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Kathleen Hill: Thanksgiving, kittens, Sangiacomos and more

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Free Thanksgiving Dinner fun

Sonoma’s unique free and super fun community Thanksgiving dinner will show up again this year on Nov. 28 at the Sonoma Valley Veterans Memorial Building, hosted by both Sonoma Community Center and Vintage House.

Gary Edwards and Daniel Quijada (Tips Roadside) coordinate the food donations, cooking and serving, all accomplished by loads of volunteers. Ingredients and other supplies will be donated by locals Elaine Bell Catering, Paul’s Produce, Green String Farm, Sonoma Market, Clover Sonoma Dairy, Glen Ellen Village Market, both Sonoma Rotary and Sunrise Rotary, and Joanne Romanini Distributing (vegetables).

Locals seem to be showing up in greater numbers than ever for community events, possibly because everyone needs to find something happy to do to remind ourselves of our community’s beauty.

The late Jerry Casson, for whom Vintage House was named, started the tradition decades ago with her “Thanksmas Party” at the Sonoma Community Center where she rounded up cooked turkeys from restaurants and all the trimmings and started prepping it all in her East Napa Street home, sometimes with the help of myself and my daughter. Restaurants cooked turkeys and other traditional essentials and brought them to the Community Center.

Under Gary Edwards’ leadership, the whole community celebration has grown so big that it has moved to the Vets Building and still has lines, but it’s well worth the wait for the unusually good free dinner.

Until recently, Vintage House cooked a Thanksgiving meal and Kiwanis delivered it to people at home. This year the two groups have united to create a true town dinner.

You don’t have to be lonely or in need of food to go. There is no embarrassment factor. It’s just fun and a great meal and a chance to celebrate and share Thanksgiving dinner with old and new friends.

Dinner will include turkey, ham, fresh salmon, Caggiano sausages, lots of vegetables, all the trimmings and loads of desserts. Free. 3 to 5 p.m. 126 First St. W., Sonoma. Just show up. BYOB. No corkage.

El Molino Central’s black cat has kittens

Karen Waikiki’s famous El Molino Mexican restaurant has become home to a big black cat on the roof, a smile-evoking creature that adds a little humor to the neighborhood.

While Karen had told this writer weeks ago that she thought the cat was pregnant, it also seemed like it might be a false alarm since the gestation period dragged on and on. And then all of a sudden kittens appeared. A small litter of four. The mystery continues; where did the orange one come from?

Apparently Karen’s friend, artist Mark Marthaler, seemed to be shocked too, and she remarked on what seemed like a long pregnancy. She decided to “give Mark time to differentiate them. He was mortified when I told him cat or dog litters could have more than one father.” Enjoy!

Homewood Winery holiday event

Dave Homewood, who stands above any crowd, invites wine and pizza lovers on Saturday, Nov. 23 at his Homewood Winery in Schellville.

Homewood’s friends make some delicious pizzas to pair with his wines. Examples include his Ludia & 2015 Rousanne with ricotta, mozzarella, feta, shrimp and capers; 2015 Flying Wizzbanger, 2013 Petite Sirah and Redder the Better with Mozzarella, sour cream and bacon, and his 2011 Late Harvest Semillon and 2013 Late Harvest Merlot with fig and onion jam, fresh mozzarella, gorgonzola, and red pears with a honey drizzle. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 23120 Burndale Road, Sonoma. 996-6353.

Sonoma Portworks’ pumpkin pie and port tastings

Sonoma’s Caryn and Bill Reading will offer tastings of pumpkin pie topped with their Duet Sherry-spiked whipped cream this Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 23 and 24. Port tastings are free, as is the pumpkin pie tasting.

Normally Sonoma Portworks’ tasting room is open for tastings noon to 5 p.m. Thursday through Monday, but starting next week it will be open daily. Delicious ports, sherries and Sonomic vinegars. 613 Second St., Petaluma. 769-5203.

More Thanksgiving shortcuts

Last week we offered a long list of menus of restaurants open and serving on Thanksgiving Day, as well as pies and desserts offered by specialty bakeries and caterers. Here are some more of the latter and dinner offerings.

Also, if you just want to stay home and make a turkey burger, check with your favorite meat clerk or butcher where the turkey came from and if it has been previously frozen, in which case you cannot freeze it again.

Farmers market news

The Friday morning Thanksgiving week farmers market by Depot Park will actually be next Tuesday, Nov. 26 at the Arnold Field/Depot Park parking lot, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. There is a market on Friday, Nov. 22, but there will not be one the day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 29.

Delicious Dish

Lauren Cotner will serve “an abbreviated Thanksgiving menu on Wednesday,” Nov. 27 at her Delicious Dish to be offered for groups of four people only. The menu will include turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, salad, cranberry sauce and potato rolls. Add your own vegetables and dessert if you wish. $50. 18709 Arnold Drive, Sonoma. orders@deliciousdishsf.com.

Cotner said her family and crew are still working on the patio for spring and summer outdoor dining, and even winter when heaters arrive. Speaking of her crew, many cooks and servers have been with her for eight years or more, partly she says, because “We pay well and offer benefits.” When I visited there were still signs of crafts and science experiments of daughter Maizey and friends keeping busy during PG&E-caused school closures.

Spread Catering Thanksgiving and Lebanese desserts

Spread Catering offers both Lebanese and Thanksgiving classic desserts including 20-piece trays of baklava ($40) that come in four flavors such as pistachio walnut orange blossom, chocolate-hazelnut cinnamon, almond fig lemon and walnut date orange.

Spread Catering owner Cristina Topham’s mother was Lebanese and she passed down recipes for Lebneh apple pie with streusel, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, and Baharat-spiced sweet potato pie. She explains that “Baharat is the Lebansese answer to pumpkin spice mix.” Tahini chocolate brownies ($25 for a dozen) and orange blossom shortbread cookies $10 a dozen. Order right away at info@spreadcatering.com.

Sweet Pea Bakeshop

The little bakery that could, Sweet Pea offers lots of pies, all on their “housemade flaky pie crust.” Order pumpkin, pecan, chocolate chunk pecan, duel layer combo pumpkin-pecan, and lemon meringue pies and apple and almond rose tart. All cost $25 each.

And then there are the dinner rolls, which means a dozen 2-ounce brioche or sweet potato rolls that might be so good that I don’t have to make my mother’s cranberry muffins. 720 W. Napa St., Sonoma. Order at 931-8797.

Sangiacomo Family wins again

The generally quiet and modest fourth generation Sonoma Valley farming family recently received the 2019 Sustainable Farmer Award from the Sonoma County Harvest Fair. And we already know that they meet one of the main requirements for the Harvest Fair’s award: The Sangiacomos are “outstanding members of Sonoma County’s agricultural community.“

We remember them growing pears and peaches and converting slowly to grapes and always doing so sustainably, although that wasn’t a word really applied to local farming then. It was just doing the right thing while farming.

Sonoma County Winegrowers president Karissa Kruse, who assisted in selecting Sonoma County Harvest Fair winners, said, “The Sangiacomo family are pillars of our grape growing community. They were early leaders of sustainability in their vineyards and in using the sustainable winegrowing label to reach consumers. Steve Sangiacomo is a longtime board member of the Sonoma County Winegrowers, the Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation and a member of the Sonoma County Center for Ag Sustainability. Mike Sangiacomo served for many years on the board of California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA). The Sangiacomo family was an obvious choice for Sustainable Farmer/Grape Grower and we are so thankful for their ongoing support and leadership.”

The entire Sangiacomo family was honored as the Boys & Girls Club Sweetheart this year for its ongoing involvement in and generosity to the community, carrying on the legacy Diane and Angelo Sangiacomo set.

Their children Mike, Steve, Mia and Mia’s husband, Mike Pucci, have been industry leaders in making the most of technological advances in farming while managing the land sustainably for future generations. It’s a family tradition.

All of the Sangiacomos’ 1,600 acres of vineyards are deemed to be certified sustainable by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA).

Having sold grapes for decades to others, the family released their first eponymous chardonnay, pinot noir, and cabernet sauvignon wines in 2018.

Ledson Winery dubbed a great place to work

Ledson Winery & Vineyards was recently named one of “San Francisco’ Bay Area’s Best and Brightest Companies to Work For,” according to the Bestandbrightest.com, a business consulting website.

The press release says that, “Only companies that distinguish themselves as having the most innovative and thoughtful human resources approach” can receive this honor. Criteria include compensation, benefits, employee enrichment, retention, employee education, diversity and inclusion, and other requirements.

Ledson’s Kenwood winery produces more than 70 different wines every year, “representing the largest ultra-premium wine portfolio of any family-owned winery in the United States,” according to Steve Ledson. He also owns the Ledson Hotel and Zina Hyde Lounge on First Street East in Sonoma. Winery: 7335 Highway 12, Kenwood/Santa Rosa. 537-3810.

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