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Studebaker Cheesecake opens; Laura Chenel owner buys Marin French Cheese; Peet’s coming to old fire station? Cinco de Mayo everywhere

Studebaker Cheesecake opens; Laura Chenel owner buys Marin French Cheese; Peet’s coming to old fire station? Cinco de Mayo everywhere

May 4, 2011

 The black 1966 Studebaker Daytona convertible marks the fabulous Studebaker Cheesecake bakery that just opened at the previous Fiorini location on West Napa Street.

 Cynthia and Kevin Fay have worked to adapt the storefront to their tastes and needs and have created a cozy café space for cheesecake and espresso drink lovers, and even for their kids. Baking goes on in the back, and Kevin even hopes to bring in a bread baker eventually.

 From a retailing family that owned the elegant Young Man’s Fancy boys’ clothing store in San Francisco’s Laurel Village, Kevin’s brother and sister-in-law, Lesley and Peter Fay, used to own the Garden Court Café when it was on Highway 12 in Glen Ellen.

 After selling  their restaurant to Stacy and Rich Treglia, who moved it to downtown Glen Ellen, Lesley and Peter moved to Taos, NM, where Peter yearned to open a couple of hot dog carts, way ahead of the food fad. They now own Graham’s Grille, a Taos restaurant voted “best new restaurant” in 2008. Both of those Fays are also involved in real estate sales and design.

 Meanwhile, back in Sonoma, Kevin and Cynthia so far offer espresso drinks and an array of their divine cheesecakes, ranging from a three-inch 5-ounce sweet baby for $5 to 14 ounces at $10 on up to a sampler of six flavors at $15.

 Kevin wishes it didn’t take so long to open but remarked, “Nothing good happens overnight.” I can think of a couple of things.


Strictly rumor: There’s a foaming hot rumor around town that Peet’s Coffee & Tea is working on opening at the “old” firehouse on Patten and Broadway, once the location of the long-popular Gitti’s Texaco station. Peet’s already has a successful booth inside Sonoma Market.


Pets Lifeline’s “Tailwags and Handbags” fundraiser luncheon today at Estate includes hearts of Romaine lettuce with lemon-anchovy vinaigrette, house-made ricotta ravioli made with saffron pasta, and zeppole with dipping sauces. If you are looking for a place to do some good with your lunchtime today and can afford it, please help. $95. Noon. 400 W. Spain St., Sonoma. 933-3663 or 996-4577.


The French Rians cheese company, also known as Laiteries H. Triballat, has purchased the 146-year-old Marin French Cheese Company, the latter best known for its “Rouge et Noir” soft-ripened cheeses, especially the Triple Crème Brie.

 Family-owned Rians, which has several small cheese companies in France, bought Laura Chenel Chèvre in 2006 and recently built and opened a state-of-the-art “green” plant off Eighth Street East in Sonoma to produce Laura Chenel cheeses.

 Rians will expand the Marin cheese plant, support community projects, and act as steward of Marin French Cheese’s 700 acres including picnic areas. Marie Lesoudier, who is general manager of Laura Chenel’s Chèvre, will also oversee all activities at Marin French Cheese Company, saying “The two companies will share their expertise in production, marketing and distribution…” Sounds like a great marriage to me, having scrubbed and toured both places.


Slow Food Sonoma Valley will hold a membership meeting and potluck on Monday, May 2 at Sonoma Valley Inn’s Krug Conference Center. All are welcome to meet their leadership team, enjoy some good food, come up with great ideas, and volunteer to help with our planned projects.  Leader Kathy Leonard says, “Bring a small dish to share and whatever you would like to drink. Everything else, including fun, will be provided.” 6 to 8 p.m. 550 Second St. W., Sonoma (at rear of inn). leaders@slowfoodsonomavalley.com.


Farmers Market(s) news:

The Valley of the Moon Farmers Market opens next Tuesday, May 3 in front of City Hall, with loads of new vendors, although it is unclear from the group’s website which vendors have been accepted to sell their products.

 Launching the “Cinco de Mayo” market celebration will be a ribbon cutting at 5:15 p.m., followed by the Trio Sol de Mexico and Sonoma Ballet Theatre.

 The Sonoma Valley Certified Farmers Market on Fridays will now accept Cal-Fresh benefits, formerly known as Food Stamps. The electronic benefits can be used to buy vegetables, fruits, breads, cereals, meat, fish, poultry and dairy products, as well as seeds for vegetable plants. Contact Hilda Swartz at 538-7023 or at hildaswartz@att.net.

 Glen Ellen Farmers Market apparently will begin Sunday, May 15 in the parking lot of Jack London Village, with music by sommelier/musician John Burdick and his merry band of friends.


Community Café will host a Cinco de Mayo Fiesta on Thursday, May 5 to benefit Sonoma Valley Teen Services. All funds will go to Teen Services’ “Skills for Live” programs, which include the “Lovin’ Oven” baking project.

 Expect “a bountiful authentic Mexican meal and two glasses of sangria included, along with live music,” according to SVTS Board President Tim Boeve.

 The fundraiser will be co-owner Margie Tosch Brooke’s first Community Night at the Café, which will occur monthly to benefit either a local or national charity. $35. 6 to 9 p.m. 875 W. Napa St., Sonoma. 938-7779.


