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Top 100 Wineries; “The Fat Ass Cookbook;” Cancer fundraiser dinners; Santa in the Springs; Roche Winery fans to tour Ireland; Slow Food organizes quickly

Top 100 Wineries; “The Fat Ass Cookbook;” Cancer fundraiser dinners; Santa in the Springs; Roche Winery fans to tour Ireland; Slow Food organizes quickly

December 9, 2010

A few good Sonoma Valley wines made the San Francisco Chronicle’s “Top 100 Wines 2010″ list released on Sunday in the Chronicle’s magazine. One loud and clear message in the list is that our “Wine Country” notion that all good American wines come from Sonoma and Napa counties seems to have been debunked, at least according to Chronicle wine editor Jon Bonné’s palate. Bonné was the sole judge. Winning wines came from tiny to huge establishments in Berkeley, Paso Robles, Sierra foothills, Santa Cruz, Santa Ynez and remote valleys and hillsides of Washington and Oregon, as well as Sonoma and Napa. Local wines in the Top 100, including Carneros region products, include: NV Domaine Chandon Étoile Sonoma-Napa Brut; 2008 Artesa Carneros Chardonnay; 2009 Benziger Signaterra Shone Farm Vineyard Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc; 2009 Arnot-Roberts Campagni-Portis Vineyard Old Vine Sonoma Valley White Wine; 2007 Donum Estate Carneros Pinot Noir; Hanzell Estate Sonoma Valley Pinot Noir; and 2008 Landmark Steel Plow Kivelstadt Family Vineyard Sonoma Valley Syrah.

Murphy’s Irish Pub has a special “Dine and Donate” menu this month “to raise funds to feed more than 60 families for Christmas through FISH,” according to Murphy’s manager Hunt Bailie. Murphy’s will donate 30 percent of price from bacon braised Brussels sprouts, Caesar salads, a southwestern burger, veggie sandwich, Guinness braised pot roast or a goat cheese stuffed chicken breast ($4 to $17). Have a great time while helping others. 446 First St. E., Sonoma (707) 935-0660.

Arden Kremer hosts an olive oil tasting at The Epicurean Connection today, Dec. 10, from 3 to 6 p.m., featuring oils from the estate grove planted by her husband, Phil Coturri, Bobby Cannard and Ed Stolman.

Santa will show up Saturday, Dec. 11, at The Epicurean Connection from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for “Santa in the Springs.” Owner/chef Sheana Davis invites “you, your family and your four legged friends” and suggests everyone “stay for a bacon maple waffle and enjoy the community. Ten percent of sales for the day will be donated to the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation.” 18812 Highway 12, Suite C, Boyes Hot Springs. (707) 935-7960.

Penny Byrd, a.k.a. Popo the Clown, just received copies of her nine-month gestation labor of love, “The Fat Ass Cookbook.” Watch this space for her book signing news.

Only in America!

This week we find three food, wine and music fundraisers for local women who need funds to get potentially life-saving treatment and surgery for their cancers. As I have written before, there is no other “civilized” or “industrialized” country in the world where citizens have to sell pasta and cupcakes to get medical care, or where their insurance companies can deny them treatment.

Sonoma’s music community banded together last Sunday to perform at the Boys & Girls Club to help Mallory Davenport, hoping for treatment of her stage-four metastic lung cancer. Having served Sonoma Valley in many environmental and charitable ways, Davenport received the goodwill of many friends in the form of a pasta lunch with salad and garlic bread.

A pasta dinner last night at Larson Family Winery benefited Sarah Cess, who, with her family, has often cooked for others’ benefits, helped out at Prestwood School, and with Little League. In September Sarah was diagnosed with stage-three ovarian cancer. While she has had surgery, she needs financial help to cover three years’ testing expenses. When she was diagnosed, she had no insurance and now has a frightfully expensive policy. If you would like to donate, send check to Cess Family, c/o Jennifer Sunia, 1193 Pearce Drive, Sonoma or call (707) 888-0274.

