Sonoma-Enoteca closing; Bedrock wine #15 in world; Goldfish tea bags? Wine tasting events; Travels with Henri Episode No. 10

December 4, 2014

Crab alert:

Sonoma Market and Glen Ellen Village Market both have freshly caught and cooked-in-house Dungeness crab, the first of the season direct from Bodega Bay and Half Moon Bay.

And as of my deadline, it was just $6.99 a pound, fully cooked, cleaned and cracked. Considering that the crabbers are getting $3 a pound, and G&G Market sells it alive and squirming scarily for $4.99 a pound, $6.99 seems like a bargain to avoid having to torcher the poor crustacean in boiling water yourself. Run, don’t walk. But leave some for us.

HHH

After 13 years of tasting and selling wine, Elise Glasner is closing Sonoma-Enoteca in the Hotz Building at the corner of First Street East and East Napa Street. Rumor is that another tasting room will appear in this location.

She and her vintners will hold a serious “blow-out sale” today, Nov. 21 and tomorrow, Saturday, Nov. 22. Everything must go including fixtures, shelving, décor, wine storage, refrigerators, a commercial dishwasher, bars, baskets, stemware, hostess sets, and wine antiques, all “50 to 75 percent off already rock bottom pricing.”

Many smaller boutique wineries have had tasting space at Sonoma-Enoteca over the years and moved on, often to their own tasting rooms.

The remaining labels, which will also close their spaces included Dreyer Sonoma, Compass, and Seabiscuit Ranch from Mendocino County, all owned by the Dreyer family, as well as Fred Favero’s Favero Vineyards and Il Cuore and Brutocao Cellars. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. 935-1200.

HHH

Morgan Twain-Peterson’s Bedrock Heritage Sonoma Valley 2012 was just named the 15th best wine in the world by Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2014, and was the only Sonoma Valley wine to make the list.

Always walking a slightly different line, Morgan grew up in his father Joel Peterson’s Ravenswood Winery and reportedly made his first wine at age five. Moving on to graduate in history from Vassar College, and getting an M.A. from Columbia, Twain-Peterson makes these heritage wines from grapes originally replanted in 1888 by Senator George Hearst following Joseph “Fightin’ Joe” Hooker and William Sherman’s 1854 vineyard was wiped out by phylloxera.

Other wineries listed in the Top 100 from surrounding valleys include Rombauer Carneros Chardonnay (#41), Turley Zinfandel 2012 (#46) , Mumm Napa Brut Prestige NV (#54), and Round Pond Estate Sauvignon Blanc Rutherford 2013 (#83). And from the Cahors area of southwest France, which you read about in “Travels with Henri,” the Chateau Lamartine Cahors 2001 made number 94.

HHH

Several locals combine efforts to put on a Dawali Dance Party tonight, Friday, Nov. 21 at The General’s Daughter to “fight child trafficking” and support the Ama Ghar Children’s Home in Katmandu, Nepal.

Sarah Pinkin, whom many of us have known as the former chef at Murphy’s Irish Pub, serves on the Ama Foundation board of directors, having lived in places such as Macau, Taiwan, and Nepal from ages 13 to 20 and holding degrees in anthropology and French from Colorado State.

Mary Piasta, Sarah Pinkin, Melanie King, Sia Patel, Yolanda De Montijo, K.D. Devi, Erin Maule, Courtney King, Manuel Merjil and Renatta Virk are among the organizers of the fundraising event that will include a Bollywood-style dance party, Nepali food by Taste of Himalayas and The General’s Daughter, Sonoma wines, whiskey and beauty bars, and a silent auction.

Local sponsors include the Yoga Community, The General’s Daughter, Olea Hotel, Dreamers & Heroes, Rebecca Gosselin Photography, Body DejaVU, Taste of Himaleyas, EmMDash, Peter Cellars, Roche Winery, Alexander Valley Vineyards, Diageo, the girl & the fig, Red Loft Salon, Sonoma Meals and Piasta Valluzzo Law Group LLP.  $100. 6 to 10 p.m. 400 W. Spain St., Sonoma. Tickets at Eventbrite, search Ama Foundation Diwali Dance Party.

