Kathleen Hill: Beer club, farewell Emily’s Kitchen and lots of meat

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Three Fat Guys and Picazo on ABC7

Sonoma native Tony Moll was identified on ABC7 several times last weekend as “a former NFL player.” That is true, but so is his new life as winery owner, beekeeper, husband and dad. But an articulate one he is, complete with bandit-like bandana face covering. Smart too, to invite the Chavez family to bring their Picazo food truck down to Three Fat Guys’ tasting room on lower Broadway on Friday evenings.

Wineries can now open as long as they serve food as their main feature. Since only Ram’s Gate, Mayo and St. Francis wineries have permits to cook and serve food, other wineries are allowed to bring in catered food or food trucks. So Three Fat Guys scored an early touchdown on that one. By the way, all three “fat guys” were former professional football players.

Reel & Brand reopens with new chef and menu

Reel & Brand, in the old Little Switzerland building, reopens next Wednesday, June 3, with a new chef and new menu. Remember, they have a large deck and even larger patio with well-spaced tables and a play area for kids.

Managing partner Kevin Kress says that the new chef is Chris Loberg, who began cooking professionally at age 19. His most recent gig was as chef de cuisine at three Healdsburg restaurants at once: Spoonbar, Rooftop at Harmon Guest House and Pizzando, after traveling the country and world to gain experience.

By email, Kress said, “We are upping our game once again. When we took over, we were told one came for the music then the food. Then we were told now people come for the food and the music. Now, we want people to flock (here) for the cuisine, and we will delight their senses with the music on top.”

When they open next week they will have a smaller menu than before while they and the staff work out the kinks. Watch for oysters on the half shell, shrimp ceviche, cantaloupe gazpacho, grilled peach and heirloom tomato salad, grilled artichoke, Mexican street corn, and fried chicken wings for appetizers.

They are bringing back fish & chips, a Carolina gold barbecued pulled pork sandwich, a pork belly bahn mi, their chef’s burger with smoked gouda, bacon, caramelized onion and vegetables, grilled fresh fish of the day, and their grilled flat iron steak with Bourbon glaze, baby rainbow carrots, asparagus, grilled peaches.

Reel & Brand will also continue their curbside pickup and delivery service of both food and cocktails. 401 Grove St., Sonoma. 938-7204.

Sonoma Springs Brewing Co. forms beer club

All of our local friends are looking for ways to survive in these tough times while things are starting to open up.

Sonoma Springs Brewing Co. recently launched a Fresh Beer for Friends Club so it “can continue making beer that people like” and keep their small team together and employed. Hence, the Fresh Beer for Friends Club by which fans and even new customers can commit to buying a mixed case of their beer a month for six months.

Each case includes three to six beer styles, four to eight in 16-ounce cans for a total of $100 per case per month. Apparently that amounts to spending $600 over six months on beer, kind of a “futures” investment similar to what some wineries offer to keep cash and wine flowing.

Beer will be delivered by UPS or you can pick it up at the brewery. Sonoma Springs will also send you an email with each beer’s backstory and what foods they might pair well with. 19449 Riverside Drive, suite 101, Sonoma. For more information email

Emily’s Kitchen closes

Remember Emily Nagan who used to make the fabulous desserts at her brother’s Schellville Grill?

She left Matthew Nagan’s restaurant, which he has also left for Italy, a few years ago and opened her own dream, Emily’s Kitchen, in Santa Rosa’s Montgomery Village.

She just announced that she is closing her dream — well this one anyway – after more than five years of serving lots of regulars from Sonoma as well as the rest of the county, in a restaurant that actually felt like a home kitchen. The pandemic was sort of the crowning blow and now Emily looks forward to exploring Sonoma County’s nature and having other people serve her in their restaurants.

I remember when her daughter sold me a painting of hers at Schellville Grill, for which she was giving all of the money to Pets Lifeline.

Keep us posted Emily.

Indian-Nepalese food in Sonoma

Carey Sweet, a friend and successful freelance writer everywhere, wrote a great story for the Press Democrat on Sonoma’s Indian-Nepalese restaurants and their specialties. She included both the Yeti in Glen Ellen and the Yeti in Santa Rosa, but somehow missed Taste of Himalayas and Delhi Belly here in Sonoma. Too bad. When we can, I will take her to both. They are both good and offer lots of vegetarian options.

