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Russian Bells will clang at Fort Ross’ Harvest Festival in a special Russian Bell concert with Percussionist Victor Avdienko—Saturday, October 15, 2016

San Francisco Symphony percussionist Victor Avdienko will play a “peal” or set of authentic Russian bronze bells in America’s Second Secular Russian Bell Concert at Fort Ross on Saturday, October 15, 2106 as part of the 4th Annual Fort Ross-Seaview Harvest Festival. The 6-bell peal was cast in 2014 in the Urals by Pyatkov & Co., a famous modern Russian bell foundry in Kamensky-Uralsy. Blagovest Bells of Novato, California, the sole promoter of Russian bells and bell-ringing in the U.S., made the zvonnitsa (support structure) in 2015. The program will include several tradition zvons and a few contemporary zvons, along with some improvisations. Photo: courtesy Blagovest Bells

San Francisco Symphony percussionist Victor Avdienko will play a “peal” or set of authentic Russian bronze bells in America’s Second Secular Russian Bell Concert at Fort Ross on Saturday, October 15, 2106 as part of the 4th Annual Fort Ross-Seaview Harvest Festival. The 6-bell peal was cast in 2014 in the Urals by Pyatkov & Co., a famous modern Russian bell foundry in Kamensky-Uralsy. Blagovest Bells of Novato, California, the sole promoter of Russian bells and bell-ringing in the U.S., made the zvonnitsa (support structure) in 2015. The program will include several tradition zvons and a few contemporary zvons, along with some improvisations. Photo: courtesy Blagovest Bells

 

The majestic sound of Russian bells will fill the air at historic Fort Ross this Saturday as San Francisco Symphony Percussionist Victor Avdienko performs a special concert for the 4th annual Fort Ross-Seaview Wine and Harvest Festival.  Since the founding of Fort Ross in 1812 by the Russian-American Company, a trading and fur trapping firm, Russian bells have had a place of prominence.  They were utilized both as signal bells at the fort’s two sentry boxes located diagonally in its Northern and Southern corners and, after 1824, as church bells in the belfry of the fort’s Holy Trinity–Saint Nicholas Chapel.  On Saturday, the peal of six Russian bells will serve a purely musical purpose in America’s Second Secular Russian Bell Concert which will take place at the Visitor’s Center at 1:10 pm.  The concert is produced by Mark Galperin, General Manager of Blagovest Bells of Novato, the sole promoter of Russian bells and bell-ringing in the U.S.

The program will include a mix of traditional liturgical and contemporary secular “zvons” (peals) and improvisations—

“Perezvon”– a chain peal, from largest bell to smallest in order, used at the Blessing of the Water

Traditional Trezvons (three-part Russian bell peals)

“Festal Lenten Zvon”– a traditional Russian Peal from the famous belfry of the Assumption Cathedral in the Kremlin of the Rostov Veliky, Yaroslavl Region, Russia

“Optina Zvon”– a peal from Optina Pustyn, the famous Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple Monastery for men near Kozelsk, Kaluga Region, Russia

“Krasnyj Zvon” by Vladimir Petrovsky

Improvisational Trezvons

Mark Galperin of Blagovest Bells, Marin, at Fort Ross. Galperin is North America’s foremost expert on Russian bells and the producer of Saturday’s concert at Fort Ross. Galperin is a former physicist who immigrated to Marin in 1995. In 1998, he began collaborating with Father Stephan Meholick of San Anselmo’s St. Nicholas Orthodox Church to build a bell collection for the church. These bells were the first authentic Russian bells that SFS percussionist Victor Avdienko ever heard played live. Photo: Blagovest Bells

Mark Galperin of Blagovest Bells at Fort Ross. Galperin is North America’s foremost expert on Russian bells and the producer of Saturday’s concert at Fort Ross.  Galperin is a former physicist who immigrated to Marin in 1995.  In 1998, he began collaborating with Father Stephan Meholick of San Anselmo’s St. Nicholas Orthodox Church to build a Russian bell collection for the church. These bells were the first authentic Russian bells that SFS percussionist Victor Avdienko ever heard played live.  Photo: Blagovest Bells

Percussionist Victor Avdienko has performed, recorded, and toured with the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) for 20 years.  He was brought up in San Francisco’s Holy Virgin Cathedral Russian Orthodox Church on Geary Street but, during those days, he never heard authentic Russian bells played live there.  Instead, he heard plenty of recordings of majestic Russian bells which always fascinated him.  His performance of Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” with the San Francisco Symphony in the summer of 2014 was the first time authentic Russian bells were ever used for that very popular piece in the United States.  Galperin organized the loan of those bells to SFS from San Anselmo’s St. Nicholas Orthodox Church.  He had also lent Blagovest Bells’ 5-bell Russian demo peal to SFS for its Keeping Score Summer Institute in June 2009.  The friendship between Galperin and Avdienko was solidified over their mutual love of bell music. Avdienko and Galperin’s first independent concert, America’s First Secular Russian Bell Concert was held at Fort Ross during the 3rd Fort Ross Harvest Festival.

Saturday’s outdoor concert at Fort Ross will occur rain or shine.  In addition to Russian bells, the folk group Dolina will also be performing a number of traditional Russian and Cossak folk dances throughout the day.

To read ARThound’s 2014 feature article on SFS percussionist Victor Avdienko and the first Russian bells to play at Green Music Center’s famed Weill Hall, click here. 

Details:  The bell concert is 1:10 PM on Saturday, October 15, 2016 at the Fort Ross Visitor Center, Fort Ross State Historic Park.  The concert is free but visitors must pay park admission of $20/car which includes entrance to the Fort Ross Harvest Festival. Fort Ross, is located 11 miles north of Jenner on Highway One and is the main tourist attraction between Bodega Bay and Fort Bragg.

The Fort Ross Harvest Festival is Saturday, October 15, 2016 from 10AM to 6PM and offers a full day of world-class wine tasting, a wine seminar featuring rare wines grown in the remote steep mountain top Seaview region, apple picking in a historic apple orchard, delicious local foods, historic crafts and music and Russian dancing, all set on the spectacular Sonoma Coast at Fort Ross State Historic Park.  Entrance to the festival is $20/car and wine tasting tickets range from $40 to $90 depending on category of wine tasting.

October 12, 2016 Posted by | Classical Music, Food, Green Music Center, Symphony | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Taste of Petaluma is Saturday, August 20─eat your way through town!

Elly Lichenstein Supreme Sweets 7.20

Elly Lichenstein, Cinnabar Theater’s artistic director, savors a chocolate cream bite at Supreme Sweets in downtown Petaluma, one of the new participants in Taste of Petaluma. In addition to creating one-off custom desserts that “wow” with imagination and artisanship, Supreme Sweets stocks oodles of homemade sweets at their bakery.  Supreme Sweets offers so many delectable flavor combinations of cupcakes that their webpage instructs visitors to call if they can’t find exactly what they want. Photo: Geneva Anderson

The 11th annual Taste of Petaluma is Saturday, August 20, 2016, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and it’s all about connecting with Petaluma’s small-town charm and wonderful cuisine—bite by glorious bite.  Taste is a benefit for Cinnabar Theater, Petaluma’s beloved professional theater, which opens its 44th season in September with The Most Happy Fella, a heartwarming musical romance set in the Wine Country.  If you’ve ever attended one of Cinnabar’s remarkable performances on the old schoolhouse atop the hill, you know what a treasure Cinnabar is.   This year’s Taste features over 80 Petaluma restaurants and food, wine and beverage purveyors at 42 locales scattered across Petaluma’s historic downtown.  Over 60 musicians and dancers will be performing too, offering just as promising an entertainment menu (full performance schedule here). This culinary walking tour draws people from all over the Bay Area and $40 gets you 10 generously portioned tastes of your choosing.

Laura Sunday, Taste of Petaluma’s founder/organizer, in the lobby of the Hotel Petaluma. The baby is her arms is a plate of espresso ganache brownies by Out to Lunch Fine Catering. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Laura Sunday, Taste of Petaluma’s founder/organizer, in the lobby of the Hotel Petaluma. The baby is her arms is a plate of espresso ganache brownies by Out to Lunch Fine Catering. Photo: Geneva Anderson

“We have more new restaurants here than some towns have restaurants,” says Laura Sunday, Taste of Petaluma’s founder.  “Taste will guide you through the dozens of eateries that call Petaluma their home.  It’s a great day to wander around eating, sipping and hearing music with friends or family.  There’s something delicious at every turn.”

Recently, I was invited to attend two “mini Tastes” along with a number of the North Bay food writers.  Together, we visited eight downtown gems that represent Petaluma’s ever-changing food landscape─ Quinua Cocina Peruana, Out to Lunch Fine Catering, The Shuckery, Supreme Sweets, Thai River, Speakeasy and The Big Easy, Sonoma Spice Queen and Corkscrew Café and Wine Bar.

Two of our tastings took place within the newly restored Hotel Petaluma, which I recommend you get take a peek at during Taste.  The restoration isn’t quite complete but the lobby is finished and is so harmoniously appointed you’ll find yourself wanting to plop down and have a drink.  The spacious formal dining hall, with its tall ceilings and pastel blue plaster walls, fired my imagination, taking me back to times spent in Europe.  Its places like this and our beloved Petaluma Seed Bank and historic Cinnabar Theater that coax me to invite friends to Petaluma.  And then there’s the food!

The newcomers to Taste of Petaluma are previewed first; then the tried and true─

 

Quinua Cocina Peruana

Juan Guiterrez, owner of Quinua Cocina Peruana with his father/chef, Mauro Guiterrez, putting the finishing touches on their signature Ceviche de Pescado─fresh raw red snapper marinated in lime juice mixed with thinly sliced red onions and the traditional Peruvian hot Rocoto pepper. Quinua opened six months ago and is located at 500 Petaluma Blvd. South. For Taste, it will be hosted by Urban Elements Salon, 140 2nd Street, near Theatre Square. The salon will also host Kearsten Leder Photography which will take your complimentary photo for “People of Petaluma in Pictures.” Photo: Geneva Anderson

Juan Guiterrez, owner of Quinua Cocina Peruana with his father/chef, Mauro Guiterrez, putting the finishing touches on their signature Ceviche de Pescado─fresh raw red snapper marinated in lime juice mixed with thinly sliced red onions and the traditional Peruvian hot Rocoto pepper. Quinua opened six months ago and is located at 500 Petaluma Blvd. South. For Taste, it will be hosted by Urban Elements Salon, 140 2nd Street, near Theatre Square. The salon will also host Kearsten Leder Photography which will take your complimentary photo for “People of Petaluma in Pictures.” Photo: Geneva Anderson

Quinua’s Ceviche de Pescado is served garnished with camote (sweet potato), Peruvian white corn and crispy darker corn kernels from the Andes so that diners can experience that synthesis of flavors and textures distinct to Peruvian cuisine. Key to the flavor is a tiny amount of Rocoto pepper, an heirloom native to the Andes, which Guiterrez sources frozen from Peru. The pepper has relatively thick flesh, like a bell pepper, velvety leaves and resembles a small apple or pear. Before the heat kicks in, it has a sweet, citrus taste. In parts of South America they are referred to "el mas picante de los picantes." Quinua uses it sparingly and effectively. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Quinua’s Ceviche de Pescado is served garnished with camote (sweet potato), Peruvian white corn and crispy darker corn kernels from the Andes so that diners can experience that synthesis of flavors and textures distinct to Peruvian cuisine. Key to the flavor is a tiny amount of Rocoto pepper, an heirloom native to the Andes, which Guiterrez sources frozen from Peru. The pepper has relatively thick flesh, like a bell pepper, velvety leaves and resembles a small apple or pear. Before the heat kicks in, it has a sweet, citrus taste. In parts of South America they are referred to “el mas picante de los picantes.” Quinua uses it sparingly and effectively. Photo: Geneva Anderson

