Delightful setting for a spot of Sonoma West "country" afternoon tea — the newly launched Muir's Tea Room is located in a sweet, painted white one-story Victorian with partial wrap-around porch, in Sebastopol.
Light, bright and welcoming, the interior is a lovely blend of modern and eclectic with a good bit of the Scottish nature-man's influence to keep things from being too girly.
The twist of this particular tea room is a novel menu nodding to the teachings of Scottish/American naturalist conservationist and founder of the Sierra Club.
Though this be dairy country still, a January visit to Muir's on a balmy Sunday afternoon served as a reminder that come summer time, farmers in the region will undoubtedly be facing another season of acute water shortages.
It is hard to imagine a time when the majority of Americans won't depend upon dairy products and meat as a significant part of our diet, but lots of people already live without very much, or any of it at all.
I knew in advance that this was the premise of this particular tea room, but I hadn't expected it to be completely so.
Call me old fashioned, but it took me back a bit to contemplate a cup of black tea without a drop of ordinary cow's milk. Offered soy or coconut, I opted for soy and it wasn't too much of a distraction after all.
Meat free for afternoon tea wasn't maddening to me and I was pleasantly impressed with a tasty vegan sausage roll.
Butter is the biggie for me when omitted from the baked goods in an afternoon tea. Though beautifully presented and individually hand crafted, I'm more partial to a buttery base for traditional scones and shortbread in particular.
Tea time with friends is always a wonderful way to spend an hour or two and a first visit to Muir's Tea Room was certainly no exception. Our hosts were friendly and service good.
A plant-based menu for Scottish/English style tea time featuring finger sandwiches, petit fours, fairy cakes, pastries and pots of tea provided me plentiful food for thought. Just because I've never dreamed of a teatime spread made in such a way doesn't mean that it wasn't, in fact, surprisingly good.
This workshop is geared to small and mid-size growers with 1 – 100 acres for medium density orchards or landscape plantings.
Samantha Dorsey, McEvoy Ranch’s Farming Manager, is partnering with Sean McEntire, owner of Napa Valley Olive Tree Management Company for this workshop. Samantha has extensive experience in olive orchard management and olive oil production and together our regional experts will outline some of the special considerations for pruning productive, fruit-bearing olive trees and will help you to finesse your pruning techniques.
With the morning's discussion fresh in mind, participants will gather in one of McEvoy's olive orchards for further instruction, observation and practice of techniques. Come prepared to spend time in the field – participants will be on uneven surfaces and temperatures/conditions may vary. A few extra pruning tools on hand, but feel free to bring your own if you plan to join the workshop, that will be held rain or shine, so dressing accordingly is a must.
On Saturday, March 14th, 2015, Jack London State Historic Park will host a community celebration and ribbon cutting to mark the opening of the East Slope Sonoma Mountain Ridge Trail. This trail, on land never before accessible to the public, is the culmination of nearly two decades of focused effort and collaboration. Hikers, cyclists, and equestrians will experience sweeping panoramas from the top of Sonoma Mountain, finding different views than ever seen before.
The March 14 Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and First Official Hike are both free and open to the public.
The new East Slope Sonoma Mountain Ridge Trail extends the Bay Area Ridge Trail—an evolving and growing network of contiguous trail for hikers, cyclists, and equestrians along the ridgelines overlooking San
Francisco Bay. Today, over 350 miles of the 550-mile Ridge Trail loop are open. Jack London State Historic Park serves as the “gateway” to the new 1.2-mile East Slope, which also adds to 20-plus miles of trails currently accessible within the Park’s 1,400 scenic acres.
The natural surface, multi-use trail, located approximately 7 miles northwest of the City of Sonoma, crosses two private properties and a Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation & Open Space District-owned property, meandering along the ridge through oak woodland and open grassland habitats, and affords stunning views. A portion of the trail will be named “The Eliot Family Trail,” in honor of Pat and Ted Eliot who were instrumental in making the trail a reality. The project received a $55,000 planning grant from the Coastal Conservancy and Bay Area Ridge Trail, a $10,000 construction grant from REI, and a $5,000 grant from Sonoma Mountain Preservation, as well as many, many hours of volunteer time from community members led by the Sonoma County Trails Council and Jack London Park Partners.
“This project truly represents the best of collaboration amongst private and public landowners, funders, non- governmental organizations, and the public,” is how Susan Gorin, First District Supervisor described this noteworthy undertaking. “Working together, we built on each others’ strengths and were able to stretch limited taxpayer dollars to provide amazing outdoor recreational opportunities for everyone to enjoy.”
