Geneva Anderson digs into art

Cinnabar Theater wraps in 40th season with a ravishing “Carmen” and the acclaimed Alphabet Players concert, “Stories of the 20th Century,” on Sunday, June 2, 2013

Cinnabar Theater has added a performance on June 12, 2013 to its sold out run of "Carmen," the classic opera by Georges Bizet. The production features Mark Kratz as Don José and Rebecca Krouner as Carmen. Photo by Eric Chazankin

Cinnabar Theater has added a performance on June 12, 2013 to its sold out run of “Carmen,” the classic opera by Georges Bizet. The production features Mark Kratz as Don José and Rebecca Krouner as Carmen. Photo by Eric Chazankin

There’s really nothing that Petaluma’s Cinnabar Theater can’t do— it has wrapped its 40th season with a sensational, fiery “Carmen,” Bizet’s beloved story of seduction and jealous rage set in Seville.  At last night’s opening, mezzo-soprano, Rebecca Krouner—raven-haired, statuesque, impetuous and channeling the devil—seemed to embody Carmen.   Her voice seemed to get richer as the evening progressed and her on-stage chemistry with her leading men—Mark Kratz as soldier, Don José, and Jason Detwiller as the dashing toreador, Escamillo—was palpable.  All Cinnabar’s operas are performed in English.  How wonderful to hear Carmen’s catchy and melodic arias sung in English with the lush accompaniment of Cinnabar’s highly-talented 11 member orchestra conducted by Mary Chun.  “The Flower Song” (“La Fleur Que Tu M’avais Jetée”)(Act I), “Habanera” (“Love is a rebellious bird” or “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle”)(Act I) and the “Toreador song” (Act II)—all came to life as the glowing voices of the woodwinds, strings and brass melded with the voices.  If you’ve seen Carmen in a big house, Cinnabar’s intimate space transforms the experience into something very private and accessible with a completely different feel.  Carmen is all about seduction–through music, voice, and dance and bodies exuding and responding to passion.  The vivacious singers are so close that you almost feel every embrace, slap and wayward glance.

Sensual moment—Krouner in a smoking haute red silk halter dress…all curves brilliantly accounted for. This bias-cut dress had a detachable brocade cape that was joined to the dress at the bosom with several fabric strips that fanned out across her décolletage and shoulders.  After running his hands passionately over her body, Don José (Mark Kratz) was well occupied as he both sang his aria and removed this cape, button by button and strap by strap, to get to the goods.  Whoa!!!!  Costume designer Lisa Eldredge out did herself.

Stand-out performance—soprano Julia Hathaway, as Frasquita, a smuggler and Carmen’s sidekick…the twinkle in her eye, her commanding presence, her distinctive voice …she’s got natural heat and a capricious air that really bolstered the production.

If you want to see this opera, jump NOW because the entire run is sold-out except for a new performance has just been added on Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. Buy tickets here20th_century

Up this Sunday, June 2, at 2 p.m. at Cinnabar Theater, the acclaimed Alphabet Players perform “Stories of the 20th Century,” the final concert of their “Through the Centuries” series.   The performance will celebrate the 20th Century with a delightful diversity of poetry and story set to music.

The Program:

William Walton’s Façade
Featuring the poems of Edith Sitwell
Michael van Why and Elly Lichenstein, Guest Artists

Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire
based on the poems by Albert Giraud
Karen Clark, Guest Artist

Paul Hindemith’s Frog Went a Courting
And more

The Alphabet Players
Leslie Chin, flute
Roy Zajac, clarinet
Terrie Baune, violin
Karen Rosenak, piano
Daniel Gianola-Norris, trumpet
Steve Parker, alto sax
Kevin Neuhoff, percussion
Judiyaba and Gwyneth Davis, cellos


Elly Lichenstein, Artistic Director, Cinnabar Theater, introduces Terence Keane, Cinnabar’s new Executive Director, to the audience at the May 31, 2013 opening of “Carmen,” Cinnabar’s last production in its celebratory 40th season.  

Details: Cinnabar Theater is located at 3333 Petaluma Blvd. North (at Skillman Lane), Petaluma, CA, 94952.  “Carmen” is sold-out, except for the newly added June 12, 7:30 p.m. performance.  ($35 General, $32 Seniors 65 & Over, $25 under age 22)

“Stories of the 20th Century” is June 2, 2013 at 2 p.m. Buy tickets online here ($20 General, Seniors; $15 Under Age 22)

Early arrival is recommended as there is no assigned seating. For more information, call 707-763-8920 or visit

June 1, 2013 Posted by | Opera | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fresh, Local, Fabulous—Taste of Petaluma is this Saturday, August 25, 2012—buy your tickets before Thursday afternoon and save $5

Every year, Taste of Petaluma gets better.  This Saturday, Taste turns 7, and over 60 of Petaluma’s best eateries, food purveyors, breweries and wineries will be sampling their finest at establishments all across town.  Just back from London, ARThound had the pleasure of stepping off the plane and right into a series of preview tastings at 8 participating restaurants–Cordoza’s Deli and Café, Everest Indian Restaurant, Hiro’s Japanese Restuarant, Luma, Social Club, Rosso, Sugo Trattoria, Wild Goat Bistro.