 

Out to Lunch Fine Catering

Bethany Barsman, owner of Out to Lunch Fine Catering, puts finishing touches on tasting plates of Coconut Prawn with Mango Aoli; Sausage-stuffed Mushroom with Roasted Peppers, Caramelized Onions & Cheeses; Vegetarian Samoza with Mango Chutney, garnished with thyme, rosemary and sage; and Vietnamese Rice Roll with chili sauce. Out to Lunch catering is the preferred caterer of The Petaluma Hotel, 205 Kentucky Street, which is hosting Out to Lunch for Taste of Petaluma. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Bethany Barsman, owner of Out to Lunch Fine Catering, puts finishing touches on tasting plates of Coconut Prawn with Mango Aoli; Sausage-stuffed Mushroom with Roasted Peppers, Caramelized Onions & Cheeses; Vegetarian Samoza with Mango Chutney, garnished with thyme, rosemary and sage; and Vietnamese Rice Roll with chili sauce. Out to Lunch catering is the preferred caterer of The Petaluma Hotel, 205 Kentucky Street, which is hosting Out to Lunch for Taste of Petaluma. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Out to Lunch Fine Catering will offer a Sausage-stuffed Mushroom w/ Roasted Peppers, Caramelized Onions & Cheeses (second up from bottom) and a Vegetarian Curried Potato & Pea Samosa with Mango Chutney (third up from bottom). Hosted by Hotel Petaluma, 205 Kentucky Street. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Out to Lunch Fine Catering will offer a Sausage-stuffed Mushroom w/ Roasted Peppers, Caramelized Onions & Cheeses (second up from bottom) and a Vegetarian Curried Potato & Pea Samosa with Mango Chutney (third up from bottom). Hosted by Hotel Petaluma, 205 Kentucky Street. Photo: Geneva Anderson

The Shuckery

Jazmine Lalicker, co-owner of The Shuckery, the newly-opened 54-seat oyster bar and restaurant, housed in the Petaluma Hotel. The Shuckery features exquisite fresh oysters and seafood from pristine waters all across North America, local wines, and Chef Seth Harvey’s cuisine, inspired by our local bounty. Jazmine is in partnership with her sister Aluxa Lalicker. The duo has been enormously successful as The Oyster Girls, the Tamales Bay-based traveling oyster bar that has been delighting the Bay Area since 2007 with oysters and pizzazz. The Petaluma Hotel’s atmosphere is an added boon. The Shuckery is at 100 Washington Street. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Jazmine Lalicker, co-owner of The Shuckery, the newly-opened 54-seat oyster bar and restaurant, housed in the Petaluma Hotel. The Shuckery features exquisite fresh oysters and seafood from pristine waters all across North America, local wines, and Chef Seth Harvey’s cuisine, inspired by our local bounty. Jazmine is in partnership with her sister Aluxa Lalicker. The duo has been enormously successful as The Oyster Girls, the Tamales Bay-based traveling oyster bar that has been delighting the Bay Area since 2007 with oysters and pizzazz. The Petaluma Hotel’s atmosphere is an added boon. The Shuckery is at 100 Washington Street. Photo: Geneva Anderson

For Taste of Petaluma, The Shuckery will offer Ceviche Misto─ rockfish, shrimp, bay scallop, piquillo pepper coulis, citrus, and cilantro on a white corn tortilla. The Shuckery is at 100 Washnigton Street

For Taste of Petaluma, The Shuckery will offer Ceviche Misto─ rockfish, shrimp, bay scallop, piquillo pepper coulis, citrus, and cilantro on a white corn tortilla. The Shuckery is at 100 Washington Street

Supreme Sweets

Christina Danner, owner and confectionery artist behind Supreme Sweets, is a temptress. Her mouthwatering cupcakes and cookies, all baked from scratch, urge customers to break all their resolutions. That’s just the top of the iceberg. This Sonoma-born mother of three and former admin assistant, used to bake special cakes for fun. She so wowed people with her artisanship that she was convinced to open her own business. Taste offerings will include a variety of freshly-baked sweets to choose from and a cup of coffee or tea. Gluten free options will also be available. Danner is holding her salted caramel cupcakes, her most popular item right now. Supreme Sweets is at 228 Petaluma Blvd. North. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Christina Danner, owner and confectionery artist behind Supreme Sweets, is a temptress. Her mouthwatering cupcakes and cookies, all baked from scratch, urge customers to break all their resolutions. This Sonoma-born mother of three and former admin assistant, used to bake special cakes for fun. She so wowed people with her artisanship that she was convinced to open her own business. Taste offerings will include a variety of freshly-baked sweets to choose from and a cup of coffee or tea. Gluten free options will also be available. Danner is holding her salted caramel cupcakes, her most popular item right now. Supreme Sweets is at 228 Petaluma Blvd. North. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Hay Bales─moist cake coated with white chocolate and rolled in crispy toasted coconut, a delectable homage to our county’s farming traditions. Supreme Sweets also does a mean Buckeye─ round peanut butter balls dipped in dark chocolate. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Hay Bales─moist cake coated with white chocolate and rolled in crispy toasted coconut, a delectable homage to our county’s farming traditions. Supreme Sweets also does a mean Buckeye─ round peanut butter balls dipped in dark chocolate. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Thai River

Langlet Sawaluck (“Louise”), manager of Thai River, with Mango Prawn Panang. Langlet opened Petaluma’s beloved Thai Ginger restaurant in 2003 which she left after 7 years to open Novato’s Thai Bistro in 2011. She so missed Petaluma that she jumped at the chance to open Thai River with her husband Frederic Langlet, owner, and sister, Chef Jantra Tokratok. Langlet is especially proud of her curries; the curry pastes are blended on the premises and she takes advantage of seasonal offerings, like mangos, to create authentic Thai delicacies. Every dish is bursting with color and often topped with orchids. Thai River is at 35 East Washington Street, just across the street from the Golden Eagle Shopping Center and offers an extensive take-out menu. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Langlet Sawaluck (“Louise”), manager of Thai River, with Mango Prawn Panang. Langlet opened Petaluma’s beloved Thai Ginger restaurant in 2003 which she left after 7 years to open Novato’s Thai Bistro in 2011. She so missed Petaluma that she jumped at the chance to open Thai River with her husband Frederic Langlet (owner), and sister, Chef Jantra Tokratok. Langlet is especially proud of her curries; the curry pastes are blended on the premises and she takes advantage of seasonal offerings, like mangos, to create authentic Thai delicacies. Every dish is bursting with color and often topped with orchids. Thai River is at 35 East Washington Street, just across the street from the Golden Eagle Shopping Center and offers an extensive take-out menu. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Thai River’s Red Curry Chicken. For Taste, Thai River will offer an Imperial roll (deep fried egg roll stuffed with shrimp, pork and silver noodles and homemade sauce) and a choice of Red Curry Chicken or Tom Kha (coconut milk soup w/ vegetables). Photo: Geneva Anderson

Thai River’s Red Curry Chicken. For Taste, Thai River will offer an Imperial roll (deep fried egg roll stuffed with shrimp, pork and silver noodles and homemade sauce) and a choice of Red Curry Chicken or Tom Kha (coconut milk soup w/ vegetables). Photo: Geneva Anderson

Speakeasy and The Big Easy

Amber Driscoll and Roger Tschann, have built their reputations on serving elegant tapas-style delicacies sourced from fresh local ingredients. Speakeasy has been so successful as Petaluma’s only late night gourmet restaurant that, recently, the couple expanded across American alley with The Big Easy. This underground restaurant and jazz club delivers live music six nights per week, a palette-rocking dinner menu (from Speakeasy) and an extended list of wine by the bottle─all until 2 a.m. every day. At The Big Easy, the sound is clear and the ambiance is enhanced by vintage wooden booths and a long elegant bar. For Taste, the Big Easy will host Sonoma Cider and Best Damn Rootbeer serving a variety of Sonoma Cider Stillwater Spirits in delicious cocktails. Petaluma’s Morris Distributing will serve non-alcoholic drinks including Guayaki Yerba Mate, Hint waters, Cock n'Bull Ginger Beer, Sprecher’s Root Beers and Marley's Mellow Mood teas. Located 128 American Alley. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Amber Driscoll and Roger Tschann, have built their reputations on serving elegant tapas-style delicacies sourced from fresh local ingredients. Speakeasy has been so successful as Petaluma’s only late night gourmet restaurant that, recently, the couple expanded across American alley with The Big Easy. This underground restaurant and jazz club delivers live music six nights per week, a palette-rocking dinner menu (from Speakeasy) and an extended list of wine by the bottle─all until 2 a.m. every day. At The Big Easy, the sound is clear and the ambiance is enhanced by vintage wooden booths and a long elegant bar. For Taste, the Big Easy will host Sonoma Cider and Best Damn Rootbeer serving a variety of Sonoma Cider Stillwater Spirits in delicious cocktails. Petaluma’s Morris Distributing will serve non-alcoholic drinks including Guayaki Yerba Mate, Hint waters, Cock n’Bull Ginger Beer, Sprecher’s Root Beers and Marley’s Mellow Mood teas. Located 128 American Alley. Photo: Geneva Anderson

For Taste, Speakeasy will serve Crab, Mango & Green Papaya Salad with curry mayonnaise dressing and fresh herbs (top). Also shown is their refreshing Rock Cod and Mango Ceviche over homemade tortilla chips. Speakeasy offers a scrumptious brunch on Saturday and Sunday and their Creamy Lobster Mac and Cheese with Bacon has become a classic. Located at 139 Petaluma Blvd. North, Suite B, at Putnam Plaza. Photo: Geneva Anderson

For Taste, Speakeasy will serve Crab, Mango & Green Papaya Salad with curry mayonnaise dressing and fresh herbs (top). Also shown is their refreshing Rock Cod and Mango Ceviche over homemade tortilla chips. Speakeasy offers a scrumptious brunch on Saturday and Sunday and their Creamy Lobster Mac and Cheese with Bacon has become a classic. Located at 139 Petaluma Blvd. North, Suite B, at Putnam Plaza. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Sonoma Spice Queen

