Today in Sonoma

Meet Bella Coola

Bella Coola, the long view

Bella Coola, the long view

Bella Coola, named for a Native tribe of Canada, was one of the stars of the Gravenstein Apple Fair. She lives on a farm in Sebastopol.

When someone asked for a word to describe her, I suggested “regal.”

“It’s like she thinks she is better than everyone around,” a woman responded, and so I changed my suggestion to “queenly,” the same thing, really, but with a slightly different emphasis.

She is indeed regal, but also queenly, like, say, Eustachia Vye of Thomas Hardy’s Return of the Native.

Summer Still Stands Tall

The golden light of autumn came early this year but there are still patches of summer here and there, standing tall against the morning fog. (Farmer/gardener Jill Adams’ garden in west Sebastopol.)

Generations of Wild Turkeys

Amidst an early season for almost everything, turkey hatchlings from one West County flock emerged later than usual this year, in early August instead of late May or June. Here are three generations, the newest chicks that are almost impossible to spot, their yearling brothers and sisters, and those that are two years old.

Gravensteins Apple Fair!

You have two days to celebrate Sebastopol’s signature apple, the beloved Gravenstein. This year, there will be nearly a dozen ciders, an artisan tasting tent (additional $20), six chef demonstrations, lots of food booths–all local!–and much more, including a caramel apple eating competition, local arts and crafts, farm animals, a display of vintage farm equipment and a lot of entertainment, including live music, stilt walkers, and puppet shows.

See you there! I’ll be there this afternoon enjoying the fair and then tomorrow will present a cooking demonstration at noon, with EarthWorker Farm’s exquisite salad mix tossed with my grapefruit-apple cider vinaigrette and Normandy Chicken & Apples, a traditional French dish that is perfectly suited to Sonoma County. Want to be my assistant? I’ll be picking one person from the audience to do something easy, fun, and a bit surprising.

Catch a falling star

Tonight and tomorrow night, Earth will pass through the densest part of Comet Swift-Tuttle’s tail. The best view will be after moonset (around 1 a.m.) and for the most detailed viewing, you want as little light pollution as you can manage. At the peak, there may be as many 200 meteors–falling stars, which, of course, they aren’t but it sounds so lovely–per hour. North America offers the best vantage point for viewing. Learn more about the Perseids here.

Love the night sky? Check out the Sonoma County Astronomical Society.

Catch a Falling Star never fails to make me smile.

Bistro 29’s Dinner Menu

Bistro 29 (620 Fifth St., Santa Rosa, 546-2929) has been offering a prix-fixe mid-week menu for years at $29 and just this week raised the price to $34, plus $11 if you’d like wine with your meal. This week’s menu is one of the best yet. If you want to give it a try, call for reservations!

A delicately delicious salad at Bistro 29

A delicately delicious salad at Bistro 29

Prix-Fixe Menu, August 10 & 11.

Amuse: Mini Chickpea Pancake with Asparagus Relish & Crème Fraiche

First Course: Salad Lyonnaise (Frisée, Lardon, & Fine Herb Salad with Poached Egg)

Second Course: Pan-seared Bistro Filet, Duck-Fat-Roasted Potatoes, Spinach & Sauce Bordelaise

Dessert: Caramelized Local Pear Sweet Crepe with Pistachio Cream

Tonight on Mouthful: Gravenstein Time!

It’s become a tradition that the Sunday before the Gravenstein Apple Fair we have a full house on Mouthful and this year is no exception.

Guests include Carmen Snyder, executive director of Sonoma County FarmTrails and manager of the Gravenstein Apple Fair; Ellen Cavalli of Tilded Shed Ciderworks; Alissa Trinei of Manzana’s North Coast Apples; Daniel Kedan, chef and owner of Backyard in Forestville and Tucker Taylor, culinary gardener at Kendall Jackson.

If you can’t listen live, you can hear the podcast here any time.

Tonight on Mouthful: Virginia Dare Winery

Tonight, Mouthful, Smart Talk about Food, Wine, & Farming, airs an archive episode about Francis Coppola’s newest wine endeavor, Virginia Dare Winery, just a few miles north of his namesake winery in Geyserville. Hear the intriguing story of Virginia Dare herself, the new winery’s focus, and more. Featured guests are winemaker Sandy Walheim and viticulturist Lise Asimont.
Mouthful airs live on Sunday evenings from 6 to 7 p.m. If you don’t pick up the station, you can listen via its free iPhone app or iTunes or listen at your leisure here.

A Raven at Shell Beach

Whenever Michael Valenzuela, a man of many talents including photography who lives in the high hills west of Healdsburg, visits Shell Beach, this gorgeous raven shows up for a bit of conversation. They met on July 13, 2015 and the friendship continues today. He–Michael says he is pretty certain it is a bull raven–preens and croaks and burbles and calls during these visits. If you visit a place where ravens live often enough, one may befriend you. I’ve been followed by a raven on the Joe Rodota Trail but do not go often enough to know for sure if the raven remembers me or not, but I’m hoping.

Chrysalis Is Coming: Get Your Tix Now

Michael Lee Brandon Powell, a young man of just 20, has a design aesthetic and passion for fashion that is both contemporary and futuristic as well as evocative of earlier times. To me, he evokes both Oscar Wilde and the Pre-Raphaelite movement. There’s also a resonance with the 1920s jazz era.

Michael Lee Brandon Powell, at a recent Chrysalis rehearsal

Michael Lee Brandon Powell, at a recent Chrysalis rehearsal

Artist Mary Jarvis is producing the event.

The theme of Chrysalis Fashion Benefit is gender fluidity and features Michael’s extravagant creations using repurposed and up-cycled clothing and fabric. The show’s underlying philosophy is the chrysalis itself and its shedding, upon which a gorgeous butterfly emerges. To resonate with the evening’s theme, Michael has been raising butterflies, which will be released during the show.

Things get started at 5 p.m. Admission is $20 per person, which includes the show itself, a stand-up dinner by Worth Our Weight, the butterfly release, an auction of all the garments, and a dance party.

All proceeds benefit the Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund and Worth Our Weight Culinary Apprenticeship Program.

Snag your tickets here. And I’ll see you there, in my special butterfly outfit. You can add to the fun by breaking out of your own chrysalis and wearing someone you’ve always longed to–a chartreuse tutu, perhaps?


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