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Michelin 2015 Sonoma scores out; Happy goblins and goodies; Changes for Drakes Bay oysters and Shiso Sushi; Farm Bureau and Farm Trails dinners; Travels with Henri No. 7

Michelin 2015 Sonoma scores out; Happy goblins and goodies; Changes for Drakes Bay oysters and Shiso Sushi; Farm Bureau and Farm Trails dinners; Travels with Henri No. 7

November 10, 2014

Michelin ‘s 2015 Restaurants ratings for the San Francisco Bay area & Wine Country were announced last week with few changes, once again.

In fact, the last three years’ editions have mentioned, almost as Sonoma’s only claim to fame, that Chuck Williams started Williams-Sonoma here. Obviously there writers, or copiers, had no inkling that the corporation just opened a new store here at the Broadway site of his original hardware store. Had they visited, they might have noticed the construction in process. And they cite Sonoma Cheese Factory without mentioning Vella Cheese, where cheese is actually made on Second Street East.

Again, most of Michelin’s anonymous reviews are identical to the previous years’, and one has to wonder if they even come around Sonoma. While Fremont Diner is mentioned in the Sonoma chapter, it isn’t rated at all.

It appears that Glen Ellen Inn has been dropped all together, which is surprising since more and more locals rave about it. The reviewers totally missed Mamma Tanino’s, El Molino, Breakaway Café, and the Swiss Hotel, and all of our international restaurants except Yeti.

The Kenwood (formerly Kenwood Restaurant) climbed up the ladder to achieve two crossed utensils along with repeats Café LaHaye, Della Santina, El Dorado Kitchen, Hot Box Grill, fig café, the girl & the fig, and Yeti.  Glen Ellen Star and Harvest Moon each achieved one crossed utensil set. And Santé got 2.5 sets of utensils, signifying “very comfortable.”


Halloween began as a Celtic tradition called Samhain that celebrated the end of the harvest. Ancient Gaels believed Oct. 31 was a day when the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped. Bonfires attracted insects, which attracted bats, and masks and costumes were worn to appease evil spirits of the dead. So we have our Irish and Scottish immigrants (like my family) to thank, or blame, for this celebration. Of course the trick-or-treat segment of the evening has been abused by people who put razors in apples, which fed into the sweet hands of candy producers and marketers who now make and sell millions of tiny packs of candy for the occasion.


Sheana Davis of Epicurean Connection will give out candy to kids all Halloween as well as adult trick-or-treats and will be serving pumpkin and crème de fromage crêpes, as well as Gravenstein apple ciders from Paul Kolling and Nanna Mae’s.

Merchants of the Marketplace shopping center at West Napa and Second Street West will also give out candy to kids.


Today, Oct. 31, a.k.a. Halloween, Ramekins chef Kevin Cess will guide people through the Friday farmers market, point out how to select vegetables and fruits, and then take you back to the Ramekins kitchen to prepare an appetizer, first course, entrée and dessert. $100 includes all food and lunch. Ramekins.com

Speaking of today, you can bring your favorite decorated pumpkin to Friday’s farmers market at the Arnold Field parking lot today at 10 a.m. for a contest. Hurry.


For Halloween evening, you might try the “Sonoma Haunted Mansion Halloween Bash” at The General’s Daughter. Some people really think the place is haunted, which makes it all the more attractive.  Some of the evening’s proceeds will be donated to Sonoma Valley Teen Services and Sonoma Overnight Support.

Costumes, DJ dancing, beer, wine and cocktails, “haunted bites, photo booth and plenty of tricks and treats as we transform The General’s Daughter to celebrate the night of the living dead.” Prize for best costume. VIP level gets unlimited wine and cocktails, passed hors d’oeuvres, mac & cheese station, chili station, 5th Street Farms veggies, sweets and treats. General Admission includes food and two glasses of wine or cocktails. General $50, VIP $90.  6 to 10 p.m. 450 W. Spain St., Sonoma. Ramekins.com


Starting tomorrow, Nov. 1, Ari Weiswasser’s Glen Ellen Star restaurant at Arnold Drive and Warms Springs Road will waive all wine corkage fees through December 31, 2014. They have some great wines, including many from their own Benziger Family Winery.

Sondra Bernstein’s Fig Café down the street in Glen Ellen opened with a no-corkage policy several years ago, which helped make it an instant hit.


On Sunday, Nov. 2, Ramekins Executive Chef Doug McFarland offers a tour of 5th Street Farms and will how you how to create your own kitchen garden. $45. Location given upon reservation. 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Ramekins.com


Sonoma County Farm Bureau holds its annual “Harvest Celebration Dinner and Annual Meeting at the Fairgrounds’’ Showcase Café on Friday, Nov. 7 with a “prime rib dinner with all the fixings,” open bar hosted by fairgrounds concessionaire Ovations Catering, and Cowboy Poet Waddie Mitchell performing.

Sonoma resident and outgoing Farm Bureau President Tito Sasaki will be honored. $40 per person, $400 for table of eight gets you a sign on your table. 5 p.m. reception, 6 p.m. dinner.  More info and reservations at 544-5575 or info@sonomafb.org.


Exceptional chef and cooking champ Duskie Estes of Zazu Restaurant & Farm in Sebastopol will cook the entire meal for the Sonoma County Farm Trails’ “Farm-to-Fork Fall Feast” at Atwood Ranch on Saturday, Nov. 8. Following vast hors d’oeuvres, wines, ciders and brews, Estes will serve pumpkin and coconut soup, Lacinato kale salad with puffed black rice, roasted Brussels sprouts with her Black Pig Bacon, red wine braised beef shank, chicken with Asian pear agrodolce, mushroom farrotto, garlic chip gremolata, and apple crisp in a jar with cardamom ice cream, all accompanied by Atwood Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon and Dutton-Goldfield Chardonnay.  The whole event, including the live auction, are co-sponsored by Slow Food Sonoma Valley.

VIP tickets include a reception with performance by composer and cellist Zoe Keating and visits with artisan cheese makers and craft cider makers from Bohemian Creamery, Gypsy Cheese Co., Weirach Farm & Creamery and Devoto Orchard Ciders. During the fast The Easy Leaves Duo will play will play catchy fun music, and there will be a live auction.

Farm Trails members Atwood Ranch, Oak Hill farm, Bloomfield Organics, Canvas Ranch, Dutton Ranch, Gabriel Farm, Green Star Farm, Laguna Farm, New Carpati Farm, Nightingale breads, Stemple Creek Ranch, Straus Family Creamery, Taylor Maid Farms, and Zazu Restaurant & Farm all contributed their finest. $130 for feast with wine; $225 VIP with reception, $2,000 VIP table for 8. Tickets at Brown Paper Tickets: http:/bit.ly/f2ff14 or call 837-8896.


Last Saturday Virginia Abts gave an elegant luncheon at the Depot Hotel Restaurant for her big eight-oh birthday. The salad and pasta were excellent, and then Abts rang her old school bell to quiet the room.

The former nun and lifelong dedicated teacher in San Francisco’s Mission District told everyone to be quiet and turn their chairs around facing the dining room. All 22 obedient guests did just that, regardless of age or ability. Many jaws dropped as belly dancer supreme Nathalie Tedrick pranced into the room and performed three numbers in her inoffensively sexy way, charming everyone into smiling, laughing and appreciating.

Sonomans enjoying the afternoon included Gay Weir, Pat Randall, Laura Spithorst, Caroline Anderson, Joanie Bourg, Helen Rowntree, Lois Saunders, and Shelly Muro.


While Rocket Sushi opened last weekend with new partners, Shiso Sushi owner Ed Metcalfe has brought in Kimberley and Manuel Azevedo of La Salette as managing partners of his Shiso Sushi, which is now open Sundays in Maxwell Village shopping center right next to the mini-golf course. The Azevedos are also involved with Café Lucia in Healdsburg.