Fun-loving graphic artist Ginnie Nichols was recently diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma, an aggressive cancer that involves a bile duct. She has endured expensive tests, and while UCLA Medical Center has agreed to do a transplant, her insurer has denied her coverage. Friends, family and Ginnie are looking for a San Francisco medical center where BlueCross might approve of the surgery. Several wineries and caterers will contribute to a Ginnie fundraiser at Catherine Driggers’ Olive & Vine in Glen Ellen’s Jack London Village to raise a portion of funds required for her transplant surgery. The girl & the fig, The Red Grape, Epicurean Connection, Left Coast Cuisine & Catering, Meadowbrooke Catering and Olive & Vine will all contribute food to this Sunday’s Ginnie Nichols Medical Fund fundraiser on Sunday, Dec. 12, 5 to 8 p.m. Muscardini, Victor Hill, Loxton, Fichtenberg, Ty Caton, Gloria Ferrer, Bevan and Hughes Family Vineyards will all contribute wine for guests’ pleasure. Most of the 75 tickets available have been sold at $75. For tickets call Margie Tosch Brooke at (707) 319-2500. To donate to the silent auction contact Dyann Espinosa at dywrite@gmail.com. Check on Ginnie’s condition at caringbridge.org/visit/ginnienichols. Or you can make a straight donation to the Ginnie Nichols Medical Fund at Exchange Bank.As I said: Only in America.

Under the new leadership of Kathy Leonard, Slow Food Sonoma Valley will have a “casual one-hour get together next Wednesday evening, Dec. 15,” at the Sonoma Community Center to talk about 2011 plans. Membership dues have been lowered to $25. 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. 276 E. Napa St., Sonoma. (707) 938-8000 or leaders@slowfoodsonomavalley.com.


Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ Fish Chowder recipe: Since haddock is not readily available here, substitute rock cod or snapper in the chowder. Rock cod and snapper are actually the same fish, one with the bone-side displayed up and one with outer side facing up.

The Dan Schaeffer family still owns part of Audelssa Winery. Audelssa will host a holiday celebration at its new Glen Ellen tasting room in the Poppe Building on Thursday, Dec. 16. 13750 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen. RSVP required: (707) 933-8514.

In case you might attend an event for the food instead of the entertainment, Rob Larman’s Cochon Volant will provide pork sliders at the Mutineer Magazine Holiday Comedy Festival at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards on Saturday, Dec. 11. 7 to 11:30 p.m. mutineermagazine.com/comedy.


Food requests are up and rising, according to FISH’s new Executive Director Rich Hacker. Requests for Christmas baskets (bags) of groceries were at 400 in 2008, 480 last year and already they have 375 applications so far this holiday season. Hacker said the holiday giveaway coincides with the harvest’s end, people being laid off and many remaining unemployed. Those needing food help can apply at La Luz or at Hanna Boys Center through today, Friday, although no one will be turned away. Distribution will be at Hanna on Saturday, Dec. 18, right next to the Soroptimists’ toy giveaway. To donate non-perishable food for the holiday baskets, take your food gifts to Hanna, Dec. 15 through Dec. 17, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Or you can put canned goods, rice or potatoes in food barrels at grocery stores. FISH volunteers are ringing bells for money donations at markets as well, or you can send a check to FISH at P.O. Box 507, Sonoma, CA 95476.

While we are thinking about giving presents, cooking feasts and dining out, let’s also give the gift of much needed food to those suffering, hopefully temporarily.

School Garden News:

Altimira Middle School horticulture students, led by science teacher “Dutch” VanHerwynen, sold vegetables from their school garden at Altimira’s craft fair on Thursday – all planted, grown and cared for by Sonoma students. VanHerwynen holds a degree in horticulture from Cal Poly.

Among Speedway Children’s Charities’ many generous donations this year to nonprofits was a gift to the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation for our School Garden Project.

Stone Edge Farm chef John McReynolds will do an olive oil demo with olive and other tastes on Monday, Dec. 13, at Junipero & Co. to benefit the Sonoma Valley School Garden Project. $8. 4 p.m. 115 B. E. Napa St., Sonoma. (707) 939-9065.


Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance held its holiday party at Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn’s Golf Course, with a dinner of abundant frisée salad with a wedge of warm brie, a boneless short rib with chard and chilled individual apple cakes with cinnamon crème fraîche. John Burdick and Hillary Wicht entertained with perfect dinner music, followed by s’mores and cigars from American Cigar Company. Outgoing SVVGA president Michael Muscardini departed right after the dinner for Belize.

Meanwhile, Sonoma Valley Rotary, a lively and giving group, enjoyed a similar dinner with butter lettuce salad, a short rib and tiramisu at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn.

Coming up:

Cline Cellars presents Don Landis and his informative olive curing seminar, which includes some California olive history, growing, harvesting and “No Lye” curing olives on Sunday, Dec. 12. Guests will enjoy olive and wine tasting, as well as a walk through Cline’s California Mission Museum. Free. 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Reservations at (707) 823-5097 or olivedon@hotmail.com.

Sonoma Valley Democratic Club will host its holiday party on Thursday, Dec. 16, at the Sonoma Valley Woman’s Club. The club will provide turkey, lasagna and soft drinks. Bring salads, a vegetable dish or a dessert. 6:30 to 9 p.m. 574 First St. E., Sonoma. For more information, contact Bob Baeyen at sonomabob@fastmail.fm.

Check out the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s (SFMOMA.org) exhibit, “How Wine Became Modern: Design + Wine 1976 to Now,” which includes a smell wall. Exhibit runs through April 17. Haven’t been yet, but plan to.

Gordon Harvey likes Danish and Donuts at the Siesta Way intersection with Highway 12. Harvey says the place offers a “baker’s dozen” after 11 a.m., while mentioning that “the aesthetic environment leaves something to be desired. But his baked (or fried) goods and friendliness make up for any deficiency.

Nibs and Sips:

Napa kicks off its Napa Truffle Festival tonight with a reception at the Westin Verasa and truffle tasting dinners at Farm, La Toque, Morimoto and Oenotri, with a special truffle dinner hosted by Ken Frank of La Toque on Saturday. $330 to $925, marketplace $15. 256-3200, napatrufflefestival.com

EDK Kitchenette’s lunch menu is an abbreviated version of the bar (lounge) menu, featuring truffle fries ($9) to mushroom and goat cheese pizza ($14).

New Years Eve opportunities, other than home or someone else’s home:

Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance presents a relatively safe solution to New Years Eve outings at The Lodge at Sonoma: their Moonglow Lounge – Puttin’ on the Glitz featuring the Motown-like sounds of Pride & Joy, along with a “comfort food” menu. Enjoy wedge salad with blue cheese dressing, tri-tip with portobello mushrooms, grilled veggies, mac-n-cheese and a huge dessert buffet of mini desserts. $250. Cocktails 7:30 to 9 p.m., dinner and dancing 9 p.m. Midnight ball drop and bubbly toast. Sells out. Reserve at (707) 938-1990.

The Dana Land Quartet plays the Gallery Lounge at The Lodge at Sonoma, which is free if you dine at Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar. $25 includes champagne and party favors. Reserve at (707) 931-2042

La Casa Restaurant & Bar features local cumbia band, Noche Tropical, Friday, Dec. 31, with loads of great La Casa food and beverages available. Musicians include Basillio Gonzalez, Ismael Ramirez, Antonio Prieto, Fernando Lopez, Ramiro Ramirez, Duane Aslaksen and former Sonoma Cultural and Fine Arts Commission Chair Loretta Carr. No cover charge. 9:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.

Plan ahead, but reserve now:

Roche Winery friends, fans and followers can sign up for the Roche Winery Ireland Experience Tour (May 10 to 18) that will include much tasting and drinking, natch. Visit Dublin, the Guinness Brewery, Old Jameson Distillery, Desmond Castle, the International Wine Museum, Charles Fort and a pub crawl in the historic village of Kinsale. Roche winemaker Michael Carr will pour Roche wines throughout. More info at info@rochewinery.com.

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