Kathleen Hill: Basque celebrates its 25th anniversary and more

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Basque Boulangerie 25-cent anniversary

In a super local celebration, the Basque Boulangerie and Café celebrates 25 years in business with several 25-cent deals starting with a sour roll Thursday, Feb. 14, cheese sticks on Friday, coffee on Saturday, a cookie on Sunday, and a baguette on Monday, all for just 25 cents apiece.

Ron and Françoise Guerra Hodges started the Basque in 1994 in the First Street East building her family owns that had been occupied by the Arts Guild. Françoise’s parents, Lilly and Gratien Guerra, owned Sonoma French Bakery since 1956, retired, and developed the Place des Pyranées off First Street West.

Current Basque Boulangerie owner “Sunny” Bajwa, a former Noah’s Bagels executive, celebrates the history and tradition of the Basque with discounts this weekend. 460 First St. E., Sonoma. 935-7687.

Sonoma Ashram cooking class starts Sunday

Sonoma Ashram offers a series of cooking classes in the Banarsi style of cooking, with two in February and two in March.

This Sunday, Feb. 17, brings Dal Panchamel, a “rich unctuous curry of five dals served with cumin rice and aloo gobi matar - a spicy potato cauliflower fry with peas.” On Sunday, Feb. 24, they will offer “Rajma Chawal, a red bean curry and steamed masoori rice with lacha onion, tomato and butter roti flatbread.”

All classes are taught by Sonoma Ashram chefs and welcome drop-ins and diners. Class starts at 11:30 a.m., lunch is served at 2 p.m. Recommended donation is $25 to $35 with money going to support “a home for boys at Bal Ashram and a home for girls at Shanti Niketan.” 1087 Craig Ave., Sonoma. More info from Demetrios at dmtrios@gmail.com.

Joan Nathan coming to Readers’ Books

When word got to Lilla Weinberger of Readers’ Books that Joan Nathan was slipping over from some events in Napa to visit international and Mediterranean cookbook author Paula Wolfert, Weinberger jumped at the opportunity to invite her to Readers’ Books in Sonoma.

Readers’ Books will host “an informal signing and conversation” on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 4 p.m. “We’ll have tea and something to eat from the cookbook,” emailed Weinberger. Nathan has visited Readers’ before and appeared on my radio show on KSVY 91.3 FM.

Nathan is a regular contributor to the New York Times and Tablet magazine and has written 11 cookbooks, including her latest, “King Solomon’s Table: a Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World,” released by Alfred P. Knopf in April 2017. Her previous cookbook, “Quiches, Kugels and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France,” was named one of the 10 best cookbooks of 2010 by NPR, Food and Wine magazine, and Bon Appétit magazine.

In 1994, Nathan’s “Jewish Cooking in America” won both the James Beard Award for the best American cookbook and the IACP/Julia Child Cookbook of the Year Award, and in 2017 her “King Solomon” book was named a “Culinary Classic” by the IACP.

The same James Beard Award was later given to her 2005 cookbook, “The New American Cooking.” Her other books include “Foods of Israel Today,” “Joan Nathan’s Jewish Holiday Cookbook,” “The Jewish Holiday Baker,” “The Children’s Jewish Holiday Kitchen,” “The Jewish Holiday Kitchen” and “The Flavor of Jerusalem.”

In 2015, Les Dames d’Escoffier awarded Joan Nathan the prestigious Grande Dame, an annual award that recognizes professional achievements in the food industry. Previous recipients include Julia Child, Marcella Hazan and Alice Waters.

Nathan was born in Providence, Rhode Island, graduated from the University of Michigan with an M.A. in French literature, and earned a master’s in public administration from Harvard University. For three years she lived in Israel where she worked for Mayor Teddy Kollek of Jerusalem. Nathan lives in Washington, D.C. and Martha’s Vineyard with her husband.

Tips Roadside’s crawfish boil now monthly

Andrew and Susie Pryfogle’s Tips Roadside in Kenwood has had such great success with their first couple of crawfish boils that they have decided to do it on the third Wednesday of every month, meaning the next one is next Wednesday, Feb. 20. The Pryfogles are the same Pryfogles who mobilize their two Tips Tri-Tip Trolleys to farmers markets, wineries, special events, and to our 2017 fire hot spots to feed first responders.