La Casa Restaurant’s newish owner, Marisela Rodriguez, celebrates three successful years with a special Cinco de Mayo celebration on Thursday featuring Chef Jose Rubio’s traditional Jalisco chicken and pork tamales in red mole sauce, along with the great traditional sounds of local Mexican band, Noche Tropical – Los Diferentes del Ritmo in the patio. 121 E. Spain St., Sonoma. 996-3406.


Robledo Family Winery’s Cinco de Mayo celebration will be Saturday, May 7, featuring Executive Chef Maria Robledo’s fabulous cuisine, Robledo wines and a live performance by Luna Itzel. $40 or $30 for wine club members. Noon to 3 p.m. 21901 Bonness Rd., Sonoma. Call Nadine at 939-6903 for tickets.


A recent meeting of the Cha Chas (Valley of the Moon Children’s Home Auxiliary) to welcome us new members was held at Lisa Hemenway’s Fresh market and restaurant in the Skyhawk shopping center approaching Santa Rosa. The salmon was divine as were the Chinese chicken and spinach salads. Check it out if you are passing by, with great sandwiches, wraps, pizza and a full elegant deli counter to go.


Nibs and Sips:

Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards serves Tapas on the Terrace tonight, Friday with Spanish Flamenco guitar accompaniment. $35 or $29.75 wine club members. 5:30 to 7:30 p.m…According to Wine Executive News, Zhang’s Winery of San Marino, apparently paid nearly $11 million dollars to purchase Napa Valley’s Frazier Winery, its 60 acres of vineyards, land and an adjacent home out of three Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. The Zhang family is big in Chinese real estate circles.

 Bill Foley of Foley Family Wines announced that his New Zealand operation has acquired a non-controlling interest in Wineinc, the Australian wine company that makes Gotham, Wine Men of Gotham, Stalking Horse, Rusty Gate and Mastermind wines…Nick Rupiper of Nix Chix will talk about backyard chicken raising, including how to choose and care for your chicks, at Junipero & Co. on Saturday, May 7 at 9:30 a.m. $10 goes to Sonoma Garden Park. The Vigueries will hold a Sonoma Burger Contest & Potluck Picnic this Sunday, May 1 at noon at Depot Park. Sounds much like Sutter Home Winery’s world famous multi-decade version. Contestants must contact stephenviguerie@hotmail.com by tonight to enter ($20).


More M.F.K. Fisher-Bouverie-Audubon fundraising news: This great event to benefit Audubon Canyon Ranch and honor the late writer M.F.K. Fisher on Saturday, May 14 will include wines poured generously by Arrowood, Beltane Ranch, Charles Creek, Clarbec, David Noyes, Deerfield Ranch, Hamel Family, Haywood, Matanzas Creek, Michel-Schlumberger, Preston of Dry Creek, Sandole and Schug Carneros.

 Fisher lived the last years of her life in the white stucco house with arches on the David Pleydell-Bouverie’s land, where I spent many years of days with her, including the day she died.

 Sondra Bernstein of the girl & the fig, Sheana Davis of The Epicurean Connection, Pam Ferrari, Joanne Filipello of Wild Thyme Catering (who used to make M.F.K. Fisher’s favorite ginger snaps for her), Charlie Hallowell of Pizzailolo, Isa Jacoby of Oak Hill Farm, Anna Morten of St. Cyprian, Kary Vega of Hopmonk Tavern, and Stephen Viguerie Catering will provide Fisher foods. Slow Food Sonoma Valley, Belon Oysters, Jimtown Store and Sonoma Artisan Foie Gras will also participate.

 Among the auction lots will be “Bouquets for Bouverie” featuring the creations of Anne Appleman Flowers, Dragonfly Farms, Sonoma Mission Gardens, Alison Hastings of Oak Hill farm, Sonoma Valley Landscapes and Maria Philbin Floral Designs. $125 to $10,000. 2 to 5:30 p.m. For reservations contact Britt hence at (415) 868-9244, Ext. 14 or britt@egret.org.


Wendy and Conny Gustafsson celebrated Conny’s “30th anniversary of coming to America” last weekend with lots of friends from Sweden, Sonoma and around the world at their elegant estate and vineyard south of town.

 Conny came here at age 27 looking for opportunity, and ironically his 27-year-old daughter, Annika, is moving to Sweden soon to pursue film art direction opportunities. Conny wore his “Swedish survival kit,” a necklace of Absolut vodka bottles.

 In the crowd were locals Harriet and Sy Lenz, Anne Hill, Bob and Marilyn Albright, Angelo, Buck and Lorraine Sangiacomo, Phyllis and John Gurney, Marcie and Dave Waldron, Barbara and Al Silva, Carole and Bob Nicholas, Brooks Rumph and Reed Peters, and Patricia and Henry Akay.

 In addition to appetizers that included smoked salmon, white fish, meatballs and grilled Aidell’s sausages, guests enjoyed a pasta and salad feast catered by Pizzeria Capri, such as an al dente fettuccine Alfredo and spinach ravioli with meat sauce, and Greek and Caesar salads.


Readers’ Reviews:

(Send me  your opinions of new restaurants and dishes you discover, from “don’t miss” to “don’t bother” to hilltopub@aol.com)

 David Artson, married to former Sonoma mayor Jeanne Markson Artson, discovered what he calls “two WOW dishes” at Doce Lunas in the Kenwood Shopping Center. The Artsons highly recommend the veal Cordon Bleu and the chicken Dijonais. Doce Lunas has been mentioned often as an under discovered gem in Sonoma Valley. 833-4000.


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