Candidate who cooks; Slow Food’s fast new leader; New farmers market vendors; Hacienda update; Nibs and Sips

November 12, 2010

Now this is a first.

Sonoma Valley Health District board member-elect Kevin Carruth is a big man, in many ways. Big in ideas, big in experience of building public buildings, and generally a big guy in stature. He has run big massive state projects and, guess what, he cooks.

After Carruth’s election night triumph, his wife and our friend, Claudia Mendoza, came by with a one-layer carrot and coconut cake Kevin had made as a way of thanking us for our advice. He also steams a mean artichoke with Dijon dip.

The Carruths watched election returns with friends at their home where everyone enjoyed a case of Black Coyote Cabernet Sauvignon brought by Vanessa Robledo. The gathering included locals Bob and Carolyn Stone, Linda Higueras, Trish Rodimer, Frann Moore, Pat Harrison and Tom Dillon. Kendall-Jackson executive chef Taki Laliotitis showed up with left over lamb and whipped up an impromptu risotto.

Sonoma Farmers Market has some new great vendors at its Friday morning events at the Arnold Field parking lot on First Street West across from Depot Hotel Restaurant.

Thanksgiving dinner shoppers can procure super fresh goodies at a special market on Tuesday, Nov. 23 at Arnold Field parking lot, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Straus Family Creamery first brought its organic dairy products to the market a couple of weeks ago, including butter, yogurts, milk in returnable bottles, and egg nog. Sensational Soups’ chef Rudy Theiller makes and wife Sabrina sells organic, gluten and MSG-free soups such as Portobello mushroom, cream of broccoli, vegan vegetable and carrot curry soups. Our local Java Wagon brings coffee and hot dogs to round off the menu. The Baker’s whole wheat pretzels are divine ($4).

Always industry leaders, Straus Family Creamery has created and installed a Methane Digester at their Marshall farm to convert the 120 pounds of liquid manure produced by each cow each day to energy used to clean the milking barn, heat the waste pond, as well as power to run an engine that runs a generator and produces electricity.

Sonoma’s Best “November Fest” brings grilled German sausages steeped in beer, warm potato salad, sauerkraut, sweet and sour cabbage, red beet salad, Saturday and Sunday morning potato pancakes, and Black Forest cake. Check out the new historic photos and the wine and beer room with Sonoma Springs and three other beers on tap, along with wines by the taste, glass, carafe, bottle and case from several fine local vintners. 1190 E. Napa St., Sonoma.

Last Friday’s Wine Country Marine Corps Birthday Ball, celebrating the 235th birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps, filled Jacuzzi Winery’s barrel room after wine in the newly tented courtyard. Those who fit into them wore their uniforms with actual medals, and we got a brief taste of the pride and ritual of military life along with what we were told was a typical Officer’s Club prime rib dinner. Benziger Family Winery donated the wines under their Marines Memorial Club label.

Locals in the crowd included Nancy and Cline/Jacuzzi winemaker Charlie Tsegeletos, whose proud father George Tsegeletos was featured in Tuesday’s Index-Tribune, Ruth and Tom Ney, Pam and Bill Oakes, a whole family of Jaycoxes including veteran Warren, Jeanette, Russ and Chantelle, Nancy and Rick Ouellette and guests, Dr. Dian and Bill O’Neal, Don Watson and Suzanne Tognazzini, Kathleen and Bob Leonard, Ruth and Gary Edwards, Penny and Doug McKesson, Marilee and Fred Unsworth, FloBeth and Ray White, John Musilli, Jill Gruetter, Shauna and Bryan Aubin, Angie and Ian Kruljac, and city councilmember Laurie Gallian with her Marine Reserve son Shane Dalton.

Sonoma Charter School’s “Party Like It’s 1985” at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn’s tent showed that the Charter School (and parents) really do rock. Dinner entrée selections included a melt-in-your-mouth filet mignon, excellent Gruyère-stuffed chicken breast with Porcini-Marsala sauce, or a vegetarian buffalo mozzarella and smoked tomato cannelloni.

