ARThound

Geneva Anderson digs into art

Magnificent morsels…that add up to a feast—Taste of Petaluma is this Saturday, August 24, 2013

If you blink, you’ll miss tiny SPEAKEASY, a new bistro-style tapas restaurant located in Helen Putnam Plaza, which is new to Taste of Petaluma.  Once you try Chef Patrick Tafoya’s simple but perfectly satisfying dishes, like his heirloom melon soup topped with basil crema and crisp prosciutto crumbles, you’ll be in for more.  But do make a reservation—SPEAKEASY can accommodate just 12 indoor diners at a time but it is open for dinner from 5 PM til 2 AM seven days a week. Photo: Geneva Anderson

If you blink, you’ll miss tiny SPEAKEASY, a new bistro-style tapas restaurant located in Helen Putnam Plaza, which is new to Taste of Petaluma. Once you try Chef Patrick Tafoya’s simple but perfectly satisfying dishes, like his heirloom tomato gazpacho shooter garnished with a grilled marinated tiger prawn or his heirloom melon soup topped with basil crema and crisp prosciutto crumbles, you’ll be in for more. But do make a reservation—SPEAKEASY can accommodate just 12 indoor diners at a time but it is open for dinner from 5 PM til 2 AM seven days a week. Photo: Geneva Anderson

The 8th annual Taste of Petaluma is this Saturday, August 24, and it’s all about eating your way—bite by bite—across Petaluma and connecting with its small-city charm and rich sense of community.  Taste is a benefit for Cinnabar Theater’s youth repertory programs and, this year, the event has over 50 Petaluma restaurants and food, wine and beverage purveyors participating and is expected to draw people from all over the Bay Area.  Enjoy everything from “A” (Artisan Angus Beef gluten free meatballs with Arrabbiata Tomato Sauce at Wild Goat Bistro in the historic Petaluma Mill) to “V” (Vegetable Tikka Kabobs at Everest Indian Restaurant in River Plaza) and along the way stop to take in the live musical entertainment from 17 Bay Area solo and group performers offering just as promising a musical menu (full performance schedule here).

“Everyone wins with Taste,” explained the event’s founder Laura Sunday who estimates that 1,000 people will turn out. “This is the only tasting event I know of where people actually get to go into a restaurant and check out the environment and sample so generously.  Most of these things are held in tents and operate like food fairs.  Our restaurants do this year after year because they enjoy giving back to Petaluma and to Cinnabar Theater and it’s the best advertising around.”

Stay-tuned to ARThound for more on Taste of Petaluma.

More About Cinnabar Theater:  Cinnabar Theater, located in the 1908 Cinnabar Schoolhouse on Petaluma Blvd and Skillman Lane, is a 501(c)(3) California non-profit.  It opens its 41st season with Craig Wright’s The Pavilion, a tender story of two former lovers who encounter each other at a high-school reunion. Against the backdrop of old tunes Peter and Kari dance around big questions. Is happily ever after still possible… or is that just in fairy tales?  A terrific cast takes the stage for this enthralling and lyrical play about the mysteries of forgiveness.  Runs: Sept 6-22, 2013; tickets $25.

Cinnabar’s Young Repertory Theater opens its season the musical Annie, based on the Little Orphan Annie comic strip created by Harold Gray.  This charming adaptation of Thomas Meehan’s beloved children’s book Annie, with music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin is the perfect family-friendly musical.

Ciabatta Muffaletta Sandwich with made in-house Spicy Coppa, Fennel Salami & Olive Tapenade.  Sugo Trattoria’s owners and chefs, Peter and Annette White, are passionate about handcrafting their gourmet offerings.  From Peter’s cured meats to their whole grain mustards and hand-formed pastas, everything is artfully presented.  Sugo is located at 5 Petaluma Blvd. South, in Town Center.  Photo: Geneva Anderson

Ciabatta Muffaletta Sandwich with made in-house Spicy Coppa, Fennel Salami & Olive Tapenade. Sugo Trattoria’s owners and chefs, Peter and Annette White, are passionate about handcrafting their gourmet offerings. From Peter’s cured meats to their whole grain mustards and hand-formed pastas, everything is artfully presented. Sugo is located at 5 Petaluma Blvd. South, in Town Center. Photo: Geneva Anderson

With equal measures of pluck and positivity, little orphan ANNIE charms everyone’s hearts, despite a next-to-nothing start in 1930s New York City. She is determined to find her parents, who abandoned her years ago on the doorstep of a New York City Orphanage run by the cruel, embittered Miss Hannigan. With the help of the other girls in the Orphanage, ANNIE escapes to the wondrous and magical world of NYC.  In adventure after fun-filled adventure, ANNIE foils Miss Hannigan’s evil machinations and befriends President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. She finds a new home and family in billionaire Oliver Warbucks, his personal secretary Grace Farrell, and a lovable mutt named Sandy.  Runs:  November 29-December 15, 2013.  Tickets: $15 ages 22 and over; $10 ages 21 and under.

Details:  Taste of Petaluma is Saturday, August 24, 2013 from 11:30 AM to 4 PM.  Advance tickets are discounted at $35 through Friday, August 23, the day before the event.  Tickets are $40 at the event.   Ticket packages consist of 10 tasting tickets, good for 1 taste each. Additional tickers can be purchased for $4 each on the day of the event.  Buy advance tickets from Cinnabar Theater between 10-2 weekdays (707) 763-8920, online here (with fee), or in person at the following venues—
Gallery One – 209 Western Ave., Petaluma
Velvet Ice Collections – 140 2nd Street, Theater Square,
Blush Collections – 117 Kentucky Street

Advance tickets can be picked up at WILL CALL at Helen Putnam Plaza (129 Petaluma Blvd. North) after 10:30 AM on the day of the event.