Petaluma’s Wind McAlister turned her life-long enthusiasm for spices and different cultures and cuisines into a booming business, Sonoma Spice Queen, the only 100% organic spice shop in the county. Her spice boutique offers a dazzling array of small-batch organic spices, all selected, prepared and handsomely packaged by McAlister herself, who is always adding new mixes and rubs to her offerings. When you enter her shop, be prepared for intoxicating aromas and the impulse to grab one of everything. McAlister recently obtained a commercial kitchen license for her C Street store front and will be offering cooking classes in the near future. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Petaluma’s Wind McAlister turned her life-long enthusiasm for spices and different cultures and cuisines into a booming business, Sonoma Spice Queen, the only 100% organic spice shop in the county. Her spice boutique offers a dazzling array of small-batch organic spices, all selected, prepared and handsomely packaged by McAlister herself, who is always adding new mixes and rubs to her offerings. When you enter her shop, be prepared for intoxicating aromas and the impulse to grab one of everything. McAlister recently obtained a commercial kitchen license for her C Street store front and will be offering cooking classes in the near future. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Sonoma Spice Queen will offer a Caribbean-themed taste─Jamaican Jerk Chicken or Spiced Farm Greens (vegan) topped with a spiced Mango relish, over Cuban-style black beans in a bed of Haitian-style sweet savory rice with coconut cream and lime. A Caribbean-inspired chai is also included─black tea, organic vanilla sugar, coconut, caramelized cut pineapple, McAlister’s organic Chai mix and milk. Traditionally, Jamaican jerk is extremely hot but McAlister will offer a toned-down version. The Jamaican jerk mix sold at her shop, however, is culturally appropriate and packs a lot of spicy heat. Located at 407 C Street. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Sonoma Spice Queen will offer a Caribbean-themed taste─Jamaican Jerk Chicken or Spiced Farm Greens (vegan) topped with a spiced Mango relish, over Cuban-style black beans in a bed of Haitian-style sweet savory rice with coconut cream and lime. A Caribbean-inspired chai is also included─black tea, organic vanilla sugar, coconut, caramelized cut pineapple, McAlister’s organic Chai mix and milk. Traditionally, Jamaican jerk is extremely hot but McAlister will offer a toned-down version. The Jamaican jerk mix sold at her shop, however, is culturally appropriate and packs a lot of spicy heat. Located at 407 C Street. Photo: Geneva Anderson

CorkScrew Wine Bar

CorkScrew Wine Bar Owner Basha Quilici long dreamed of opening a wine bar, especially after designing them for clients. Petaluma’s welcoming atmosphere inspired her to create a bar of her own with a European vibe. CorkScrew is nestled in the charming cobblestoned pedestrian walkway where one end of Western Avenue meets the bustling boulevard and the river, and it offers both indoor and open air seating. Quilici takes pride in the variety of fine wines and beers offered and in food prepared from locally sourced ingredients and vendors such as Full Circle Bakery, Sonoma Brinery and our area’s treasured artisan cheesemakers. There is live music on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Every fourth Thursday of the month, Corkscrew offers its Sunset Winemaker Series with thematic wine tastings or featured winemakers. Photo: Geneva Anderson

CorkScrew Wine Bar Owner Basha Quilici long dreamed of opening a wine bar, especially after designing them for clients. Petaluma’s welcoming atmosphere inspired her to create a bar of her own with a European vibe. CorkScrew is nestled in the charming cobblestoned pedestrian walkway where one end of Western Avenue meets the bustling boulevard and the river, and it offers both indoor and open air seating. Quilici takes pride in the variety of fine wines and beers offered and in food prepared from locally sourced ingredients and vendors such as Full Circle Bakery, Sonoma Brinery and our area’s treasured artisan cheesemakers. There is live music on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Every fourth Thursday of the month, Corkscrew offers its Sunset Winemaker Series with thematic wine tastings or featured winemakers. Photo: Geneva Anderson

For Taste, CorkScrew will serve Vegan Avocado Coconut Toasts ─avocado & toasted unsweetened coconut with red pepper flakes on Full Circle Bakery baguette. The avocado toast pairs very nicely with their white tap wine, an unfiltered and unfined Sauvignon blanc. Photo: Geneva Anderson

For Taste, CorkScrew will serve Vegan Avocado Coconut Toasts ─avocado & toasted unsweetened coconut with red pepper flakes on Full Circle Bakery baguette. The avocado toast pairs very nicely with their white tap wine, an unfiltered and unfined Sauvignon blanc. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Taste of Petaluma Details:

The 11th Annual Taste of Petaluma is Saturday, August 20, 2016 from 11:30 AM to 4 PM.  Ticket packages are $40 and consist of 10 tasting tickets, good for 1 taste each.  Tickets can also be purchased on the day of the event from 10:30 AM onwards at Helen Putnam Plaza.  Only 1500 tickets will be sold.  Advance Tickets can be purchased online here (with surcharge) and must be picked up on the day of the event.  Advance tickets can be purchased in person until Friday, August 19, 3 p.m. at the following venues in Petaluma—Blush Collections (117 Kentucky Street), Cinnabar Theater (333 Petaluma Blvd. North), Gallery One (209 Western Ave.), and Velvet Ice Collections (140 2nd Street, Theater Square).  All Advance tickets need to be picked up at WILL CALL at Helen Putnam Plaza (129 Petaluma Blvd. North) after 10:30 AM on the day of the event.

All participants receive a plastic wine glass.  You can purchase more tickets throughout the day for $4 each.

Parking Alert: Parking downtown is 2 hours.   Just a couple blocks out of downtown there are no restrictions.   The Theater Square garage has unlimited, free parking.   The Keller St. garage is 4 hours, except for the top floor which is 10 hours.  Parking tickets are $50. Be forewarned and read the signs.  

August 14, 2016 Posted by | Food, Theater, Theatre | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The 19th Sonoma International Film Festival─a feel-great extravaganza of film, food, wine and sprits─starts Wednesday in wonderful Sonoma

The 19th Sonoma International Film Festival, March 30-April 3, 2016, includes three films shot in Cuba. Bob Yari’s “Papa Hemingway in Cuba” (2015) covers Hemingway’s chaotic life on the island and his friendship with young Miami Herald journalist Denne Bart Petitclerc, who befriended Hemingway and his wife, Mary Welsh Hemingway, in the 1950’s. The film premiered at this year’s Festival of New Latin American Cinema in Havana and was the first American production shot on the island since the trade embargo was imposed in 1960. The late Petitclerc was a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle and lived in Sonoma. Adrian Sparks is brilliant as Hemingway, capturing the vulnerability under the rage and bluster of this great genius in his last years. Image: courtesy HIFF

The 19th Sonoma International Film Festival, March 30-April 3, 2016, includes three films shot in Cuba. Bob Yari’s “Papa Hemingway in Cuba” (2015) covers Hemingway’s chaotic life on the island and his friendship with young Miami Herald journalist Denne Bart Petitclerc, who befriended Hemingway and his wife, Mary Welsh Hemingway, in the 1950’s. The film premiered at this year’s Festival of New Latin American Cinema in Havana and was the first American production shot on the island since the trade embargo was imposed in 1960. The late Petitclerc was a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle and lived in Sonoma. Adrian Sparks is brilliant as Hemingway, capturing the vulnerability under the rage and bluster of this great genius in his last years. Image: courtesy HIFF

The 19th Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF) kicks off tonight at the historic Sebastiani Theatre with Norwegian director Joachim Tier’s family drama, Louder Than Bombs (2015) and a live “vertical dance performance” with members of the dynamic Bandaloop dance group performing choreographed moves from ropes on the Sebastiani’s roof.   Over the next 5 nights and 4 days, the festival will present over 100 films from two dozen countries and over 200 filmmakers from around the globe will attend.  Among this year’s treasures are three exciting films shot in Cuba whose stories are bound to inspire a trip to this delightful island before the big Western chain hotels devour the beach space and those beloved’57 Chevys are replaced with Toyotas.  One of these is the late journalist Denne Bart Petitclerc’s remarkable Papa Hemingway in Cuba, the first American production shot in Cuba since the 1960 trade embargo. This is the story of Hemingway and his experiences in Cuba, where he lived with his fourth wife, Mary, as told through the eyes Petitclerc when he was a young reporter at the Miami Herald.  And food!  Complementing its diverse and truly international program of independent cinema, SIFF offers a unique blend of world-class cuisine from local artisans and exceptional wine from Sonoma vintners, making for an epicurean experience few film festivals in the world can match. This year, SIFF is offering a complementary tasting and pairing along with its two screenings of Cooking Up a Tribute which takes us on globe-trotting road trip with the fabled Catalonian eatery El Celler de Can Roca. Browse the program and then pounce─a limited number of $15 tickets are available for pre-purchase online for all films.

ARThound’s top picks for films and events─

 Viva

Héctor Medina plays Jesus, a young gay man who discovers the only time he is free from life’s burden is when he is on stage and performing as “Viva,” his mesmerizing alter ego. Image: HIFF

Cuban actor Héctor Medina plays Jesus, a young gay man who discovers the only time he is free from life’s burdens is when he is on stage and performing as “Viva,” his mesmerizing alter ego. Image: HIFF

You’d never guess that Viva, a touching portrayal of a young gay Cuban man’s struggle to find himself, was the work of Irish director Paddy Breathnach.  Directed and shot in Havana, with some very heavy-lifting from Cuban actors Héctor Medina and Jorge Perugorría, this beautiful story captures the yearning of Jesus (Medina), a young gay hairdresser working at a Havana nightclub for drag queens, to step out on stage and perform as a female. Encouraged by his mentor, Mama (Luis Alberto García), Jesus finally gets his opportunity to perform and it awakens sometime vital within.  But when his estranged father Angel (Jorge Perugorría) abruptly reenters his life, his world is quickly turned upside down.  As father and son tussle over their opposing expectations of each other, Viva morphs into a love story with the two men struggling to understand each other and to reconcile as a family.  The drama, Ireland’s Oscar submission for Best foreign Language Film this year, also paints a rich portrait of street life in Havana and the divide between those Cubans who are embracing the coming changes and those who are battling to survive.  (Screens: Thursday, March 31, 9:15 PM and Saturday, April 2, 2:15 PM, both at Sebastiani Theatre)

Papa Hemingway in Havana

Giovanni Ribisi plays Miami Herald cub journalist Denne Bart Petitclerc, who finds a father figure in Ernest Hemingway in “Papa Hemingway in Cuba.” Petitclerc becomes incensed when he reads a review asserting that the only contribution that Hemingway made to the English language was one short sentence. He writes Hemingway in Havana to tell him that he had been inspired greatly by his writing and the letter leads to a great friendship between Petitclerc and the aging writer. Image: HIFF

Giovanni Ribisi plays Miami Herald cub journalist Denne Bart Petitclerc, who finds a father figure in Ernest Hemingway in “Papa Hemingway in Cuba.” Petitclerc becomes incensed when he reads a review asserting that the only contribution that Hemingway made to the English language was one short sentence. He writes Hemingway in Havana to tell him that he had been inspired greatly by his writing and the letter leads to a great friendship between Petitclerc and the aging writer. Image: HIFF

Bob Yari’s vital film tells the fabled story of Hemingway in Cuba through the eyes of the late journalist Denne Bart Petitclerc (Giovanni Ribisi), a former San Francisco Chronicle reporter and Sonoma resident. Papa’s backstory was long and difficult because the film was created during the embargo.  It took Yari two years to convince the US State Department and US Treasury to make an exception and he had to agree to a $100,000 spending limit for the cast and crew –unheard of for a Hollywood production.  On the Cuban side, Yari was required to submit the script to the government in Havana.  In addition to a fiery story that profiles two gifted writers who bond over fishing, the film features a stand-out performance by Joely Richardson who plays Hemingway’s fourth wife, Mary Welsh Hemingway.  The drama was shot in Hemingway’s home Finca Vigia and locations throughout Cuba including La Floridita and Ambos Mundos Hotel. (Screens: Thursday, 3/31 6:30 PM, Sebastiani Theatre and Saturday, April 2, 2:30 PM at Veterans Hall I)

Cooking Up a Tribute / A Taste of Film:

Joan, Josep and Jordi Roca, owners of Girona’s famed El Celler de Can Roca, are the subject of “Cooking Up A Tribute,” a documentary by Luis Gonzalez and Andrea Gomez that screens twice at SIFF 19. Every year the festival outdoes itself with food, wine and spirits. This year, filmgoers will receive a complementary glass of JCB by Jean-Charles Boisset’s French sparkling No. 69 Crémant de Bourgogne with a carefully curated food tasting, which will bring the aromas and flavors of this food documentary to life. Image: SIFF

Joan, Josep and Jordi Roca, owners of Girona’s famed El Celler de Can Roca and the subject of “Cooking Up A Tribute.” Every year, SIFF outdoes itself with food, wine and spirits. This year, filmgoers will receive a complementary glass of JCB by Jean-Charles Boisset’s French sparkling No. 69 Crémant de Bourgogne with a carefully curated food tasting, which will bring the aromas and flavors of this food documentary to life. Image: SIFF

The documentary Cooking Up a Tribute follows the famed Catalonian eatery El Celler de Can Roca (Girona, Spain) as it boldly closes up shop and embarks on a five week global road tour─from Texas to Mexico to Colombia and Peru. The idea is to improvise with local ingredients to create unique tasting menus for each locale. Opened in 1986 by the Roca brothers, Joan, Josep and Jordi, El Celler de Can Roca holds three Michelin stars.  In 2013 and 2015, it was named the best restaurant in the world by Restaurant magazine.  Perhaps the best footage in this ambitious doc is shot tagging along with renowned sommelier/maitre d’ Josep Roca on a fascinating pre-exploratory journey where he nails down the places his team will visit.  Here’s your chance to watch agave being smoked to produce mescal in Oaxaca and to explore the seemingly infinite number of gorgeous Peruvian potatoes with names like “Bull’s Blood” and “Yellow Egg Yolk.” Free Food, Wine:  The festival’s Premiere Sponsor, Celebrity Cruises, will activate their onboard “A Taste of Film” multisensory experience at both film screenings and  filmgoers will receive a glass of JCB by Jean-Charles Boisset’s French sparkling No. 69 Crémant de Bourgogne with a carefully curated food tasting, which will bring the aromas and flavors of the food documentary to life. (83 min, 2015) (Screens Fri, April 1, 2:30 PM at Vintage House and Sunday, April 3, 3 PM at Vintage House with complimentary drink and tastings at the film.)

Gordon Getty: There will be Music

Gorden Getty will attend the Friday screening of Peter Rosen’s documentary “Gordon Getty: There will be Music,” at the 19th Sonoma International Film Festival. Photo: courtesy Chicago Classical Review

Gorden Getty will attend the Friday screening of Peter Rosen’s documentary “Gordon Getty: There will be Music,” at the 19th Sonoma International Film Festival. Photo: courtesy Chicago Classical Review

At 82, billionaire American composer Gordon Getty, industrialist  J. Paul Getty’s son from his fifth marriage, remains a dedicated music creator, economic theorist, vintner, venture capitalist, philanthropist and longtime supporter of our beloved San Francisco Symphony.  When your name is Getty, is it a help or hindrance being accepted as a serious composer?  Seasoned director Peter Rosen, who has produced and directed over 100 full-length films and television programs on the luminaries of the art world, captures Getty, the musician, at work and in candid conversation with fellow composer and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas about his creative process and vision.  He even captures a few of Getty’s endearing expletives─“Jeepers creepers!” and “Holy flying mackerel.”  Schooled at San Francisco’s Conservatory for Music in the early 1960’s, Getty studied music theory with Sol Joseph.  His business career and responsibilities as head of the Getty Foundation impinged on his time for composition and it wasn’t until the 1980s when Getty published his first work, The White Election, a song cycle on Emily Dickinson poems.  He’s actually spent decades of his life carefully working and honing his music and his oeuvre includes “Joan and the Bells,” “Plump Jack,” “Usher House,” “Poor Peter,” “Four Dickinson Songs,” “The White Election” and more─pieces that have been performed all over the world. (2015, 68 min) Screens Friday, April 1, 5:30 PM, Vintage House (Getty will be present) and Saturday, April 2, Andrews Hall, 2:30 PM

The Messenger:

The Indigo Bunting, a small songbird in the Cardinal family, sings with gusto. The male is all blue and looks like a slice of sky with wings. The plight of songbirds is the subject of Su Rynard’s documentary, “The Messenger,” which screens twice at the SIFF 19. Image: Su Rynard

The Indigo Bunting, a small songbird in the Cardinal family, sings with gusto. The male is all blue and looks like a slice of sky with wings. The plight of songbirds is the subject of Su Rynard’s documentary, “The Messenger,” which screens twice at the SIFF 19. Image: Su Rynard

The Messenger:  Making a documentary is a labor of love that often takes years to realize. To understand what was happening with global populations of songbirds, Canadian director Su Rynard and her team followed songbirds on three different continents through several seasons. The message of her riveting documentary is urgent─songbirds are disappearing and many species are in serious decline.  Changes in our world have brought utter catastrophe to theirs and soon they will be gone.  Each year, twice a year, songbirds embark on a dangerous and difficult migratory journey.  Every species has its own story to tell but the resounding commonality is that songbirds are in danger.  Whose song will we hear when they are gone?   The film is full of gorgeous shots of birds and clips of bird songs. (2015, 90 min) (Screens: Friday, April 1, 2:30 PM at Andrews Hall and Sunday, April 3, 9:30 AM at Vintage House)

ARThound’s previous festival coverage:

The 19th Sonoma International Film Festival, March 30-April 3, 2016, will honor Meg Ryan who will screen her new film “Ithaca”

Details: The 19th Sonoma International Film Festival starts Wednesday, March 30 and runs through Sunday, April 2, 2016.  To enjoy guaranteed access to all films, themed nightly parties in SIFF Village’s Backlot Tent, after parties, receptions, and industry events and panels, buy all inclusive passes online at sonomafilmfest.org.   A limited number of $15 tickets are available for each film screening too and these will sell out rapidly, so purchase these in advance online at sonomafilmfest.org.

March 30, 2016 Posted by | Classical Music, Film, Food, Opera | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 19th Sonoma International Film Festival, March 30-April 3, 2016, will honor Meg Ryan who will screen her new film “Ithaca”

Meg Ryan, Golden Globe nominated actor and director, will receive the Sonoma Salute Award at the 19th Sonoma International Film Festival (March 30-April 30, 2016). The tribute will be presented on March 31 with a program that includes an on-stage conversation with Ryan and the screening of her new family drama, “Ithaca,” her directorial debut. Image: SIFF

Meg Ryan, Golden Globe nominated actor and director, will receive the Sonoma Salute Award at the 19th Sonoma International Film Festival (March 30-April 30, 2016). The tribute will be presented on March 31 with a program that includes an on-stage conversation with Ryan and the screening of her new family drama, “Ithaca,” her directorial debut. Image: SIFF

The Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF 19), March 30-April 3, 2016, a Wine Country favorite among film and wine lovers, hasn’t released its full schedule yet but it has just announced that Meg Ryan, the beloved Golden Globe nominated actor and director will be honored with the festival’s Sonoma Salute Award on Thursday, March 31 at the historic Sebastiani Theatre on the plaza.  The presentation will follow a special screening of Ryan’s new film Ithaca and an on stage conversation moderated by filmmaker Elliot Koteck who also publishes the Association of Film Commissioners’ twice annual Beyond Cinema magazine.

Ithaca is Ryan’s directorial film debut and the drama is an adaptation of William Saroyan’s 1943 novel, The Human Comedy. After taking a break from acting for the past six years, the film reunites Ryan with Tom Hanks for the fourth time, after cherished performances in You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle, and Joe Versus the Volcano co-star.  In this drama, Ryan plays a widowed mother, while Hanks plays a very small role.  First filmed in 1943 under the name of The Human Comedy, Ryan’s Ithaca is a “World War II coming-of-age drama about Homer, a young telegram messenger in a small town and looks after his widowed mother while his brother is away at war .  The film was shot along historical back road sites in Virginia and, along with Ryan and Hanks, it features Alex Neustaedter, Sam Shepard, Hamish Linklater, and Ryan’s son, Jack Quaid, who plays Marcus the older brother serving in the war.  The music is by John Mellencamp.

Joachim Tier’s drama, “Louder Than Bombs” (2015), opens the 19th Sonoma International Film Festival on Wednesday, March 30, at the Sebastiani Theatre.

Joachim Tier’s drama, “Louder Than Bombs” (2015), opens the 19th Sonoma International Film Festival on Wednesday, March 30, at the Sebastiani Theatre.

Norwegian director Joachim Tier’s family drama, Louder Than Bombs (2015), opens the festival on Wednesday, March 30 at the Sebastiani.  A smash at last year’s Cannes Film Festival will, the drama stars Isabelle Hupert, Jesse Eisenberg, Gabriel Byrne and David Strathairn and explores how a widower and his two adult sons cope with the recent death of the wife and mother (Hupert), a war photographer.  The opening night festivities will also feature a live “vertical dance performance” with members of the dynamic Bandaloop dance group gracefully performing choreographed moves from ropes on the Sebastiani’s roof.

Details: The 19th Sonoma International Film Festival starts March 30 and runs through April 2, 2016.  Buy passes online now at sonomafilmfest.org.

March 8, 2016 Posted by | Film, Food | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cheesemaking in Poland 7,500 years ago: Princeton Archaeologist, Dr. Peter Bogucki tells the story with archaeology, analytical chemistry and genetics at SRJC this Sunday, March 6, 2016

Early in his career, Princeton Archeaologist, Dr. Peter Bogucki based a ground-breaking theory on the development of Western civilization on cheesemaking and ancient chards of pottery he unearthed in Northern Poland. It took thirty years for developments in modern biochemistry to prove him right. Photo: Frank Wojciechowski

Early in his career, Princeton Archaeologist, Dr. Peter Bogucki based a ground-breaking theory about the development of Western Civilization on cheesemaking and ancient chards of pottery he unearthed in Northern Poland. It took thirty years for developments in modern biochemistry to prove him right. Photo: Frank Wojciechowski

We all know that archaeology entails a great deal of puzzle solving. In 1981, Princeton Archaeologist Peter Bogucki was a key player on an international team of archaeologists investigating ancient Polish agricultural sites when he revisited a site in the Kuyavia region of Northern Poland.  The site yielded some roughly 7,000 year-old hole-pierced “potsherds”—prehistoric pottery fragments.  Later, when Bogucki (pronounced bow-good’-ski) was back in the States visiting a friend in Vermont, he examined some 19th century sieve-like ceramics used in cheesemaking that were somehow similar.  The spark was lit!  On the drive home, it hit him.  Could it be that those shreds of perforated pottery, that had been unearthed for years at Neolithic farming sites in northern Poland, were evidence of ancient cheesemaking?   In 1984, he revealed his theory in the Oxford Journal of Archaeology.  The hitch was that it was impossible to prove that that the bits of pottery were the remains of a cheesemaker rather some other type of strainer.

It would take some of the most cutting edge developments in biochemistry—and 30 years—until researchers at the University of Bristol used a new type of test to measure ancient molecular remnants embedded within the pottery.  When evidence of bovine dairy lipids were found, Bogucki’s hypothesis was finally confirmed and the scientific floodgates were opened.

The presence of these bovine milk byproducts in the potsherds not only provided evidence that perforated pots were used to separate cheese curds from whey, it also explains how Neolithic Europeans, who were generally unable to digest lactose, were able to use milk for food—the whey retains the bulk of the lactose in milk, allowing the farmers to eat the low-lactose cheese.  This discovery, which highlights the interplay between human cultural development and biological evolution, was published in the scientific journal Nature in December 2012 and has attracted worldwide attention.