HHH

Thanksgiving weekend hopefully brings us time to be calm, reflect on the life we are thankful for, shared food, and a day or so off to enjoy family, friends and neighbors.

Glen Ellen Star joins Sonoma Market, Glen Ellen Village Market and Community Café in offering take-home Thanksgiving dinners. Theirs includes chicories salad with Bartlett pears and candied walnuts; potato puree, brioche-mushroom stuffing, sweet potatoes or Brussels sprouts, Willie Bird turkey with gravy, and apple cobbler with rich housemade ice cream. $50 per person. Order at 343-1384 after 5:30 p.m. or email contact@glenellenstar.com.

HHH

For the local wine industry, this pre-Thanksgiving weekend brings on Holiday in Carneros, a chance for wineries offer and promote wines with food pairings at Carneros region wineries that span the southern Sonoma and Napa border.

Tickets for the two-day touring and sipping event cost $45 advance until noon today, Nov. 21, and then $50 at the door of any participating winery, both Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 22 and 23.

Those participating, with their caterers or chefs, include Adastra (which says its 1880s barn overlooks the West Napa earthquake epicenter with wines accompanied by artisan cheeses; Ceja Vineyards at their new Burndale Road tasting room next to Carneros Brewing; Cline Cellars with appetizers from the girl & the fig caters; Homewood Winery features food from Yucatan Sunset Catering; Jacuzzi Family Vineyards with The Olive Press olive oils; Keating Wines at Cornerstone; Larson Family Winery; Meadowcroft Wines at Cornerstone; Peter Cellars (clever); Poseidon Vineyard & Obsidian Ridge Winery (Tricyclewine.com) at Cornerstone with Sunday music by Sue Albano; Robledo Family Winery; Schug Carneros Estate with chef Kristine Schug’s warm artichoke dip and creamy wild mushroom soup; and Ty Caton Vineyards.  11 a.m. to 4 .m. both days. Tickets at holidayincarneros.com or at the doors.

HHH

Then next weekend, on Friday, Nov. 28 and Saturday, Nov. 29, the actual Thanksgiving “vacation” weekend, the Heart of Sonoma Valley Winery Association, meaning wineries in Glen Ellen and Kenwood, will hold their 31st annual Holiday Open House, now featuring 26 wineries along and off Highway 12.

Executive Director Josie Gay suggest you get tickets in advance to enjoy wine tasting, holiday nibbles, discounts, gifts, and lots more.

Participating wineries include B Wise Vineyards Cellar, Benziger Family Winery, Chateau St. Jean Winery, Deerfield Ranch Winery, Enkidu Wines, En Garde Winery, Eric Ross Winery, Imagery Estate Winery, Kaz Winery, Korbin Kameron, Ledson Winery & Vineyards, Loxton Cellars, Mayo Family Winery, Moondance Cellars, Muscardini Cellars, nakewines.com, Orpheus Wines, Pangloss Cellars, Paradise Ridge Winery, St. Anne’s Crossing Winery, St. Francis Winery & Vineyards, Talisman Wines, Ty Caton Vineyards, Valley of the Moon Winery, VJB Vineyards & Cellars, Wellington Vineyards. $45 for both days, $10 designated drivers, includes logo wine glass. Use promo code 14HOHSV for $5 discount. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. Tickets and map at heartofsonomavalley.com or by calling 431-1137.

HHH

Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards’ tasting room and terrace overlooking San Pablo Bay will soon get a makeover with work to begin Dec. 1.

After 28 years in the same building whose visitor crowds have far outgrown the original, the new design will further accentuate the Ferrer family’s proud Catalan heritage and culture with a bigger terrace with lighting and heaters, 30 percent more area inside the Visitor Center, more luxurious furniture, a private room for special food and wine pairings, and a new display area to highlight Gloria Ferrer’s fabulous personal glassware collection. Guests will be welcomed in a new tented area during the six-month remodel, during which tours will not be available.

HHH

Nibs & Sips:

Amy’s Kitchen of Petaluma, Santa Rosa, and Medford, Oregon is expanding farther into a closed H.J. Heinz plant near Pocatello, Idaho. The organic foods company plans to hire about 200 to 1,000 workers beginning in December.

