Last minute Valentine’s menus and ideas

Sonoma County Restaurant Week Feb. 21-27

In the past lots of Sonoma Valley restaurants have participated in the Sonoma County Restaurant week but fewer are making the effort this year. Many local owners are busy just trying to staff their establishments and meet demand as it is.

Restaurant week has often served to get locals and visitors to try restaurants they haven’t experienced, or just to offer regular customers a chance to get discounted prices for two- or three-course meals.

Kivelstadt, Harvey’s Donut Bar, Taub Family Outpost, Delicious Dish and Salt & Stone are all offering the discount deals. Find the menus at or wait for me to offer them in my column next week.

Cheese classes popping up

Two years and a year ago, loads of Sonomans were making more bread than they could eat. Now do you want to make cheese to go on it?

Sheana Davis at the Epicurean Connection is expanding her offerings, while the Mattsons are trying to resurrect Ramekins Culinary School with a cheese and wine pairing class.

Epicurean Connection

Sheana Davis and husband Ben Sessions have re-started hands-on cheesemaking classes at the Epicurean Connection on Eighth Street East.

Each registered group will have its own station and together make Crème de Ricotta, a 2- to 3-pound wheel of fresh cow’s milk cheese and or a variety of flavored cheeses from the Epicurean Connection’s Flavor Bar.

Each guest will take home a cheese cloth, cheese ladle, cheese recipe card, cheese trail map, and enjoy an artisan cheese course and complimentary rose. Each class lasts two hours. All ages are welcome. Vaccinations are required. Proper COVID protocols are followed in all classes.

Classes take place every Thursday and Saturday from noon to 2 pm, and Friday 3 to 5 pm Classes cost $ 125.

Store open 9 am to 3 pm Friday and Saturday for extensive takeout foods including vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free soups with canned vegetables and chili, roasted vegetables. Rancho Gordo beans, Tall Grass olive oils, cookies, and cheese specials.

Private and corporate classes are also available.

They can also create classes by Zoom, with cheese shipped anywhere in the USA. Live in person class size limited to 10 guests.19670 Eighth St. E., Sonoma. 235-9530.

Ramekins resurrecting?

After laying off the longtime manager of the Ramekins Culinary School, Karin Rogers, on behalf of Ken Mattson, closed it down in January 2020 and used the teaching and demo kitchen as storage space, much as they have the CocoaPlanet building on Broadway.

Both spaces have sat idle for a couple of years, along with the general name of Ramekins being changed to Seven Branches Venue and Inn.

Now suddenly they want to resurrect the name and logo of Ramekins Culinary School, starting with a “Cheese of the World Wine Pairing Class” on Friday, Feb. 25.

James Ayers, past cheesemonger at St. Helena’s Sunshine Foods, Atelier in Yountville, and Oakville Grocery who is now a cheesemonger at Sonoma Cheese Factory, will lead the cheese portion of the class. No cheese is made at Sonoma Cheese Factory.

Todd Jolly, a popular sommelier at the Mattsons’ Sonoma’s Best, will lead the wine pairing part of the class. ($ 125)

After the class you can add a three-course wine-paired dinner prepared by Folktable Catering. ($ 225 additional.)

Then they offer you the chance to stay at Seven Branches, A Night to Remember, Sonoma’s Best Cottages (developed by Sondra Bernstein and Gayle and Tom Jenkins who created Sonoma’s Best), or Cottage Inn & Spa, all owned by Lefever-Mattson.

Food budgets tighter?

Food prices are higher everywhere.

In England people on pensions of various kinds are having trouble heating their flats and buying food. The New York Times story on this runs for two pages without mentioning Brexit and its effects on imports and exports of both food products such as milk and cheese, energy, and workers. Food banks are running out of food, as costs have skyrocketed.

Here in California and across the US, you must have noticed prices have gone up on the same products, along with meat of all kinds, fish, mayonnaise, ready-made sandwiches, eggs and everything.

Without Brexit, the increases are being blamed truck drivers or lack of, Vladimir Putin, President Joe Biden, backlogs at warehouses, and workers who don’t want to work at labor-intensive jobs, while unemployment is low.

But no one is blaming the suppliers. Granted, some cattle ranchers killed stock during the pandemic while people were backed up for miles in foodbank lines. Here in Sonoma County, Clover Sonoma led a national effort to re-package and distribute milk rather than throw it away which had been going on.

Then industries went relatively wild because they knew millions of people were getting unemployment checks and deposits and had money to spend, so they raised their prices. That’s what supply and demand seems to be about.

But here, as in England, our food sources for those who are running out of government subsidies, lost jobs and those working multiple low-paying jobs have begun to turn up short.

In the last two weeks Sonoma Overnight Support had to close early because they ran out of food since the numbers of food-insecure people have been increasing by about 25 more meals a day. Recently they have served 320 meals a day.

How are you and your friends and family doing?

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