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News of the Food

All in the Pot

By Gretchen Giles

Known for its award-winning red varietals--most notably its insanely yummy Zinfandels--Quivira Vineyards can add another newsworthy bit to its scrapbook. In addition to boasting an impressive collection of historical cartography explaining the claiming of the New World as well as any text book, and as well as its justly lauded innovative creek restoration program, Quivira has also just completed its transition to a 100 percent solar operation. A biodynamic agricultural outfit that aims to trifle as little with natural rhythms as possible, choosing instead to work in tandem with the interconnectedness of the earthly world, Quivira now generates all of the energy that it needs to produce some 25,000 cases of wine a year just from that nice, big star gravity has roped us to. We raise a glass to that, indeed. . . .

Speaking of swirling, the Napa Downtown Association aims to entice more resident tourists (that's us) to the town center with a new discounted winetasting card. Costing just $15, the Taste Napa Downtown card allows aficionados to sample wines at 10 different tasting rooms and wine bars for just 10 cents a throw. Participating venues include Bounty Hunter--which really only exists in order to celebrate the rare, the difficult and the far-flung grape-made libations--as well as Back Room Wines, COPIA, Robert Craig Wine Cellars, Wineries of Napa Valley and others. The Taste Napa Downtown card also offers discounts on bottle purchases and a free admission to COPIA, which at $12.50 pretty much pays for the card. . . .

And hey, following the sinuous flow here, COPIA presents its own Linda Carucci in a full day of cooking demonstrations and discussion about her newest tome, Cooking School Secrets for Real World Cooks (Chronicle Books; $22.95) on Saturday, April 30, all the day long. Carucci, COPIA's Julia Child Curator of Food Arts and a longtime cooking-school teacher with her own East Bay educational kitchen, will discuss the problems and pleasures of testing recipes, and demonstrate for the home chef Cordon Bleu techniques previously hush-hushed and now laid bare for anyone to know. There will be book signings through out the day as well. For details, call 707.259.1600. . . .

Speaking of kitchens and Napa and next Saturday (man, the segues!), the Kitchens in the Vineyards tour is slated for Saturday, April 30, from 9:30 am to 4:30pm. Benefiting the Music in the Vineyards chamber-music festival held each August, this self-guided tour has got legal and lovely voyeurism down, replete as it is with food. Peek into the dining areas, kitchens, gardens and great rooms of five Napa Valley homes, where area chefs and cookbook authors will be slaving and toiling to churn out gorgeous plates of fine-dining-type food. Tickets are $45-$50. For details, call 707.258.5559. . . .

On the opposite end of the spectrum from fine dining but right in line with good works (and there is one located in Napa), the Northern California Chinese food chain Panda Express aims to help the Oakland Zoo raise some $35,000 to support its effort to open a giant panda sanctuary and research facility. The zoo plans to bring two guest pandas to its spread for a 10-year "visit" from China. Eat for the giants the last Thursday of the month April through June, beginning April 28 at 5pm, and Panda Express will donate 20 percent of the net proceeds to the zoo. The company already supports the nonstop feeding habits of a giant panda, Pei-Pei, living in China. There are five Panda Express locations in the North Bay.

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From the April 27-May 4, 2005 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.

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