Science is the art of refinement and enlightenment.  The transformation of milk to a more tolerable product, cheese, for the lactose-intolerant may have helped promote dairying among the first farmers in Europe, Bogucki postulated.  Richard Evershed and his team at the University of Bristol, who were in close contact with Bogucki, further postulated that the presence of dairying over several generations may have set in motion a biological change in Europeans—lactase persistence—retaining the lactase enzyme, which breaks down lactose, well into adulthood, which changed Western digestive capabilities.  The discovery that the modern European digestive system is partly a legacy of Neolithic dairy farming practices is in turn fueling new research.

A clay fragment, or potsherd, found to be early cheese-making equipment. (Mélanie Salque et al, Nature)

A clay fragment, or potsherd, found to be early cheese-making equipment. (Mélanie Salque et al, Nature)

This Sunday, at 4 p.m., Bogucki will give the Robert Braidwood lecture, The Archaeology of Cheese: Cattle, Strainers, Chemistry, and Genes, at the Petaluma campus of SRJC in Ellis Auditorium (Room PC310).  His talk is free and open to the public.

With the 10th California Artisan Cheese Festival following next weekend (March 18-20), in and around Petaluma’s Sheraton Sonoma County and various cheese country locations, March promises a bounty of cheese-related events. The cheese festival, which focuses on cheese sampling and education, also offers a full day of cheese-related seminars but none of this year’s seminars focus on the history of cheese or offer the depth of science and archaeology that will be covered in Bogucki’s talk.  Click here for ARThound’s coverage.

More on Dr. Peter Bogucki: Currently, Dr. Bogucki is Associate Dean for Undergraduate Affairs at the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Princeton University.  He received his degrees from Harvard University (Ph.D.) and the University of Pennsylvania.  Since 1976 he has studied early farming societies in Europe (ca. 6000 – 3000 BCE), specifically in Poland with excavations at the sites of Brześć Kujawski and Osłonki.  Dr. Bogucki has published extensively, and received numerous honors for his work.

Details: The Archaeology of Cheese: Cattle, Strainers, Chemistry, and Genes is Sunday, March 6 at 4 p.m., Ellis Auditorium, Petaluma campus of SRJC, 680 Sonoma Mountain Parkway Petaluma. The lecture is free but a parking fee is required for all-on campus parking.

March 5, 2016 Posted by | Food | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tickets for the 10th California Artisan Cheese Festival are now on sale: ARThound talks cheese with Judy Groverman Walker, the festival’s executive director

My heart goes to ewe! The 10th California Artisan Cheese Festival has expanded its beloved Farm Tours and will offer tours on both Friday and Saturday and two new tours in the State Capitol Area. These intimate tours are held at various farms and creameries and give visitors a glimpse into the important role of the farmer and where cheese gets its start. Lunch is included and there’s plenty of time to pet and ohhh and ahh the babies as well watch artisan cheese being made. The festival is March 18-20, 2016. Image: courtesy Derrick Story, California Artisan Cheese Festival

My heart goes out to ewe! The 10th California Artisan Cheese Festival is March 18-20, 2016.  The festival has expanded its beloved Farm Tours to both Friday and Saturday and will offer two new tours in the Sacramento Valley area.  These intimate tours are held at various farms and creameries and give visitors a glimpse into the life and important role of the farmer and where and how artisan cheese gets its start. Lunch is included and there’s plenty of time to pet the babies.  Image: courtesy Derrick Story, California Artisan Cheese Festival

 

Love cheese?  A growing number of artisan cheese aficionados travel far and wide to cheese gatherings across the country, but we in the Bay Area don’t have to because Petaluma and its pastoral farmlands are cheese paradise for both producers and consumers.  This March 18-20, 2016, California’s Artisan Cheese Festival, takes place in and around Petaluma’s Sheraton Sonoma County and it’s considered one of the nation’s top, if not the best, cheese festivals.  The festival celebrates its 10th anniversary this year and promise a glorious immersion in all things cheese.  From new small-batch and very rare artisan cheeses to those that have already garnered international recognition, the spotlight is on the vibrant hues, bold aromas, and surprising flavors that make our region’s cheeses so divine.  You’ll meet the local farmers who produce these cheeses and get to “ohh” and “ahhh” and cuddle their kids, lambs and calves.  You’ll have classes with legendary food tzars who will feed you and, in the process, help you drill down on your own personal preferences. You’ll be briefed on the latest trends in pairing artisan cheeses with special foods, boutique wines and artisan brewed beers and ciders.  And what stories you’ll hear!  But unless you register soon, you’ll miss out on the farm tours and the special events this three-day extravaganza has to offer because the festival always sells out.

In honor of its 10th anniversary, the festival will expand its beloved Farm Tours to both Friday and Saturday with two new destinations in the Sacramento area and educational components will be included in every Farm Tour.  A not-to-be-missed 10 Year Anniversary Celebration will be held under the Big Top on Saturday night. For the festival’s full schedule and to buy your tickets ($45 to $135), click here.

ARThound spoke with Judy Groverman Walker, the festival’s executive director, about this year’s festivities.  Judy has been at the helm for the past five years.  Like Arthound, Judy grew up in a 4-H farming family with deep roots in Sonoma County and has had lots of experience with raising and grazing animals as well as understanding the economics of running a dairy and bringing a product to market.  Her transition to a career in designing and promoting food events seems a perfect fit for this Windsor resident who spent most of life in Sonoma County.

Judy Groverman Walker, Executive Director, California Artisan Cheese Festival, March 18-20, 2016. The Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary this year takes place in and around the Sheraton Sonoma County, Petaluma. Cropped photo. Original photo: Derrick Story, photographer California Artisan Cheese Festival

Judy Groverman Walker, Executive Director, California Artisan Cheese Festival, March 18-20, 2016. Cropped photo. Original photo: Derrick Story, photographer California Artisan Cheese Festival

 

This is the 10th anniversary of this very special festival…what’s your history with the festival and how has it changed since you became the executive director?   

Judy Groverman Walker: I’ve been involved since 2012 and, prior to that, I organized a number of local food and wine events—I helped start Kendall Jackson’s Heirloom Tomato Festival and worked with River Valley Winegrowers who used to do Grape to Glass, a three-day event.  The California Artisan Cheese Festival has been growing steadily each year, both in attendees and cheesemakers.  This year, we have 33 artisan cheesemakers already confirmed. This is always a struggle because those who are located further away from the festival are the hardest to pull away for a weekend because, either they’re a small farm and just can’t get away, or it’s just not cost effective.  Most of the cheesemakers are from around the Bay Area.  There’s never been much Southern California representation but, this year, Golden Valley Farm, from Chowchilla, the only sheep dairy in the San Joaquin Valley, will be participating again.  They produce some wonderful Pecorino cheeses that  have the flavor and aroma of various wines.  Last year was their first time at the festival and they participated in a seminar and were at Sunday’s Artisan Cheese Tasting & Marketplace.  Phillip Franco from Sierra Cheese in Compton will participate as a panelist in one of our Farm tours too.  While I’ve been with the festival, I’ve noticed more cheesemakers popping up in proximity to the festival (the Petaluma area) and I think the festival has had something to do with that.

Golden Valley Ubriaco from Golden Valley Farm, Chowchilla. Ubracio means “drunken” in Italian and this Pecorino cheese is aged three months and then covered completely in grape pomace (the post-press pulpy remains) and aged another three months. The result is a Pecorino cheese with the aroma and flavor of Chardonnay. This is also available in Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. Photo: Golden Valley Farm

Golden Valley Ubriaco from Golden Valley Farm, Chowchilla. Ubracio means “drunken” in Italian and this Pecorino cheese is aged three months and then covered completely in grape pomace (the post-press pulpy remains) and aged another three months. The result is a Pecorino cheese with the aroma and flavor of Chardonnay. This is also available in Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. Photo: Golden Valley Farm

 

You were the first festival in the country to offer an extended weekend of artisan cheese-related events. There are more cheese festivals now; what remains unique about your festival?

Judy Groverman Walker:  Because we live in an area that really appreciates fine cheese, you might assume there would be cheese festivals all over the rest of the country too.  Actually, there are just a handful and ours is one of the biggest, the most comprehensive, and the best.  The Great Wisconsin Cheese Festival in Little Chute (three days, early June) and the Vermont Cheesemaker’s Festival (one day, mid-July) are large festivals but don’t have our breadth.  The Oregon Cheese Festival is also very well known but it’s little and just one day and is mainly about sampling.  We give participants the chance to taste cheeses from over 30 artisan cheesemakers, so that’s a lot of variety.  Because we represent California and so many diverse artisan cheesemakers, we maintain a strong education element that reflects and sets trends.  All of this is in one place.  Our farm tours are very special too and we are always working to improve them. They give consumers a chance to see firsthand how the cheeses are made and to meet and pet the goats, sheep and cows and water buffalos and get up close and personal with the farmers and ask questions about the entire process.  These are our most popular events and they start to sell out a couple of days after we put up the announcement.

This year, we’ve added a panel discussion or some sort of education aspect to each tour. We’re seeing a lot of interest in local farmstead ciders right now and they happen to pair wonderfully with cheeses, so we’ve incorporated cider stops into a couple of the farm tours.  Farm Tour C will visit Apple Garden Farm in Tomales and Farm Tour D visits Devoto Orchards in Sebastopol. We realized that some of some of our cheesemakers don’t get enough attention because they are further away, so we added two farm tours that take place in the Sacramento Valley area.  One tour goes North and the other goes South, with stops along the way where participants can meet cheesemakers and find out what they are doing that might be different from what we are doing here.

How do like them apples? Devoto Orchards Cider is a family owned farm and cidery in Sebastopol. Jolie Devoto-Wade and husband, Hunter Wade, tend her family’s orchards, growing over 100 heirloom apple varieties, all dry-farmed and certified organic, and create two lines of artisanal ciders with the nuances of fine wine. Their “Save the Gravenstein” cider salutes the long history (back to 1812) of the once abundant Gravenstein apple, a victim of the region’s vineyard mania. This cider is made from 90% Gravensteins, semi-dry and heavy on the acidity, balanced by caramelized apple and spice notes. It boasts low alcohol content so you won’t get smashed drinking it. Farm Tour D includes lunch at the picturesque Devoto farm, with ample time to tour the orchard and taste their three estate ciders paired with cheeses from Redwood Hill Farm. Image: courtesy Devoto Orchards

How do like them apples? Devoto Orchards Cider is a family-owned farm and cidery in Sebastopol. Jolie Devoto-Wade and husband, Hunter Wade, tend her family’s orchards, growing over 100 heirloom apple varieties, all dry-farmed and certified organic, and create two lines of artisanal ciders with the nuances of fine wine. Their “Save the Gravenstein” cider salutes the long history (back to 1812) of the once abundant Gravenstein apple, a victim of the region’s vineyard mania. This cider is made from 90% Gravensteins, semi-dry and heavy on the acidity, balanced by caramelized apple and spice notes. It boasts low alcohol content so you won’t get smashed drinking it. Farm Tour D includes lunch at the picturesque Devoto farm, with ample time to tour the orchard and taste their three estate ciders paired with cheeses from Redwood Hill Farm. Image: courtesy Devoto Orchards

 

Are there any special plans for your 10th anniversary?