The lowdown:  Great cooking is no mystery.  When you use the best, locally-sourced, fresh ingredients, you can cook very simply and the food will be extraordinary.  After having been there and done that, great chefs are establishing themselves in Petaluma because our relaxed town values great food that is connected to the community and there’s no better place to access to fresh ingedients.  Taste of Petaluma is the best way to sample all the delicacies Petlauma has to offer.  A set of tickets covers 10 tastes and portions are generous.   All of the purveyors generously donate their food to Taste, knowing that a sample is the best advertising that money can buy.  And because all the proceeds go directly to Petaluma’s Cinnabar Theater, a 501 (c)(3) California non-profit, now celebrating its 40th anniversary in our community, the entire event has a feel-good vibe to it.  Bring your friends and families and spend the day!

Stay-tuned to ARThound for a more detailed article tomorrow.  For now, read about Rosso, the new Mozzarella latteria in Theatre Square that knocked me flat…co-owner Kevin Cronin’s passion about fresh food, craftsmanship at the level of an artisan, and interacting with the local community he is connected to exemplify the values that make Petaluma truly special.  I didn’t realize it but I had long been an admirer.  A founding partner of St. Helena’s legendary Tra Vigne (back in the day when it was really GOOD), Cronin’s long been committed to disarmingly simple Italian food that tastes great.   Cronin co-owns Rosso, which has another restaurant in Santa Rosa, with chef John Franchetti, who has two decades of cheese-making experience, and Gesine Franchetti.

Rosso Pizzeria & Mozzarella Bar co-owner Kevin Cronin talks cheese with ARThound

Rosso uses locally-sourced curd to hand-craft small batches of their own cheeses on site at their restaurant—mozzarella, ricotta and chévre.  Their creamy, buttery, delectable, hand-pulled mozzarella is made with locally-sourced buffalo milk from Craig Ramini’s Buffalo farm. (Ramini is trending…read the 6.22.2012 Wall Street Journal profile here.)  Rosso’s signature burratas (stuffed mozzarellas) are to swoon for—a thin layer of mozzarella wrapped around a creamy mix of mozzarella and goat cheese finished with mint and drizzled with lemon and olive oil from Sicily or stracciatella (chopped mozzarella with cream folded in) or traditional style (curd of mozarella with cream folded in).  The texture in each of the three is silky.  The tastes are divinely sweet and earthy, inspiring all the adjectives applied to fine wine.  Most people just let out a sigh, on the order reserved for great sex.

For Taste, Rosso will serve their signature Burrata on Bruschetta with Prosciutto and Olive Pesto, with house-made Spaghetti and Meatball.

Details:  Taste of Petaluma is Saturday, August 25, 2012, from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at over 60 participating Petaluma restaurants, shops and galleries.

Advance purchase discount tickets:  $35 for 10 tickets (1 ticket = 1 tasting) through 3 p.m. Thursday, August 23.  Purchase by phoning Cinnabar Theatre at 707 763-8920 (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) OR buy in person at Gallery One, 209 Western Ave., Petaluma, or I Leoni, 120 Kentucky Street, Petaluma. OR click here to purchase tickets directly online ($3.50 service charge).

Advance purchase tickets can be picked up at WILL CALL at Helen Putnam Plaza (139 Petaluma Blvd. North) after 10:30 a.m. on the day of the event.

Tickets on the day of the event:  $40 for 10 tickets at 10:30 a.m. at Putnam Plaza (139 Petaluma Blvd. N.) and at Theater Square (C. St.).  Additional tickets may be purchased throughout the day for $4 each.

Each package of 10 tickets includes a street map of sampling locations, a food and beverage menu, and a schedule for special events.  First 500 guests receive a Taste of Petaluma tote bag.  Participants may bring their own wine or beer tasting glass.