Parents’ skits throughout dinner and the auction at least rivaled those at the Harvest Wine Auction, with everything from Todd Freeman in character all evening as Richard Simmons, Jill Valavanis as Boy George, Stacie Hedley as Madonna, and Tim Wetzel, Michael Luque and Bob Edmundson as Chippendale Dancers.

The live auction raised about $35,000 for the school. Determined Giants fan Jack Powers bid triumphantly for the World Series winning home run batter and MVP Edgar Renteria-signed baseball. Parent and board member Chris McNairy sweetened the pot by donating balls signed by Giants Matt Williams and Dave Righetti.

Sonoma’s Slow Food Convivium members have elected energetic fireball realtor Kathleen Leonard as their next leader. Gary Edwards, whose wife Ruth is expecting their second child, is transferring his talents to CittaSlow Sonoma, where founder Virginia Hubbell has moved on to the directorship she created of CittaSlow USA.

Leonard served 10 years on the board of the San Francisco Professional Food Society, and as its president in 1989. She belonged to Slow Food when she lived in San Francisco, Seattle and, most recently, Sonoma. Watch for some fun events.

If the term “slow food” mystifies you, think of how your grandparents or great-grandparents lived and cooked, using pre-chemical local produce and milk, often delivered in trucks by someone who lived nearby, eggs from the backyard, and meat from somewhere in the county.

Taqueria la Hacienda has a sign on its glass door window that says “Taqueria Hacienda isn’t going anywhere.” Apparently some partial reading of this column in the last two weeks led lots of people to ask questions of the staff and owner.

To make it perfectly clear, Taqueria la Hacienda will remain where it is, serving just what it serves now. Restaurante Hacienda will open at the old Amigos Grill & Cantina site, serving “more authentic Mexican food” with full liquor license. Hence, there will be two “Hacienda” restaurants in Sonoma Valley.

Tom and Julie Atwood invited us to join them at Slow Food Russian River’s hugely interesting 4th Annual Heritage Harvest Feast at Quivira Vineyards & Winery near Healdsburg on Sunday. The entire event benefits “the preservation of heritage breeds and local 4-H projects.”

The afternoon program included tours of Quivira’s biodynamic vegetable gardens with manager Andrew Beedy, a cheese table provided by “Madame de Fromage” Colette Hatch-DeRoma, and a salumi table with saucisson from Fatted Calf, Oliveto, and Perbacco with bread from Della Fattoria organized by Jim Reichardt of Liberty Duck. El Molino High School culinary students served dinner, while Sonoman Suzanne Amaral, daughter of John and Doreen Amaral, was honored as a 4-H All-Star and Ambassador. Sales of the heritage turkeys helped the kids invest in their next heritage animal and to send twins to a 4-H event in Canada. A great project!

In this case, 4-H members, dressed in their traditional white clothes and green ties, displayed and explained the heritage turkeys they brought for auction, which happened after the early dinner. Guests feasted on, you guessed it, all parts of other heritage turkeys and heritage lamb elegantly displayed on large platters with root vegetables and chards from Quivira gardens, followed by Gravenstein apple pie.

Quivira’s unique garden program includes an 8 x 16 greenhouse, lots of chickens, and 120 raised redwood beds where Beedy grows vegetables for several restaurants, from Bovolo and Zazu to Relish Culinary Adventures. But here’s the catch: those purchasing vegetables write their checks directly to the North Sonoma County Healthcare Foundation to provide pediatric health and dental care. Quivira totally sponsors the gardens with no compensation.

Coming up this weekend:

Sonoma International Film Festival hosts a food, music and film evening Saturday, Nov. 13 at Schellville Grill. The reception includes, beer, wine and Limoncello cocktails, dinner by the Grill’s owner and CIA-Hyde Park trained chef Matthew Nagan, music by Business Casual Quartet (Josh Little) and Fat Magic, and a sneak peak at short films. $125. 7:30 p.m. Sold out.

Bram Claypot Cookware hosts author Jessica Theroux and her book “Cooking with Italian Grandmothers” on Sunday, Dec. 14. Free. 2 to 4 p.m. 493 First St. W., Sonoma. (707) 935-3717.

Marc and Brenda Lhormer’s Napa Valley Film Festival stages a launch celebration for its 2011 festival this weekend with food and wine events, pre-screening wine tastings. and after parties at Astrale e Terra, Long Meadow Ranch Winery & Farmstead, Oenotri, John Anthony Wine Lounge, Morimoto Napa, Raymond Vineyards, Terlato Wine Croup, Go Vino, and wine tastings at the Napa Valley Opera House. Visit napavalleyfilmfest.org for more information and tickets.

Plan Ahead:

Vintage House, our beloved legacy to the late Jerry Casson that hosts enriching programs for local seniors, honors Glen Ellen resident Ed Stolman at its Vintage Holiday 2010 on Saturday, Nov. 20. The evening starts with a Chairman’s Reception and Party with cocktails at 5 p.m. by San Francisco mixologist Shane McKnight, terrific hors d’oeuvres and a raw bar, with “general admission” guests joining in at 6 p.m.

Stolman rescued many companies, planted a large olive orchard early, founded The Oliver Press, and raised the funds for Sonoma State’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

Dinner includes Chiogga beets, blood oranges and chèvre salad; herb crusted ribeye steak with roasted root veggies and butternut squash or a vegetarian alternative or rainbow chard and Jersey ricotta ravioli; fallen chocolate soufflé and coffee or tea.

Wesla Whitfield will perform American Songbook standards accompanied by pianist Mike Greensill, whose group will play for dancing after the show. $250 for Chairman’s reception, dinner and show; $175 general reception, dinner and show. RSVP to (707) 996-9311 or info@vintagehouse.org.

Heart of Sonoma Valley features eight local “Mobile Food Purveyors” for its Holiday Open House event Nov. 26 and 27 at Glen Ellen and Kenwood wineries. Food truck folks participating include A Brewed Awakening, Buon Gusto pizza, Chicago Style Hot Dogs, Fork Catering, Harvey’s Gourmet Donuts, SanTásti, Street-eatz, Taste of a Gyro, and Yucatan Sunset. $40 both days, $45 at door; $10 designated driver. Sells out. (707) 431-1137, heartofsonomavalley.com.

The Olive Press holds its annual Community Press Day on Sunday, Nov. 28 so that home olive growers with one tree to many trees can bring their olives, press them, and come out with their own “Estate Olive Oil.” Master Olive Oil Maker and Olive Press co-founder Deborah Rogers oversees the entire process. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 24724 Hwy. 121 (Arnold Dr.), Sonoma.

McEvoy Ranch on the Marin/Sonoma border holds community milling days on Nov. 14 and Dec. 5, giving olive contributors warm drinks and snacks while their olives turn to oil. $1 per pound of olives. 9 a.m. to noon. 5935 Red Hill Rd., Petaluma. Register at McEvoyRanch.com.

Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers news:

The Holiday Party will be Friday, Dec. 3 at the Fairmont Sonoma National Golf Course. RSVPs and questions to (707) 935-0803 or info@sonomavalleywine.com.

Wineries can still sign up to participate in the Sonoma Valley Gingerbread Winery Competition. Call or email SVVGA by next Tuesday.

Nibs and Sips:

Gloria Ferrer has produced a private label Kimpton Cuvée Blanc de Noirs to be served at 54 Kimpton restaurants and lounges around the U.S, offering a “Fries and a Flute” promotion throughout November.

McDonald’s offers weddings at its Hong Kong restaurants, supposedly in response to consumer demand. Expect an apple pie wedding cake.

Gary Saperstein’s Out in the Vineyard tours got great coverage in the Bay Area Reporter.

Slanted Door sister Out the Door is selling wine on tap, as EDK’s former manager Jens Hoj had planned for the Kitchenette.

Sheana Davis’ cheese was featured last week on The French Laundry’s Winter Truffle Menu.

A recovering realtor, Lisa Hemenway is back in the food biz with her new Fresh eatery and marketplace with her Hare Hollow condiments and oils in Santa Rosa.

Bon appétit!

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