Having attended their first one a few months ago, I can tell you this crawfish boil is as much about the fun as it is about the food, and is well worth the trip and cost, in my humble opinion.

Chef Thaddeus Palmese presides over the New Orleans-style boil of all-you-can-eat crawfish, peel-and-eat shrimp, Andouille sausage, corn on the cob, potatoes, and “all the fixings,” and their trademark beignets for dessert.

Granted, one has to work a bit harder to pry a bite of meat out of a little crawfish than one does with a lobster, many times the crawfish’s size. Housemade draft beer is $4, and $20 for a pitcher. Crawfish boil $39. 8445 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood. 509-0078.

Passagio Wines popup chez Yelner

Passaggio Wines is joining chef Bruce Yelner on Saturday, Feb. 23 for a pop-up dinner celebrating Cindy Cosco’s Italian family tradition of “supper” at her grandfather’s house in West Virginia.

Cindy fondly remembers her “suppers” with the family, usually taking place on Sunday night. “We’re competing with the Oscars so we’re serving Sunday night supper on Saturday,” says Cindy, owner and winemaker for Passaggio Wines

Chef Bruce Yelner left his engineering career and received an apprenticeship at La Robespierre in the 8th Arrondissement in Paris. The owner also helped Bruce get a stage at Maxim’s and La Boule d’Or.

He has created a menu for Cindy’s Italian Supper that is reminiscent of Sunday night suppers at her grandfather’s house in West Virginia. “As a personal chef and enthusiastic diner, I am a great fan of Cindy’s wines,” Yelner said. “They are the very definition of food wines.”

The menu includes antipasti of polenta crostini with Fontina cheese and sage, shrimp scampi with brushetta and Frittata della Nonna with potatoes, roasted peppers and pancetta, paired with Cindy’s proprietary Passion Blend or Chenin Blanc. The main course brings Braciole di Manzo, a stuffed and rolled flank steak served with handmade pasta, sausage, and meatballs with “Sunday Sauce,” paired with the rarely seen Italian varietal Teraldego or another of Cindy’s proprietary blends called Connect, consisting of three Bordeaux varietals. Dessert will be Yelner’s own rendition of Tiramisu - mascarpone custard on coffee - and rum-soaked ladyfingers sprinkled with cocoa powder, and paired with Passaggio’s current Blanc de Noir.

Passaggio Wines opened its tasting room in August of 2014 with less than 1,000 cases produced It is now up to 1,700 cases and recently opened a winemaking facility in the Carneros region of Sonoma. Cindy specializes in small case production of unique varietals from Sonoma and Napa counties, Lodi, Clarksburg, Russian River and Knights Valley. Tickets are $75 per person. Cocktails at 6:30 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m. Get tickets for the pop-up dinner at passaggiowines.com through the event link. More info at 934-8941.

Passaggio Wines is open Saturday through Thursday from noon to 6 p.m. and Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Missing Shiso Sushi?

Ed Metcalfe, now proprietor of Sushimoto and former chef/co-owner of Shiso Modern Asian Kitchen, will offer a “live sushi bar” at Viansa Winery on Sunday, Feb. 24. I had to ask what a “live sushi bar” is, featuring fish swimming around until they are butchered. Not.

It means Ed Metcalfe will be live and preparing sushi before your eyes, Noon to 3 p.m.

On Saturday, March 2, “live” Ed Metcalfe will offer a Mardi Gras party of jambalaya chicken ($15) or seafood ($22), over rice. Noon to 4 p.m. For more info contact Metcalfe at zensaisonoma@gmail.com.

Sweet Pea Bake Shop Valentines

Just to make everyone happy, Sweet Pea Bake Shop plays Valentine throughout the month of February. Check out the pink champagne cake with strawberry filling, champagne macaroons with Pop Rocks, conversation heart sugar cookies, chocolate dipped strawberries, heart-shaped Rice Krispy pops, chocolate raspberry waffles, and red velvet cake, at 720 W. Napa St.

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