To view the menu, visit

August 21, 2012 Posted by | Food | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Opera review: Cinnabar Theatre’s “Don Giovanni,” a new production that is sure to ignite your passions, through April 15, 2012

Baritone Anders Froehlich is the captivating Don Giovanni in Mozart’s enduring classic of the same name which opened at Cinnabar Theatre on March 23, 2012. Photo: Eric Chazankin

When Cinnabar Theatre cast baritone Anders Froehlich for the title role in their new production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, the classic retelling of the Don Juan legend, they were half way home.  Not only can Froelich sing, but he has the physique of a lean and muscled Romeo.  And, he so convincingly plays the part of Mozart’s suave, seductive, and morally reprehensible aristocrat, that it’s pure pleasure to sit back and experience being seduced by him.  Add to that baritone Eugene Walden’s remarkable performance as Leporello, Giovanni’s faithful but grumbling sidekick, and this production soars.  Truth be told, the entire cast is superb, the music is glorious and the production is so creative that it represents the opera’s tremendous dramatic possibilities as well a small theatre company at it best.

Soprano Kelly Britt, a 2011 graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, makes her Cinnabar Theatre debut as Donna Anna in Mozart’s opera “Don Giovanni,” which runs through April 15, 2012. Photo: Eric Chazankin

One of the most amazing aspects of this 225 year-old opera is that it is so filled with fabulous ambiguities, that almost every production emphasizes something different.  Cinnabar’s production, staged by Elly Lichtenstein, gives us a Don Giovanni whose beguiling and complex personality is matched by the equally complex women he encounters.  After the opening night performance, I found myself ruminating on these women—what they represented in their time and what they bring to the table in the here and now.  There’s the unhinged young Donna Anna (soprano Kelly Britt), who has, in the very least, been ravished by Don Giovanni and is mourning the death of her father, who was murdered trying to defend her honor.  Normally, she’s depicted as icy cold and hell-bent on retaliation. Here, we also see her warmth and humanity.  There’s matronly Donna Elvira (mezzo soprano Eileen Morris) who has been jilted by Giovanni and she too seeks revenge and but, beneath the hurt, she still loves him and can’t free herself of her co-dependent obsession.  When she tries to protect young Zerlina from Giovanni’s reckless ways, we see a preservation instinct that we wish she’d exercise on herself.  There’s the young peasant girl Zerlina (soprano Emma McNairy), who loves Masetto but is also taken in by the suave Giovanni’s proclamations and the high life he represents.  She wants both men and, for a moment, deludes herself into thinking that this can work.  And then there is the chorus of women, voluptuous nymphs in all shapes and sizes, writhing in full sensual abandon with each other and with Don Giovanni.  The opera’s rich comic and tragic elements are driven by all these interactions and Lichtenstein has really made Giovanni’s journey—to eternal damnation—one riveting ride.

Don Giovanni (baritone Anders Froehlich, right) attempts to seduce the young peasant girl Zerlina (Soprano Emma McNairy, left) at her own wedding party. Photo: Eric Chazankin

23 year-old soprano Emma McNairy was delightful as Zerlina.   Winner of the San Francisco Conservatory’s 2011 Voice Concerto Competition, McNairy’s expressive voice shows incredible range and she has a commanding stage presence. And did she snap into character!  She played Zerlina as sweet and crafty, bringing a refreshing and realistic complexity to the role.  Her pairing with William O’Neill as Masetto, her hunky intended, produced some of the opera’s most fiery moments, another example of the sizzling chemistry that makes this production pop.

Soprano Kelly Britt as Donna Anna was striking—her distinctive voice was smooth, powerful, and evocative.  From the moment she appeared, she displayed a whirlwind of emotional extremes that made the impact of Donna Anna’s rape, or ravishing, by Don Giovanni and the sudden death of her father seem very real.   The twenty-three year-old has that extra something coursing through her that produces a riveting sound, not yet honed to perfection but on its way, and that’s very exciting to experience.

First to appear and last to utter a solo, baritone Eugene Walden was a thoroughly engaging Leporello.   One of the opera’s most humorous moments occurred during his lighthearted “Catalog Aria,” (Madamina, il catalogo è questo) (Act I, Scene v).  As the beleaguered Leporello sings the amazing tally of his boss’s conquests to Donna Elvira, he pulls out a seemingly endless accordion book, chock full of women’s faces and descriptive notes, and flings it towards Donna Elvira.  This gesture so captivates and infuriates her that she engages in a tug of war with him over the book.  This is just one of Elly Lichtenstein’s clever and amusing touches whose effect is priceless.  Another of these magical moments occurs with the famous balcony serenade at the beginning of Act II.  Just behind the singer and through a widow, we see a very seductive striptease occurring between two voluptuous women in silhouette—the scene is gorgeously back lit and has all the resonant flair of a fan dance.  As the women almost get it on, you can feel the heat rising in the audience.  The sensuality is carried through to the famous banquet scene, done wine country style, with Giovanni dining on plump grapes and scantily-clad women.  In the opera’s final chilling scene, the powerfully built John Minágro, who makes a very commanding Commendatore, now turned singing statue, comes to swoop Don Giovanni to his just desserts—hell.  Froelich’s Don Giovanni’s is so intoxicating that, even on his way to hell, he still gets to us.

