Francis Ford and Eleanor Coppola celebrate at La Salette; Dungenness crab season starts Saturday; Depot Museum food exhibit; Travels with Henri Episode No. 9

December 4, 2014

Eleanor Coppola’s exhibit at Sonoma Valley Museum of Art opened Friday and is as quiet, demure, and complex as she is. Her praise of this museum was lovely and heartfelt. She and I share an appreciation of Executive Director Kate Eilertsen’s willingness to see art in odd things, from my antique kitchen utensils to Coppola’s straw bale circles with salt pouring from the rafters.

My favorite segment is Eleanor Coppola’s 60 photos along a wall of chef, restaurateur and cookbook author Joyce Goldstein. Captured in 1974, the photos were of Goldstein trying on everything in her closet and striking the same pose 60 times. Apparently sometimes she couldn’t find anything to wear, or occasionally just a bra.

Board members and friends enjoyed cheeses donated by Marin French Cheese and Laura Chenel Chèvre along with hearty raw vegetables and beverages.

After the 300 guests left SVMA, Eleanor and Francis Ford Coppola went to dinner at La Salette with Kate Eilertsen and Michael Muscardini Francis Ford Coppola’s best friend, Tony Dingman, the boyfriend of exhibit co-curator Diane Roby and a subject in Eleanor’s Dante Hotel project in the ‘70s. Also at dinner were two-time Academy Award winner Richard Beggs, art historian and instructor Whitney Chadwick who wrote an essay for Eleanor’s catalogue, painter Bob Bechtel, Lynn Hershman, a well-known artist and multi-award winning filmmaker as well as friend and collaborator with Eleanor, and SVMA board president Simon and Kimberly Blattner.

Both Coppolas feasted on their own orders of Ffeijoada, a Brazillian national dish of stewed beef, pork, smoked sausage and black beans, while sipping Michael Muscardini’s Sangiovese.

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Sonoma Market and Williams-Sonoma will provide refreshments at the holiday lighting of Sonoma Plaza with thousands of LED lights at 5:30 p.m. in front of city hall Friday, Nov. 14, followed by a marshmallow roast in the Sonoma Barracks Courtyard at 6 p.m. Free.

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Just in time for Thanksgiving, the local commercial Dungeness crab season opens Saturday, Nov. 15. Let’s hope the crabbers and wholesalers agree on a price fair for everyone.

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Sonoma’s Williams-Sonoma will provide kids’ cooking classes for Boys & Girls Club members after the first of the year, according to General Manager Emily Kendis. W-S gave the Boys & Girls Club $25,000 at the store’s ribbon cutting. Now if we can just get them interested in the Sonoma School Garden Project, which is open to all Sonoma Valley public school children.

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Lisa Lavagetto, one of Ramekins Culinary School’s most popular chefs and instructors, will give a special pasta class for the holidays, which is not listed in the Ramekins website. For the Thursday, Nov. 20 class, Lavagetto will use some old pasta-making tools such as a chitarra, many of which belonged to her husband’s famous Italian baseball family.

Learn to make cavatelli with spicy marinara sauce, pasta alla chitarra with puttanesca sauce and Italian tuna, chicken and leek ravioli with lemon cream sauce, corzetti coins with oxtail sauce, and chocolate linguini with peas and pancetta. $95. 6:30 p.m. 450 W. Spain St., Sonoma. 933-0450. Ramekins.com.

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Virginia Hayes opened her G’s Modern General Store last weekend in the longtime Plaza Liquors building. A happily quirky home accessory shop, G’s has jars of candy on a back counter and carries an addictive  caramel and cheddar popcorn, flavored pretzels, and a couple of updated kitchen implements.

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Rocket Sushi now serves a non-sushi brunch on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Watch for Huevos Benedict with chorizo and Tapatio Hollandaise, croque madame, croque veggie, steak and eggs with shoestring onions and potatoes, shrimp and grits, pumpkin waffles, French toast, biscuits and gravy and a yogurt parfait. Main courses $7 to $19. 939-8612 or lizrocketcatering@gmail.com.

