Holiday meals, Eco Terreno accolades, Basque news


The Basque is definitely still functioning here, although some of the little groups that gathered regularly gave up hanging out there during the pandemic and haven’t returned. Since the departure of manager Susan, who commuted from Fairfield, there have been lots of staff changes.

Water from tomatoes?

Los Banos-based Ingomar Packing Company, a tomato processor, is partnering with Botanical Water Technologies of London, to get water from tomatoes during food processing techniques.

Since tomatoes are about 95% water, a lot of water has to go into them to come out as water.

“We’re capturing the condensate that comes from the tomato before they make the tomato sauce or the tomato paste,” said James Rees, chief impact officer of Botanical Water Technologies.

Does this end up a positive in a drought? Apparently so if that tomato water would simply be washed down a drain normally. It could also possibly be used to irrigate farm crops.

Two interesting dinners coming up

Croatian wine and food

Valley Bar + Bottle will host a dinner Sunday, Dec. 18, with a prix-fixe meal (excluding wine) featuring seafood, wild mushrooms, cured and smoked game, and sour fruits in the cooking. They have also been saving some special Croatian wines through friend Eric Danch of Danch & Granger wine importers. $65. Reserve here:

Hannukah and New Year’s Eve dinners

Valley Bar + Bottle will also present three nights of a la carte Hanukkah foods such as latkes, matzo ball soup, and borscht on Dec. 19, 22, and 23, and three nights of a la carte foods such as fried chicken, bottarga noodles and pink chicolries on Dec. 29, 30, and 31 before they close after brunch on Jan 1. They will reopen for “regular programming” on Jan. 26 following their “regular winter break,” according to Emma Lipp. Reserve here:

Kina’s Kitchen & Bar

Kina Chavez has added some interesting “A la Mexicana Specials” to her menu to last until New Year’s.

Check out the Queso Fundido, featuring Oxacan Quesillo, chorizo, chipotle cream sauce, scallions, and homemade tortilla chips; a Santa Fe Salad and shrimp, Sopa de Mariscos, a slightly spicy ranchero broth with prawns, salmon, and halibut; and Ponche with sugar cane, guava, tamarind, plums, apple, cinnamon, star anise, Piloncillo, La Luna Mezcal and Gustoso dark rum ($13 to $29). They also have real deals during 3 to 5 p.m. happy hours, mezcal dinners and “Wisdom Wednesdays” with 20% off on food for those 55 and better.

Santa will visit Kina’s Kitchen & Bar on Dec. 19 and 23, complete with a photo booth and treats. 3 to 5 p.m.

Did you know?

Just think of this if your holiday meal includes or ever did include a Jell-O salad ring with fruit cocktail chilled inside. (My older brother always got the cherries.)

That prized fruit cocktail was invented by UC Berkeley professor William Cruess, and not by Del Monte. Cruess, having grown up in San Miguel, California, co-founded the field of food science, created fruit dehydration technology, apricot nectar, prune juice, and food packaging for the U.S. Army.

Eventually Cruess moved his Department of Food Science & Technology to UC Davis in 1951.

Christmas Dinner

Very few restaurants are open on Christmas this year, and even Black Bear Diner will close at 6 p.m. that day. Your best bet is hotel restaurants such as Santé at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn.

The Fairmont will serve an excellent sounding dinner that starts with charcuterie and cheeses for the table, followed by individual choices of roast chestnut soup with dark chocolate crème fraiche or winter greens salad.

Main course choices include honey glazed ham, Niman Ranch tenderloin with black garlic butter, Mary’s dry-aged duck breast, seared Chilean Sea Bass with blood orange Béarnaise sauce, or wild mushroom garganelli with cured duck egg and sunchokes.

Sides served family style at the table will be roast garlic “mash” (potatoes, I presume), root vegetables, Brussels sprouts with pancetta, and roast beets with macadamia tofu.

And then you get only one dessert choice among their dark chocolate yule log, gingerbread pecan pie, citrus cheesecake or warm apple crumble. ($125).

The children’s menu includes starter choices of crudités with ranch dressing, roast tomato soup, or sliced fruit and berries. Kids can choose an entrée of ham with mashed potatoes and green beans, a cheeseburger with French fries, chicken fingers with fries, or mac ‘n’ cheese. Then comes a fun dessert of a Christmas sundae with sugar cookies and candy cane with white snow. ($39 per child) Seatings are available from 1 to 7 p.m. Reserve here at

Christmas Eve dinner

Glen Ellen Star will serve a special dinner Christmas Eve both in-house and to go.

Choices include a beef Wellington package with black truffle Bordelaise that serves two ($75 per person) or beef Wellington with sides for two including pull-apart rolls, chicory Caesar salad, au gratin potatoes, creamed spinach and sticky toffee pudding ($100 per person). And then there’s a Vegetable Pot Pie for six people at $65. It’s closed Christmas Day.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah, Kwanza, and New Year’s!

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