Cinnabar Theatre’s “Don Giovanni,” has inventive props. Here baritone Eugene Walden, Leporello, sings his famous “catalog aria” to Eileen Morris, Donna Elvira, and flings a seemingly endless accordion-style book that documents his boss’s many romantic conquests. Photo: Eric Chazankin

One of the pleasures of the hearing Mozart’s dramatic music played in the intimate 99 seat setting that Cinnabar offers is that every musician stands out.   Conductor Mary Chun and the orchestra of 10 did a valiant job, offering an elegant and cohesive blending with the voices on stages, but at times the sound seemed understated.  I had never heard the opera sung in English before, which is the only opera experience that Cinnabar Theatre provides, keeping with founder Martin Klebe’s wish to make opera accessible to all audiences.  The main advantage is an immediate understanding of the story, which means it’s very easy to take it all in and you’re not scrambling with translation.  If you know the opera in Italian, its beloved arias such as There, we will entwine  our hands (Là ci darem la mano), (Act I, between Zerlina and Giovanni) are made all the more enjoyable by singing them in Italian in your mind and checking your Italian against the English as you go.

Music by W.A. Mozart, Libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte, Sung in English (da Ponte’s full translation/libretto translation of Don Giovanni is available free online here.)

Mary Chun artistic director/conductor; Elly Lichtenstein, Stage Director


The Cast, in order of appearance: 

Leporello— servant to Don Giovanni, Eugene Walden

Don Giovanni—Anders Froehlich

Donna Anna—Kelly Britt

The Commendatore, Anna’s father—John Minágro

Don Ottavio, Anna’s fiancé—Mark Kratz

Cinnabar Theatre’s production of “Don Giovanni,” is staged and lit ingeniously. Here baritone Anders Froehlich, as Don Giovanni, sings against a dramatically back-lit window where silhouettes of sensuous delights unfold before the audience. Photo: Eric Chazankin

Donna Elvira—Eileen Morris

Zerlina— Emma McNairy

Masetto, Zerlina’s fiancé— William O’Neill

Sandrina, Leporello’s love—Arden Kwan

Paul Gilger, set design; Wayne Hovey lighting design, Tracy Hinman Sigrist, costume design, Barton Smith, choreography


Underwritten by Frank and Mary Lou Schomer and The A to Z Concert series.

Details:  Cinnabar Theatre is located at 3333 Petaluma Blvd. North (at Skillman Lane), Petaluma, CA, 94952.  Tickets online: $35 General, $32 Seniors 65 & Over, $25 Age 22 & Under.  Tickets also be purchased before the performance but pre-purchase of tickets is  highly recommended as the theatre is small.  Early arrival is also recommended as there is no assigned seating.   For more information, call 707-763-8920 or visit

Run time is 2 hours and 20 minutes, with one intermission.

There are 5 remaining performances:  Wednesday April 4, 2012, at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, April 7, 2012, at 8 p.m. Friday, April 13, 2012, at 8 p.m., Saturday, April 14, 2012, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 15, 2012, at 2 p.m.

April 3, 2012 Posted by | Opera | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A to Z Concerts presents 8 virtuoso cellists and soprano Carrie Hennessey in “The V Concert” Saturday, September 10, 2011, to benefit Cinnabar Theater

Soprano Carrie Hennessey of Sacramento will sing Heitor Villa-Lobos’ “Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5” for Voice and Eight Cellos in “The V Concert” on September 10, 2011. In June 2010, Hennessey made her debut with Cinnabar Theater in the title role of the opera “Emmeline,” by Tobias Picker. Photo: courtesy Carrie Hennessey

One of the best ways to celebrate the glorious last days of summer in Sonoma County is with an outdoor concert.  Next Saturday, September 10, 2011, “The A to Z Concert series,” will visit the West Petaluma gardens of Sandra and Borue O’Brien.  The performance will feature acclaimed Sacramento soprano Carrie Hennessey performing Villa-Lobos’ “Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5” for Voice and Eight Cellos and other works exclusively by composers whose last names begin with the letter “V.”  “The V Concert” is a benefit for Cinnabar Theater’s opera program and is organized by Sonoma County cellists Judiyaba and Gwyneth Davis, who created “The A to Z Concert series,” a 2-year project comprising 24 concerts with composers whose names represent every letter of the alphabet.  In addition to Villa-Lobos, “The V Concert” will include works by Vivaldi and by the 16th- century Flemish composer Vaet—all in one of West Petaluma’s most beautiful private gardens, surrounded by a redwood grove.  Hosts Sandra and Borue O’Brien have also planned a silent auction and will serve wine, cheeseboards, and desserts.