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Aventine in Glen Ellen’s Jack London Village offers menu additions including the fungi pizza with wild mushrooms and an organic egg over easy, a short jumbo tube pasta with basil pesto, Blue Lake green beans and red potatoes, gnocchi with oven-roasted tomato sauce and buffalo mozzarella, and pork shank osso bucco with polenta.

Their Taste Tuesdays include free bar appetizers and Happy Hour pricing all night, while Wine Wednesdays offer some wines at half price. 14301 Arnold Dr., Glen Ellen. 934-8911.

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Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards was the exclusive wine at Glamour magazine’s 24th annual Women of the Year Awards, which honor extraordinary women throughout the worlds of entertainment, philanthropy, education, fashion and politics. Gloria’s Blanc de Noirs 2012 Carneros Chardonnay and 2011 Pinot Noir were poured at both the ceremony and the dinner afterward.

This year’s Glamour honorees included Lupita Nyong’o, Sarah Burton, Chelsea Clinton, Laverne Cox, Mindy Kaling, Samantha Power, Robin Roberts, Natalia Vodianova, Sylvia Earle, and The Girl Project.

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Food and wine opportunities for Saturday, Nov. 15:

Beltane Ranch will host a fabulously fun “Zinfandel Release, Harvest Dinner & Barn Dance” featuring Twang Ditty for rock-the-barn music on Saturday, Nov. 15.  Greg Markey, former Beltane chef and now Executive Chef of Stark restaurants, will prepare a four-course meal.

Guests will enjoy passed pumpkin empanadas and ranch figs with Laura Chenel Chèvre, followed by heirloom tomato panzanella salad, Angus beef short ribs braised in Beltane Zinfandel with glazed carrots, and red chard and buttermilk mashed potatoes, topped off with chocolate cake with crushed Beltane raspberries and whipped crème fraîche. $98 public, $75 wine club members. 5 to 9:30 p.m. For more info contact lauren@beltaneranch.com or at 939-5616.

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Petaluma Pie Company will offer free tastes of their sweet and savory yummies at St. Francis Winery in Kenwood on Saturday, Nov. 15. 1 to 3 p.m.

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Sonoma resident Nancy Ramsey, who has collected priceless tribal and ethnic jewelry while traveling, sometimes with her husband, astronaut Rusty Schweikart, will host her final sale in Marin at a Holiday Shopping Bazaar Saturday at the Acqua Hotel in Mill Valley. Ramsey has decided her travel and hunt for treasures across the Middle East and North Africa are no longer safe, so she has joined with nine other artisans for this pre-holiday sale. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 101 Seminary Dr., Mill Valley. ramsey@well.com.

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Chef Cathy Barrow brings her “Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry” to Ramekins Culinary School on Wednesday, Nov. 19 with tips for what to do with extra fruit and other farmers market goodies. Guests will learn to make inside-out samosa pancakes (not sure what those are), mango chutney with a water bath canning demo, cranberry raspberry sauce, smoked chicken with porcini mushrooms and peas on rice, and a jam tart with almonds. $95. 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. 450 W. Spain St., Sonoma. 933-0450. Ramekins.com.

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Also Wednesday, Nov. 19 Enoteca Della Santina will present “The Lino Vitale Show” that features a “boisterous warm personality” who knows Italian wines. “Heavy hors d’oeuvres” from Della Santina Trattoria. $45 public, $25 wine club members. 6 to 8 p.m.127 E. Napa St., Sonoma. 938-4200.

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The Depot Park Museum’s “Before the Vine” exhibit, which includes local families’ old equipment and new old pieces from my antique kitchen utensil collection, ends Dec. 1.  Free (donations welcomed). 1 to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

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Picazo Café on Arnold Drive at Grove is now open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday. I have heard the spareribs are terrific, but haven’t been there yet for dinner.

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First out of the Thanksgiving dinner starting blocks was Margie Brooke of Community Café on West Napa Street. You can order the whole dinner for four or eight people, or just order certain items.