Janet McBride, Executive Director of Bay Ridge Trail Council says of the new trail’s significance: "The new East Slope Trail combined with existing Ridge Trail thru Jack London State Historic Park and the North Slope Trail stitches together a 9-mile showpiece Ridge Trail stretch ready to be explored."
About the March 14 Trail Celebration, free to the public:
10:30 am: Ceremony in the Winery Ruins of Beauty Ranch in Jack London State Historic Park, 2400 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen
Noon: The 13-mile round-trip hike to East Slope Trail commences from the Ranch parking lot.
The hike will be led by Craig Anderson of LandPaths, Dave Chalk former board member of the Valley of the Moon Natural History Association and founder of the popular Bill and Dave Hikes, and John Lynch, Park naturalist of Jack London State Historic Park.
The hike begins in Beauty Ranch and makes its way to the Jack London Lake, circling to Mountain Trail through a bountiful evergreen forest, flush with spring wildflowers to the Ridge Trail trailhead and then onto the new East Slope Ridge Trail. The beautiful Ridge trail is a slow elevation gain by a series of switchbacks through lush green with viewing opportunities of the Sonoma Valley and possibly the San Pablo Bay.
At 5 miles the hike reaches the top of this trail and the beginning of the East Slope trail.
For those who are unsure of completing the full 13-mile round trip hike, there will be numerous turn-around points along the way with Park docents to lead people back to Beauty Ranch.
Hikers should bring water, hiking poles, lunch, and binoculars, dress in layers and wear sturdy shoes. For more information on the free March 14 event as well as the Hike, please visit jacklondonpark.com
Petaluma Educational Foundation (PEF) has unveiled a fun new new logo for its Alphabet Soup Thrift Store operation benefiting the local non-profit 501(c)(3) organization’s mission to support over 13,000 students at all 37 K-12 public, private and charter Petaluma area schools.
I always have a box on the go in the garage for items we no longer need or use that I know someone will find useful. Alphabet Soup is my choice for thrift store donations. If you're not already a donor or shopper, Alphabet Soup Stores offer outstanding selections on gently used furniture, cookware/kitchen, tabletop entertaining, art, seasonal merchandise, electronics, books, fashion and accessories.
Alphabet Soup@Home is situated right in the middle of one of downtown’s busiest retail blocks at 203 Western Avenue. Just a few steps away at the corner of Western and Liberty Street, Alphabet Soup Clothing Boutique’s features expanded selections of apparel for men, women and children, including the wildly popular “Best in Class” department of name brand designer clothing at affordable prices. The style savvy corner location also includes jewelry, accessories, handbags, scarves, belts, hats and shoes.
Celebrating over 33 years of community involvement and school support, PEF is excited to be kicking-off the start of 2015 with this new logo for our retail operation.
The updated logo features the same artistic "P" as the Petaluma Educational Foundation logo. The window signage and other logo changes for the store delivery truck, outdoor signage, marketing materials, etc. follows the logo being debuted on the stores' new re-useable shopping bags this past holiday season.
Alphabet Soup originally opened as a joint venture with the Boys & Girls Club of Petaluma. In 2008, PEF became the sole operator of the retail operation steadily growing the business to increase proceeds from Alphabet Soup to PEF. Last year Alphabet Soup Stores celebrated their 20th anniversary in business.
“We rely on the donation of goods from the community and the support of volunteers to operate the stores benefiting the mission of PEF providing grants and scholarships to all local schools. We have ongoing opportunities for community members looking to volunteer as cashiers, processors, pricing and donation reception,” shares Store Director, Ron Bausman. “Shop – donate – volunteer in support of all local schools!”
Petaluma Educational Foundation (PEF) is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization. Since 1982, PEF has been reaching Petaluma’s K-12 students through PEF Grants gifted to local schools and PEF Scholarships awarded to graduating seniors. Founding members tapped into the generosity of Petaluma, with a mission to invest in the courage of our teachers determined to inspire the hearts and minds of our students.
May 1st marks the launch of a new Sonoma County tradition. Sonoma County Vintners introduces the inaugural Sonoma County Barrel Auction—a live auction of a curated selection of one-of-a-kind wine futures representing the stylistic range and world-class quality of Sonoma County.
The event kicks off on Thursday, April 30th with a VIP trade and media preview event at Williams Selyem Winery, with celebrated icons of the Sonoma County wine industry.
The live auction featuring over 50 exclusive wine-only lots will follow on Friday, May 1st, and will conclude with a celebration lunch prepared by area chefs for all guests and participating wineries.
“2014 was a breakthrough year for the Sonoma County Vintners culminating with the record breaking Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction. With this momentum, it is the perfect time to introduce this new event in order to highlight the incredible diversity, quality and creativity of our vintner members and to support the continued promotion, protection and enhancement of our cherished Sonoma County appellation,” said Corey Beck, President of the Sonoma County Vintners Board of Directors and of Francis Ford Coppola Winery.