Judy Groverman Walker:  We’re still working out the details but Saturday night will be our 10th anniversary celebration.  We’ve invited restaurants to come in and we’re partnering up cheesemakers with chefs and we’ll have live music and a photo booth and it will be a very fun and festive environment.  Look for more on that in the coming weeks on the festival webpage.

Laura Werlin has written six bestselling, award-winning books on cheese, the first of which, The New American Cheese, published in 2000, set the stage for what is now the American artisan cheese movement. She received the prestigious James Beard award for her 2003 book, The All American Cheese and Wine Book. Over the years, she's remained relevant, humorous and ever passionate about cheese. This year, her Saturday seminar tackles pairing cheese and chocolate. Photo: Derrick Story, California Artisan Cheese Festival

Laura Werlin has written six bestselling, award-winning books on cheese, the first of which, The New American Cheese, published in 2000, set the stage for what is now the American artisan cheese movement. She received the prestigious James Beard award for her 2003 book, The All American Cheese and Wine Book. Over the years, she’s remained relevant, humorous and ever passionate about cheese. This year, her Saturday seminar tackles pairing cheese and chocolate. Photo: Derrick Story, California Artisan Cheese Festival

Laura Werlin's 2015 seminar, "Mac & Cheese Please!" was a hit. Werlin always includes informational placements in her seminars that make it easy for participants to follow and remember the pairings they sampled and liked. Photo: courtesy Derrick Story, California Artisan Cheese Festival

Laura Werlin’s 2015 seminar, “California’s Sheep’s Milk Cheeses (and Wine)” was a hit.  Informational placements are used in most of the festival seminars making it easy for participants to follow and remember the pairings they sampled and liked. Photo: courtesy Derrick Story, California Artisan Cheese Festival

 

Janet Fletcher is the author or co-author of more than 20 books on food, cheese, and wine, including her very popular newsletter Planet Cheese. She resides in Napa Valley but teaches cheese-appreciation and cooking classes around the country. This year, she is teaching the Saturday afternoon pairing seminar “Dubbel Down: Belgian-style Beer and Cheese,” a primer that will introduce the best Belgium-style craft beers made stateside and pair those with their perfect American cheesy partners. Be prepared to be inspired─Fletcher can tease apart the mechanics of flavor and explain the science behind taste like no other. She’s also conducting cheese tasting seminars for Friday’s Farm Tours A & B. Image: courtesy Derrick Story, California Artisan Cheese Festival

Janet Fletcher is the author or co-author of more than 20 books on food, cheese, and wine, including her very popular newsletter Planet Cheese. She resides in Napa Valley but teaches cheese-appreciation and cooking classes around the country. This year, she is teaching the Saturday afternoon pairing seminar “Dubbel Down: Belgian-style Beer and Cheese,” a primer that will introduce the best Belgium-style craft beers made stateside and pair those with their perfect American cheesy partners. Be prepared to be inspired─Fletcher can tease apart the mechanics of flavor and explain the science behind taste like no other. She’s also conducting cheese tasting seminars for Friday’s Farm Tours A & B. Image: courtesy Derrick Story, California Artisan Cheese Festival

 

Any speakers who have proven to be crowd favorites over the years that you invite back again and again?

Judy Groverman Walker:  We include Laura Werlin and Janet Fletcher every year because they are such experts and such great communicators and teachers.  This year, they will also participate in the farm tours.   Laura will do a seminar with some California’s instrumental cheesemakers (Farm Tour C) and she’ll also do a Saturday afternoon seminar, ‘Farm to Table, Bean to Bar’ on pairing cheese and chocolate, which is selling very well.

Janet Fletcher, who has spent years and year working with cheese, will do a mixed milk cheese tasting seminar that we’ve incorporated into Farm tours A and B) and will lead a Saturday afternoon pairing seminar,  ‘Dubbel Down: Belgian-style Beer and Cheese’ which is a primer on Belgian style beers made in the U.S. and American artisan cheeses.

Chef, author and teacher, John Ash, has been involved with the festival since it began and has done wonderful seminars and cooking demos and has overseen some of our dinners and carried out the live festival broadcast with KSRO.  This will be the first year he’s doing the Sunday morning brunch which has California cheese at every course and features our region’s sparkling wines.  He’ll also do a live cooking demonstration and I’m very excited about that.

You offer a sake and cheese pairing seminar on Saturday afternoon with Chef Tominaga of Hana and sommelier Robert Bath…is this the newest trend?

Judy Groverman Walker:  We’ve had some of our cheesemakers experimenting with sake and that’s why we’re giving it a try.  I’ve not heard that this is trending but after the festival there may be a lot more interest.  And, of course, if sous chefs believe it can work, then it will be in restaurants and take off.  It’s such an odd combination but we feel it will have appeal.  I wish I could go because it’s something I know very little about.

For someone who has one day to spend at the festival, what do you recommend?

Judy Groverman Walker:  If you like cheese and you’re a restaurant person and you want your cheese prepared into something, then Saturday evening’s special California Cheesin’ event is for you because chefs from leading restaurants are going to use cheese in very creative and diverse dishes.  If you just want pure cheese sampling then Friday night’s Cheesemongers’ Duel will offer cheeses that famous cheesemongers have turned into “the best bite” and Sunday’s Artisan Cheese Tasting and Marketplace is straight cheese in its raw form.

Sunday’s Tasting Tent & Marketplace is the festival’s bustling grand finale. The event brings together nearly 100 artisan cheesemakers, winemakers, brewers, chefs and producers who sample and sell their products directly to attendees. Guests can sample the next wave of local, hand-crafted cheeses, boutique wines and artisan-brewed beers as well as cheese products and haute accompaniments. Photo: courtesy Scott McDaniel, California Artisan Cheese Festival

Sunday’s Tasting Tent & Marketplace is the festival’s bustling grand finale. The event brings together nearly 100 artisan cheesemakers, winemakers, brewers, chefs and producers who sample and sell their products directly to attendees. Guests can sample the next wave of local, hand-crafted cheeses, boutique wines and artisan-brewed beers as well as cheese products and haute accompaniments. Photo: courtesy Derrick Story, California Artisan Cheese Festival

 

What is the “value” in spending $45 to enter Sunday’s tasting tent?

Judy Groverman Walker:  We give you the opportunity to try all these cheeses and include all all the beer, wine and cider you can drink, along with live entertainment.  You also get an insulated insulate shopping, an ice pack and a wine glass. You are face to face with the actual cheesemakers, talking cheese and can come away with a lot of information.  In between tastes, you can watch live demonstrations conducted by local chefs and cheese experts on topics like how to put together the perfect cheese board for a party.  There are lots of cheese accessories too—cheeseboards, cheese knives—and local high-end gourmet accompaniments like small batch jams, tapenades, olive oils, and the latest artisan whole grain crackers.  You’re not going to see jewelry makers because we keep it cheese-related. Lots of people use this as a head-start on holiday shopping and entertaining too.  The newest CA artisan cheese spreads are showcased too.  This year, I’m excited about Chevoo (pronounced SHAY-voo), run by an Australian couple who live in Sonoma.  They’ve taken fresh Cyprus Grove goat curd and put it into an olive oil base that has been infused with different herbs.  This is brand new.  The tasting tent is the place to try all of these new gourmet products.

We have artisan cheesemakers from outside our area who want to participate but we try to limit it to California. We let Beehive Cheese (hand-rubbed Barely Buzzed, Teahive, Seahive) attend because they’re from Northern Utah and there’s no other cheese organization they can associate with and we are the closest festival they can attend.  And we also let Willapa Hills come down from Southwest Washington come too.  They started out with just sheep’s milk cheese and now have expanded into sheep/cow milk blends (Two-faced Blue, Ewe Old Cow).

Chevoo CDP&G Jar Single

Sunday’s Tasting Tent & Marketplace at the 10th Artisan Cheese Festival brings together nearly 100 artisan cheesemakers, winemakers, brewers, chefs and producers who sample and sell their products directly to attendees. Just launched in October, CHEVOO is an exquisite combination of hand-blended chèvre marinated in extra virgin olive oil that has been infused with unique combinations of spices, herbs, chiles and pollens. You can slather it on pretty much anything, melt it, or crumble the chèvre over your favorite dish and toss with the infused oil. The Sonoma-based company is run Gerard and Susan Tuck, Aussies who relocated. They use Cypress Grove Chevre and California Olive Oil. Three blends to date: CHEVOO Smoked Sea Salt & Rosemary, CHEVOO California Dill Pollen & Garlic, and CHEVOO Aleppo-Urfa Chili & Lemon. Photo: courtesy CHEVOO

Sunday’s Tasting Tent & Marketplace is the place to scout all that’s new in cheese. Just launched in October, CHEVOO is an exquisite combination of hand-blended chèvre marinated in extra virgin olive oil infused with unique combinations of spices, herbs, chiles and pollens. You can slather it, melt it, or crumble the chèvre over your favorite dish and toss with the infused oil. The Sonoma-based company is run by Gerard and Susan Tuck. They use Cypress Grove Chevre and California Olive Oil. Three blends to date: CHEVOO Smoked Sea Salt & Rosemary, CHEVOO California Dill Pollen & Garlic, and CHEVOO Aleppo-Urfa Chili & Lemon. Photo: courtesy CHEVOO

Details:  California’s 10th Artisan Cheese Festival is March 18-20, 2016 at the Sheraton Sonoma County in Petaluma and various cheese country locations.  Tickets for all festival events are sold separately and all events take place, rain or shine.  Click here to go to Eventbrite to purchase tickets.

January 12, 2016 Posted by | Food | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Love Lavender? Mataznas Creek Winery’s 19th annual “Days of Wine and Lavender” is Saturday, June 27, 2015

Matanzas Creek Winery’s Lavender garden features roughly 5,000 lavender plants that have flourished in the estate’s magic terroir.  Spectacular terraced rows of the cultivars “Grosso” and “Provence” line the winery’s entrance and are the basis of its lavender product line.  Guests at “Days of Wine and Lavender” stroll the fragrant gardens in dazzling full bloom.  The relaxing afternoon includes sampling the winery’s crisp sauvignon blancs, luxurious chardonnays and dazzling pinots and its marvelous feast of lavender inspired cuisine.

Matanzas Creek Winery’s Lavender garden features roughly 5,000 lavender plants that have flourished in the estate’s magic terroir. Spectacular terraced rows of the cultivars “Grosso” and “Provence” line the winery’s entrance and are the basis of its lavender product line. Guests at “Days of Wine and Lavender” stroll the fragrant gardens in dazzling full bloom. The relaxing afternoon includes sampling the winery’s crisp sauvignon blancs, luxurious chardonnays and dazzling pinots and its marvelous feast of lavender inspired cuisine.  This year’s celebration is Saturday, June 27, 2105, noon to 4 PM.

Nestled between three mountain peaks in Sonoma County’s bucolic Bennett Valley, the Matanzas Creek Winery and vineyard is home to over three acres of lavender gardens.  Planted in 1991 and nurtured by the vineyard’s gardeners, these spectacular plants frame the entrance to the winery and are now in full bloom. On Saturday, June 27, 2015, from noon to 4 PM, Matanzas Creek celebrates its bounty with its festive 19th Annual Days of Wine & Lavender.  The wonderful afternoon includes Matanzas Creek’s special wines, including its latest releases of crisp, aromatic Bennett Valley Chardonnay and its exclusive, hedonistic, Journey label which includes its 2013 Journey Sauvignon Blanc and 2013 Bennett Valley Pinot Noir which has hints of rose petals.  Attendance is limited at this special gathering, so guests never feel overcrowded as they stroll the expansive property, taking in the vineyards and the vibrant bust of purple.  The healing fragrance of lavender wafts through the air while the bees buzz.  Live music keeps the tempo celebratory as guests partake of special food and wine pairings to their heart’s content.  Many of these creative gourmet delights are lavender themed.

