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Kathleen Hill: Murphy’s, food films and Al Minero’s new gig

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Murphy’s Irish Pub sold, looks ahead

Murphy’s has new owners, the native Irish Coll brothers of Sonoma and Novato, who also own the famous Abbey Tavern on Geary Boulevard, the premier Irish sports bar for Irish expats and nostalgic descendants of Irish immigrants in San Francisco. They plan to be open well before St. Patrick’s Day, which is just four weeks away on Saturday, March 17.

Murphy’s partners include Tom and Dermot Coll, Richie Hart, a Cork native who lives in Sonoma, and silent partner Eamonn Herlihy. Dermot’s father-in-law, Sonoman Daniel Martes, will be executive chef. The Colls say they will make some design improvements and hope to overhaul the kitchen.

Lots of locals have posted on Facebook that they look forward to pub food again, which will be available during, between and after meals.

Big foodie event at film festival

Bringing something new to town, the Sonoma International Film Festival this year offers a gala dinner featuring “Devour! Sonoma Chefs & Shorts Gala Dinner” combining Nova Scotia, San Francisco and Sonoma chefs cooking up a five-course dinner accompanied by short food films on Thursday, March 22.

The films will be curated by Lia Rinaldo, managing director of Canadian foodie-film festival Devour, which takes place in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. Each course and film will be paired with Gloria Ferrer’s Winevane wines along with selections from Wolfville’s Benjamin Bridge Winery.

Watch for chefs Dominique Crenn of San Francisco’s two-Michelin stars Atelier Crenn; Evan Funke of Feliz Trattoria in Los Angeles; Michael Howell, founder of Devour; Sonoma’s John McReynolds of Edge; and John Toulze of the Girl & the Fig, all cooking together.

Devour offers a sort of food film road show, combining well-known chefs from each region it visits. SIFF directors Christine and Jon Curry and Rosemary and Kevin McNeely flew to Nova Scotia to check them out and lure them to Sonoma. Last year Devour attracted 11,000 guests to Atlantic, Canada.

The festival is March 21 to 25. Devour dinner tickets are $125 for Soiree Pass holders, $150 for other pass holders and $200 general. Visit sonomafilmfest.org for info and tickets.

Bill Blum leaves MacArthur Place

Bill Blum has left his position as general manager at MacArthur Place.

Friday, Feb. 9 was his last day, but says that “beginning next month I will continue to work with the new ownership on a part-time basis as a project consultant assisting them during the renovation of the hotel, restaurant, spa and conference center.

“It’s been a really fun ride and I feel very fortunate to have had the best boss I could imagine in Suzanne Brangham who, along with our investment group, allowed me to become an investor and gave me the freedom to run the hotel these past 18 years,” Blum said in an email Tuesday.

“It was important for me to stay through the sale and the transition to the new ownership (who took over just eight days after the fires), but after 40 years in the industry – eight years at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco, 12 years at Sonoma Mission Inn, and 18 years at Macarthur Place, I’m really looking forward to having some free time to relax, travel and work on some projects I have had on the back burner!”

Blum confided what fun he had walking carefree around Sonoma Plaza this week, spending time at Sign of the Bear and the Basque Boulangerie.

Sigh for fun

Jayme Powers celebrated the new upstairs lounge at her Sigh wine bar last Wednesday evening with sparkling wine, abundant appetizers from Carlo Cavallo of B&V Whiskey Bar & Grille, and lots of fine bubbles. Loads of people showed up, possibly helped by her recent mention as the No. 8 best wine bar in the United States on msn.com.

Cavallo provided several plates of charcuterie, Parmesan crisps with artichoke mousse and artichoke chips, cucumber cups with lemon prawn ceviche, butternut squash tortellini lollipops, wild mushroom and Parma prosciutto quiches, and Marin Myiagi oysters on the half-shell.

Samantha Farrington of Sonoma From Scratch, who calls herself a “private chef and boutique caterer,” offered divine chocolate-chip macaroons upstairs (inaccessible by the way), while Powers served plenty of Gerard Bertrand Brut Rosé from near Carcassonne and Varichon & Clerc Blanc de Blancs from near Lyon, France on both floors, while Powers’ brother-in-law Isaac Carter, played soft guitar at the entrance.

Aventine Glen Ellen closes for remodeling

Aventine Glen Ellen closed yesterday, Feb. 15 for approximately three weeks to fix kitchen and bar floors and, hopefully, to fix owner-chef Adolfo Veronese’s health.

Through a press release, Adolfo said, “We appreciate all the support from our friends and community as we take the time to look after our space, family and our health. As soon as a re-opening day becomes clear we will provide details. We are sorry for any inconvenience.”

Mentoring cooking class at Ramekins

Observing a Mentoring Alliance cooking class for mentees and mentors at Ramekins Culinary School brought both tears and giggles. The looks of wonderment and joy of learning to do something to feed themselves and others on the mentees’ faces was truly inspiring.

Chef Lisa Lavagetto really knows how to teach cooking, and excels at it whether working with children or grownups at Ramekins. She had kids of various backgrounds and learning abilities following her every word while she taught them how to prepare her own recipes for Tuscan white bean salad, buttermilk chicken breasts stuffed with ham and cheese, macaroni and cheese with bacon, and apple cranberry gallettes, all to perfection. And some of the mentors learned as well.

Everyone got to take home a full packet of all the recipes to try at home. Congratulations to all.

Nibs & Sips

Al Minero, former manager of Sonoma Market and a resident of Petaluma, has given up his and wife Michelle’s extended vacation and has turned up managing Pacific Market on Gravenstein Highway in Sebastopol. Their website says it is “one of the first grocery stores in Northern California to offer a dedicated organic produce section and helped pioneer the natural and healthy foods movement.

“Specialties like free-range chicken, grass-fed beef and pork, local farmed oysters and line caught salmon; house made sausages; and tumble-marinated meat keep customers coming back for more.”

We can all imagine how happy Minero is in a store much like Sonoma Market.

Pearl’s Diner off Fifth Street West now offers the Hawaiian breakfast of spam and eggs on Saturday and Sunday when owner Chuck is there. He has started the large meal, which includes fairly thick slices of spam, two eggs, sticky rice, and organic salad, to honor his mother, who is from Hawaii. 561 Fifth St. W. 996-1783.