“This is our 20th concert,” explained cellist Judiyaba, a long-term Sebastopol resident, who organized “The A to Z Concert series” (or “The Alphabet Concerts”) with cellist Gwyneth Davis, a member of the Eloquence String Quartet.   “We started this series because we just love to play chamber music and this gives us an opportunity to explore new repertoire and old favorites and we’ve found so much new music.  What’s fun about our group is that it is composed of eight cellists who have played in literally every orchestra in the Bay Area─the SF Symphony, SF Opera, regional orchestras─so it is very representative.”

 V Concert Program:  Judiyaba whimsically described “The V Concert” as a “varied, venturesome and vibrant program of virtuosi violoncelli” (using the full formal name for the cello).  “The most challenging is the Villa-Lobos—it’s tricky and fun.  We are doing three pieces by the composer “Vaet” [pronounced “Vate”], which are 16th-century motets, or 3-to-5 part choral pieces which could also have been played on instruments.”

Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959), Latin America’s most important composer, had little formal music training.  He instead absorbed the influences of his native Brazil’s indigenous cultures, themselves based on Portuguese, African, and American Indian elements.  Between 1930 and 1945, he composed a series of nine suites he called the Bachianas Brasileiras (“Brazilian Bach pieces”) which meld Brazilian folk and popular music with the style of Johann Sebastian Bach, applying Baroque harmonic and contrapuntal techniques to Brazilian music.  The Bachianas Brasileiras No. 1 and No. 5, both scored for 8 cellos, show the composer’s love for the sonorities of the cello, an instrument that he himself played in Rio de Janeiro’s cinema, theatre, and opera orchestras.  Brazilian soprano Bidú Sayão was Villa-Lobos’ favorite singer and made a number of recordings of his compositions, including the definitive recording of the Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 (which can be heard here).  Carrie Hennessey will sing this haunting soprano solo in “The V Concert.”  

Sebastopol cellist Judiyaba is co-creator of “The Alphabet Concerts,” a 2 year project comprising 24 concerts with composers whose names represent every letter of the alphabet. She will perform in “The V Concert” with 7 other cellists in a benefit for Cinnabar Theater on September 10, 2011. Photo: courtesy Judiyaba

Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741), the prolific Venetian superstar of Italian Baroque music, will dominate “The V Concert” program, with performances of his Concerto for two cellos (with multi-cello accompaniment), his Cello Concerto in A minor (featuring SF Opera cellist Victoria Erhlich and accompanied by….yes…more cellists!), and the lilting pastoral aria “Domine Deus” from his beloved Gloria sung by Carrie Hennessey (accompanied by cellos).  All of these pieces showcase the rhythmic exuberance, harmonic invention, and virtuosic string writing that catapulted Vivaldi to celebrity during his lifetime and has kept his music in the limelight ever since.

Jacobus Vaet (c.1529-1567) was a Flemish Renaissance composer noted for distinctive and intricate polyphonic (multi-voiced) sacred music, including nine complete extant masses, and both sacred and secular motets.  The three motets on this program will feature the 8-cello ensemble playing parts originally written for singing voices.

The cellists for “The V Concert” are: Kelly Boyer, Gwyneth Davis, Poppea Dorsam, Victoria Erhlich, Leighton Fong, David Goldblatt, Judiyaba, and Ruth Lane (a Petaluma resident).  And the soprano is Carrie Hennessey.   A wonderful line- up!

Total run time: approximately 2 hours, with intermission. Wine, cheese and desserts.

Cinnabar Theater:  “The V Concert” is a benefit for Cinnabar Theater’s opera program, its founding program.  Cinnabar Theater, Petaluma’s beloved opera and theatre company, was established by the legendary Marvin Klebe in the early 1970’s in the old red schoolhouse that was the original Cinnabar School (near the intersection of Skillman Lane and Petaluma Blvd. North.)  “The main reason why Marvin Klebe founded this company,” said Elly Lichtenstein, Cinnabar’s Artistic Director, “was because he wanted to do opera in a different way, with intimate ensemble works where the individual performers were treated as artists.”  Over the years, Cinnabar, a nonprofit, has dedicated itself to encouraging community participation in the arts and to community education as well.  The theater offers a highly regarded Young Repertory Program that trains youth as young as 4 years old in the dramatic and musical performing arts. 