Now we have four sources of sushi in Sonoma (alphabetically): Rocket, Shiso, Sonoma Market, and Whole Foods. Tell me what you like and where.


Harvey’s Gourmet Donuts of Glen Ellen appeared in a special segment on ABC-7 show called “Days with Zahrah,” filmed at Cuvaison Winery in Napa, featuring the preparations that go into a wedding. Formerly on CNN and BET, host Zahrah Farmer specializes in wedding and traveling party themes.


In case you haven’t heard, Drakes Bay Oyster Co. arrived at a “settlement agreement” with the National Park Service to close down their Drakes Estero oyster farm at Point Reyes National Seashore by Dec. 31.

Joe, Kevin and Bob Lunny say they will open a restaurant, Drakes Oyster House, at the Tomales Bay Resort in Inverness and will distribute other farmers’ oysters wholesale to may restaurant clients in the Bay Area. Will keep you posted.


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 return to prepare a four-course meal for the evening.

Guests will also enjoy “sunset hors d’oeuvres, food and wine grown on the ranch, and dancing galore in the horse barn. 5 to 9”30 p.m. For more info contact lauren@beltaneranch.com.


Depot Hotel Restaurant & Cooking School offers a Seafood Class with Chef Antonio Ghilarducci where you will learn how to butcher round and flat fish, shuck oysters, clean your own Dungeness crab, and cook and eat all of the above. Two date choices: Monday, Nov. 17 or Tuesday, Dec. 15, both at 6:30 p.m.

The cooking menu will include oysters mignonette, scallops beurre blanc, fettuccine with Dungeness crab, halibut Grenobloise, and salmon fillets with salsa verde. You also get to enjoy wines paired with each course and take home all of the recipes. $100. Reserve immediately by calling Gia at 938-2980 or email her at gia@depotsonoma.com.


Travels with Henri Episode No. 7

We left off Episode No. 6 after climbing or riding up the hill that dominates the artists’ haven of Cordes-sur-Ciel, with a pause at the top at a large outdoor café to renew ourselves with local beer and Perrier, and a few purchases from the Woad shop.

After we all carefully stepped between and on the street stones on a steep and winding downhill slope, passing shop keepers who locked doors for lunch right in front of our noses as we peered in their windows, we boarded our bus for a short ride to the relatively elegant Hostellerie du Parc in Cordes, the old name of the town before the protective hill was renamed to highlight the fog that hovers occasionally below its summit. After all that exercise we were ready for a good meal and good beverages, hosted by Chateau Dumas owner Lizzie Hulme.

The exterior of the Hostellerie du Parc looked slightly industrial and uninteresting, belying what was inside like so many French buildings. Once up the stairs we walked through the small hotel office and dining room, lined with dark heavy wood, tables with white linen covers and elegant crystal. We found our long table in the patio in back, where other guests were slowly making their way through multi-course lunches.

We started with appetizers and wines, and worked out way through five courses and five or six wines. Who remembers? Chef and owner Claude Izard is an excellent cook, as well as “Président des Cuisineries” of the “Cuisineries Association Nationale” of France, a group that seems to work to preserve the traditional cuisine of France. We dined on salad, two duck courses, extremely local cheeses, and a tri-color mousse for dessert.

The rest of the day was perfect as well: a ride back to Chateau Dumas, a pause, and then visits by two antiques and collectibles dealers who displayed their wares in succession in the outer courtyard of the chateau. First the pizzazzie Fabienne brought an array of linens and trinkets, followed an hour later by Vero, wearing a button that flashed “Yes, No, Yes, No” which seemed an evasive answer to a question we all probably had about her.

From Vero I bought two crusty old cookbooks that I love: A 1929 edition of Larousse’s “La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange” and an undated but old “La Véritable Cuisine de Famille” with 1,000 recipes and 500 menus and lots of advice.  Next week’s Travels with Henri Episode No. 8 takes Henri and me to Cahors, a working man’s restaurant, a prominent winery and a tea tasting.

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