HHH

Victor Gotti, who was a partner with his brother Roland Gotti in the great San Francisco restaurant called Ernie’s, passed away recently. After World War II the San Francisco natives joined their father in a new Italian restaurant, which they turned into San Francisco’s finest French restaurant, earning a “Mobil Five Star Award.”

A culinary Mecca for the rich and famous, Ernie’s appeared in many movies and television shows including “Vertigo,” “The High and The Mighty,” and “Streets of San Francisco.”

Setting the standard for elegant service in San Francisco, Ernie’s produced many chefs and restaurant spin-offs, including one-time “captains” Henri Barberis and Claude Rouas. Both were hired away by Dolly Fritz McMasters Cope to re-open L’Etoile restaurant in her Huntington Hotel. Rouas went on to serve as managing partner in the Piatti chain, Auberge du Soleil, many resorts, and El Dorado Hotel and Kitchen in Sonoma.

HHH

A company called CharmVilla of Taiwan has invented goldfish-shaped teabags that turn orange-ish when submerged into water. Appetizing?

HHH

Travels with Henri Episode No. 10

After several days of exploring this area north of Toulouse in southwestern France on this Chateau Sonoma trip, we looked forward to a slightly later “cooked breakfast” loaded with croissants, fresh local fruit, breads, gluten-free toast, and bacon and eggs. We all took a leisurely break to catch up on conversation, more attempts by guests to find their email on their iPads under the foyer chandelier, and enjoy the treasures we had acquired. I didn’t have that reception problem because my life is simpler – I don’t have an iPad.

Eventually we sat around the dining room to watch Chef Charlotte Clement share our first cooking demo to teach us how to make foie gras, beginning with a raw duck liver.

Before getting her hands gooey with liver fluids, Charlotte explained that the people of St. Antonin became rich because saffron grew in this part of France and was even used as a dye as well as an ingredient in cooking.

Back to the duck liver. Chef Charlotte explained that a whole duck liver might cost about 60 euros, or about $80, and that all French people, regardless of income, buy and prepare one at least twice a year for celebrations. She said that the kids all come home for All Saints Day in the fall, when they remember lost loved ones, take Chrysanthemums to graves in cemeteries, and then feast to celebrate their memories.

One way to serve duck liver is just to slice and pan fry it, with the duck liver cooking in its own juices, then serve with fruit. She told us that the whole process was sometimes called “the blind granny,” because even blind grannies could feel and remember how much salt and pepper to add for coating.

To sterilize the liver, Chef Charlotte tucked it into silicone bread pans, sprinkled some white Port over it, covered the pan with foil, and put it in a 200 degree oven in a pan of water for about an hour. Then she chilled it, and easily turned the “loaf” out of the flexible silicone pans. Even those among us who don’t eat foie gras savored every morsel of it that was served us for the next few days.

The day was full of learning how to make almonds in olive oil with cumin seed and garlic, and confit of lemons sliced in quarters with rock salt, fill jar with lemons, juices, bay leaf and cumin seeds. Then came local walnuts with sugar, water, cayenne pepper, All Spice, cinnamon, and a philo lasagna.

Chef Charlotte began this light vegetarian philo lasagna by brushing melted butter around a porcelain lined pan, then lining the pan with philo sheets, more butter, spinach, basil leaves, sundried tomatoes, pine nuts, another layer of philo, then cherry tomatoes, slices of goat cheese, and arugula. You can repeat this as many times as you have supplies. Then bake 20 minutes at 375 degrees, remove from oven, and allow to cool slightly. Simple to make, not quite as simple to cut into squares, but it works. Fabulous.

Believe it or not, after sampling all of the above plus making tomato chutney, mustard (which we all brought home), and a tart Tatin, we took a slight break before lunch. Whew!

Back on the bus, a few people dozed until we got to St. Antonin for a fabulous historic tour led by a knowledgeable representative of their visitors’ center and Charlotte Clement, who lived there for a few years with her children before moving to the country.

Note: I have run out of room, so next week’s “Travels with Henri” will take us to historic St. Antonin and dinner at Chef Charlotte’s 13th and 18 th century barns.

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