There are photo booths, opportunities to paint in the lavender fields or just zone out in comfy lounge chairs and take in the view. Not only do I love this event for the food and wine, but it’s wonderful to stock up on Matanzas Creek’s lavender bath and body products which are made with the finest ingredients and beautifully packaged.  The concentration/staying power of their fragrance and nurturing qualities are evident immediately and these products make wonderful gifts.  Don’t miss the opportunity to bliss out by spritzing yourself with their amazing Lavender Mist.  A personal favorite, used by all members of our household, is Matanzas Creek Lavender Blend After Shave Lotion which has warm spicy notes and leaves your skin as smooth as silk.

Good Deeds: The event benefits the Ceres Community Project, a non-profit that involves local teens as gardeners or chefs.  Ceres aims to bring 88,000 nutrient-rich meals to those with serious illnesses or to those in need in Sonoma and Marin counties this year.  For more information about Ceres and its wonderful classes, visit http://www.ceresproject.org/.

Details:  Saturday June 27th, noon to 4 p.m. Tickets: $95 General Public and $75 Wine Club members.  Advance ticket purchase is essential as the festival sells out in advance each year.  To purchase tickets, click here. Matanzas Creek Winery is located at 6097 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa, CA  95404   For more information, phone: 800 590-6464

June 19, 2015 Posted by | Food | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 18th Sonoma International Film Festival starts Wednesday—the art line-up is wonderful

An interior view of artists’ Leda Levant and Michael Kahn’s sculptural home, “Eliphante” in Cornville, Arizona (red rock country near Sedona).  The house is featured in Don Freeman’s “Art House,” screening twice at the 18th Sonoma International Film Festival (March 25-29, 2015).  The gorgeously shot documentary explores the handmade homes crafted by and lived in by eleven American artists.  Levant and Kahn created their home over 28 years, entirely out of re-purposed materials and it evolved naturally form their mutual love of stone, wood, pottery and stained glass.  An elephant’s trunk-like entrance to one of the structures gave rise to the name.   They began building their magical home when they first arrived in Arizona, even though they did not yet own the property.

An interior view of artists’ Leda Levant and Michael Kahn’s sculptural home, “Eliphante,” in Cornville, Arizona (red rock country near Sedona). The house is featured in Don Freeman’s “Art House,” screening twice at the 18th Sonoma International Film Festival (March 25-29, 2015). The gorgeously shot documentary explores the handmade homes crafted by and lived in by eleven American artists. Artists Levant and Kahn created their home over 28 years, entirely out of re-purposed materials and it evolved from their mutual love of stone, wood, pottery and stained glass. An elephant’s trunk-like entrance to one of the structures gave rise to the name. They began building their magical home when they first arrived in Arizona, even though they did not yet own the property. The stories told in the film are as artful as the D.I.Y. houses. Commentary from cultural critic Alastair Gordon and an original score by Jamie Rudolph evoke the spiritual dimension of the sites and argue the case that the intuitive vision of artists can create great architecture.

The 18th Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF) starts Wednesday and will screen over 90 films from more than two dozen countries over 5 nights and 4 days.  The big nights have been well-covered in the media.  Among the treasures that you might not have yet discovered are several films, each an artwork in itself, on artists and designers, some virtually unknown, whose gift for creative expression will inspire and delight.  $15 tickets are available for pre-purchase online for all of the films mentioned below.  Victor Mancilla’s documentary, ART and Revolutions, about Mexico’s famed artist-engraver, José Guasalupe Posada, will screens Saturday at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, will have an accompanying art exhibition and a lively post-screening Q& A with the director and Jim Nikas, the collector.  The opening night film, Alan Rickman’s  A Little Chaos, which has Kate Winslet playing an unorthodox thinking widow hired to design part of the gardens at Versailles, has also peaked my interest.  I love how  Winslet embodies strength on scene and I’m intrigued with garden design, which poses interesting questions, artistic and otherwise.  What is nature, how do we fit into it and how should we shape it when we can both physically and visually?  Some of these fascinating issues are practical and others philosophical but we can only hope that Winslet’s Sabine de Barra tackles them substantively as she (predictably) snuggles up with the court’s renowned landscape architect artist André Le Notre (Matthias Schoenaerts) to design one of the most exquisite gardens ever conceived.

Now, on to the art line up—

One of two known images of Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913), who is pictured with his son.  Posada is the subject of Director Victor Mancilla’s documentary “Searching for Posada: ART and Revolutions,” which screens Saturday at the Sonoma International Film Festival.  Photo: courtesy: Jim Nikas

One of two known images of Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913), who is pictured with his son. Posada is the subject of Director Victor Mancilla’s documentary “Searching for Posada: ART and Revolutions,” which screens Saturday at the Sonoma International Film Festival. Photo: courtesy: Jim Nikas

Searching for Posada: ART and Revolutions  (Mexico/USA, 2014, 41 minutes)  Called a “revolutionary artist of the people” and hailed as “the Goya of Mexico” and yet virtually unknown, Mexican artist and printmaker José Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913) created a vast portfolio of important work.  Mexican director Victor Mancilla (201 Squadron: The Forgotten Eagles (2009) Best Historical Documentary award, Smithsonian Institution) tells Posada’s story through Jim Nikas (of Marin), an obsessed American collector of Posada’s works.  Nikas, who has the largest collection of Posada’s in the U.S., embarks on a passionate search for the truth about the artist.  Traveling to the Posada’s hometown of Aguascalientes, to Leon and then Mexico City, Nikas meets art historians and encounters things that would have amazed even the artist Posada himself, including  Fidel Castro’s pajamas and Che Guevera’s backpack.  Three-and-a-half years in the making, ART and Revolutions© was shot on location in Mexico and features music by pianist Natasha Marin, wife of actor and avid Chicano Art collector Cheech Marin. (Screens:  Saturday, March 28, 5 PM, Sonoma Valley of Art, $15 tickets) There is a post-screening Q & A with the director and Jim Nikas and an Exhibition of Posada’s original artwork from the collection of the Posada Art Foundation.

The inside of the Martinez printshop in the colonial town of San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico looks as if it might have been used by José Guadalupe Posada and Manuel Manilla, 20 years his senior, with whom he worked in Mexico City.  In fact, the print shop not only looks that way but the printers bore such a striking resemblance to Posada and Manilla that “Searching for Posada” Director Victor Mancilla and Producer Jim Nikas asked if they would allow a re-creation of Posada's printshop using their shop. They agreed. The prints they are holding are original from the Brady Nikas Collection.  Photo: Jim Nikas

The inside of the Martinez printshop in the colonial town of San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico looks as if it might have been used by José Guadalupe Posada and Manuel Manilla, 20 years his senior, with whom he worked in Mexico City. In fact, the print shop not only looks that way but the printers bore such a striking resemblance to Posada and Manilla that “Searching for Posada” Director Victor Mancilla and Producer Jim Nikas asked if they would allow a re-creation of Posada’s printshop using their shop. They agreed. The prints they are holding are original from the Brady Nikas Collection. Photo: Jim Nikas

 

Art House—(USA, 90 min) Photographer Don Freeman’s masterful documentary Art House explores the handmade homes crafted by and lived in by eleven American—Frederic Church, Russel Wright, George Nakashima, Raoul Hague, Costantino Nivola, Paolo Soleri, Henry Chapman Mercer, Wharton Esherick, Henry Varnum Poor, Byrdcliffe Arts Colony, and Eliphante.  Embracing the synergy of curves, natural materials and muted light, each glorious home reflects its creator’s distinctive voice and practice as it merges with architecture.  An anthem to creative souls who follow their hearts, this inspirational and gorgeously shot doc makes the sleek pages of Architectural Digest and Dwell seem passé. (Screens: Thursday, March 26, 5:30 PM, Women’s Club; Sunday, March 29, 7:30 PM Sonoma Valley Museum of Art.  $15 tickets)

Beltracchi: The Art of Forgery (Beltracchi: Die Kunst der Falschung)—(Germany, 2014, 93 min)  It’s ironic that 58-year-old German Wolfgang Beltracchi looks like Alfred Durer.  Beltracchi masterminded one of the most lucrative art scams in postwar European history.  For decades, this self-taught painter, and self-proclaimed hippie, passed off his own paintings as newly-discovered masterpieces by Max Ernst, André Derain, Max Pechstein, Georges Braque, and other Expressionists and Surrealists from the early 20th century.  His wife, Helene Beltracchi, along with two accomplices, created convincing backstories and sold the paintings for six and seven figures through auction houses in Germany and France, including Sotheby’s and Christie’s. One fake Max Ernst hung for months in a retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 2004, Steve Martin purchased a fake Heinrich Campendonk for $860,000 through a Parisian gallery.  Arne Birkenstock’s Lola award winning documentary Beltracchi: The Art of Forgery (“Beltracchi: Die Kunst der Falschung,” 2014), features the larger than life Beltracchi sharing his secrets; those he duped sharing their dismay; and those who caught him talking about the painting that blew it all up. (Screens: Thursday, March 26, 8 PM, Woman’s Club and Sunday, March 29, 5 PM, Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, $15 tickets)

Larger-than-life German art forger, Wolfgang Beltracchi, is the subject of Arne Birkenstock’s engrossing documentary, “Beltracchi: The Art of Forgery.”  For over 40 years, Beltracci duped the cognoscenti of the art world by painting his own masterpieces and selling them for millions.

Larger-than-life German art forger, Wolfgang Beltracchi, is the subject of Arne Birkenstock’s engrossing documentary, “Beltracchi: The Art of Forgery.” For over 40 years, Beltracci duped the cognoscenti of the art world by painting his own masterpieces and selling them for millions.