Each lot in the inaugural Sonoma County Barrel Auction is a masterpiece of Sonoma County winemaking — cultivated in Sonoma County’s most highly acclaimed vineyards, handcrafted by legendary vintners and curated by a hand-selected panel of influential sommeliers.
Wines for this event are to be produced in limited quantities ranging from five to 20 cases, giving select members of the wine trade the opportunity to offer true originals for resale to their customers and ultra-premium wine collectors. Auction lots will be selected in a blind tasting in February by a specially curated panel of six master sommeliers and a masters of wine. The panelists include:
Evan Goldstein, Master Sommelier, Full Circle Wine Solutions (San Francisco, CA)
Tim Gaiser, Master Sommelier, Wine Consultant (San Francisco, CA)
Alex LaPratt, Master Sommelier, Atrium Dumbo (New York, NY)
Sur Lucero, Master Sommelier, Jackson Family Wines (Santa Rosa, CA)
Andy Meyers, Master Sommelier, Jose Andres’ ThinkFoodGroup (Washington, D.C.)
Bob Paulinski, Master of Wine, BevMo (San Francisco, CA)
For timely updates and more information on the Sonoma County Barrel Auction, like the Sonoma County Vintners on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SonomaCountyVintners , follow on Twitter at @SonomaVintners or search using the hashtag #SoCoBA.
Winter Citrus Salad with Shaved Fennel, Red Onion & Feta Cheese
"Ideally, tearing herbs is the way to go," Central Market's Chef Tony Najiola told a packed house of around 150 diners at a recent Fresh Starts Celebrity Chef Event supporting shelter and culinary job training programs at Homeward Bound of Marin.
That little bit of mint you were thinking of adding to spruce up a winter salad, don't even think of chopping it. Ripping it with your fingers prevents this zippy fresh herb, as with its many counterparts, from blackening. Good to know. As is the simple fact that a sprinkle of mint livens most any dish.
In fact, Chef Tony's best piece of advice, amongst a lot of kitchen tips I for one, took note of that January evening, is that a good cook needs little gadgetry. The New Orleans native with one of the best and most celebrated restaurants in Sonoma County these past 12 years, advocates getting stuck-in when making simple, tasty, fresh and scrumptious food — "your hands are better tools than anything else," he encouraged.
Don't have a food processor? No worries. According to Chef Tony, the sorts of foods he's famous for in the region would be ruined, if prepared the electronic way.
Chicken Bomba with Basil Mashed Potatoes
I'd driven down to Marin County to attend my first Fresh Starts Chef Event, though I'd visited the at Key Room at Homeward Bound's North Hamilton Parkway location a few times before.
The Key Room has an impressive teaching kitchen and function room and this particular evening, tables were set for a three course dinner for a bustling crowd of food and wine lovers who appreciated the pairing of a locally lauded chef demonstration with fundraising support for an outstanding job training program.
I learned how Homeward Bound's 18 week long culinary program (that would cost a student around $10,000 in any other setting), trains low income and homeless people who have sought help at the center to master the art of professional cooking skills.
Students start off with safe food handling, moving on to a second level of institutional cooking and completing their skill set with tier three positions at the Whistlestop San Rafael cafe.
An impressive 78% of students graduate and go on to find employment in the Bay Area within a month of completing the program.
Most of these success stories transition out of sheltered housing soon after.
What a fantastic role model for other shelters, especially in this region, where food service jobs are abundant.
As Chef Tony prepared three of his favorite and tastiest of dishes, a splendid Winter Citrus Salad with Shaved Fennel, Red Onion and Feta Cheese, followed by his super-comfortingsignature Chicken Bomba with Basil Mashed Potatoes and a melt-in your-mouth Baked Fuji Apple-Cranberry Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream, microphoned and clearly having fun, students in the kitchen could be seen busily plating dozens and dozens of the very same menu items, they'd made while their mentor for the evening was addressing the crowd.
Baked Fuju-Apple Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream
Upcoming line-up of chefs includes:
Cheryl Forberg (Biggest Loser TV Sh0w) — Feb 26th
The Webers (Della Fattoria) — March 26th
Eco-Chef Bryant — April 23rd
Laurie Figone (Home Grown Host of Cooking With Laurie) — May 14th
Tickets for each event, include chef demonstration and dinner and cost $55 per person. It's good to know that $34 of each ticket price provides for the total cost of a bed and services for a night for someone at the shelter.
"Bringing folks together around food to learn about homelessness is a beautiful thing," said Chef Tony. "To do what they do here, more people should do it."