The full dinner includes cranberry, ginger, date and pecan scones; whole cider-brined smoked turkey; chipotle mashed sweet potatoes; truffle scalloped potatoes; sourdough, sausage, apple and safe stuffing; giblet gravy; cranberry sauce with port and ginger, and cannoli cheesecake. All this for $125 for four people, or $200 for eight people for the complete dinner. Turkeys approximately 14 pounds for smaller orders, 16 pounds for larger orders. Just heat and serve. Call 938-7779 for info or to order.

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Sonoma Market and Glen Ellen Village Market offer full turkey dinners to go or a selection of à la carte entrées and side dishes to accompany your home cooked favorites. Scott the butcher will also advise customers on geese, quail, and ducks or game hens. You can indulge in an entire take-out prepared turkey dinner with a 10 to 12 pound turkey (they say for 8 or 10 people), mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, vegetables, a dozen dinner rolls and a pumpkin pie for $125.  You can find the full menu at sonomamarket.com.

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Plan ahead:

Le Cirque de Bohème returns to CornerStone Sonoma weekends Nov. 28 through Dec. 27, with performances at 3 and 5 p.m., plus one at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 30.

Bay Area performers will entertain including Michel Saga, Tobias Weinberger, mime and clown Thomas Schroyer, contortionist Fleeky Flanko, unicyclist and heat juggler Bri Crabtree, and knife thrower and fire juggler Matthew Bouvier.

Cornerstone owner Teresa Raffo would like to find someone to buy a block of tickets ($300) with her to donate to children of the Boys & Girls Club Sonoma Valley, already approved by executive director Dave PierTickets $15 kids, $25 adults, VIP $50 for front rows. To share in purchase for BGCSV, contact Teresa@conrnerstonesonoma.com. Other tickets visit cornerstonesonoma.com.

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Travels with Henri Episode No. 9

Following our working man’s luncheon at La Régalade in Cahors and the visit to Sylvie and Eugène Lismonde’s Le Tour de Belfort winery where we indulged in charcuterie and fabulous wine, we once again piled onto our bus with a driver who seemed to be able to back it around 45-degree hilly turns and up the long driveway to the home of French tea expert Catherine Bourzat.

Catherine lived up to her advance billing as one of Frances’s most fashionable women, complete with shaven head, while mysterious, elegant, exotic and, indeed, a tea expert.

We were tantalized by the prospect of seeing her allegedly artful home and enjoying learning about tea in her garden, where she spends most of her time.

Catherine has written about tea and culture in both India and China, so we were looking forward to a late afternoon wake-up tea tasting. Catherine’s husband led us around the house to a sloping lawn that led to a pond below. Careful.

Some of us sat in chairs, and those who sat on the ground found it even easier to doze off while Catherine told a long story about a dream she had that something related to tea would be coming to her over the ocean. Perhaps a tea machine.

While telling us about her dream, she wove in some facts such as oolong tea is considered a blue tea, the longer tea is fermented the more caffeine it has, tea grows in acid soil, and that currently 350 kinds of green tea grow in China.

So guess what. A long box arrived containing a “tea machine,” which had two sets of triangular legs (sort of like a very short swing set), about six dangling tea strainers, and a trough below. We tasted one caffeine-free tea that she made, played with her dog, and were ushered around the outside of the house to the bus, never seeing the inside. But we all learned something.

After aperitifs (and the occasional martini from the bar that appeared every evening) we enjoyed another divine dinner on the tiled veranda overlooking farms that rolled with the hills at Chateau Dumas.

Thanks to Chef Charlotte and her daughter Flora, we finished our day with gazpacho with toasted bacon sprinkles, a melon salad, confit of duck thighs and potatoes cooked in duck fat (the perfect diet), and accompanied by a few bottles of Le Tour de Belfort wine. Some of the best memories of this entire trip were late night conversations like we had after dinner with lots of laughs, followed by some guitar music from Chateau Dumas owner Lizzie Hulme’s son before he headed back to England the next day for school.

Next week: Travels with Henri Episode No. 10 brings us cooking demos by Chef Charlotte, an historic tour of St. Antonin (scene of “The Hundred Foot Journey,” and dinner at Charlotte’s barn.

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