Generosity of Eye—(USA, 63 min) Octogenarian William Louis-Dreyfus, the father of Julia Louis-Dreyfus  (Elaine Benes on “Seinfeld) and now “Veep” ) started collecting art in the early 1960s, things that caught his eye, not investment pieces. While there are no Warhols, Freuds, or Picassos in his 3,500 piece collection, he conservatively estimates it to be worth at least $10 million and possible as much as $50 to $60 million. (from 5.26.14 Wall Street Journal article)  There are pieces by Paul Gaugin, Vassily Kandinsky, Leonardo Cremonini, George Boorujy, Helen Frankenthaler, and self-taught African-American artist and former slave Bill Traylor.  Louis-Dreyfus served as chairman of Louis Dreyfus Group, a global conglomerate started by his great-grandfather in 1851. Forbes estimated his net worth at $3.4 billion in 2006.  Director Brad Hill, who is Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ husband, has captured the very personal story of her discovering how her father’s passion for art and justice led him to donate most of this collection over the next several decades to the New York-based non-profit, the Harlem Children’s Zone, HCZ.  This touching story of a major art collection transforming into educational opportunity that will help kids in Harlem escape the vicious cycle of poverty has the intimacy of a home movie.  (Click here to view the Louis-Dreyfus Family Collection web site which includes the entire collection) (Screens: Thursday, March 26, 9:30 AM Sebastiani Theatre and Sunday, March 29, 5:30 PM Burlingame Hall. $15 tickets)

The Louis-Dreyfus Family Collection is the subject of "Generosity of Eye," Brad Hall’s documentary about collector William Louis-Dreyfus who decided recently to donate his collection to the Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ). The 3,500 piece collection is currently housed in Mount Kisco, N.Y., very close to Louis-Dreyfus’ home and is set up like a private art gallery.  It includes several works by self-taught African-American artist Bill Tylor, who was born into slavery in 1856 and was sharecropper all of his adult life.  He began painting after his eightieth birthday and his subjects were the rhythms and rituals of the rural South.  Photo: Kevin Hagen, WSJ

The Louis-Dreyfus Family Collection is the subject of “Generosity of Eye,” Brad Hall’s documentary about collector William Louis-Dreyfus who decided recently to donate his collection to the Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ). The 3,500 piece collection is currently housed in Mount Kisco, N.Y., very close to Louis-Dreyfus’ home and is set up like a private art gallery. It includes several works by self-taught African-American artist Bill Tylor, who was born into slavery in 1856 and was sharecropper all of his adult life. He began painting after his eightieth birthday and his subjects were the rhythms and rituals of the rural South. Photo: Kevin Hagen, WSJ

 

Dior and I —(France, 90 min) There are just a handful of fashion greats who have had French designer Christian Dior’s enduring impact on 20th century style.  Filmmaker Frédéric Tcheng (co-director Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, 2012 and Valentino: The Last Emperor, 2008) delivers another insightful exploration of this style pioneer’s enduring influence through the storied world of the House of Christian Dior.  Dior passed in 1957 but his name has lived on through this contemporary fashion house, now owned by Groupe Arnault.  This thoughtful doc delivers a dramatic behind-the-scenes look at the new Artistic Director, Raf Simons’ very first Haute Couture collection.  From conception through its ultimate exhibition, the process is shown to be a nerve-racking labor of love.  Stoic Simons must coax the very best from his dedicated collaborators who literally make it all happen.  Tcheng’s revealing homage to pressure cooker couture is fascinating.  (Screens: Thursday, March 26, 2 PM Sonoma Community Center and Saturday, March 28, 8:30 PM Sonoma Valley Art Museum $15 tickets)

Art & Design Shorts Program—Fine cinematography comes in various packages.  SIFF has a soft place for shorts, recognizing that, outside of the festival circuit, there is little chance to experience the synergy of a well-executed short.  The festival offers three curated shorts programs and will screen dozens of individual shorts in advance of its feature-length programming.  British artist David Hockney, Italian architect and interior designer Paola Navone, , 5th generation farmer and vintner  Jim Bundschu, multifaceted designer Michael Vanderbyl and various Native American architects, builders and tribal members are the subjects of five Art & Design shorts that are guaranteed to stimulate your senses and fire up your imagination.  Total run time is approximately one hour (Screens: Friday, March 27 12:30 PM and Sunday, March 29, 9:30 AM both at Woman’s Club.  $15 tickets)

Cindy Allen’s short biopic, “Fish Out of Water: The Design of Paola Novone” (2014), premiered in New York at the 2014 Interior Design Hall of Fame.  The 10 minute short showcases the Italian design icon’s endless creativity through interviews with Allen, who is the editor-in-chief of Interior Design magazine.

Cindy Allen’s short biopic, “Fish Out of Water: The Design of Paola Novone” (2014), premiered in New York at the 2014 Interior Design Hall of Fame. The 10 minute short showcases the Italian design icon’s endless creativity through interviews with Allen, who is the editor-in-chief of Interior Design magazine.

 

ARThound’s previous festival coverage:

The Sonoma International Film Festival starts Wednesday—$15 tickets online now for many of the films

Passes for the 18th Sonoma International Film Festival are on sale now and prices will increase on March 1, 2015

SIFF 18 details:

Full festival schedule by film type is available online here.

Full schedule in calendar form is available online here.

Official Full SIFF Film Guide is available online here.

Information about passes and tickets is here.

Screening Locations:

Sebastiani Theatre – 476 First St. East (seats 325)

Sonoma Community Center-Andrews Hall – 276 East Napa Street (seats 150)

Mia’s Kitchen at Vintage House – 126 First Street West (seats 150)

Sonoma Woman’s Club – 574 First Street. East (seats 100)

Sonoma Valley Museum of Art – 551 Broadway (seats 70)

Vintage House– 264 First Street East

La Luz Center – 17560 Gregor Street, Boyes Hot Springs (3.5 miles from town square)

 

 

 

March 24, 2015 Posted by | Art, Film, Food | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Petaluma’s big weekend of cheese and gourmet delights—California’s Artisan Cheese Festival is underway at the Sheraton Sonoma County

Cindy and Jon Wolfenberger enjoy a glass of port from Sonoma Portworks at Saturday's Cheese and Chocolate Pairing Seminar at California's Artisan Cheese Festival this weekend at the Sheraton Sonoma County.  The San Francisco couple have been at all nine festivals.  He lovingly surprised her with tickets to the first festival and they have made it a romantic get way ever since.  Photo: Geneva Anderson

Cindy and Jon Wolfenbarger enjoy a glass of Sonoma Portworks’ new special reserve port, “Cask 3,” at Saturday’s Cheese and Chocolate Pairing seminar at California’s Artisan Cheese Festival, all weekend at the Sheraton Sonoma County in Petaluma. The San Francisco couple have been at all nine festivals. He lovingly surprised her with tickets to the first festival and they have made it a romantic get way ever since. The festival kicked off on Friday with farm tours. Saturday is focused on seminars, pairings, hands-on cheese-making classes and a roaming feast. Sunday delivers a celebrity chef demo and brunch and the Tasting Tent with opportunities to taste and buy limited batch artisan cheeses as well as the newest gourmet delights. Photo: Geneva Anderson

California’s Artisan Cheese Festival is back for its ninth year at the Sheraton Sonoma County in Petaluma and ARThound is just back from my first event of the day, a morning Cheese and Chocolate paring seminar with James Beard award-winning author and educator, Laura Werlin, and TCHO Chocolate’s E-Commerce guru, Heather Haskell.  Cheese and chocolate are two food favorites that may not sound like a match made in heaven, but together, with the right pairings, we explored how they can be transcendent. We had the chance to mix and match 6 cheeses with 6 chocolates and sips of Lagunitas Brewing Company beers and “Cask 3,” a special new reserve port from Petaluma’s Sonoma Portworks.  I was particularly enchanted with Willapa Hills’ “Lily Pad” cow’s milk cheese—a brand new hard cheese inspired by Gruyere—when paired with TCHO’s “66%” blended semi-sweet couverture chocolate from their baking line.  I was even more wowed when the duo met the with the smoky depths of Lagunitas Brewing Company’s “Imperial Stout,” a roasted malt barley with 9.9% alcohol.  The day is still young and there’s a round of afternoon seminars to go and this evenings’ Chefs vs. Chefs — The Best Bite, a popular roaming feast that will showcase top local Bay Area chefs using artisan cheeses in a variety of applications with more than 20 top restaurants, caterers, wineries and breweries in competition for our affection.

And did I mention samples galore?  Participants sample new, limited-production, and rare artisan cheeses paired with exquisite gourmet delights that accentuate and learn all about the art of making cheese.  The festival has non-profit status and its proceeds support California farmers and cheesemakers in their ongoing effort to advance sustainability.  Tickets are available for individual events, including Sunday’s popular Grand Tasting Tent (tasting and marketplace) at www.artisancheesefestival.com.

James Beard award-winning author and educator, Laura Werlin holds up a wedge of Cypress Grove Chevre’s creamy Humboldt Fog mold-ripened goat cheese, explaining that its central line of edible white ash is named after the local fog which rolls in from the Humboldt Bay where the cheese is made.  After hours of tasting, Werlin and Heather Haskell of TCHO chocolate, decided to pair Humboldt Fog with TCHO’s “Bright,” a 67% cacao dark chocolate from Madagascar.  When pairing cheese and chocolate, taste the cheese first and then the chocolate which tends to overpower if it is first on the palate.  Photo: Geneva Anderson

James Beard award-winning author and educator, Laura Werlin holds up a wedge of Cypress Grove Chevre’s creamy Humboldt Fog mold-ripened goat cheese, explaining that its central line of edible white ash is named after the local fog which rolls in from the Humboldt Bay where the cheese is made. After hours of tasting, Werlin and Heather Haskell of TCHO chocolate, decided to pair Humboldt Fog with TCHO’s “Bright,” a 67% cacao dark chocolate from Madagascar. When pairing cheese and chocolate, taste the cheese first and then the chocolate which tends to overpower if it is first on the palate. Photo: Geneva Anderson

March 21, 2015 Posted by | Food | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Love great conversation, food, farming, family and film? Another screening of the sold-out “Changing Season: On the Masumoto Family Farm” has been added to CAAMFest for Saturday, March 21 in Oakland—SO worth the drive

 

CAAMFest, the Center for Asian American Media’s annual film festival, has added another screening of Jim Choi’s documentary Changing Season: On the Masumoto Family Farm, which has its (sold-out) world premiere on Friday, March 20, 7 PM, at the OMCA (Oakland Museum of California).  The OMCA event, which features a pre-film get together, the film screening and the entire Masumoto family on stage in story-telling and conversation is at “Rush.”  This means it is sold out BUT there may be a few tickets released at the last moment.  The new added screening is Saturday, March 21, at Oakland’s New Parkway Theatre at 7PM and there are ample tickets now but this screening too will most likely sell out.  Mas, Nikiko and Marcy will also be in attendance and a lively Q&A will follow the screening.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Nikiko and David “Mas” Masumoto on Monday evening at UC Berkeley (we’re all alums) and this dynamic father daughter duo touched my heart with their loving connection, positive energy and years of farming wisdom.   I brought along my dear friend, long-time SRJC librarian Karen Petersen, who first introduced me to Mas via Epitaph for Peach, his 1995 lament over the loss of heirlooms.  The public response to Mas’ writing was so encouraging that it essentially led him to re-evaluate the decision to bulldoze his precious heirloom trees.  Our meeting couldn’t have come at a better moment because I’d spent the day, and the previous week, out in the garden paving the way for the plantings to come.  If you’re the type of person who believes as I do that your garden or orchard is a reflection of  who you are, then this is a film and a family that you won’t want to miss.  These famous fourth generation Japanese American farmers are best known for their highly-prized heirloom Sun Crest peaches as well as their tenacious adherence to sustainable practices.  Over years, they’ve reaped a harvest of not only delicious fruits but also dreams, reflections and abiding kinship.   We discussed what it was like to be filmed and the new directions their lives are taking now that Nikiko has returned to home to step into her father’s work boots on their certified organic 80 acre farm in Del Ray (south of Fresno).  That’s 80 acres of organic peaches, nectarines, grapes and a fig tree that all need nurturing, often in grueling heat which it turns out is also the perfect incubator for storytelling.  They’re all highly creative but Mas’ writing on farming and food includes numerous best-selling books which have been lovingly treasured and dog-eared by foodies, farmers and imagined gardeners.

This beautifully shot film, which was funded by CAAM, chronicles the transitions undergone by Mas and his daughter as they lovingly enact the rituals of passing the reins from one generation to the next and reflect back on the family’s WWII internment in a camp near their farm.  Stay tuned to ARThound for the interview.  For more information on CAAMFest 2015, click here.

 

March 17, 2015 Posted by | Film, Food, Gardening | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment