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Welcome to the Sonoma County Gazette ARCHIVE of PAST EDITIONS. Our NEW WEBSITE is up and running, so GazExtra is serving as your path to archived articles. Thanks for being part of our Sonoma County community...stay in touch...e-mail me - VESTA

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Greening Our Money

Dear EcoGirl: In last month’s column, you said that our current economic woes make it increasingly urgent that we shift to more earth-honoring ways, because our economy depends on functioning ecosystems. But how can we do that when everyone’s budgets are so challenged? Signed, Seeking in Sebastopol

EcoGirl responds:
Greening Our Money

Dear Seeking: Yes, I think a key task of our times is resolving the tension between our current financial and environmental worldviews.

On the one hand, it’s reasonable that we seek money to support our daily lives. However, the economic system that generates our lovely material things also rewards the wide-scale environmental destruction that undermines both our physical and financial well-being.

Unfortunately, if we allow our activities to continue ignoring our dependency on the earth, we will increasingly find ourselves and the planet in ruins. (Read
Collapse to learn how other societies failed this way, and for more about our economy’s reliance on nature.)

Thus, true healing of both our economic and ecological crises requires that we increasingly use our money to encourage activities that honor and align with the earth’s ways and our true best interests. Our choices will create our future world.

How You Can Nurture This Eco-Transition
1) Understand what “green” really means. Green is used so casually nowadays that the truly meaningful actions can be unclear.

So educate yourself about the key eco-issues and solutions, to contribute to wise directions and avoid harmful ones. Deepen your understanding by reading non-mainstream sources (such as this paper!) and hearing different perspectives. Be open to constructive solutions, but cautious about easy answers and smooth-talking façades. The rush to corn ethanol, and backlash over its full costs, should warn us about embracing ideas too uncritically.

2) Buy green wisely. Green your home and business purchases by first considering if you can reach your goals without buying something new. Can you reuse or buy used instead? Can you replace disposable products like paper towels with reusable ones like cloth? Only by reducing our consumption notably can we dial back our destruction of the earth.

When buying products, look beyond “green” labels to understand their claims. (Useful information is at
.) Invest in the key solutions, such as conservation, alternative energy, local organic agriculture, and home gardening. What we buy is what we encourage.

3) Green your work. As more people support green solutions, more earth-healing jobs are appearing. For leads, see my page

But you don’t have to change your job. Explore how you can green your organization’s current activities. Get ideas from periodicals and peers. Read
Natural Capitalism

4) Green your finances. Even your banking and investments can flow money towards more earth-healthy activities. See for green bank accounts, credit cards, advisors, periodicals, and more.

5) Save money in ways that nurture the planet and your life. For example, carpooling saves money and energy while connecting you with others. Being in nature costs little and brings a centeredness no product ever will.

6) Help change our economic system. The true solution is changing the playing field, shifting what our economic system rewards so that people’s financial well-being aligns with the earth’s. Unfortunately, many leaders and businesses are still following outdated economic models. Therefore, it’s up to us, the many, to reclaim our power and act for a smarter economy. For solutions, search online for “green economics,” “green taxes,” and “genuine progress indicator.” Read Ecology of Commerce and Find remedies and groups you value, pressure lawmakers, and educate others.

7) Unblock your barriers to action. Action is the antidote to despair! Do you wish you were doing more? Explore what you most want to impact, your barriers to acting, and ways to unblock them. Do you feel too busy? Look for solutions that save time or fit into your current activities. Do you think one can’t make a difference? Then consider the harm that our cumulative actions already cause. Or perhaps you haven’t found the solutions you seek? Then create them to serve yourself and others!

Yes, looking at these issues can be challenging, but ignoring them only makes them worse. By facing both the dark and the light, the problems and the many solutions just waiting for our support, we can avert catastrophe and co-create a culture that nurtures both people and the planet.

Ask EcoGirl is written by Patricia Dines, Author of The Organic Guides, and Editor and Lead Writer for The Next STEP newsletter. Email your questions to for possible inclusion in future columns. View past columns at Also contact EcoGirl for information about carrying this column in your periodical. “EcoGirl believes that everyone can be a superhero for the planet. Then she shows you how!”

"More EcoGirl columns are available at <>. For more wonderful articles by Patricia Dines, see <> and <>."

© Copyright Patricia Dines, 2008. All rights reserved.

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Ruby Among Us

Sac State Graduate Releases Debut Novel Set in the Sonoma Valley
CSU Sacramento graduate, Tina Ann Forkner, releases her debut novel, Ruby Among Us, from Random House/Waterbrook Press.

Set in the lush vineyards of present and past Sonoma Valley, Ruby Among Us weaves a story of three generations of women and the memory that binds their hearts together. Journey with Lucy as she searches from Sacramento to San Francisco and through the Sonoma Valley for a heritage long buried with her mother, Ruby, in this stirring tale of remembrance and redemption. With a keen eye for detail and a fresh, contemporary voice, Forkner has created a timeless story of women finding themselves, their purpose, and the meaning of faith.

Ruby Among Us is available in bookstores and online.

Tina Ann Forkner writes contemporary fiction that challenges and inspires. Forkner's debut novel was heavily inspired by her time spent in and around San Francisco, the Sonoma Valley and Sacramento, where as a student she honed her writing skills. Forkner graduated with honors in English from CSU Sacramento in 1998.

Web Site:

Publicity: Wynn-Wynn Media,, 918-283-1834

Contact Ms. Forkner: 307-631-8956 or


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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Connecting Artists to Art Lovers

Artists & Art Lovers Benefit

Art Direct Sonoma is THE resource for upscale fund-raisers for all kinds of community groups and businesses.

By Dawn Bell

Art Direct Sonoma came into being as a response to a long winter and several glasses of wine. Bette and Dawn had long understood their wish to work together on “something” and after many hours of hashing out the pros and cons of each idea, something began to become clear. Art was the constant in all of these conversations.

Art Direct Sonoma was born out of those discussions and came into being as a way to satisfy their desire to work together, share their mutual love of art and their appreciation of the beauties of Sonoma County. With Dawn’s background in events and fund-raising and Bette’s complementary skills in sales, marketing and business development, it all came together on a shoestring budget during a long winter of rising gas prices, a Presidential campaign and a few more glasses of wine.

Art Direct Sonoma was created to fill the needs of local artists and art lovers. We are not a gallery, but we do work directly with artists to bring their work to private and public events where it can be viewed and purchased. Our goal is to help the artist sell their work to an audience they are unable to reach. That’s our job and it’s what we love to do.

Business owners, fund raisers and private individuals interested in hosting art shows can work with Art Direct Sonoma to create the perfect event without the hassle of managing all the details. Art Direct Sonoma works closely with each client to set the tone for their event. We work with you to choose the number and type of pieces desired. We’ll also create and mail your invitation, set up and manage the show, and we can even cater the event for you.

Art Direct Sonoma is also THE resource for upscale fund-raisers for all kinds of community groups and businesses.

Art Direct Sonoma will work directly with artists to help decide what events are right for them. We will continually invite them to events all over the County where sales for their work are most promising. And, we will display samples of their work on our website to help our clients design their events visually.

For a full schedule of events and complete information - check out their web site at:

Contact Art Direct Sonoma at:


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Life is Short - Keith Jordan

Life is Short but Broad
Like Randy Pausch's The Last Lecture - Keith Jordan and his family have Words of Wisdom to pass along to those of us lucky enough to be alive and healthy.

So much changes in a person's life when s/he can see the end in sight. Priorities shift, what's on the “someday” list moves to the “now” list, what was once dismissed becomes vital - it goes on. Cassandra (Keith's wife) has given us a gift us his wisdom and a piece of his life - thank you Cassandra. - Vesta

Keith Andrew Jordan

Keith Jordan died on May 16, 2008 from advanced dementia, five years after his diagnosis with Pick's Disease, a progressive, degenerative brain disease with no known cause, no treatment and no cure.

Keith was a pioneer, always seeking new ways to help the world work better, and he explored alternatives across a broad spectrum: educational, political, social, technological, environmental, and even, alas, neurological.

At the time Keith's symptoms began to interfere with his functioning, Keith was involved in creating an ecologically sustainable intentional community. His interest in and devotion to community was a lifelong love affair, and can be seen in the various organizations he became involved with during his life: Johnston College, the Democratic Workers Party, Whole Earth Review publishing, Broderbund Software, Sustainable Sonoma County. Even Francis, the nurse who held his hand the day he died at Norwood Pines Alzheimer's Care Center, commented, "We were his family." Keith had many families during his 51 years, and he loved the people in his life with a fierce loyalty that might surprise those who knew his easy-going, relaxed and congenial personality.

Keith was born in Illinois on November 18, 1956. His family moved frequently while he was growing up due to his father's sales career with General Electric. A desire for an alternative education prompted Keith to leave the University of Minnesota midway through his freshman year and enroll at Johnston College in Redlands, California. There he made friends he would keep throughout his life. After college, he moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and became active with the Democratic Workers Party. He traveled frequently during these years, combining his work in book sales with his political organizing around Central America issues.

Keith was living in a communal house with several members of the DWP in Silver Lake area of Los Angeles when his son Nate was born in 1984. He moved back to San Francisco shortly thereafter and began working for the Whole Earth Catalog, continuing to co-parent his son in an upstairs-downstairs arrangement with Nate's mother and her partner. At Whole Earth, Keith blossomed from handling magazine subscription fulfillment & circulation to business manager to publisher. He was among the earliest pioneers into "cyberspace" and the online universe of the World Wide Web. One of his favorite experiences was as project manager for the electronic Whole Earth Catalog, which was an innovative interactive software CD publishing product he developed to be packaged with Apple Computer's first CD-ROM drives to showcase that technology. He was also especially proud of helping publish the book, Helping Nature Heal.

Keith met Cassandra Shafer in 1990 and we were married in May 1992. Our daughter Columbia was born in October 1993 while we were living in Marin County. Keith took a year off work at that time to participate fully in her birth and care. When she was a year old, he took a job in software development for Broderbund Software, a family-owned company. Later, as a manager in the software industry, Keith strongly encouraged those who worked for him to take time off when their children were born. He considered it one of the greatest joys and most important responsibilities in life. Not coincidentally, one of the products he enjoyed working on most was KidPix, a computer art program for children.

Keith shared many of his passions and enthusiasms with his children: his love of reading, books and the library, the joys of farmers' markets and cooking wonderful food, his eclectic taste in music and his pleasure singing with groups, his enjoyment of radio (A Prairie Home Companion, CarTalk, Fresh Air, etc.), volunteering for community causes: (Halloween carnivals, coastal and creek clean-ups, get-out-the-vote campaigns, etc.), hiking and camping in the desert, the mountains, the redwoods and the coast.

In 1999, we moved to Sonoma County and bought a home in Forestville. Still commuting to his software job while the poor company was bought and sold five times, Keith became deeply involved with the non-profit, Sustainable Sonoma County, serving on their board and hosting ecological footprint workshops in our home. In retrospect, Keith was already beginning to show early personality changes that presaged his disease.

Columbia was perhaps the first one to feel the effects of Keith's illness. "Daddy doesn't listen to me any more," she said when she was seven years old. Her memories of her father are sadly limited by how early in her life his disease struck as well as by the years living with and witnessing his deterioration. "That which does not kill me makes me stronger," she began saying a few years ago, and she certainly is strong, as well smart, creative, hardworking and friendly, just like her father. She will enter 10th grade this fall.

Keith's son, Nate, left home at 16. He made very strong connections with a couple of Keith's old friends from Johnston College/University of Redlands. Nate has taken Keith's place on annual Johnston alumni camping trips and embraces the Johnston community as his extended family.

After two frustrating, confusing years searching for a diagnosis, we enrolled in the research program on FTD (frontotemporal dementia) at UCSF's Memory and Aging Clinic in 2003, and Keith's case has helped neurologists gain more information and understanding about the brain and dementias in general. Just a few weeks after Keith died, UCSF launched a video channel on YouTube, which presents leading-edge science about his disease.

I knew Keith to be kind and giving, loyal, funny, devoted and responsible. He was an innovative thinker with diverse interests who could converse knowledgeably with anybody on any subject. He served as a connector who was always bringing people information that matched their interests and bringing together people who fertilized one another and spawned creative endeavors. I hold him in my heart as a gentle spirit, a loving husband, a collaborative partner, my best friend.

The past seven years have been an extended earthquake as the ground we stood upon fragmented under our feet. Trying to stay in touch with people felt like straddling a fault the size of the Grand Canyon. I hope this message reaches those who knew and loved Keith.

In lieu of flowers, please honor Keith's memory and celebrate his life by doing one the things he loved to do:

. . . ride your bicycle
. . . savor the taste, smell and beauty of an organic heirloom tomato
. . . sing with a community chorus
. . . share your favorite book with a friend
. . . lend your tools to a neighbor (better yet, help them finish their project)
. . . attend an avant garde theater production
. . . pick up a copy of Yes magazine
. . . cook a healthy feast for your family
. . . read aloud to your kids or your lover at bedtime
. . . shop at a farmers market
. . . forgive . . . everybody who ever hurt you
. . . laugh . . . long and loud and clear

We'd love to hear your stories of Keith. Feel free to send your memories, comments, photos, etc.

Cassandra Shafer


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Monday, July 21, 2008

Graton Laborers Nurture Butterflies

GRATON: Community & Butterflies Benefit from Graton Labor Center Program

Laborers from the Graton Day Labor Center provide valuable contributions to our communities.

On Wednesday, June 18th, day laborers from the Graton Day Labor Center participated in a national day of community service called Echando Raices, Putting Down Roots. The National Day Labor Organizing Network (NDLON) of which the Graton group is a member, is sponsoring this ongoing event which will include three more community action days that will take place between June and December. Worker centers and organized corners have formed work brigades that participated in community service projects across the country.

Community service is a tool of civic engagement that demonstrates to the local community and general public that day laborers are hard working and fundamental members of the communities in which they live and work. As workers promote their rights, they also step up to their responsibilities as community members. By participating in civic projects they can contribute to the local environment as well as exchange skills and ideas with the local community and create an awareness and understanding about issues relating to day laborers.

The Graton workers spent the morning working at Hallberg’s Butterfly Garden helping Louise Hallberg prepare for her annual Open House. Both Ms. Hallberg and her butterfly gardens are considered local treasures. Not only do the gardens serve as a refuge and breeding area for butterflies, they are also a learning lab for the thousands of Sonoma County school children and gardeners who have learned about the life cycle of the butterfly and the importance of environmental stewardship.

Workers representing the Graton Day Labor Center along with center volunteers and board members, twenty-five people in all, cleared garden beds, stacked wood, and removed blackberries. The workers helped to begin restoration of an area where Pipevine grows, a host plant for the Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly. The highlight of the day was not only finding caterpillar eggs on the Pipevine but was the discovery of a big, fat black and orange Swallowtail caterpillar.


Local Contact:
Davin Cardenas 707-318-2818
Graton Day Labor Center
2981 Bowen St.
Graton, Ca. 95444

National Contact:
Pablo Alvarado
National Day Labor Organizing Network

Merrilyn Joyce


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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

WINE BANTER: Guerneville to Healdsburg Tour

Taste wines along Sonoma County's Westside Road from Guerneville to Healdsburg

GUEST COLUMNIST - John Haggard of Sophies Cellars, Monte Rio, CA

WINE BANTER columist Dick Starr can be reached at

Joining Guerneville’s River Road to Healdsburg is the picturesque meandering Westside Road. Starting from Guerneville, just a few miles along Westside road, as you find yourself somewhere between California and Tuscany, is Moshin Winery.

Traditional European winemaking is done without the use of pumps which may influence temperature and quality. There are those who dispute this, but Rick Moshin, “The Fruit Purest”, inspired by his extensive travels to Burgundy was determined that Moshin Vineyards would be a “gravity-flow” winery.

An important component of producing pinot noir in our Russian River Valley is a soil known as “goldridge”. Goldridge soils are a sandy loam with a high concentration of iron. This “terroir” or “soil composition” provides a great part of the distinct qualities of the now highly sort after Russian River pinot noirs. Warm sunny days and cool nights, exactly what we enjoy in our Russian River appellation, happen to be essential for the thin skinned pinot noir grape to flourish.

Rick Moshin built his winery from 2001-2004 on a plot of land with just the right grade of slope for his “Gravity Feed Winery”, terroir and, this perfect Russian River Valley climate. Perhaps the most important ingredient for producing pinot noir is one Rick already owned, his own winemaking talent. Elegance and finesse abound whether you taste the Moshin 2006 Molinari Vineyard Pinot Noir retailing at $26 or the Family Reserve Pinot noir at $45 (when available). Rick also produces sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, merlot, syrah, zinfandel as well as limited production wines available to his wine club members and sold through the tasting room.

The family owned and run winery is open seven days a week, tours by appointment. Many Sonoma artisan winemakers have used Rick’s facility for producing their wines including Merry Edwards (prior to opening her new winery on the Gravenstein Highway in Sebastopol), David Noyes, John and Chris Mason of Emtu Wines, George Levkoff of “George Wine Company”, and Kenny Litkitprakong of Banyan and Hobo wines, to name a few.

So, I have a few biases when it comes to varietals and clones. Chardonnay is one where a “wente” clone rules, in my book, as a quintessential food wine. UC Davis geneticists have identified hundreds if not thousands of clonal varietals within each species of grape displaying similar characteristics. When it comes to the Chardonnay grape, the wente clone, which is several varieties of chardonnay, produces, more often than not, an orange rind citrus nose in the glass, racey acidities and minerality, if not over-oaked or over malolactic (the secondary fermentation that produces the lactic acid or “buttery quality”).

This leads me to my June discovery – Bohème. Kurt Beitler, owner and winemaker, has produced an exceptional example of “whole cluster pressed direct to barrel” wente clone chardonnay from the Taylor Ridge Vineyards near Occidental (Bohème Chardonnay Taylor Ridge 2006 $44). He’s making the wine at his family’s facility (Caymus, in Rutherford, Napa Valley) and it’s a perfect pairing for seafood dishes such as seared scallops over an arugula salad.

From Bohème’s collection of pinot noirs, my choice is the Bohème Stuller Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006 (Retail $50-$60), particularly exciting about this find is the fact that it is 100% Dijon clone 115 (pinot noir). I find that this clonal varietal, properly cellared, has a unique ability to age gracefully and is a superb food wine. The flavors displayed by the Bohème Pinot Noir show exceedingly well paired with a multitude of dishes – a delicious pairing for beet salad, or roast duck breast in cherry sauce. You’ll find Bohème wines at several local Sonoma wine stores including Wine Tasting of Sonoma, Sonoma Fine Wine, Gourmet Au Bay and, of course, my store, Sophie’s Cellars! A few fine local restaurants carry their wines including Bistro des Copains, River’s End, Rocker Oysterfeller, Underwood and K & L Bistro.

John Haggard is owner of Sophie’s Cellars, The Sonoma Wine & Cheese Market in Monte Rio, California. Sophie’s Cellars is open 11am – 7pm, closed only on Wednesdays.


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Sunday, July 13, 2008

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Langley's on the Green

Langley's on Windsor's Town Green is a melting pot of family and food from across the planet, served in an open and friendly environment.

LANGLEY’S ON THE GREEN is located at 610 McClelland Dr. in Windsor. This is a first class restaurant that the owners refer to as “user friendly”. When you have a party you know how everyone likes to hang out in the kitchen, even though you decorated the living room and made sure there were comfortable areas for people to get together all through the house. This restaurant was designed with that in mind. There is a Dining Bar facing an ‘Open Exhibition Kitchen’ so customers who are so inclined can dine there, talk to the chefs and see all the dishes coming up for service in the rest of the restaurant. If that is not your style you can choose a cozy booth or regular tables in the dining area. Weather permitting you can also sit outside on the patio.

The menu changes with the seasons. Reflecting the concept of America as a melting pot the menu can include dishes with Italian influence, Asian inspired dishes or a variety of other ethnic selections. One thing they all have in common is the standard of fresh ingredients, cooked to perfection with an exquisite presentation. Everything is made from scratch -- for example the sauces are all prepared in reduction and not thickened with flour. All seafood is sustainable (not farm raised) and fruits and vegetables are organic as much as possible. They whip the butter so it is soft for easy spreading on the bread or rolls which are all homemade. Two examples of the current menu, each of which offers a full meal or a smaller version include: House Made Seafood Linguini with Dayboat Sea Scallops, Mussels and Clams, Sauteed with Andoille Sausage, in a Garlic White Wine Cream Sauce with Shaved Parmaigiano Reggiano for $29.95 or Linguini with Vegetables and White Wine Cream Sauce and Shaved Parmiagiano Reggiano for $16.95 – or a meat dish -- Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Reduction Sauce, Hoisin Glaze, Scallion Croquette Potatoes and Miso Orange Slaw with Sesame Seeds for $27.95 or a Petite Cut for $18.95. All the entrees include a suggested wine to pair with the food or you can select from the wine list. All desserts are $8.95 and are made in the restaurant.

So who is the chef that creates all these dishes and supervises the impressive presentation and service? None other than Fred Langley. I interviewed Katrina and Albert Von Moos, Fred’s parents and part of the team that makes Langley’s successful, and learned that Fred has been interested in cooking and the restaurant business since he started at age 12 helping in the kitchen at Salt Point Lodge where his mother worked. A European trained chef on the staff of Salt Point took Fred under his wing and taught him a lot over a period of six years. Fred then went to work for John Ash & Co under Executive Chef Jeffrey Madura and became the Souix Chef there. He has extensive experience in the catering business in Sonoma along with his wife Sara, who now divides her time between taking care of 2 year old Jack and coordinating Special Events for the restaurant.

One of the unique services of the restaurant is their Happy Hour which is daily from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. and also on Friday and Saturday nights from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. There is a ‘Bar Bite Menu’ available during Happy Hour that offers Mimi Burgers or Mini Pork Sandwiches for $1.00, jumbo garlic fries for $2.00 or Pork and Ginger Pot Stickers with spicy dipping sauce for $3.50. Wells drinks are $3.00, beers on tap $3.00 and House Margaritas, Martinis or glass of wine for $5.00.

Langley’s supports the community in many ways and sponsors four major events each year which include the Croquet Invitational supporting the “Make A Wish Foundation,” the Kendall Jackson Tomato Festival benefiting the “School Garden Network” and the Crush Festival benefiting St. John’s school in Healdsburg. Fred Langley works with the culinary students at the local high schools and mentors students from the Santa Rosa Junior College Culinary program.

Langley’s on the Green is open seven nights a week from 5:30 to 8:30 and Saturday and Sunday from 5:30 to 9:00. For more information you can check the web site or call 707 837 7984.


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Occidental's Bistro Des Copains is a dream come true for partners Michel and Cluney, as well as consistently welcoming to locals and guests.

Bistro Des Copains in Occidental

Michel Augsburger and Cluney Stagg have been buddies and best friends since college. When Michel decided to fulfill his dream to open a restaurant his friend agreed to be a partner. Hence, the name Bistro de Copains (which means ‘buddies or friends). They are also business partners in their ‘Day Job’. Michel is the CEO of his own business, Chancellor Health Care, which operates several senior living communities throughout the country, and Cluney is the CFO. Michel is also Vice Chairman of the Assisted Living Federation of America, a trade association. So why would a person with so many irons in the fire and a frantically busy schedule decide to run a successful restaurant? For Michel, it is his love of French food and his passion for creating the menu and the friendly atmosphere and high quality of the restaurant itself. Michel has a huge library of cook books and he told me that two years before launching this venture he was playing with the menu on his laptop and thinking about the potential restaurant.

The restaurant, located in Occidental, offers the perfect venue with its intimate dining area, the patio, and the two wood burning ovens. The building (circa 1911) only needed some remodeling to meet Michel’s vision. There are historic pictures decorating the Bistro de Copains walls of Michel’s grandmother and father on the family farm in France. Michel’s background included time as a boy living in France where he learned the language and developed his love for the cuisine. He returns often to visit relatives and vacation.

Where does one start if you aren’t a trained chef and you want to open a first class restaurant? How about advertising on Craig’s List for a chef. That is what happened and a very talented chef, trained at a Culinary School in the Northwest, answered the call and worked with Michel and Cluney to refine recipes prior to, and after, the opening of the restaurant. As a matter of fact, all the rest of the staff have been there since the opening two years ago. With good planning and the enthusiasm of the people involved, the restaurant’s opening night served 51 people for the first dinner. The following of customers has stayed with them. While most are local people there are others, such as the couple from San Francisco, who dine at least once a week at the Bistro. So keep this in mind and make reservations so you won’t be disappointed.

The food is excellent as is the service. You are welcomed and treated like royalty. You might start with a Mousse d’Asperge et Chevre served warm on bioche toast with mixed greens ($10) or Croquettes de Morue (salt cod) with lemon roasted garlic aioli ($10) or Soupe a L ‘Oignon Gratine ($9) from among several starters. For the light diners try the Risotto aux Safran wth the bouillabaisse sauce ($16), the Raviolis aux Poireau ($16) or one of the Pizzas ($14). There are specialty entrees including pan-seared halibut, Harris Ranch hanger steak, duck breast, Coquilles Saint-Jacques, Half-roasted “Rosie” chicken, oven roasted loin of lamb, beef braised in red wine to name a few. The price range is from $20.00 to $23.00 on these items. There are other vegetable and potato options A la Carte. My favorite is the Gratin de Macaroni ($8), but I haven’t tried the Gratin Dauphinois yet. You can also order a selection of local artisan and imported French cheeses served with artisan bread, house made crackers, fruit and nuts. The wine list is extensive and offers many options by the glass. There are over 50 selections of Sonoma County red wines and over 15 selections of white or Rose wines. There are about 20 choices of French reds and almost an equal amount of white wines from France. And, if it is Sparkling wines you want with your French cuisine you can choose from 6 varieties. They also have dessert wines and aperitifs available by the glass.

Make your plans and reservations to visit Bistro Des Copains which is open seven (7) nights a week --5:00 until 9:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5:00 until 10:00p.m. Friday and Saturday. You’ll find the Bistro at 3782 Bohemian Highway in Occidental and the phone number is 707 874-2436.


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WINE BANTER - BYOB & Corkage Fees

Wine Etiquette: BYOB & Corkage Fees

Due to the number of well-received responses I received when I first wrote on this topic several years ago, I decided to do an update, especially relevant with so many new area restaurants.

Similar to driving manners, wine etiquette seems to be an endangered presence. A frequent question I’ve received concerns bringing your own wine when dining out. In an attempt to assert some decorum, we’ll look at this custom: BYOB and corkage fees.

It would be an act of infamy, living in grape utopia, not to occasionally bring one or more of your favorite wines to your eatery of choice. Although there is no universal protocol, there is an appropriateness to BYOB.

Certainly, corkage fees are a fair concept given restaurants’ thought, time, and expense maintaining a diverse inventory of wines compatible to their menu. Also, there is the additional time of the presentation of your wine with glassware, monitoring refill needs, and pouring. Some restaurants, other than furnishing the wine glasses, will leave the refills and pouring to you. Unless the corkage fee is above $15, I consider this to be a labor of love.

First, target your restaurant and call ahead keeping in mind not all will be BYOB friendly. As screenwriter and director, James Orr succinctly delineated, restaurants generally assume one of the following modes:

1. Gracious welcome (corkage fees waived)
2. Fraternal welcome ($2 - $15 which includes most of Sonoma County)
3. Reluctant welcome ($25 - $50 which includes Napa’s French Laundry)
4. Rude welcome (prohibits BYOB)

He goes on to propose that the corkage fee should never be more than twice the cost of the least expensive wine by the glass. For example, “if wine by the glass costs $7, corkage should be no more than $14.”

Although I’ve yet to find number four in Sonoma County, I have occasioned the “rude welcome” outside of California, especially in some areas of Florida where the “corkage fee” concept is alien. I generally telephone ahead and ask, “If wine is allowed to be brought in, what is the corkage fee?”

Second, it would be helpful if you had some knowledge of the entrees so you have an idea of what varietal to bring. When this isn’t feasible, I sometimes bring both a favorite red and white. If it is a spicy Eastern fare, don’t forget considering a nice, dry or semi-dry Gewurztraminer or Reisling.

Third, when calling, determine – unless you have access to the restaurant’s wine list – that the wine you are bringing isn’t offered by the restaurant. The establishment may consider it to be a base offense to bring a wine that is on their wine list. This can be ascertained during your reservation. When alerting the establishment, give the name of the winery, varietal, and vintage you intend to bring.

Fourth – and probably more important than above – don’t bring an inexpensive wine just to circumvent the restaurant’s wine charges. This rather pedestrian act will alert the staff to tag you and your guests as the great unwashed. You will forever carry this stigma to every establishment within communication of the restaurant you offended. Once shamed, you might as well brown bag your grape and slink into your favorite bowling alley.

Fifth, always make a magnanimous gesture to offer a taste to your server. Solicit and share notes of the wine. This can go a long way in developing a cordial relationship and increase the quality of service with your server. It was during a similar exchange that I had the restaurant’s chef come over to the table and serve a platter of gratis appetizers – including goat cheese – to go with a discernibly tannic petite syrah.

Sixth – and this is rather superfluous but visibly aesthetic – bring your wine in a container or carrier that doesn’t broadcast “brown bag.” Many wine stores carry such wine accessories.

In a random telephone survey of some of Sonoma County’s restaurants, I came up with the following fees:
Bay View - Bodega Bay - $14
Bistro des Copains - Occidental - $15
Bistro Ralph - Healdsburg - $15 (donated to charity)
Café Portofino - Santa Rosa - $15
Cape Fear - Duncan Mills - $10
Elmo’s Steakhouse - Sebastopol - $15
Farm House Inn - Forestville - $35
French Garden - Sebastopol - $15
GTO’s Seafood House - Sebastopol - $15
Highland Dell = Monte Rio - $15
John Ash = Santa Rosa - $20
Lucas Wharf - Bodega Bay - $10
Manzanita - Healdsburg - Free if Healdsburg wine
Mosaic Restaurant - Forestville - $18 (free on Mondays)
Peter Lowell’s - Sebastopol - $15
Seaweed Café - Bodega Bay - none
Stella’s - Forestville - $15
Tides Wharf - Bodega Bay - $14
Triple R Bar & Grill - Guerneville - $10
Underwood Bar & Bistro - Graton - $15
Union Hotel - Occidental - $10
Valley Ford Hotel - Valley Ford - $10 Sonoma County Wines, $15 other wines, free on Wednesdays
Village Inn & Restaurant - Monte Rio - $15
Willie’s Seafood - Healdsburg - $15

Note: When purchasing your wine from Sophie’s Cellars in Monte Rio, there is no corkage fee when presenting your wine receipt at the following restaurants: Applewood Inn, Bistro Des Copains, Café Les Jumelles, Cazadero Lodge, Charizma, Mosaic, Triple R, and the Village Inn. Area menus are also available at Sophie’s to make it easier to select the right wine.



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Monday, July 7, 2008

To Colorado & Back

West Colorado High Desert

California to Colorado & Back
Photos of California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming & Colorado

By Vesta Copestakes

This is just a brief collection of photos I shot while traveling to Colorado to visit my daughter Aleta and her family. I had the pleasure of a whole week playing Nana with my grand daughter Destiny. I won't bore you with family photos, but I thought you might enjoy the pure beauty of the countryside between California and Colorado.

On my way home, I explored roads into territory I had never seen. I camped at trail heads and vistas, sleeping in the back of my newspaper delivery truck. Environmental consciousness was high in state and national parks, and lowest in the cities of Provo and Salt Lake City, Utah. Very sad there, but very encouraging everywhere else. It's good to be home where environmental and social values are held in high esteem.

Shoe Tree, Fallon, Nevada

Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah

Rocky Mountain Valley

Pinion Park, Nevada

Open Range, Wyoming

The Great Salt Lake, Utah

Flaming Gorge, Utah

Dinosaur National Monument, Utah

High Desert Steer Coral, Nevada, Hwy 50

Continental Divide, Utah, Hwy 40

Colorado High Plains, Hwy 80

Colorado Farm House by Hwy 80


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