Sebastopol cellist Gwyneth Davis is a co-creator of “The Alphabet Concerts.” She has performed with most of the regional orchestras in the Bay Area, plays for Cinnabar Opera, and is a pastry chef. Photo: courtesy Judiyaba

Lichtenstein explained that Cinnabar Theater normally produces two operas annually but this year it will feature just one opera, Mozart’s Don Giovanni (March 23-April 15, 2011), and the musical She Loves Me, which opens Cinnabar’s 39th season on September 9, 2011.

Silent Auction:  all proceeds will benefit Cinnabar Theater’s opera program.  Prizes include:

Vineyard tour of Kastania Vineyards, Petaluma

10 one-day passes Roxie Theatre

Round of golf at Rooster Run Golf Club, Windsor Golf Club, and Adobe Creek Golf

4 $25 gift certificates for Absolute Home and Garden

4 $25 gift certificates for Empire Nursery


The V Concert: Saturday, September 10, 2011, 4 p.m., 200 Queens Lane (off King Road), Petaluma, CA.  Tickets: $20 available, or phone 707-763-8920, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday.  Reservations highly recommended.

A to Z Concert series:”  The Alphabet Concerts is a 2 year project.  “The W Concert” is October 2, 2011, 7 p.m, Petaluma Museum, featuring Kurt Weill, William Walton and more.

Cinnabar Theater:  Cinnabar Theater’s fall season kicks off on September 9, 2011 with the musical  She Loves Me.  This delightful romantic comedy is based on the play of the same name and the popular film The Shop Around the Corner, on which the more recent film You’ve Got Mail is also based.  (Book by Joe Masteroff/Music by Jerry Bock; Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick; Based on Parfumerie by Miklos Laszlo.)  Get your tickets here or call 707.763.8920.  Cinnabar Theater, 3333 Petaluma Blvd. North, Petaluma, CA  94952, 707.763.8929.

September 1, 2011 Posted by | Chamber Music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

5th Annual Taste of Petaluma this Saturday…immerse yourself in gourmet Petaluma, support Cinnabar Theatre


Gopal Gauchan, owner/chef at Everest, 56 East Washington Street, will be serving his delectible Everest Pizza, oven-baked nan piled high with shredded chicken, artichokes, cheese and a killer sauce made from local tomatoes. Gopal's menu offers a fusion of Indian, Nepalese and Tibetan foods.

In case you haven’t noticed, the dining scene in Petaluma has changed dramatically and our city has become THE gourmet dining destination for Sonoma County and the wine country.  With more than 75 restaurants, cafes, wineries and downtown merchants participating in this Saturday’s 5th annual Taste of Petaluma, the downtown area will be a foodies’ paradise and your chance to get acquainted with Petaluma’s abundance of fantastic dining opportunities.  Last week, I accompanied Taste of Petaluma’s energetic coordinator Laura Sunday along on a pre-taste to several of this year’s participants and am delighted to report that Taste of Petaluma will have some real gems.

Taste of Petaluma is not your run-of-the-mill ‘Taste of… Fill-in-the-Blank…explained Laura Sunday.  “Most of these taste events have you going from booth to booth to sample food that has been prepared ahead of time, or assembled on the spot and you never get to experience the ambiance of the restaurant which is a huge part of going out to eat.”  Taste of Petaluma offers the unique opportunity to sit down, eat, and chat with the owners of these local eateries, all of whom have very interesting stories to tell about how they landed in Petaluma.  There are also numerous samplings of locally-produced beers, brandies, champagne, ports, and wines, in many cases paired with cuisine.   

The festive afternoon will also include loads of live musical entertainment (schedule) —jazz, folk, blues, rock, jug band, acoustic guitar, even Elvis—all over the downtown area and the opportunity to stroll

Affendi's owner/chef "Joe" Besir brews fresh tea in his Turkish Samovar for his customers.

 through the city’s numerous art galleries and shops, many of which are hosting multiple samplings.

A $60 ticket will buy you 10 dine-around tickets, enough to provide both lunch and an early dinner and no one will walk away hungry.  For the hosts, who donate all the food and beverages, the effort and expense is well-justified.  “Last year I served apricot chicken to 60 people,” said Gopal Gauchan owner/chef of Everest, 56 East Washington Street, in the Golden Eagle Plaza.  “People came in all year long and brought their families and friends and everyone asked for apricot chicken.  Taste of Petaluma is a way for us to get involved with the community.”

We began our culinary tour with dessert–traditional Turkish baklava from Afendi’s Turkish Grill  restaurant in the Plaza North Shopping Center.  Chef/owner Serdar “Joe” Besir greeted us with steaming hot tulip-shaped glasses of fragrant Turkish black çay (tea) that he had just brewed in his copper samovir.  You may have heard about Afendi’s grilled meat—lamb, chicken or beef–doners or kebabs—or the belly dancing on the weekends. Their desserts are beautifully done too, very satisfying and not too sweet or syrupy.  Joe will be sampling Pistacio Baklava (Fistikli Baklava), Walnut Baklava (Civilzi Baklava) and Sweet Semolina Cake (Revani).  Baklava is eaten all over Turkey, Greece, and Central Asia.  Joe makes his without shortcuts.  His own handmade phyllo dough is layered with chopped nuts and honey, resulting in a rich, sweet flaky pastry that is addictive.  Joe believes that tea is a crucial part of Turkish hospitality and

Afendi's Turkish Grill, Golden Eagle Plaza, has already built a reputation for its grilled meats. Owner/chef Serdar "Joe" Basir will be sampling traditional Turkish baklava in Taste of Petaluma at Louis Thomas menswear, 150 Kentucky Street.

that Afendi’s will never charge for its tea.  While Afendi’s is just a few months old, it is so popular that reservations are required on the weekends.

Teri Velasco owner/chef at Velasco’s North of the Border (190 Kentucky Street) will be serving chilaquiles, a traditional Mexican dish of fried tortilla quarters topped with a special chilaquiles sauce that has been handed down through her husband’s family.

Be sure to cross the bridge to the Golden Eagle Shopping Center to sample the Everest Pizza at Everest Indian Restaurant and say hello to owner/chef Gopal Gauchan.  Gopal describes his cuisine as a fusion of Indian, Nepalese and Tibetan cuisines and stresses that while the flavor is intense, the food is not highly-spiced.  (Those who want more spice can request it.)  If you take a close look at Gopal’s Everest pizza, you will see that its crust is made of his own clay-oven baked nan (flatbread) and the cheese is not melted.  Instead, he piles cooked chicken breast, crispy artichokes and mozzarella cheese atop a rich and sweet sauce he makes from local tomatoes and garnishes the pizza with sun-dried tomatoes.  Come in for a 6 inch slice.

Teri Velasco owner/chef at Velasco’s North of the Border (190 Kentucky Street) has participated in all but one Taste of Petaluma and says it’s her favorite event of the year because she gets to meet so many people.  She will be serving chilaquiles, a traditional Mexican dish of fried tortilla quarters topped with a special chilaquiles sauce that has been handed down through her husband’s family and on top of that chicken, onions, Mexican cheese (queso fresco) and sour cream.  Teri utilizes as many fresh and local ingredients as possible and says it makes a difference—her customers have complemented her on the sweetness of her tomato sauce made from her own garden’s  sun-ripened tomatoes.

Jacob Gamba of risibisi will be serving their signature mushroom risotto, a mouthwatering dish that is so turbo-charged with mushroom, it will leave you wanting to try everything on their expansive menu.

Risibi at 154 Kentucky Street is serving a creamy mushroom risotto to die for—prepared with fresh local shitake and porcini mushrooms and Carnaroli rice, a short grain high starch Italian rice that retains liquid, holds its shape better than Arborio rice which is commonly used in risotto in the US. According to manager Joe Gamba, the secret to great risotto is slowly adding broth to the rice which both slowly cooks the rice and releases its glutens and stirring constantly.  But why not let Risibisi take care of the work—their risottos change daily, they have an extensive menu of Italian delicacies and an inviting upscale atmosphere.    

Gourmet desserts are my downfall but I don’t like them excessively sweet.  Viva Cocolat at 110 Petaluma Blvd North has been in business for just 2.5 years but chocolatier/owner Lynn Wong was voted best chocolatier by Bohemian Best of the North Bay for 2009 and 2010.  Wong offers freshly-

Lynn Wong chocolatier and proprietress of Viva Cocolat will be sampling Milk Chocolate Toffee Truffles with Valley of the Moon Winery's Sonoma County Port.

made chocolate desserts and a variety of premium chocolates from the world’s best chocolatiers.  “We came to Petaluma 18 years ago, making the migration from Mill Valley to Novato to Petaluma to start a family.  Chocolate was my passion and I wanted to do something I loved and to be involved in the community and model that to my kids.”  Wong loves it when customers introduce her to new exotic chocolates. 