The first 1,000 guest to purchase tickets will receive a free Taste of Petaluma tote bag.  All participants receive a plastic wine glass.

Laura Sunday, Taste of Petaluma’s organizer, enjoys a luscious heirloom melon cocktail outdoors at Social Club.  GM Damion Wallace runs a notoriously well-stocked bar and scours the local farmer's markets for the freshest ingredients with a breadth of rich colors and tastes for his extraordinary cocktail concoctions.  Social club will sample its Applewood Smoked Pork Shoulder and Heirloom Tomato Salad with Basil and Mint.  Photo: Geneva Anderson

Laura Sunday, Taste of Petaluma’s organizer, enjoys a luscious heirloom melon cocktail outdoors at Social Club. GM Damion Wallace runs a notoriously well-stocked bar and scours the local farmer’s markets for the freshest ingredients with a breadth of rich colors and tastes for his extraordinary cocktail concoctions. Social club will sample its Applewood Smoked Pork Shoulder and Heirloom Tomato Salad with Basil and Mint. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Forget-Me-Not-Cakes, owned by Petaluma baker and cake artist Sally Ann Mcgrath, creates uniquely delicious cakes that are all made from scratch with the finest ingredients. Sisters Elizabeth (L) and Mary-Frances Miller will serve a selection of cupcakes at Blush at 133 Kentucky Street.  Surprisingly, these treats look rich but they are not too sweet or heavy.  Each packs a special mouthwatering surprise—the interior is filled with dollop of scrumptious creamy homemade fruit conserve, caramel or dark chocolate.  Photo: Geneva Anderson

Forget-Me-Not Cakes, owned by Petaluma baker and cake artist Sally Ann Mcgrath, creates uniquely delicious cakes that are all made from scratch with the finest ingredients. Elizabeth (L) and Mary-Frances Miller (R) (sisters and co-workers) will serve a selection of cupcakes at Blush at 133 Kentucky Street. Surprisingly, these treats look rich but they are not too sweet or heavy. Each packs a special mouthwatering surprise—the interior is filled with dollop of scrumptious creamy homemade fruit conserve, caramel or dark chocolate. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Forget-Me-Not-Cakes will offer a gorgeous edible palette of cupcakes at Taste of Petaluma. Left: Blackberry cupcake—the cake is a special vanilla buttermilk recipe passed down through baker Sally Ann Mcgrath’s family. The filling is a homemade blackberry conserve. The topping is a light vanilla buttercream and blackberry conserve frosting.  Right:  Tropical chocolate cupcake—dark chocolate cake with passion-fruit curd filling and coconut buttercream frosting.  Photo: Geneva Anderson

Forget-Me-Not Cakes will offer a gorgeous edible palette of cupcakes at Taste of Petaluma. Left: Blackberry cupcake—the cake is a special vanilla buttermilk recipe passed down through baker Sally Ann Mcgrath’s family. The filling is a homemade blackberry conserve. The topping is a light vanilla buttercream and blackberry conserve frosting. Right: Tropical chocolate cupcake—dark chocolate cake with passion-fruit curd filling and coconut buttercream frosting. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Top and center in perfect sync—Petaluma baker Sally Ann McGrath uses a special tool to hull out a portion of each cupcake’s center after it’s been baked and then pipes in a small bite of homemade filling.  A gorgeous fresh raspberry conserve (fresh fruit and raw sugar reduction) combines perfectly with her delectable whipped raspberry buttercream frosting.  McGrath is one of a handful of gourmet bakers and purveyors who do not have a storefront presence in Petaluma, so this is your chance to see and sample her artful cakes. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Top and center in perfect sync—Petaluma baker Sally Ann McGrath uses a special tool to hull out a portion of each cupcake’s center after it’s been baked and then pipes in a small bite of homemade filling. A gorgeous fresh raspberry conserve (fresh fruit and raw sugar reduction) combines perfectly with her delectable whipped raspberry buttercream frosting. McGrath is one of a handful of gourmet bakers and purveyors who do not have a storefront presence in Petaluma, so this is your chance to see and sample her artful cakes. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Pie Powered Petaluma Couple—Angelo Sacerdote and Lina Hoshino.  Petaluma Pie Company keeps them hopping but Lina Hoshino is also an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose films have screened at festivals all over the world.  Her latest doc, “Living Along the Fenceline”  (Best Documentary Feature at Female Eye Festival 2013) focuses on women grassroots activists living in communities that have been adversely impacted by military bases they host.  Photo:  Geneva Anderson

Pie Powered Petaluma Couple—Angelo Sacerdote and Lina Hoshino. Petaluma Pie Company keeps them hopping but Lina Hoshino is also an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose films have screened at festivals all over the world. Her latest doc, “Living Along the Fenceline” (Best Documentary Feature at Female Eye Festival 2013) focuses on women grassroots activists living in communities that have been adversely impacted by military bases they host. Photo: Geneva Anderson

In just two years, pie enthusiasts, Angelo Sacerdote and Lina Hoshino have turned Petaluma Pie Company into a Petaluma icon.  Noted for their sweet and savory pies made from the freshest local ingredients and their commitment to supporting the community, Petaluma Pie will serve juicy slow cooked Pastured Pork paired with Rhubarb and Chutney enclosed in their outta-this-world buttery Pie Crust and a taste of Cold Beer. Photo: Geneva Anderson

In just two years, pie enthusiasts, Angelo Sacerdote and Lina Hoshino have turned Petaluma Pie Company into a Petaluma icon. Noted for their sweet and savory pies made from the freshest local ingredients and their commitment to supporting the community, Petaluma Pie will serve juicy slow cooked Pastured Pork paired with Rhubarb and Chutney enclosed in their outta-this-world buttery Pie Crust and a taste of Cold Beer. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Tim Bush, Corkscrew Wine Bar’s manager, grabbed the bar faucet for support when he calculated the number of chocolate truffles and pulled pork sliders that hundreds of guests will sample this Saturday’s Taste.  Bush pinch-hits with all sorts of duties for the elegant new establishment, including organizing and participating in Junk Parlor, a music exclusive featuring Gypsy jazz improv on Corkscrew’s Tuesday music nights.  (100 Petaluma Blvd. North near Western Ave) Photo: Geneva Anderson

Tim Bush, Corkscrew Wine Bar’s manager, grabbed the bar faucet for support when he calculated the number of chocolate truffles and pulled pork sliders that hundreds of guests will sample this Saturday’s Taste. Bush pinch-hits with all sorts of duties for the elegant new establishment, including organizing and participating in Junk Parlor, a music exclusive featuring Gypsy jazz improv on Corkscrew’s Tuesday music nights. (100 Petaluma Blvd. North near Western Ave) Photo: Geneva Anderson

Gopal Gauchan, owner/chef at Everest Indian Restaurant, 56 East Washington in “River Plaza,” will be serving his delectible kabobs.  Choose the Chicken Tikka Kabob - Chicken Breast, Red Onion, Broccoli, Sweet Pepper or the Vegetable Tikka Kabob - Red Onion, Scallion, Brussel Sprout, Carrot, Sweet Pepper. Gopal's menu offers a fusion of Indian, Nepalese and Tibetan foods.  Photo:  Geneva Anderson

Gopal Gauchan, owner/chef at Everest Indian Restaurant, 56 East Washington in “River Plaza,” will be serving his delectible kabobs. Choose the Chicken Tikka Kabob – Chicken Breast, Red Onion, Broccoli, Sweet Pepper or the Vegetable Tikka Kabob – Red Onion, Scallion, Brussel Sprout, Carrot, Sweet Pepper. Gopal’s menu offers a fusion of Indian, Nepalese and Tibetan foods. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Chef/owner Andy Ma of Andy’s Kitchen & Sushi Bar, at 212 Western Avenue, is a new to Taste of Petaluma and will serve his signature Samurai Roll (Crab, Avocado, Unagi; deep fried; topped with spicy mayo and unagi sauce) and (not pictured) Mini Corn Sticks w/ Thai Sweet Chili Dip. Don’t miss his walls, which are always packed with interesting local art.  Photo:  Geneva Anderson

Chef/owner Andy Ma of Andy’s Kitchen & Sushi Bar, at 212 Western Avenue, is a new to Taste of Petaluma and will serve his signature Samurai Roll (Crab, Avocado, Unagi; deep fried; topped with spicy mayo and unagi sauce) and (not pictured) Mini Corn Sticks w/ Thai Sweet Chili Dip. Don’t miss his walls, which are always packed with interesting local art. Photo: Geneva Anderson

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August 19, 2013 Posted by | Food, Theatre | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Carb-loading for a cause—the 15th Annual Petaluma Chili Cook-off, Salsa and Beer Tasting is this Saturday, May 12, 2012, and it benefits Cinnabar Theatre’s Youth Programs

Save Saturday, May 13, 2012, for the 15th Annual Petaluma Chili Cook-off, Salsa and Beer Tasting at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds, Petaluma

Most of us don’t need an excuse to eat but this Saturday offers a great reason to indulge—it’s the 15th Annual Petaluma Chili Cook-off, Salsa and Beer Tasting, an all-you-can-eat extravaganza— and all the proceeds fund Cinnabar Theatre’s wonderful youth programming.  The event runs from 1 to 5 p.m. at Herzog Hall at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds in Petaluma.  This year, 55 teams of chili and salsa challengers and 14 Bay Area breweries are participating and there will be chili and salsa galore to sample and judge, and plenty of beer, including special microbrews, to quench your thirst.  The goal—to determine the best-of-the-best when it comes to meat chili, veggie chili, traditional salsa, fruit salsa.  Defending their 2011 title for best meat chili by individual will be Tree Huggin’ Hippies; best meat chili by restaurant/ Whole Foods; best vegetarian chili/ Tree Huggin’ Hippies; best traditional salsa/ Tree Huggin’ Hippies and best fruit salsa/Sonoma Salsa.  There’s also a People’s Choice award given in each of the categories.  Come early, eat plentifully, and see if you can spot the taste of victory.

The cook-off’s founder and organizer, Laura Sunday, deemed “Empress”—who also runs Taste of Petaluma every September—has fond memories of last year’s contest and high hopes for this one.  “Last year we had 15 young guys from Chicago who attended our Chili Cook-off for a Bachelor Party.  They drove up from SFO in a limousine and partied all day long with us.  I asked them how they heard about us. They said they wanted to go to a chili cook-off to celebrate and when they researched it, ours kept coming up as the best in the West, so they planned their entire trip around our event.”

Last year, the event was attended by 1,300 people and raised $50,000 for Cinnabar Theater’s youth programs which include a variety of classes in the performing arts for children of ages 4 through 18; Cinnabar’s Young Repertory Company, which produces 4 fully staged shows annually; and Cinnabar’s very popular Summer Camps, which provide an immersive 4 week training leading up to a staged performance or musical revue.  This year, there are three camps offered that will perform Musical Madness (Broadway hits revue), Rock ‘n’ Music Roll (rock opera) and Les Miserable.

“We’re heading into our 40th season for our Young Rep program and are proud to say that no child is turned away for lack of funds,” said Elly Lichenstein, Cinnabar’s Artistic Director.  “We have between 450 and 500 students coming from all over the North Bay every year and we offer a range of scholarships and the Chili tasting is our biggest fund raiser of the year—it’s vital to our survival.”    Lichenstein is proud that her program has launched several careers in the arts.  One Cinnabar alumnus is in Hollywood making movies and several students, now sprinkled across the country, are pursuing acting careers.

“What I love about the chili cook-off is that it’s such a celebration,” said Lichenstein.  “Everyone’s having a great time, packed in this hall like sardines and eating away, and it brings out a whole different demographic than we see during our regular performance season—these are people who love chili and they don’t necessarily love theatre and it’s fabulous.”

How does the competition work?  Some chili contests adhere to purist rules about what chili is and isn’t and what it can and can’t be.  Some contests, for example, don’t allow beans in chili.  In Petaluma, things are flexible and Sunday doesn’t give entrants any rules about chili or salsa.   “I love beans! If you want to put beans in your chili, I will not say no.”

Because there are only 55 contestants, and entry is handled on a first-come, first-served basis, anybody with a hot recipe and the requisite $65 to $75 entry fee who entered before the March 15, 2012 deadline, made the cut.  Most of last year’s winners are back to defend their titles, including the mystifying Tree Huggin’ Hippies who won the meat chili, vegetarian chili and vegetarian chili by individuals divisions.

Each contestant has been asked to prepare a whopping 9 gallons of the recipe entered, enough for the panel of judges and community tasting.  Chili judging will be by a blind taste test and all chili and salsa will be served to the judges in 2 oz. plastic cups.  The judges will have no contact with the chili or salsa challengers.  Judging is on the basis of taste and personal preference of the V.I.P. judging panel—a team of 13 foodies and community members selected by Dick Kapash, the retired founder of Petaluma’s SOLA Optical.   “I can’t get enough of those fine chili dishes…the chili, salsa and beer just keep getting better every year,” said Kapash, who has worked with Laura Sunday for about 9 years planning the event.   Each judge tastes either chili or salsa and votes.  This year’s judges are Dick Kapash, David Glass, Ryan Williams, Yovanna Bierberich, Steve Jaxon, Jason Jenkins, Mike Harris, Geraldine Duncann, Mary McCusker, Jason Davies, Geneva Anderson, Joe Davis, Nick Grizzle.

When asked to judge again, I agreed immediately.  I love the competitive edge it brings out, the fun of people watching and the joy of eating.  I opted for salsa—refreshing, tart and spicy—I make it frequently and am always up for a new twist.  And, frankly, I am interested in seeing how others adjust their recipes to get that fresh flavor burst in non-tomato season.  When you’ve got juicy sun-ripened heirloom tomatoes at your fingertips, everything is already easier.

Awards: There will be 4 “People’s Choice” trophies given for Meat Chili, Veggie Chili, Salsa and Beer.  A panel of distinguished judges from the community will award “Judges’ Choice” trophies for Best Restaurant, Business, Service Organization, Individual, Salsa, and Vegetarian Chili, and an overall “Grand Champion Chili.”  Other awards will be given for best team costumes, best booth decorations, most spirited team, best salsa and chili display, and any other wacky contest that the organizers can come up.  Runners up will also be awarded.

Live Entertainment: Although the main event on Saturday will be the chili and salsa contest, in Behren’s Park, just next to Herzog Hall, there will be music by Soup Sandwich, an 8 piece local Ska band (1 PM to 1:45 PM), and Sonoma County favorites Stony Point, performing a crowd-pleasing mix of rock and blues plus some original tunes for dancing and listening pleasure (3 PM to 4:30 PM).  Local dance companies Raks Rosa Dance Company (belly dance, middle eastern)(1:45 to 2 PM) and FIERCE Dance Company (hip-hop) (2:45 PM to 3 PM) and are also on the docket.  The Amazing Caine will perform dazzling magic tricks and Fred Speer of Clark’s Pest Control will offer a Bug Zoo and promises a collection of very interesting insects.  (full entertainment schedule)

If you sign on for the beer tasting component of the event—an additional $15–you’ll have your fill of the offerings of 15 local micro-breweries producing the finest premium ales around.

More About Cinnabar Theater:
Cinnabar Theatre winds up its 39th  season with Garson Kanin’s Born Yesterday,  playing May 25-June 10, 2012.  This 1946 hilarious tale features a not-so-dumb-blonde, her less-than-honest brute of a boyfriend, and the no-nonsense reporter who helps her uncover Washington’s dirty little secrets and life’s glorious possibilities.  Get your tickets here or call 707.763.8920.

Sing We & Chant It, Cinnabar Chamber Singers, Spring Concert, with Michael Shahani, Directing.  Cinnabar Chamber Singers is a thing of rare beauty: breathtaking music arranged for several parts, sung by people who find fulfillment and fellowship, offered up to the public in concert.  They teach us something about music, art and life, as the notes wrap themselves gently around our hearts.  The Spring Concert features Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cantata #131, Mark Kratz soloist (Don Ottavio in this Spring’s Don Giovanni), as well as a set of beloved madrigals and exciting new works.  (May 27, 2 PM, Petaluma’s United Church of Christ, 825 Middlefield Drive, Petaluma) Get your tickets here or call 707.763.8920.

Details: 15th Annual Petaluma Chili Cook-off, Salsa and Beer Tasting is Saturday, May 12, 2012, from 1 to 5 p.m., at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds, Herzog Hall, Petaluma (located at East Washington and Payran Streets in Petaluma) Chili, salsa and beer tasting $40, Chili and salsa Tasting $25, Kids under 12 $10, under 5 free.  ID necessary for beer.  Tickets can be purchased in advance online, or the day of the event.

May 9, 2012 Posted by | Food, Theatre | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This Saturday’s 6th Annual Taste of Petaluma is a culinary journey you won’t want to miss

Pie-maker and filmmaker Lina Hoshino, of Petaluma's famed Petaluma Pie Company will be serving chocolate creme pie and cheeseburger pie at Saturday's 6th annual Taste of Petaluma. Photo: Geneva Anderson

It’s no secret to those of us who live in Petaluma that our town is bursting with fabulous eateries—we now have over 140 restaurants─ and Petaluma is now recognized as the gourmet dining destination for Sonoma County and the Wine Country.  This Saturday, the 6th annual Taste of Petaluma will offer samplings from over 60 of our town’s finest chefs, food purveyors, wineries and breweries.  “Taste” is the perfect way to acquaint yourself with Petaluma’s culinary offerings by spending a leisurely afternoon visiting the eateries, hosting galleries and stores, (many of which are in Petaluma’s lovely Historic Downtown area) which will be serving generous tastes of signature dishes.  The festive afternoon will also include live musical entertainment (schedule)—classical, jazz, folk, acoustic, rock─and belly dancers, an aspiring Elvis, a magician and more!  

Over the past two weeks, I accompanied Taste of Petaluma’s coordinator Laura Sunday and a gung-ho group of local food writers to pre-tastes all around town and ate (and ate and ate).  I have been asked to focus on a few tantalizing vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free offerings, along with my personal favorites.

Elly Lichtenstein, Cinnabar Theater’s Artistic Director, and Laura Sunday, Taste of Petaluma’s coordinator, share a hug at Cordoza’s Deli and Café. They have worked for months to organize Taste of Petaluma, one of Cinnabar Theater’s most important fundraisers. Photo: Geneva Anderson

“Taste of Petaluma” is truly unique in the roll-out of gourmet events in Northern CA,” explained Laura Sunday.  “You get to experience the ambience of the restaurant or venue itself, chat with the owners, and the food is all prepared right on the spot─it hasn’t been sitting around waiting to be served in a booth.”  

All of the purveyors generously donate their food to Taste, knowing that a sample is the best advertising that money can buy.  And because the proceeds go directly to Cinnabar Theater, which so enriches our community, the entire event has a feel-good vibe to it, whether you’re on the supply or demand end of the equation. 

Sunday is quick to point out that Cinnabar Theater is struggling to make up the funding it lost when the City of Petaluma’s TOT (Transient Occupancy Tax) subcommittee cut Cinnabar’s annual TOT funding from $70,000 to zero over the course of two years. “That was a tremendous blow.  Now, Cinnabar is even more dependent on its two main fund-raising events─the Great Petaluma Chili Cookoff, Salsa and Beer Tasting (every May) and Taste of Petaluma (every 

Nancy DeLorenzo of Wild Goat Bistro, located in the Great Petaluma Mill, has a reputation for serving the best artisan pizzas in town, along with tantalizing salads, all made from local organic produce. Photo: Geneva Anderson

September).  I moved to Petaluma because of Cinnabar Theatre and its tremendous youth programming.  Both of my children have careers in the arts that are a direct result of the training they received at Cinnabar. Cinnabar’s productions are an integral part of our community’s rich offerings.”   

Now, on to the food!

Wild Goat Bistro (6 Petaluma Boulevard North, Suite A5) in the Great Petaluma Mill, wowed me last year with its offerings of rustic artisan pizzas and, once again, owner Nancy DeLorenzo bowled me over by presenting an array of foods that looked and tasted so good, I literally got lost in taking photos of these magnificent gourmet artworks.    This year, Nancy’s sisters are flying in to help out for Taste, and Wild Goat is offering three of it most demanded artisanal pizzas: Perfect Pair–pear, fontina cheese, smoked ham, topped with gorgonzola; Mediterranean Pizza—pesto base with purple onions, tomatoes, fresh mushrooms, artichokes, mozzarella cheese; and That’s a Meatball—tomato sauce, pesto, mozzarella and Niman Ranch Angus meatballs.  Wild Goat is not offering any gluten-free selections for Taste but their regular menu does include several gluten free options, including gluten-free Neapolitan-style thin crust pizzas and several desserts.

(Be sure to check out ARThound’s slide show of an afternoon of pizza-making with Nancy, Laura Sunday and Houston Porter.  We mastered the thin crust.)

Everest Indian Restaurant, (56 East Washington Street) in the Golden Eagle Shopping Center, owned and managed by Gopal and Shanti Gauchan and their daughter, Sunita, offers a tantalizing mix of Indian, Nepalese and Tibetan dishes with sauces of sheer perfection.  For Taste, Everest will offer a choice of Vegetable Tikka Masala or Prawns in Apricot Sauce.  The Vegetable Tikka Masala is a perfect choice for vegetarians as it contains locally-sourced carrots, cauliflower, mushrooms, Italian squash and a smattering of white turnip —all slowly cooked to

Gopal (right) and Shanti (left) Gauchan and their daughter Sunita (center) own Everest Indian Restaurant in the Golden Eagle Shopping Center. Vegetable Tikka Masala (left front) is a delicious vegetarian dish and their Apricot Prawns (back right) features Gopal’s signature succulent apricot-coconut sauce. Photo: Geneva Anderson

release maximum flavor in a sauce whose base ingredients include sautéed onions, tomato paste, garlic, and light cream simmered with a special blend of spices (including ancient fenugreek, cardamom, and ginger), and slices of dried Granny Smith apples. The result─a rich, sweet golden medley. 

And in case you haven’t tried Everest’s signature Apricot Chicken or Apricot Prawns yet, the secret is in Gopal’s succulent apricot-coconut sauce─it’s sweet and creamy, but not too sweet.  After living in California, Gopal noticed that people here love sauces but are weary of cumin-dominated flavoring.  When he added the apricots, a beautiful orange fruit just loaded with  that most people find delicious (that is actually categorized as a plum species), he had a winner.  Everest will offer a lightly fried jumbo prawn simmered in this succulent sauce, garnished with dried apricot and lightly steamed broccoli.  

And when you decide to come back for lunch or dinner, Everest’s Chicken Tikka Masala is consistently ranked by customers as the best they have had, ever.  There are also several variations of freshly cooked naan, that sumptuous traditional Indian bread, ranging from unembellished Plain Naan to Garlic Basil Naan, which is topped with garlic and fresh basil—a staple when it comes to sopping up every drop of sauce on your plate.   And, one of the best aspects of dining at Everest, is the chance to take in the artworks that grace the dining area.  Right now, there are several charcoal works by Miguel Gonzales on display,  and his portraits are very skillfully executed.

Everest Indian Restaurant’s Vegetable Tikka Masala is a slow simmered richly-hued masterpiece made from locally grown produce which is perfect with naan or rice. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Lydia’s Lovin’ Foods, a newcomer to Taste of Petaluma, will be hosted at Pelican Art Gallery (143 Petaluma Blvd. North).  Based in Fairfax, Lydia’s has three branches─Lydia’s Organics, Lydia’s Kitchen and Lydia’s Lovin’ Foods─and was founded by Lydia Kindheart.  Kindheart was raised in France and lived in Petaluma “many moons ago,” before she started her highly successful companies some 15 years ago which specialize in high-end all organic and gluten free foods, and several raw food items. You may have seen a few of Lydia’s products in Petaluma Whole Foods, where they are sold in the refrigerated deli section.  The big news is, within the next couple of months, Lydia is relocating much of her operations to Petaluma and will open Sunflower Center, an 8,000 square feet space on North McDowell with a café, gluten-free bakery and educational center which will host speakers and hold seminars, screenings and events geared toward teaching people about healthful foods and living.  Stay tuned.

Go green! After trying Lydia’s Green Soup, a raw, organic, vegan, and gluten-free revitalizing super soup your body will thank you. Green Soup is Lydia’s Lovin’ Foods’ best seller and is a healthful blend of kale, cucumber, celery, parsley, cilantro, basil, avocado, dulse seaweed, lemon, ginger and salt. Photo: courtesy Lydia’s Lovin’ Foods.

Go green! After trying Lydia’s Green Soup, a raw, organic, vegan, and gluten-free revitalizing super soup, your body will thank you. Green Soup is Lydia’s Lovin’ Foods’ best seller and is a healthful blend of kale, cucumber, celery, parsley, cilantro, basil, avocado, dulse seaweed, lemon, ginger and salt. Photo: courtesy Lydia’s Lovin’ Foods.

 If you know me reasonably well, I may have sent you emails extolling the virtues of Lydia’s elegant and delicious Purple Goddess Salad. It encapsulates what I, a former Balkan journalist, stand for—namely cabbage, beets, kalamata olives and judicious use of the word “goddess.”   This gorgeous, deep purple, hearty salad is dressed with a slightly tangy olive oil vinaigrette, and just bursting with beneficial flavonoids.  

For Taste, Lydia will be serving several of her best-sellers: Raw Green Soup (an alkalizing soup with avocado, cucumber and seaweed), Kale-Seaweed Salad (with carrots, sesame seeds and a tamari-ginger dressing), Purple Goddess Salad (with beets, cabbage and Kalamata olives).  She will also offer mini raw pizzas made with Cashew “Cheez” ( a delicious dairy alternative spread made from cashews, sesame seeds, tomato, olive oil) and marinated vegetables atop Lydia’s crackers.  For dessert, there will be “Cheez” Cake, a light creamy healthy alternative to the traditional favorite made with fresh apples and served on a nut crust.

Hiro’s Japanese Restaurant will be serving its popular California Roll at the 6th Annual Taste of Petaluma. Established in 2002, Hiro’s is one of Petaluma’s first high-end sushi bars and its features traditional sushi using the finest ingredients. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Hiro Yamamoto’s Hiro’s Japanese Restaurant (107 Petaluma Blvd. North) will be serving its signature California Roll—rice, vinaigrette-marinated seaweed, crab mix, avocado, diced cucumber, mayonaise─prepared on the spot by chef Shige Mori.  Hiro’s house salad of organic greens topped with its amazing sesame-miso vinaigrette has such a following that they are asked over and over again to bottle it.  For now, it’s only available on the house salad.  When you enter, check out Hiro’s marvelous centerpiece—a stunning 7’ x 21’ woodblock print of a giant fish engulfing a crowd of people, which delighted this Pisces to no end.  This epic artwork was created especially for the sushi bar by artist Naoki Tekenouchi, who also created the large abstract wood sculpture behind the bar for the restaurant and hand carved its lovely tables from exotic natural woods.

Let’s move on to dessert–

Bovine Bakery (23 Kentucky Street) has earned a special place in my heart for its inviting atmosphere, huge open kitchen where you watch the baking unfold, and their legendary hand-made baked goods—breads, French pastries, coffee cakes, muffins, scones, tarts, pies and cakes─and lunch items such as pizzas, soups, and fabulous salads.  And then there’s the sheer bravado of Bovine’s Petaluma Manager, Carolyn Williams, whose first day in business in Petaluma last year was planned to sync with Taste of Petaluma.  She was hit with “outrageous demand” all day long and emerged “exhausted but deeply jazzed” that Bovine was on the map.  And on the map it is, Bovine has fast become a local hangout and the inviting benches and tables outdoors are usually occupied. 

Bovine Bakery’s Carolyn Williams served us an entire tray of freshly baked aromatic scones, muffins, frittatas, cookies and cakes—all made with local and almost exclusively organic ingredients. The dark chocolate cherry cookie is gluten-free and as moist and chewy and chocolaty as any I have tasted. Photo: Geneva Anderson

This year, Taste participants visiting Bovine will have a choice of sampling any muffin, scone or stuffed croissant─including their best-selling morning buns.  And since “fresh, local and organic” is the Bovine mantra, every hearty and satisfying treat they make is top quality.

Bovine’s gluten-free Taste options this year will include a chewy dark chocolate cherry almond cookie, a coconut macaroon, or a muffin.  And for those of you who are not gluten intolerant, these items are so delicious, and have such a wonderful texture, that you won’t even know they are gluten free.  I sampled their sinful chewy dark chocolate cherry almond cookie, made with a minimal amount of rice flower, and then I tried their peach orange almond muffin, which was moist and bursting with fruit.  Their sugar-free oat bran date almond muffin is sweetened only with dates was delicious.  One of the best things about Bovine is their generosity—whether its dark organic chocolate, poppy seeds, nuts, or cheese─ they do NOT skimp on their fillings and that creates a lot of good will. And speak of poppy seeds, Bovine’s poppy seed pastry, a staple of my years in Eastern Europe, warms my heart every time I bite into one—rich (but not too sweet) and so satisfying with that glorious poppy taste.   Bovine also offers healthy hearty lunches including a gluten-free quiche option with a polenta crust.

Petaluma Pie Company(125 Petaluma Blvd. North, Suite D, at Putnam Plaza) It’s no secret that filmmakers and bakers Lina Hoshina and Angelo Sacerdote have captured ARThound’s heart on many occasions.  Their films are inspirational and their pies are heavenly.  Their little shop is just packed with evidence of their artistic flair—a “pie story” board, chalk boards with lists (of ingredients, pie quotes), pie plate mirrors─and it has the BEST aroma in town.  For taste, they will offer bites of their two most popular hand pies–chocolate crème and their cheeseburger pie.  The cheeseburger pie is made with locally-sourced grass-fed

Bovine Bakery's Poppy Seed Pastry, which evokes old world European pastries, is bursting with the rich natural flavor of poppy seeds. Photo: Geneva Anderson

beef and the cheese is from Spring Hill Jersey Cheese Company.  The chocolate cream pie is made with chocolate by San Francisco-based Tcho chocolate. Butter in the pie crusts is provided by Straus Family Creamery.

One of the secrets to Petaluma Pie Company’s fabulous pie crusts is that they are constantly tweaking the crust recipe to fit the filling and that means that that a pie that looks great in their shop will not sag once you get it home.  In addition to pie, your Taste ticket will also allow you to try Kona Brewing Company’s beer which pairs wonderfully with any of their savory pies.  And if you really want to test Petaluma Pie at their game, ask Angelo if he can assess your “pie face”—that is, accurately predict what type of pie you’ll order.  

(Be sure to read ARThound’s feature storyon Petaluma Pie Company’s opening last December.  It contains loads of information on the full scope of Lina and Angelo’s creative endeavors.)  

Petaluma Pie Company's Chocolate Creme Hand Pie is made with Tcho dark chocolate and is so popular that it always sells-out. You can try it at this Saturday's 6th Annual Taste of Petaluma. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Taste of Petaluma Details:  Saturday August 27, 2011, 11:30 AM to 4:00 PM.

Pre-event ticket purchases: Packages of 10 tasting tickets are $35 in advance, available online and through Friday, August 26th, at Haus Fortuna (111 2nd Street in the Theater District) and Pelican Art Gallery  (143 Petaluma Boulevard North).

Day of Event tickets: On Saturday, August 27th, ticket packages will be $40 and available at
Putnam Plaza (on Petaluma Blvd. North) and Haus Fortuna (111 2nd Street in the Theater District).

A maximum of 1500 ticket packages will be sold for Taste of Petaluma, so buy your tickets early.

Ticket Package Includes:
• Book of 10 dine-around tickets – One sampling item per ticket. You can purchase more tickets throughout the day for $4 each at Putnam Plaza or Haus Fortuna.
• Street Map of sampling locations
• Menu of food and special events offered by participants
• Taste of Petaluma tote bag to first 500 guests

Cinnabar Theater:
Cinnabar Theatre’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. 

The V Concert” is September 10, 2011, and features works exclusively by composers whose last names begin with the letter V, including Vivaldi, and featuring Villa Lobos’ lush “Bachianas Brasileiras” No. 5 for eight cellos and solo soprano and other “V” treats.  Soprano Carrie Hennessey, of Cinnabar’s Emmeline fame, will sing the Villa Lobos solo. (listen here for Villa Lobos).  The concert is a fundraiser for Cinnabar’s Opera Theater Program and will take place in the lovely West Petaluma gardens at 200 Queens Lane, Petaluma, CA.  Tickets: $15 to 20 (purchase here)

Cinnabar Theater, 3333 Petaluma Blvd. North, Petaluma, CA  94952, 707.763.8929.