Wondering where to get good local meat?

Some people really do like good meat and can afford it, and some rely on meat processed in large plants in the Midwest and on the East Coast.

And others among us avoid meat at all costs.

Both reasons contribute to the recently increased popularity and near shortage of manufactured meat substitutes during this health crisis.

We have all heard of the huge meat processing plants in the Midwest and some eastern states that have closed due to COVID-19. While some have reopened, the health testing of staff by the companies is questionable, and President Trump has ordered some plants to reopen regardless of health questions.

If you are wondering where to get locally raised meat and chickens, here are some possibilities:

Sonoma Mountain Beef Co.

A fifth generation of the Kunde family, Jamie Mickelson raises cattle in Sonoma Valley and the Petaluma hills and has Golden Gate Meat Co. in Santa Rosa process it. Hopefully she will return to the Friday morning farmers market at the Depot Park/Arnold Field parking lot. For now order from her website.

Victorian Farmstead Meats

Victorian Farmstead Meats distributes for usually local farmers. The company does show up at Sonoma’s Friday morning farmers market. They also do a “meat box” by subscription.

Sonoma County Meat

Several private chefs swear by Rian Rinn and Jenine Alexander’s meats, CSA boxes, all sorts of combos of specialties. Pick up or shipping. Check them out at

Bud’s Custom Meats

Matt Gamba runs the butchery and retail shop founded by his grandfather first in Italy and now in Penngrove. They butcher small local ranchers’ animals of all kinds, from wild game and exotic birds to cattle. Their retail shop on Petaluma Hill Road is an experience. Lots of frozen packages of every meat you can imagine.

Petaluma Poultry, Mary’s Free Range Chicken and Fulton Valley Farms

All three of these sources usually produce high quality and carefully raised poultry. Mary’s and Fulton Valley chickens are sold at Sonoma Market, Mary’s chickens are sold at Lucky, Sonoma Market and Whole Foods in Sonoma, and Fulton Valley chickens are available also at Chapala Market next to the Dollar Tree in Fiesta Shopping Center.

Petaluma Poultry is on Lakeville Highway in Petaluma and was basically founded by Sonoma’s Shainsky family. Sam Shainsky raised chickens and eggs here and offered to take his friends’ Petaluma and Penngrove chickens to market in San Francisco. This generosity eventually led to Petaluma Poultry Farms, home of Rocky and Rosie chickens, which is no longer family owned.

Mary’s Chicken was named for Mary Pitman, a Central Coast farmer whose offspring now lead the farming concern headquarted in Kansas.

Fulton Valley Farms was also locally owned, but currently belongs to the Pitman family as well.

Future of fishing

With the bad press that commercial meat and meat processing plants have received lately, fishing and fish have gained attraction, hence prices have gone up – that’s called demand. Then there is the supply side of that equation.

And then came the Pier 45 fire in San Francisco last weekend in which many fish processors and west coast crab boats and crab pots were destroyed. A sad state of affairs and livelihoods.

Watch for prices to go up more. A friend just bought crab meat for $42 a pound last week for a special occasion.

See’s Candies back in production

Great news for See’s candy fans!

See’s Candies has restarted production in South San Francisco and Los Angeles, having closed during the initial pandemic.

See’s says that “Some of your favorite treats from the company are still in their candy lineup, so some of them may not be available immediately. You can almost say we’re starting from scratch,” according to their email.

Thousands, maybe millions, of See’s Candies fans couldn’t find their favorite chocolate bunnies this Easter season.

See’s closed their factories out of caution for its employees, but it also lost lots of income from stores when malls closed across the country.

Locally, the minute the word got out that they closed down factories, there was a fast run on See’s Candies at Sonoma Market

Canadians Charles See and his mother, Mary See, opened their first candy shop in Los Angeles in 1921, started delivering door-to-door in 1928; the “I Love Lucy” Chocolate Factory episode was filmed at the L.A. factory in 1952. They sold the company to Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway company in 1972.

See’s gave away loads of Easter candy when it closed its Petaluma store and a couple of weeks ago delivered leftovers to frontline workers at East Bay hospitals.

But with new production up and running (without Lucy or Ethel), the Petaluma See’s store at 333 S. McDowell Blvd. will reopen soon for curbside pickup. No one at Sonoma Market could answer if they will be carrying the candy again but will try for Christmas time.

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