Fourth of July picnics accompanied record numbers of people who attended the parade and set up camp for a few hours in Sonoma Plaza last Friday. Meats, from packaged sliced salami to chilled wine-marinated pork loin roast; and cheeses, from sliced American to gorgonzola and brie; loads of chips and sliced vegetables; multi-layered bean dips; and foods from local nonprofits’ booths fed thousands.
During the slightly repetitive parade (but who cares!), thousands of pieces of wrapped candy were thrown to kids (some even threw the morsels back). Wine Country Chocolates’ “Emergency Chocolate Deliveries” truck dispensed American flag chocolate candies, Whole Foods passed out canned sodas and bottled water, and Sonoma Market abandoned its annual fruit giveaway and instead offered energy-saving Greenlite 18-watt mini light bulbs.
We especially liked Larson Family Winery’s sign saying “We drink what we can and sell the rest” and cheered marching friends celebrating in the “Just Married” unit. The Justice & Peace group and Democratic Club/Obama groups scored high on the unofficial Epicurious Applause-O-Meter.
All of the food booths were moved to the northwest corner of the Plaza this year. By far the longest lines were for Sheana Davis’ tamale booth benefiting Team Excel U16 Girls of the Sonoma Valley Youth Soccer Association.
Davis pulled together a team effort that included beans, rice and broth donated by The French Laundry and cooked by Maya. Primavera made the tamales, while Wild Thyme Events stored all the food for the effort.
Next year we suggest Rotary sell their understated “hot dogs” as the tasty Schwarz Fine Sausages from Sonoma Market that they actually are. The Ben & Jerry’s ice cream booth that benefited the Sonoma Valley High School cheerleaders refreshed with pleasure.
Ken Brown’s Bear Flag Social Club and Pappas & Associates launch their Sonoma Supper Club on Friday, July 11 at Burlingame Hall.
Kathy Pappas of Party In Style will cater the five-course dinner, while the Jami Jamison Band provides music. $40. No host bar. $10 corkage per bottle of wine. Cocktails at 6:30 p.m., music and dancing until 11 p.m. 252 W. Spain St., Sonoma. Tickets at Sonoma Valley Music, Readers’ Books and Pharmaca. For more information call 707.732.0387 or email [email protected].
Don’t miss the Schell-Vista Fire Department’s Annual Chicken BBQ at their “new” station south of Sonoma at the intersection of Highways 121 and 12, this Sunday, July 13.
This is, by far, the best chicken barbecue around: half of a chicken, chili, salad, sodas and bread, with novelties and other beverages for sale, and all to help the firefighters who protect us when we need them. Enjoy a lively raffle, silent auction, and salami toss, with all proceeds going to purchase new firefighting equipment. Help out painlessly by forking over a mere $10 for a meal that will last you all day. Noon-6 p.m.
Bastille Day celebrations and promotions:
Let us not forget that heads rolled as Parisians stormed the Bastille on July 14, 1789 to end the rule of King Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette. When the people thought there was a shortage of bread, Marie Antoinette reportedly (and probably mistakenly) said, “Let them eat cake.”
French blues artist Michel Saga will enhance two local Bastille Day events, first at Landmark Vineyards, where he will play his 200-year-old French orgue de Barbarie on Saturday, July 12. Bring your own picnic, buy some Landmark wine, play bocce, and enjoy the afternoon. Free except for wine. 1-4 p.m. 101 Adobe Canyon Rd. at Hwy. 12, Kenwood. 707.833.1144.
Nick and Jen Demarest of Harvest Moon Café present their second annual Bastille Day celebration on Sunday, July 13 in their French-like patio with a French-inspired à la carte menu (unavailable at press time) and live music by Frenchman Michel Saga who just returned from touring with his blues band in France. 487 First St., W., Sonoma. 707.933.8160.
Ending their Bastille Day dinner with “Let Us Eat Cake,” Wild Thyme’s Dining Club Rive Gauche dinner in their courtyard on Wednesday, July 16, will include music by Dave Aguilar and Peter McCauley of Tudo Bem. Guests will feast on pounded pepper salmon with sorrel sauce, forty-garlic chicken with ratatouille, green salad, cheeses and, of course, cake. $35 or 25 euro. BYOW-no corkage. 7 p.m. 19030 Railroad Ave., El Verano. Reservations required: 707.996.9453.