Savory applications are all the rage right now in the chocolate world and Wong will be sampling her lusciously creamy Milk Chocolate Toffee Truffles, with Sonoma County Port from Valley of the Moon Winery (Glen Ellen) from 2006 Souzao and Syrah grapes.  Wong says the secret to her artistry lies in the premium chocolate she uses– either Guittard (French conceived, based in Burlington, CA) or Callebaut (Belgian), depending on the application. 38% cacoa couverture is the foundation for the ganache in her Milk Chocolate Toffee Truffles which are hand-rolled in buttery toffee bits.   Wong selected this truffle especially to accentuate the port which has aromas of currants, cherry and dark chocolate that carry through to with accents of cinnamon and nutmeg. 

 Walking in to Jacqueline’s High Tea, 203 Western Avenue, can be an assault on your senses—it’s unapologetically girlie–but get over it!  IF you love tea and unforgettable homemade desserts, this is home central.  Afternoon tea, cream tea, dessert tea, high tea, tea parties, a cup to just relax—Jacqueline offers it all in a relaxed bistro setting.  Double Dark Chocolate Mate tea (Honest Tea) got my attention and will be one of several teas she will be sampling for Taste.  At 5 calories per cup, it’s a guilt free match made in heaven of antioxidant-rich, organic, roasted Yerba Maté blended with aromatic organic dark cocoa.

Jacqueline owner of Jacqueline's High Tea, 203 Western Avenue, is the force behind the unforgettable almond creme.

  Jacqueline will also be sampling her famous orange-cranberry scones—light, flaky, freshly-baked.  Along with the scones, don’t pass up the chance to try her famous almond crème—an airy sugar-free, fat-free whipped concoction that will have you eating it with a spoon right from the bowl.   There’s also homemade lemon curd, fresh jam and whipped butter. Few know this but Jacqueline also painted a lot of the gorgeous Trompe L’oeil wall panels that create the ambiance at Jacqueline’s.  Men are more than welcome too—her husband Frank will greet and seat you but in all matters of tea and dessert he defers to the boss.   Frank really won my heart when he told me that Jacqueline supported him through thick and thin in his forty years in the music industry and he’s happy and proud to help her.  Yes!!   

Tickets sales will be capped at 1500 and Taste of Petaluma’s proceeds  will go to Cinnabar Theatre which was founded by the legendary Marvin Klebe in the early 1970’s in the old red schoolhouse that was the original Cinnabar School (near the intersection of Skillman Lane and Petaluma Blvd. North.)   Over the years, Cinnabar Theatre, a non-profit dedicated to encouraging community participation in the arts, has grown to become the community’s most beloved opera and theatre company committed to community education as well.  The theatre offers a highly regarded Young Repertory Program that  trains youth as young as 4 years old  in the dramatic and musical performing arts.  Now in its 38th season, Cinnabar is opening “Travels With My Aunt” this Saturday (September 24 – October 17, 2010), Giles Havergal’s lively adaptation of  the classic Graham Greene novel.  

Laura Sunday, Taste of Petaluma's organizer, relaxes at Jacqueline's High Tea with a cup of double dark chocolate mate tea, a mate with a rich chocolate aroma and heavenly taste...just 5 calories per cup.

Anyone who twitters can join Cinnabar’s ”hash-tag” party  #top2010 .  Cinnabar will be giving away tickets to different shows throughout the day.

This year, Taste of Petaluma has partnered with the Petaluma Downtown Association to offer “Petaluma Packages,” geared to weekend visitors.   Two-night hotel stays have been bundled with tickets to Taste of Petaluma, to Cinnabar’s Theatre’s newest play “Travels with My Aunt,” and to Petaluma’s 24th Annual Antique Fair (this Sunday), or breakfast.  


$50 Advance-Sale Tickets are available until 5 pm, Friday, September 24th.

Tickets purchased after 5 pm will be $60.  Sales are capped at 1500 tickets.   

 Advance Sale tickets can be picked up at WILL CALL at Helen Putnam Plaza after 10:30 a.m. on Saturday

Purchase:  before event — online at Taste of Petaluma, or by calling Cinnabar Theater (707) 763-8920,  or at the following downtown Petaluma venues:  Gallery One, Haus Fortuna, I Leoni, Pelican Art Gallery, Hollingsworth Jewelers.

day of event— tickets sold at 10:30 a.m. on at Putnam Plaza (Petalma Blvd.), Haus Fortuna (111 2nd Street). No credit cards ticket purchases day of event. 

Ticket Package Includes: • Book of 10 tickets – one sampling item per ticket. Additional tickets can be purchased throughout the day for $6 each.• Street Map of sampling locations • Menu of food and special events offered by participants • Taste of Petaluma tote bag to first 500 guests

September 21, 2010 Posted by | Theatre | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment