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Fiorini Bakery sold to, Studebaker Cheesecake; Academy Awards at Estate Sunday; Sonoma Cheese Conference and Eighth Street East Wineries open this weekend; Art Museum Café opens; Rocket refuels and re-opens

Fiorini Bakery sold to, Studebaker Cheesecake; Academy Awards at Estate Sunday; Sonoma Cheese Conference and Eighth Street East Wineries open this weekend; Art Museum Café opens; Rocket refuels and re-opens

March 1, 2011

Grazia Bianchi and her son-in-law, baker Massimo “Max” Fiorini, sold their equipment and closed the doors Saturday to their bakery and café, variously called Fiorini Pasticciere, Fiorini Bakery, Fiorini’s Truly Italian Bakery & Café, and Fiorini’s Cakes and Cookies on West Napa Street across from the Marketplace shopping center.

 Fiorini fans trickled in and out of the shop Saturday sadly ordering their last unique tuna and artichoke sandwiches, mille foglie, Italian cookies and zabaione.

But sweets lovers need not despair. Studebaker Cheesecake owners Kevin Fay and Cynthia Owing take over the site on March 1. Their cheesecakes are on sale at Sonoma Market this week. Watch for café service, and maybe even a Studebaker burger.


Sonoma Valley Museum of Art officially opens The Museum Café this morning, Friday, Feb 25 at 8 a.m. with a ribbon cutting at 9:30 a.m. and tomorrow. Enjoy hot coffee, espresso drinks, and Harvey’s Gourmet Donuts for these two days, with baked goodies from Artisan Bakers other days. You can buy Fun de Latte passes or a logo coffee mug for $150 to support the café and museum. With the latter you get free coffee or tea, or a discount on specialty drinks, for a year. Café hours: 8 a.m. to noon weekdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. 551 Broadway, Sonoma. 939-7862.


Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference 2011 opens its Sonoma events Sunday, Feb. 27 featuring movers and shakers in the national artisan cheese industry, along with cheese, beer and wine tasting all afternoon at MacArthur Place. Monday and Tuesday include seminars and networking sessions, culminating with a day of brilliant marketer Ari Weinzweig of Zingerman’s Community of Businesses and food mail order house.

Sunday afternoon includes the Cheese Rolling contest with Mayor Laurie Gallian, Supervisor Valerie Brown, Police Chief Brett Sackett; Kendall Jackson Chef Justin Wangler, Chef John Stewart of Black Pig Bacon, Zazu and bovolo; Marilyn Wilkinson of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, and Jacquelyn Buchanan of Laura Chenel Chèvre, all at 1:30 p.m. and followed by home cheesemaking demonstrations by “Cheese Queen” Ricki Carroll at 1:30 and 3 p.m.

Tony Ghilarducci of The Depot Hotel, Stuart Teitelbaum of Homegrown Bagels, Justin Wangler of Kendall Jackson, Peter Brown of Jimtown Store, Dagmar Carruth of The Red Grape, Dana Jaffe of Saddles Steakhouse, Maggie Ford of Maggie’s Fudge, and John Stewart of Zazu and Black Pig Bacon will present their foods, along with nearly 20 cheesemakers from through the United States. And just for fun, I will share the culinary history of my “Greater Graters” cheese grater collection.

 Enjoy beer from Sonoma Springs Brewery, Marin Brewing Company, Moylan’s, Bison Brewing and Uncommon Brewers, as well as wines from Benziger, Eric Ross, Haywood, Highway 12, Kendall Jackson, Random Ridge and Spann Vineyards. Sunday afternoon cheese rolling contest, demos and tastings $25; full three-day conference $1,000 (nearly sold out). 935-7960 or sheanadavis.com.


If you are a partying kind of film fan or a supporter of the Sonoma International Film Festival, don’t miss the festival’s Academy Awards Party & Telecast at Estate Restaurant this Sunday, starting at 3:30 p.m. Real film buffs can hide out in a quiet room to actually hear and view the awards show while sipping and nibbling.

 Executive Chef John Toulze’s buffet menus smack of chickpea fries, gnocchi fritti, wood-fired vegetables, salt cod croquettes with focaccia, bruschetta and mini calzones to start. The dinner buffet will include arugula and watermelon radishes, farro and baby spinach, grilled chicories, divine mac and cheese, fried chicken, braised pork shoulder sugo with soft polenta, and calamari and white bean salad, all followed by a dessert buffet.

 Silent auction highlights include a Stinson Beach house weekend, a Maui beach house for a week, an antique Baby Grand piano, a poker party for 16 and Pizza & a Movie at Kelly and Joe Cleaver’s Kenwood home. $125. Tickets at 933-2600 or sonomafilmfest.org.


Eighth Street East Wineries, a great bunch of small cult wineries offering rare tastes, welcome guests to sip wine and meet winemakers on Saturday, Feb. 26. Jennifer Marion of Anaba, Phil Staehle of Enkidu, Mark Herold and Katy Wilson of Kamen, Steve MacRostie of MacRostie, Steve Hill of Parmelee-Hill, Jeff Baker of Stone Edge Farms, Scott Rich of Talisman, Don VanStaaveren of Three Sticks, Michael Lancaster of Tin Barn and Ty Caton of, you guessed it, Ty Caton will all pour and explain their winemaking philosophy and techniques.

 Many of these wineries do not have tasting rooms, so take advantage of this opportunity to enjoy wine and food, the latter prepared by Della Fattoria, Rob Larman, girl & the fig catering, Sage Fine Foods, and culinary director John McReynolds will cook for Stone Edge Farm. $30 public, $20 wine club members includes wine, food, and souvenir wine glass. Eighthstreetwineries.com.


Sisters Liz and Molly Heyerly have re-launched Rocket Café with a new menu of “Rocket Fuel” that changes daily. Recent features included shrimp tempura, Vietnamese chicken phð, “Hawaii 5.0” of mango, Ahi tuna, and crab tempura, sashimi, Sonoma duck confit, crispy chicken Paillard, and potato leek and Swiss chard ravioli. $8 to $17. Tuesday through Saturday, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. or later. Café: 933-9755, catering 939-8612.


Local Guerilla Dining:

Valley Wine Shack features Rob Larman’s Cioppino with polenta, a Caesar salad, and pear and cherry crisp this Saturday ($35; 938-7218), while Ed Metcalfe takes his sushi to to join Larman’s pig smoker at Sonoma’s Best Thursdays through Sundays.


Tuesday farmers market: All vendors must get their applications in by Tuesday, March 1, with a $35 non-refundable application fee. Sonoma realtor Bill Dardon, whose daughter operates a coffee cart at the market, appears, in his fictitious business statement, to be the sole proprietor of the Tuesday market as his business. The Tuesday market will open May 3 and run from 5:30 to dusk until October 25.

 Beer-vana, Sonoma Community Center’s “nirvana for beer lovers” and amateur brewers, has a home brew entry deadline of 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 2 at the Community Center. Here in the wine country “it takes a lot of beer to make wine.”  All of this culminates in a Beer & Food Tasting party at 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 12. Visit bjcp.org (Beer Judge Certification Program) for style guidelines. Tasting party: $30 over 21. 276 E. Napa St., Sonoma. 938-4626, Ext. 1. sonomacommunitycenter.org.


Sonoma’s Best owners Gayle and Tom Jenkins hosted chef Rob Larman on Valentine’s evening to prepare a braised short rib dinner, accompanied by a few wild and woolly jokes from Jenkins and ever-ready Gene Daly. We sat with Gene and Ethel Daly and Suzanne Brangham and Jack Lundgren and got to enjoy the wine Daly friends Cathy and Jim Ledwith dropped by to purchase as gift to the Dalys since they had to be elsewhere.

 Larman reminded me that he made the excellent osso bucco we enjoyed at last Sunday’s lakeside potluck party at Deborah and John Emery’s hilltop estate, co-hosted by Mark Tchelistcheff.

 Larman boasted that he had shot a migrating Canadian goose and made goose breast prosciutto for the Emerys. When I asked him where he shot the goose, he said “in the heart.” I meant, where was he when he pulled the trigger? Jerry and I happen to be among those who enjoy Canadian geese alive, having watched thousands of them join in their graceful formations week after week while eating breakfast (best blueberry pancakes anywhere) at the Sylvia Hotel’s dining room overlooking Vancouver’s English Bay.


Wine and Dine Reports:

A fellow bike path regular reported that his daughter and son-in-law dined in a Miami Beach restaurant recently and found Crane Lake wines priced at $80 on the wine list. Yes, that is the same $2.99 Crane Lake wine you see at Sonoma Market, which is also a kind of Three-Buck Chuck non-Trader Joe’s product from brilliant Fred Franzia.

 Steve and Sandi Hansen just returned from a 17-day cruise through the Panama Canal by the Royal Caribbean’s Azamara Journey. Sandi reports that “they had three superb restaurants” with complimentary wine with lunch and dinner. Sandi and Steve were amazed and proud to find wines from Benziger, Cline and Mulas among a long list from around the world.

 Apparently Bob and Nancy Parmelee took the same cruise right before the Hansens and emailed great tips and helpful hints to them on everything from weather to food and had sent a bottle of champagne to the Hansens’ stateroom.