Diners heard how Chef Tony's Muleheart Farm provides much of the produce and pork for his restaurant, which are unusually, just two miles apart. "I'm trying to make food that reflects the rich agricultural history of Petaluma," he said. "To grow our ingredients so nearby is not doable in most places. It's traditional, good, honest cooking," he said.
There certainly were no complaints. Diners applauded the chef with a standing ovation as he left to head off back up the freeway for the last sitting of the evening at his popular restaurant.
The Pacific Empire Chorus presents its fourth annual All-You-Can-Eat Crab Feed & Live A Cappella Show Saturday, January 31st, 2015, 5:30-9:00 p.m at the Petaluma Veterans Building, 1094 Petaluma Blv. South.
photo of Fisherman's Wharf: Via San Francisco Public Library.org
This delicious fundraiser includes crab, two fresh pastas, salad and garlic bread and all sorts of homemade desserts. Wine & Beer too.
$45 adults ($55 at the door)
Children 10 and under $20
Captains Table for eight includes linen, china, glasses, utensils, crab crackers and butter warmer for $440
Awesome Auction, wine auction, balloon pop (raffle)
Photo: The City of Petaluma Public Art Committee (PPAC)
Big news on the art around town scene here at the gateway to wine country. The City of Petaluma Public Art Committee (PPAC) is currently seeking qualifications from artists or artist teams for the commission and installation of a site-specific, original, outdoor art piece for the riverfront area in downtown Petaluma.
Budget for the project is $120,000 to $150,000. The budget is all-inclusive and must cover design fees, travel expenses, all materials and fabrication costs, lighting, insurancecosts, site-preparation costs, traffic control costs, engineering expenses, shipping and transportation to the site, installation, any applicable permit fees and taxes, any other expenses related to the design, fabrication, installation, and documentation of the public art component of this project.
The Public Art Committee aims to commission and install public art in the Waterfront Plaza area near the western terminus of the Balshaw Bridge. The primary area of focus is from Washington Street to the Balshaw Bridge, extending from the railroad tracks to the far top of bank and including Western Avenue from Water Street to Petaluma Boulevard North.
This is a pedestrian area along the riverfront in Petaluma’s downtown commercial district, most of which is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is in the heart of the City near the city of petalumaite of Petaluma’s first trading post and is bordered by a mosaic of businesses that have secondary access to the river. This is a highly visible location in the public right-of-way and the project offers the opportunity for the artist’s work to be integrated into a key historic district along the City’s riverfront.
Hopefully once installed, a high profile art attraction will draw renewed interest to the vital need to repair the historic trestle, rotting away by the day along the city's central riverfront.
The intent of the project is to add a signature art installation along the Water Street corridor that enhances a sense of place associated with the riverfront area. A successful piece will integrate with existing landscape and structures, consider the area as whole, and take into account the history of the area and its cultural importance to the City of Petaluma. The piece should be inviting to pedestrian traffic from the downtown area and viewable day or night.
This opportunity is open to all artists and artist teams over the age of 18.
The mission of the City of Petaluma’s public art program is to enhance the appearance and cultural richness of the City by incorporating works of art into public places. Specifically, this includes the acquisition and placement of public art on public property, as outlined in the General Plan, Public Art Master Plan, the enabling legislation of the Petaluma Public Art Committee (PPAC), and Chapter 18 of the Implementing Zoning Ordinance (IZO).
The City’s public art fund is generated through payment of the required 1% public art in-lieu fee for non-residential projects with construction costs greater than $500,000.
Go out, get a book — and read! If you're anything like me, you are never without a good read, but if you've been watching too much tv this winter and are slacking on selecting a gripping new novel, work of non-fiction (ie. Fog Valley Crush for example) or even an inspirational 'How To Improve Your (insert #1 priority here) ..." for the New Year, National Readathon Day is right around the corner.
To quote this bookishly awesome campaign: "You might take for granted how easy it is for you to read this sentence, but millions of Americans still struggle with basic literacy. 40% of American adults are either at or below basic reading proficiency, and 14% are fully illiterate". Each year, millions of Americans — especially young people — are losing touch with the power and importance of reading books.
Help change lives this winter by celebrating National Readathon Day with Penguin Random House, GoodReads, Mashable, and the National Book Foundation to help fund efforts to educate, tutor, create and sustain a lifelong love of reading. Get involved by joining readers across America in a marathon reading session on Saturday, January 24th.
From Noon – 4 PM in respective time zones, thousands of readers will sit and enjoy an entire afternoon with a book of choice in homes, libraries, schools and bookstores. Interested in hosting a fundraising reading party? Click here for more info.Of course, the main point is that we foster a love of learning, so aside from the fundraising part, why not simply gift a book to someone special this January and make a reading date for the 24th?