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Kathleen Hill: Cochon Volant on TV, and where to eat for Thanksgiving

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Cochon Volant on Food Network tonight

“Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives” will feature the first showing of host Guy Fieri’s visit to Cochon Volant tonight, Friday, Nov. 9 at 9 p.m. Lots of locals are in the segment; and the show’s producers say the segment will feature photos of last year’s wildfires taken by Robbi Pengelly of the Index-Tribune. Watch to spot some friends and drool over some good smoked and barbecued meats, cole slaw, beans, salads, fried chicken and Lizzie’s chocolate chip cookies.

Owner Rob Larman has been busy with catering, donating and serving lunch for 50 at Sonoma Overnight Support’s shelter, the Haven, and filling in at the last minute to supply juicy beef brisket for 300 at Julie Atwood’s recent benefit for Slow Food Russian River, the Heritage Turkey Project and Worth Our Weight.

Vinegar making class

Sheana Davis will give a class on making red wine vinegar today, Dec. 9 at Cook Vineyard Management, and each guest will take home their own recipe and “mother of vinegar” from which you can make your own vinegar. Attendees will also taste vinegars and David Cook’s olive oils with complimentary wine. $35 per person, limit 15. 1 to 3 p.m. Reserve via Martha at 938-7917.

Yum for the scrum

At a press preview on Monday, folks tried a variety of goodies at the new Mint and Liberty restaurant, such as dice-sized version of the sprouted lentil salad made with Sweetwater Spectrum’s lentil sprouts, Missy and Austin Lely’s Bee Well Farms’ beets, and yogurt created by chef Michael Siegel, formerly of San Francisco’s pan-Asian Betlenut restaurant, Bix and Shorty Goldstein’s. He and his wife Katelin live in town and she is part of the winemaking team at Repris Winery.

Siegel has assembled a multi-national kitchen crew to make everything from pork belly steamed buns, “baked potato pierogi,” chopped chicken liver, Matzah ball soup, egg salad with Challah toast points, and a Rachel sandwich, sister of Reuben. You will also find Praka or beef stuffed cabbage rolls, shrimp gumbo, and turkey pot pie. Siegel even makes his own hoisin sauce and pork buns. And his pastrami is made with Wagyu beef brined for five days, something he brought along from Shorty’s.

Don’t worry – there are still good sounding breakfasts ($12 to $17), lots of burgers from grass fed 5 Dot Ranch beef with cheddar cheese and an Impossible burger ($12 to $14) with fries ($3 to $7 extra), a “Fancy Pants” grilled cheese and a Green Goddess Cobb salad. In fact, owners James and Mila Hahn loaded six staff members onto a plane for a 24-hour trip to Chicago to research hot dogs and delis, eating their way around town at Stephanie Izard’s Girl & the Goat and Little Goat Diner, and at Portillos of Chicago Dogs. All this on M&L’s general manager Thomas Painter’s first day on the job.

Mila’s family owned Sears Fine Foods and Copper Penny for many years. Lots of local liquors and beers. 19101 Sonoma Highway, Sonoma. 996-5949.

Plan ahead for Thanksgiving dinner

Known to some as Turkey Day with football, Thanksgiving is already coming on Nov. 22.

We know Thanksgiving must be next when stores replace Halloween candy and costumes with Christmas and Hanukkah decorations.

The whole holiday started in 1621 when some Pilgrims and Native Americans of the Wampanoag community near Plymouth Plantation got together and celebrated the harvest by feasting on fowl, flint corn, squash, porridge, chestnuts, shellfish and venison.

George Washington first declared Thanksgiving to be on Nov. 26 in 1789, and the first National Football League game played on Thanksgiving was in 1934.

Depending on whether we “feast” alone or with others, we all have slightly different ideas of what Thanksgiving dinner should include either to serve at home or take to a potluck.

Maybe a turkey sandwich, a spiral ham, wild duck, goose, salmon or none of the above. Some of our favorite side dishes include green bean casserole, stuffing, mashed potatoes with or without garlic or parsley, sweet potatoes, candied yams, winter vegetables broccoli and cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, glazed carrots, creamed spinach and cornbread or rolls.

As for those rolls, we sometimes try to continue family traditions, such as cranberry muffins in the McKelligon-Thompson-Hill family, which are a lot of work. It’s OK to give in occasionally and purchase rolls from a local bakery or grocery. Check the ingredients.

Dining out for Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving dinner can be quite expensive to cook, even for a few people. If you would rather spend the money to go out and not have to do all that work, here are some Sonoma restaurants serving special holiday menus. Many restaurants are closing for Thanksgiving to give their staff the day off.

Depot Hotel Sonoma

Owner Gia Ghilarducci and chef Tony Ghilarducci, Gia’s son, will present a four-course meal that starts with corn chowder with Hobbs bacon and harvest salad; and choices of Mary’s free-range turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes, green peas, gravy and cranberry-orange relish; poached filet of salmon with a wild mushroom and leek tarte, or spinach and ricotta ravioli with Swiss chard and black truffles, or boneless beef short ribs braised in house merlot with horseradish puréed potatoes and root vegetables. Vegetarian soup available.

Dessert choices include Scandia cheesecake with raspberry and mango coulis, pumpkin pie or chocolate torte with Amarena cherries and chocolate tuile. $58 adults, $25 ages 5 to 12. 241 First St. W., Sonoma. 938-2980. Depotsonoma.com.

Fig Café & Wine Bar

The Fig Cafe offers starter selections of fig and arugula salad, fried Brussels sprouts salad, or cream of cauliflower soup. Main courses will be roasted turkey, root vegetables, pain perdue (lost bread – like stuffing), gravy and cranberry relish; pot roast with Butternut squash whipped potatoes with braised greens and horseradish; pan-seared flounder with potato purée and sautéed spinach; or mushroom risotto with local mushrooms.

Chef John Toulze’s profiteroles (cream puffs) filled with pumpkin or cream topped with chocolate sauce, or chocolate budino top it off. $45, wine pairing $13; $20 children 10 and under. 1 to 6 p.m. Reserve at 933-3000, ext. 13.

Suite D

Girl & the Fig Caters offers an easy buffet dinner of Romaine and pear salad; roasted fall squash; green bean casserole with roasted mushrooms and housemade pancetta; whipped horseradish potatoes; turkey with all the fixings and stuffing and gravy; and roast beef with horseradish cream. Desserts will be pumpkin pie and a chocolate brownie and ice cream sundae bar. $35, all you can eat. $20 children 12 and under. Corkage $5 (complimentary to Suite D Social Club members. Get tickets online at therhoneroom.com.

The Girl & the Fig

The Girl & the Fig crew will serve an amuse of herb gougère; celery root and roasted apple bisque with blue cheese cremo or a fall squash salad or a pear salad for starters. Entrée choices include roast turkey breast with confit break pudding, sautéed flounder with spinach and mashed potatoes, smoked short ribs with crispy Brussels sprouts and Butternut squash purée, or glazed cauliflower with creamy polenta and truffle pesto.

Desserts offer chocolate pecan pie, pumpkin cheesecake crisp or brown sugar braised apples. $60 adults, wine pairing plus $18, $20 ages 10 and under. Noon to 8 p.m. 938-3634.

Free turkey dinners

Many years ago, the late Jerry Casson started what she called the “Thanksmas Party” at the Sonoma Community Center, for which she and friends and restaurants did most of the cooking for a joint holiday dinner. She was still at it in the 1980s when I was president of the board and daughter Erin and I helped with prep at Casson’s house on East Napa Street.

Now the Thanksgiving dinner has grown and grown to the point where it had to move from the Community Center to the Veterans Memorial Building, under the guidance and enormous organization of Gary Edwards. At the same time, Vintage House has been cooking and heating food for its community with some meals delivered by members of Sonoma Plaza Kiwanis.

But this year, Sonoma Community Center and Vintage House are combining efforts to offer this completely free Thanksgiving dinner. Join a few hundred Sonomans at the vets building, Nov. 22 from 3 to 5 p.m. Loads of gourmet food and plenty for vegetarians. 126 First St. W., Sonoma.

Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn

Thanksgiving will bring FSMI’s usual bountiful Thanksgiving buffet that starts with some unique appetizers among others such as Spanish antipasti with chorizo and figs and a Spanish tortilla (much like a frittata), pâté en croûte, and foie gras parfaits, plus local and imported cheeses, lots of salads, a New York bagel and smoked fish station including Catskill smoked salmon, and smoked trout, sturgeon and sable fish.

“Stations” include seafood, a carving station with Diestel turkey, Calvados suckling pig, salt crusted halibut, and entrées of pumpkin risotto, spaghetti squash, oysters Rockefeller, and shrimp and Anson Mills grits. Loads of root vegetables, southern greens, truffle mac & cheese, and a fricassee of locally foraged mushrooms. Assorted organic wood-fired breads, cappuccino chouquettes, petit fours, fruit tartlets, s’mores chocolate cheesecake, and Valrhona Onado chocolate mousse bombe with cacao shortbread. $135; $50 children 6 to 12; free for kids 5 and under. Reserve at 939-2407.

Join me at Williams-Sonoma Saturday, Nov. 17 where I will display my cast iron cooking collection, talk about its history, and the chef will show how to cook a couple of tastes to go with wine to be served. Bring your cast iron if you wish and share your family stories with it. 1 p.m. Free. 605 Broadway, Sonoma. 939-8974.