August 25, 2011 Posted by | Food | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Feel the heat at the 14th Great Petaluma Chile Cook-off, Salsa and Beer Tasting, this Saturday, May 7, 2011, Sonoma Marin Fairgrounds

Save Saturday, May 7, 2011, for the 14th Great Petaluma Chili Cook-off, Salsa & Beer Tasting

Leave lunch open this Saturday.  You’ll be having chili for a cause–Cinnabar Theater’s fabulous children’s programs.  In case you haven’t seen the huge banners displayed all around Petaluma, the 14th Great Petaluma Chili Cook-off, Salsa & Beer Tasting takes place this Saturday, May 7, 2011, from 1 to 4 p.m., at Herzog Hall at the Sonoma Marin fairgrounds.  50 teams of chili and salsa challengers and 15 Bay Area breweries are participating and there will be plenty of chili, salsa and beer to sample and judge.  The goal–to determine the best of the best when it comes to meat chili, veggie chili, traditional salsa, fruit salsa.  Defending their 2010 title for best chili by individual will be Tree Huggin Hippie; best chili by restaurant/ Larray’s Corner Market; best vegetarian chili/ Whole Foods; best traditional salsa/ CIA and best fruit salsa/ Petaluma Woman’s Club.  There’s also a People’s Choice award given in each of the categories.

The cook-off’s founder and organizer, Laura Sunday—who also runs Taste of Petaluma every September– has high hopes for this year’s contest.  Last year, the event was attended by about 1,000 people and raised about $35,000 for Cinnabar Theater’s youth programs which include education in the performing arts and Cinnabar’s Young Repertory Theater, which produces several fully staged productions annually and serves hundreds of students from Sonoma County and beyond.

Some chili contests adhere to purist rules about what chili is and isn’t and what it can and can’t be.  Some contests, for example, don’t allow beans in chili.  In Petaluma, things are flexible and Sunday doesn’t give entrants any rules about chili or salsa.  “We’re not internationally sanctioned.  I don’t disallow beans.  I love beans.  Beans are healthy and delicious.  If you want to put beans in your chili, I will not say no.  My only rules are no roadkill.”

How does it all work?   Because there are only 50 contestants, and entry is handled on a first-come, first-served basis, anybody with a hot recipe and the requisite $65 to $75 entry fee who entered before the March 15, 2011 deadline, made the cut.

Each contestant has been asked to prepare a whopping 9 gallons of the recipe entered, enough for the panel of judges and community tasting.  Judging is on the basis of taste and personal preference of the V.I.P. judging panel—a team of 13 foodies and community members selected by Dick Kapash, the retired founder of Petaluma’s SOLA Optical.   “I can’t get enough of those fine chili dishes…the chili, salsa and beer just keep getting better every year,”  said Kapash, who has worked with Laura Sunday for about 8 years planning the event.   Each judge tastes either chili or salsa and votes.  This year’s judges are Dick Kapash, David Glass, Ryan Williams, Pamela Torliatt, Steve Jaxon, Jason Jenkins, Michael J, Mike Harris, Elece Hempel, Chris Samson, Pete White, Geneva Anderson, and Joe Davis.

When asked to judge, I opted for salsa–refreshing, tart and spicy–I make and eat it several times per week and am always up for a new twist.  And, frankly, I am interested in seeing how others adjust their recipes to get that fresh flavor burst in non-tomato season.  When you’ve got juicy sun-ripened tomatoes at your fingertips, everything is already easier.

As for chili, Sunday remarked that it’s amazing how often the judges’ and people’s choice winners are one and the same.   ” There are some good chilis, some that are not so good and some that rise above the rest and truly sing,” said Sunday.  “We find the chili winners tend to be medium in heat. Highly spiced, burning chili is not very popular with the judges or the public for their votes.  People like a rich tomato flavor and color, thick with good texture, with meat that is easy to chew, very flavorful.   Not one distinct flavor should hit you first like salt, or any particular spice or ingredient.  All the flavors should be blended and melded perfectly.  One spoonful of a great chili is not enough.  A great chili should make you crave more.”

Although the main event on Saturday will be the chili and salsa contest, in Behren’s Park, just next to Herzog Hall, there will be music by Stony Point and Rule 5 and entertainment by dance companies FIERCE Dance Company and Raks Rosa Arabic Dance Production. (full entertainment schedule), plus plenty of refreshment.  If you sign on for the beer tasting component of the event—an additional $15–you’ll have your fill of the offerings of 15 local micro-breweries producing the finest premium ales around.

What’s the likelihood of coming home with a great chili receipt?  According to Sunday, it’s not up to her.  “Some entrants want to share, but some want to take their recipe to their grave.  Some are family traditions passed down through the generations.  But not many stay with the same recipe year after year.  It’s always evolving and changing.  Everyone is trying to perfect their chili.”

Details:  1 to 5 p.m., rain or shine at Herzog Hall and Behren’s Park, Sonoma Marin Fairgrounds (at East Washington Street and Payran Streets), Petaluma, CA.  Tickets: Chili and Salsa tasting only $25; kids under 12 $10, under 5 free.  Chili, Salsa and Beer tasting: $40.  Purchase in advance online or in person at event.

May 5, 2011 Posted by | Food, Theatre | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 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.  

TICKETS:  

$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