Nibs and Sips:

Linda and Scott Yenni sell grain-fed beef and lamb, as well as fresh eggs ($6 a dozen) and honey at their ranch across from Viansa Winery’s driveway. If you are in the market for vineyards or ranches, they are also the people to call with partner Michael Crain. For quarter beef or lamb orders call 529-5330 or 363-9463…Not sure of the voting winners, but my favorite nibs at SVVGA’s VinOlivo last Friday were Mamma Tanino’s Belgian endive filled with carpaccio, HopMonk’s lamb lollipops, and Wine Country Chocolates’ mini truffles…Charles Creek Vineyard Tasting Room & Gallery launches an exhibit of Lisa Sotero’s paintings on Tuesday, March 1. Sotero has studied with Keith Wicks, Susan Diehl, and Henry Stinson. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. 483 First St. W., Sonoma. 935-3848…Ruth and cheese distributor Gary Edwards welcomed baby Sullivan Edwards into this world last weekend. He joins “big” sister Madeleine. Hot Box Grill enjoyed a give-it-and-take-it away review in the San Francisco Chronicle last week but was closed while the Owens vacationed in Hawaii and couldn’t take advantage of the attention.


Coming up:

St. Francis Dad’s Club Mardi Gras Party and Crawfish Boil full of Gatorbeat Zydeco music and dripping good food this Saturday, Feb. 26. $35. 6 p.m. Tickets at St. Francis School office or sfdadsclub@gmail.com.

 Valley of the Moon Sons of Italy, Lodge 1959 hosts its annual dinner dance at the Vets Building on Saturday, March 5 to raise funds for Sonoma Valley High School seniors scholarships. The group returns this year to their traditional menu originated by Rena Novo of appetizers, salad, pasta and roast beef for the March event, which includes dancing to Sonoma’s Showcase the Band featuring Patti and Louie Perez, all for $25. No-host cocktails at 5 p.m., dinner at 6 p.m., followed by dancing. Call Karen Carroll at 938-1295 or Phyllis Serafini at 938-5691 for tickets or more information.


Sonoma Valley High School’s Music Department raises more funds with a pasta dinner on Saturday, March 5 at the Moose Lodge with silent auction, raffle and The Whiskey Thieves’ and student performances. $20 general, $10 students, $10 without dinner. Tickets at Readers’ Books, Valley Wine Shack and Sonoma Old School.


 John McReynolds of Stone Edge Farm and artist/fashion designer Sasha Duerr team up Saturday, March 5 at Sonoma Valley Museum of Art to highlight organic food and design and make a taste and visual connection between slow food and sustainable fashion. Guests will sample McReynolds great food and Stone Edge Farm wines while learning about foraged food and natural dyes.  $35 members, $42 non-members. 4 p.m. Tickets at svma.com.


Meadowcroft Wines celebrates Mardi Gras with Louisiana crawfish étoufée, Cajun sausage on grilled bread, and Aunt Sally’s Creole pralines on Saturday, March 5. Don’t miss Saint Gabriel’s Celestial Brass Band, billed as “the only authentic jazz/funeral/Mardi Gras” band west of New Orleans. Beads galore, King and Queen coronation, and costumes welcome. $35 advance, $45 at door. Noon to 4 p.m. 23574 Arnold Dr., Sonoma. 934-4090.

 Soroptimists’ Mardi Gras Celebration is a scholarship fundraiser with a dinner of spicy sausage, red beans and rice, cornbread and King’s Cake at Little Switzerland, Tuesday, March 8. Special kids’ menu of hotdogs and chips, along with face painting, balloon animals, masks and beads. Dance music by DJ Rick Vegaz. $10 adults, $5 kids. 5 to 8 p.m. Dance only age 21 and better, 9 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., $10 at door. 19080 Riverside Dr., Sonoma. 938-1616 or 996-6002.


Sonoma GayDar will host its “Big Gay Train on the Napa Valley Wine Train” on Saturday, March 12 featuring “the world’s first all gay winemaker dinner.” Chef Kelly Macdonald will prepare lobster cakes with celery root salad, seared Day Boat scallop with pork belly, lamb lollipops with potato fennel gratin, filet mignon, and a mini pear cake with cheeses. J Vineyards & Winery, Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery, Hesperian, Poem Cellar and Bjornstad Cellars will pour wines. $125 to benefit Queen of the Valley Hospital’s HIV/AIDS Services. 5 p.m. reception at station, 6 p.m. train pulls out for dinner on the rails. Reserve at (800) 427-4124 and ask for “the big gay train.”


Now Santa Rosa resident Neils Chew passed his 2010 Alcalde cane to Mary Evelyn Arnold on Tuesday at a Broadway Catering luncheon at Vintage House. Former alcaldes Alan and Sandy Piotter, Jerry Tuller, Lee Booker, Nancy Parmelee, Bob and Carolyn Stone, Helen Fernandez, Howie Ehret, Sue Holman and Susan Weeks, Kathy Mazza, Phyllis Carter, Sy Lenz and Elizabeth Kemp all showed up to celebrate Arnold. Mayor Laurie Gallian read my Index-Tribune story on Arnold as her introduction of this tireless volunteer.

            From now on find my Retro Recipe file at kthill.com.

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