Today in Sonoma

Stargazing at Martin Ray Winery Tonight

This evening from 7:30 to 11 p.m., fifty lucky visitors at Martin Ray Vineyards & Winery will enjoy pizzas from the new wood-burning oven, salad, sweets, and delicious wines as they relax under Sonoma County’s huge bowl of sky filled with stars. Maybe it will be dark enough to see the Milky Way.

The event is dog-friendly. Cost is $45 for members of the wine club and $50 for the general public. Visit the web site to snag a last-minute ticket.

Bring a blanket for the lawn and clothing layers in case it turns cold.

Fresh Radishes

Santa Rosa Original Farmers Market

For decades, the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market has operated twice a week. The Saturday market is the big one, with several rows of vendors and crowds of shoppers. The Wednesday market has always been smaller but it is an excellent source for restocking midweek and a great option for anyone who likes to avoid crowds or can’t attend a weekend market. It takes place on the west side of LBC, immediately south of Sutter Hospital, and has plenty of parking adjacent to the market. It is open from 8:30 until 1 p.m.

Today, you’ll find The Patch, Min Hee Hill Gardens and Nursery, Ridgeview (which is already harvesting their wonderful melons), Beet Generation Farm, Bohemian Well Being Farm, Sebastopol Berry Farm, Tierra Vegetables, and Hector’s Honey. Franco’s One World Sausages is there every week and today’s line up includes Greca, Alsace, and a new sausage, Salamelle, with pork, pancetta, garlic, cloves, and cinnamon; it is traditionally used in sausage and onion risotto.

Full Circle Bakery, Berkmans Spices and The Hummus Guy also participate.

Prepared food vendors include Sinful Fusion (Turkish food), Physis (stocks and soups, made on site), and Mi Fiesta.


Portrait of Hilary Clinton

Portrait of Hillary Clinton

Local artist Ginny Stanford, originally from Missouri and the widow of poet Frank Stanford, painted one of the three official portraits of Hillary Clinton that all First Ladies are required to have as their term concludes. Ginny had many connections to the Clintons because of the time she spent living in Arkansas with her husband. In addition, the National Portrait Gallery had acquired one of her stunning portraits of writer M. F. K. Fisher, which the Clintons saw during President Clinton’s tenure.

Ginny is a long time resident of Sonoma County and currently lives in Forestville.

Wine tasters at iron horse vineyards

The Last Six Peaches

Weekends at Iron Horse Vineyards offer an array of activities beyond wine tasting. Doralice Taborelli Handal is one of a handful of vendors, with several of her cheeses (Robiola, Piave, Machego, Buffalo Brie, and Brie), crackers, salami, nuts, dried fruit, and olives. This weekend, she has also had Arctic Gem White Peaches. As things wound down yesterday, there were six gorgeous ones left. All of these peaches have now been picked so these are the very last of the year.

Arctic Gem White Peaches

Arctic Gem White Peaches

Read my story about these extraordinary peaches, with recipes for Peach Bellini and White Peach Chutney, here.

Painting by Nancy Woods

Wine Road Celebrates 40th Anniversary

“Forty Years of Cheer” is the theme of today’s community festival, taking place in the parking lot and on the lawn of City Hall, on the edge of downtown Healdsburg. Things take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and admission is free. Wine tasting ($10 for five tastes) is from 11:30 to 3:30. Food (from Mateo’s, Costeaux, The Wurst, and El Faralito)will be available for purchase.

All proceeds benefit Becoming Independent.

I”ll join in the fun with a book signing, hosted by Copperfield’s Books, with 11 to 1 and, possibly, later. All my recent titles will be available.


Butterfly on Flowers


The Sonoma County Fair opens this morning at 11 a.m., with several new features, including an opportunity to spend a few quiet minutes with butterflies. Wear a brightly colored shirt, the fair’s web side advices, stand still, and wait for a butterfly–or two, or three–to land on you.

Visit the web site for complete details and check back here for highlights, including an exploration of the fair’s best nibbles, snacks, and meals. For starters, you can read my post about the return of the Original Soft Tacos.

Worth Our Weight Culinary Apprentice Program Brochure

Worth Our Weight Apprentice Dinner Tonight

Now in its fourth year, the Third Thursday Visiting Chefs Dinner Series is offering a special evening tonight, with three chefs who graduated from the program returning to prepare dinner. Cost is $75 per person, which includes tax, gratuity, and beverages. Most of the evening’s ingredients are donated and the funds raised go directly to the program, which offers free training in all aspects of restaurant work to underserved youth from 16 to 24, lead by the brilliant chef Evelyn Cheatham, founder and executive director.

Worth Our Weight is located next door to the Boys & Girls Club and across the street from Montgomery High, at 1021 Hahman Dr. in Santa Rosa.

For tickets, call 544-1200 right away.

Bone-In Rib Steaks

Bone-In Rib Steaks at Oliver’s

In can be hard to find well-marbled bone-in rib steaks these days but Oliver’s currently has them on sale for $17.99. In my opinion, this is beef at its most delicious.
If you eat beef, you probably know that it is at its best when cooked–rare or medium rare, please–on the bone. This is true with all meats, from sardines and chicken to lamb and prime rib. For flavor and texture, bone-in is best.

In the summer, I enjoy a rare rib steak set atop spinach (the heat of the steak will wilt it just enough) or a favorite salad mix and dressed only with good salt, black pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice. I save more elaborate preparations and richer accompaniments for fall and winter.

Leaves turning fall colors

In the fullness of summer, a kernel of fall

This morning I noticed the first hint of the approach of fall, weeping birch leaves that had, seemingly quickly, gone from deep green to gold.  This is a response to the diminishing daylight. As the days grow shorter after the summer solstice, light diminishes by a few minutes each day, signaling trees to withdraw nutrition from their leaves, in anticipation of their winter sleep.

Hummingbird in hand

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Finds a Nurse

This evening, Julieta Leal Weiss–a nurse who also is the official Mayo Queen for my World’s Biggest BLT productions–found this little guy. When she nestled him in her hand, he seemed happy and comfortable and made no attempt to fly away. It was too late to take him anywhere that night and so she followed the advice on the Native Songbird Care and Conservation’s after-hours voice message, to put him in a little box but not give him food or water. The next morning, she took the little guy to the Bird Rescue Center</a. An initial assessment suggested a shoulder injury.

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