More wine-centric events this weekend:
Robledo Family Winery will host a Hog Island oyster and wine pairing Saturday, July 12 with Maria Robledo’s salsas. $25 wine club members, $35 others. Noon-2 p.m. 21901 Bonness Road, Sonoma. Call Nadine for mandatory reservations at 707.939.6903.
Kenwood Vineyards and Valley of the Moon Winery hold a “Caribbean Island Hopping” featuring Caribbean music, food and their wine at both wineries, Saturday and Sunday, July 12-13. $20. Noon-4:30 p.m. Kenwood: 9592 Hwy. 12, Kenwood. 707.833.5891; Valley of the Moon: 777 Madrone Road, Glen Ellen. 707.996.6941.
Gundlach Bundschu hosts another “Summer Indie Concert” on Saturday, July 12 featuring Maria Taylor and Jonathan Rice, with Nik Freitas opening. Bring a picnic, buy GunBun wines. $15 advance, $20 at door. Door opens 6 p.m., concert at 7 p.m. 2100 Denmark, Sonoma. For reservations email [email protected] or call 707.939.3019.
Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar is the only Sonoma restaurant to make the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission’s “Four Star” list for the second time. In this case, “four star” restaurants feature 75 percent or 100 wines from the county. Sommelier Christopher Sawyer works with chef Janine Falvo to create Carneros’ list.
Sonoma restaurants new to this top category include El Dorado Kitchen, Sonoma Meritâge Martini Oyster Bar & Grill, Santé at The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and the now closed Wolf House in Glen Ellen.
Mayo Family Winery will close its Plaza tasting bar in The Corner Store at First Street East and East Napa Street at the end of August.
Tomato scare update:
All kinds of tomatoes, including round, pear, Roma and others are slowly creeping back into grocery stores and restaurants. We saw tomatoes for sale last week in local markets and tomatoes showing up again in salads and burgers, even though the ban has not been lifted by the government.
Either the Food Safety & Inspection Service of the Food & Drug Administration doesn’t know what actually caused the salmonella outbreak attributed to tomatoes, or they won’t tell us what they do know. Meanwhile, farmers have plowed under millions of dollars and pounds of tomatoes.
Grow your own or buy from local farmers and at Sonoma’s Farmers Markets, Tuesday evening in front of City Hall or Friday morning at the Arnold Field/Depot Park parking lot.
Mamma Tanino’s is a must! Tucked into the northwest corner of the shopping center where Sonoma Market is located, Mamma Tanino’s does not disappoint. Having heard universal raves about it on our return from our Queen Mary 2 England-Scotland escapade, I tried it last week with a friend and found it surprisingly wonderful.
Taking the Italian-American waiter’s boisterous recommendation for the daily special crab cakes served with salad, I was pleased nearly to tears. These crab cakes were the best I have had since a memorable meal in a private club in Washington, D.C. The tartar sauce that accompanied the good-sized, filling-free patties was the best I have ever tasted – even better than mine! Reservations suggested at 707.933.8826. Lunch served 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; dinner served 5-9 p.m., Monday-Saturday.
Yeti Restaurant, the new Indian and Nepalese bistro in Glen Ellen’s Jack London Village, is a great place to visit with several friends so that you can all order different entrées or specialties and share tastes. Owner-chef Narayan Somname has improved the décor immensely with fabric and fixtures from his native land.
At midday Yeti (named after the legendary abominable snowman) offers “special lunch delights” that come with half a plate of rice and a side salad ($10-$12), a tandoori lunch with rice, naan, salad, chicken tandoori, dal Makhani, vegetable curry, papad, and yogurt with fruit ($15.99); and a vegetable lunch that offers saag paneer (spinach) instead of the chicken tandoori ($13.99). The vegetable pakoras were excellent (6 for $5.99), and dinner entrées range from cauliflower and potatoes ($10.99) to mixed tandoori platter or rack of lamb tandoori ($22.99). Beer aficionados will enjoy six beers from India and several American selections. The interesting but short wine list combines a few locals with imports. 14301 Arnold Dr., Glen Ellen. 707.996.9930.
The lamb shank curry is excellent, with lightly curried dark lamb gravy, and the chicken tikka masala consists of fresh and tender chicken breast.
Any winery with excess “juice” to sell this year take heart: Apparently Prince Charles, ever the environmentalist, now has an Aston Martin that runs on bioethanol made from wine. We are watching to see if “Two-Buck Chuck” mastermind Fred Franzia, jumps head first into the market.
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