sonoma brand mix sold in their stores, sausage, juice and coffee, all prepared by Culinary Institute of America (CIA) students from St. Helena, where Chuck Williams sponsors scholarships. Williams-Sonoma will officially open the door to its new/old store at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Following the Friday media tours and ribbon cutting, there will be “Cochon BBQ,” not to be confused with our local Rob Larman’s Cochon Volant BBQ.

No local chefs have been asked to cook for the ribbon-cutting party. The chefs preparing food will include Thomas McNaughton of Flour + Water, Matthew Accarrino of SPQR, and Duskie Estes of Zazu.


Please do check out our new local exhibit of Sonoma Valley Agriculture and Food History at the Sonoma Valley Historical Society’s Depot Park Museum, beginning next weekend to coincide with the W-S opening. Many of our longtime food-growing and producing families have loaned items, as have I from my culinary collection. See it all across First Street West from the Depot Hotel & Restaurant. Plenty of parking at the Arnold Field/Depot Park parking lot.


Sonoma Valley Grange’s next organic Pancake Breakfast will be Sunday, Oct. 5. Indulge in organic pancakes, eggs, sausage, juices, tea and coffee, and lots of good conversation. $12 adults, $6 children. 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. 18627 Sonoma Highway (across from Mary’s Pizza Shack), Boyes Hot Springs.


Lloyd Davis, onetime president of Viansa Winery & Marketplace as a partner in the Laurus Master Fund hedge fund, plans to open a tasting room and upscale gift shop at the corner of First Street West and West Napa Street. According to the ABC license in the window, and the word from Feed Store building owner Ingrid Martinez, Davis will call his new venture Corner 103, the address of Martinez’s former Changing Seasons Gallery.

When Sam and Vicky Sebastiani split, their combined children took over Viansa, which, according to the Press Democrat, sold in 2005 for $31 million to 360 Global Wine Co.

According to a story in North Bay Business Journal of Nov. 12, 2012, Laurus assumed ownership of Viansa in bankruptcy court after 360 Global Wine Co. filed for bankruptcy, owing millions to many people.

Davis is credited by North Bay Business Journal with turning Viansa around, in part by cutting operating expenses – from cutting the phone bill to cutting jobs – and making it profitable. Davis decided not to pursue purchasing Viansa himself, and it sold in 2013 to Vintage Wine Estates, which recently acquired Clos Pegase, Girard, Cosentino, Windsor Vineyards, Sonoma Coast Vineyards, Cartlidge & Browne and Ray’s Station wineries. Davis has circulated well in the community and has many friends here.


Juan Sahagún celebrates 15 highly successful years with his popular La Hacienda Taqueria on Highway 12 in Boyes Hot Springs, known for fresh Mexican food at reasonable prices, served very quickly. Customers will notice a whole new decor, inside and out, a full bar, new private dining room and newish colorful chairs and tables. He now owns restaurants here, in Petaluma and in Plainview, Massachusetts.


Sondra Bernstein, proprietor of the girl & the fig, fig cafe, girl & the fig caters and Suite D, just put out a call for figs. Figgy figs. She is looking for brown turkey figs, kadota figs and any others, but no more black mission figs. Any backyard extras you can’t eat any more of, or don’t want to make into more jam, will be welcomed.

Bring your extra figs to the back door of the girl & the fig kitchen, Tuesday through Saturday mornings, from 8 to 11 a.m. only. Ask for Chef Jeremy, who will weigh what you bring. Give Jeremy your name and address, and Sondra will mail you a gift card the next day or so. 933-3000, ext. 15.


Just in case you and your family need more sugar in your lives, Krispy Kreme will soon collaborate with Sony Pictures to sell “Ghostbusters” themed doughnuts. Said morsels will feature two kinds of marshmallow filling to celebrate the Blu-Ray release of the 30th anniversary edition of the movie, according to Variety. I can hardly wait.


Jeanne and Chip Allen visited Napa’s City Winery for lunch, and then several wineries yesterday, to check them out for her incredibleaccessible.com project. Jeanne is working on a video to enable others with physical needs to travel.



Ramekins Culinary School will host an evening of Bubbles & Sushi, featuring Ed Metcalfe of Shiso Grill and Jayme Powers from Sigh champagne bar, on Friday, Oct. 3. Powers is featured in October’s Sunset magazine. Guests will learn about traditions of food and culture in Japan as well as the allure and mystery of sparkling wines. $100. 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.450 W. Spain St., Sonoma. Reserve at ramekins.com.


Sonoma Community Center’s Muse event, honoring the great Mary Ellen Pleasant, founder of Beltane Ranch, will be Saturday, Oct. 11, at Beltane Ranch in Glen Ellen. This annual fundraiser keeps the Community Center open, which is important in our community. I feel strongly about it because I got it listed in the National Register of Historic Places when I was president of the board in the ’80s.

Chef Lauren Cotner, of Delicious Dish catering (on Arnold Drive), used a Mary Ellen Pleasant cookbook as a guide for her menu for the Muse evening, to include passed appetizers of ham hock rillettes, deviled crab deviled eggs and Los Alamos Rancho salsify soup shots.

Dinner will include a collard green and apple salad with bacon cider dressing and cornbread croutons; New Orleans Voodoo gulf shrimp and andouille sausage on smoked gouda; creamed corn hominy grits or Louisiana Plantation pulled pork shoulder with bourbon, coffee and coke barbecue sauce; and spoonbread with kale and bacon and root vegetables. A vegetarian medley of mushrooms on smoked corn hominy grits is available as well. It all wraps up with “Sunday Dinner” coffee, chocolate candied ginger cake with pink poached pears and cinnamon strips, complimented by biscuits and cornbread served with Straus honey butter.All this and Beltane’s award winning wines for $200. Cocktails start 5 p.m. 11775 Sonoma Highway, Glen Ellen. For reservations call Sonoma Community Center at 938-4626, ext. 1, go into Community Center office, or sonomacommunitycenter.org.


The Sonoma Chili Cook-Off pops around for the third year on Sunday, Oct. 12, at the Ceja family’s Carneros Brewing Company to benefit Sonoma’s Meals on Wheels. The whole event is basically organized by Roger Declercq, for sponsors Sonoma Gourmet Specialty Food Company (formerly Sonoma Gourmet), and Carneros Brewery.

This year you can enter your masterpiece in “classic, open, or vegetarian categories.” Judges will be John Toulze of the girl & the fig, Michael Lauker of Hundred Acre Wine Group, former chef Jim Danz and Sue Holman and Susan Weeks, co-directors of Meals on Wheels of Sonoma. The public will select the People’s Choice Award winners.

Last year I arrived before 4 p.m. and they were cleaned out of chili and all entrants had left. Maybe because 350 people attended, giving more than $4,000 to MOW.

Admission is free, but donations to Meals on Wheels are encouraged. Beer and soft drinks will be available. Chili contest entry fee $25. 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 22985 Burndale Rd. at Highway 121, Sonoma.For more info, contact Roger Declercq at roger@sonomagourmet.com.


Travels with Henri Episode No. 2

After our breakfast buffet of individual omelets, cereals, fruits, homemade hams and cooked meats at the Grand Hotel de L’Opera, some of us ventured out into the plaza, where we witnessed various weddings, as I said last week. This is where I learned my first lesson for buying goods from India in France.

I spotted and fell in love with some green and white fabric sewn into what used to be called a “skort,” meaning, in this case, long pants that look and flow like a skirt. I negotiated and got them for 12 euros, put them in my bag and moved on.

Sonomans Cathy Gellepis, Georgene Bonovich, Beth Buhler and I returned to the hotel, asked the concierge to call two cabs for us, because there is a local custom of not carrying more than two passengers with suitcases, spreading the taxi business around a bit. Two delightful drivers in two delightful Mercedes arrived and took us to the Toulouse Airport, where we were to be picked up by Christophe from our ultimate destination, Chateau Dumas, near the tiny village of Auty in Quercy.

Christophe is a delightful Brit, known as Christopher in his native England, always charming, almost always a gentleman and always hilarious.

After a little more than an hour of freeway, winding road and multiple circlings of roundabouts that seemed to take us in crisscrossing directions, we turned up a long tree-lined driveway to The Chateau. Finalement.

Chateau Dumas instantly felt like home to me. We walked the gravel entry through the coach house’s passageway, passing a long outdoor dining table and lots of lavender growing, and into the chateau’s lobby where a magical chandelier would soon become occasional home to those with iPads, since it somehow conducted wi-fi through the chateau’s working router.

At least we knew where to find people certain evenings.

After Christoph and Sarah Two showed us our rooms, I got out that skort. It must have been cut for a paper doll, with no extra material for a feminine shape. I left it at the chateau, knowing there were no paper dolls working there, but in hopes that someone knew one.

We named Sarah Two that because we already had Sarah Anderson. Sarah Two was born in Scotland and moved to France with her American husband to refurbish a house her parents bought near Chateau Dumas. An architect by training, Sarah Two clearly loved cooking a little, and making guests happy by doing almost anything she could for us. She was there for late dinners and the earliest of breakfasts, somehow.

Our first evening and arrival dinner began with “aperitifs,” which usually turned out to be local wine, champagne and a cocktail cart where one could make a martini for only 2 euros.

Our first “three-course Quercy dinner” featured a delightful salad of local tomatoes and figs, with toasts positioned slightly pornographically, and with dressing made with walnut vinegar, followed by a filet mignon of pork and local root vegetables. We think dessert was profiteroles with handmade ice cream, but no one quite remembers, understandably.

Eventually most of our Sonoma contingent went to our bedrooms, and quickly to our beds. Cathy counted the stairs the first night – 22 for each flight, meaning 44 steps to our third floor rooms. Great exercise. After that I became obsessed with counting the stairs almost every trip.

But it was well worth it. Imagine, leaving the turret windows wide open all night. Chateau Dumas owner Lizzie cautioned us not to leave windows open at night with lights on because little bugs would come in, to be followed closely by flying bats hunting the bugs.

I looked out at rolling fields of crops, including corn, and was able to watch the results of the day’s harvesting process every evening.

We weren’t there long enough for my body to develop allergies to local pollen or home invaders on the third floor, so I was in heaven breathing in that fresh French air all night. Want to go? Email chateausonoma@gmail.com.

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Next week: Travels with Henri Episode 3. We actually meet Henri at our first antiques shop.

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