Saint Teresa of Avila Church in Bodega, CA. It was built by shipbuilders in 1859 and is the oldest church in continuous use in Sonoma County. The church is located directly next to the Bodega schoolhouse, which was the setting for the schoolhouse scene in Alfred Hitchcock's film, The Birds. Photo Courtesy of Kenneth Bradley Photography
What if you could have been in the audience when Tennessee Williams, Tom Stoppard, or Arthur Miller read their first play onstage? Would you consider yourself extraordinarily lucky to get a first glimpse of tomorrow’s award-winning plays, bragging to friends “I was there that night!”
That’s the concept of PlayGround, a successful ongoing presentation of four to six one-acts culled from hundreds of submissions from Bay Area playwrights. Scripts are scoured by a jury, and the top selections are performed by skilled Equity and non-Equity actors, eager to impress the “talent scout” producers and directors sitting in the audience. PlayGround takes over the stage at Berkeley Rep’s theater when their stage is dark one Monday each month.
Want to maximize your enjoyment when you’re off for a wine tasting day? One great strategy is to focus on an area, not bounce from one appellation or one valley to another - a novice mistake that takes up a lot of driving time.
For today’s exploration I centered on Healdsburg. The wines of the Alexander Valley caught my attention, and I tried three welcoming tasting rooms all in easy driving from one another.
Each year over the Labor Day Weekend, 40 wineries in the Livermore Valley Wine Country celebrate the exciting crush season. Each winery hosts activities including wine tasting, arts, crafts, and music. While I've been to every winery in the area one time or another, I just couldn’t resist attending another celebration this year. Each year it keeps getting better and better! I went to my first celebration in September 2000. Back then, the event took place over two days and had what I would call a party type atmosphere. Fully packed shuttle busses took participants in 100 degree heat to the various wineries that were often times overwhelmed with wine lovers. You had the option of selecting the cabernet tour or the chardonnay tour depending on your taste.
This year, it was drastically different than I remember in back in 2000. There were not any shuttle busses and it was a bit calmer, allowing for participants to just relax, taste good wine, and enjoy the scenery and hospitality at each winery. Smaller wineries were pouring their wines at the larger wineries, allowing festival goers to spend less time on the road and more time tasting wines, shopping, eating and listening to local bands.
Pictured L to R are Nick Sholley as Sir Robert Chiltern and Darren Bridgett as Lord Goring in Marin Shakespeare Company's production of "An Ideal Husband." Photo by Eric Chazankin
Marin Shakespeare's Summer Treat Completes the Season
Cari Lynn Pace, Best of Bay Area
Irish author Oscar Wilde is greatly admired for his witty and sharply critical view of society’s false ethics. “An Ideal Husband” pokes fun at the duplicitous – that is, fickle – standards spouses have of one another. The entire play is a farce, beginning with the discovery that a well-landed gentlemen of great regard actually cheated his way to the top. Nick Sholley plays Sir Robert Chiltern, whose guilty secret is discovered by a socialite, deviously enacted by charming Cat Thompson. She attempts to use her evidence of this scandal to blackmail him. Lady Chiltern, properly done by Marcia Pizzo, questions her husband and is reassured by his further lies, so she chauvinistically supports him. She is vainly proud in her belief that he holds similar high ethical standards. As the plot of “An Ideal Husband” unfolds, her own actions call her personal integrity into question. One finds seduction, tainted pasts, and surprises in store.
It’s a lot of wickedly biting dialog and confused characters, as one would expect from this clever playwright whose own moral compass was a mystery. Oscar Wilde was at the height of his success with three hit shows running simultaneously when he found himself caught up in scandal, put on trial for “corrupting youth”, and sent to prison, where a fall hastened his death at the age of 46. In today’s world we have become deadened to the corruption of our politicians and public figures, but in 1900 it was more than society would tolerate. This is a poignant testimony to Wilde’s keen awareness that his era’s standards were far less than ideal.
Austrian White Wine by Lisa Rhorer, Best of Bay Area
Get Gru-Vee! Explore Austria's Grüner Veltliner Wines
Many people who enjoy white wine opt for Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. What if there was a white wine that encompassed some of the best qualities of both, would you try it? Whether you want a crisp white or a creamy white, Grüner Veltliner can satisfy your tastes.
A year before I opened Cin-Cin Wine Bar & Restaurant, I traveled to Austria and visited some of the top Austrian wine producers. That trip endeared me to Grüner Veltliner and Riesling.
Grüner Veltliner (Green Veltliner) is a white wine grape variety grown primarily in Austria, and also in Slovakia, and the Czech Republic
Grüner Veltliner has a Variety of Expressions
A young, entry-level Grüner is crisp, clean and light with white pepper and subtle citrus flavors similar to Sauvignon Blanc. However, with age, Grüner Veltliner with time on the lees, develops a creamy texture (almost Chardonnay-like) with depth, body and complexity. These Grüners are typically more expensive but well worth it.
On Molina’s website, chef-owner Todd Shoberg and interior designer Doug Washington say that the restaurant is built for the community, a place to make guests feel that they are dining at home. Just one room with tables to seat about forty people, a bar with stools for another few, and a couple of tables outside, it is indeed a warm and intimate space.
The feeling of a dining room in a home was apparent when we came in at 6:30 pm on a Wednesday, but by 8 pm, when we were leaving, the restaurant had a sophisticated, big city vibe, abuzz with conversation and music, with all inside and outside tables occupied—and a waiting line.
Molina offers a menu of just nine “Earlier” and five “Later” dishes, to concentrate the chefs’ attention on freshness and preparation. Among our Earlier choices: the half-moon bay sea bass cioppino in a kefir lime coconut broth with clams, two fried local anchovies and potato coins. This dish was unusual, but delicious, resembling a light version of a Thai curry; the roasted summer vegetables (squash, radish, cucumber, peppers) laced with goats cheese and a citrus dressing that brought their freshness to the fore; and the candy stripe yellow figs with summer squash, blossoms and peppers blended the sweetness of the figs with spicy peppers.
Our Later dishes were equally good: buttermilk fried quail cradled on charred radicchio, corn, and shishito peppers in soft, mellow San Geronimo cheese, with peach slices on the side; an offering that enjoyably combined myriad flavors. A succulent piece of Marin coast king salmon was presented on a hammock of heirloom tomatoes, corn, basil and blistered peppers; the game hen with bacon, apples, walnuts and string beans was wholesome.
Stephen Walsh plays Papa Tevye with Cinnabar's own Elly Lichenstein as his wife, Golde, in "Fiddler on the Roof", extended through September 28 due to sold-out shows.
Cinnabar's Amazing Production Sells Out for First Two Weeks
Cari Lynn Pace, Best of Bay Area
The fiddler sitting on the roof wafts a softly seductive tune as Papa Tevye admits life is precious and precarious. He’s but a poor milkman in a small Jewish settlement in Russia, unsettled prior to the revolution. In a moment, the entire town population of Anatevka emerges from the stage sides, singing hand in hand, and the audience is stunned into spontaneous applause. This show grabs you from the start, and from the heart, and never lets you go.
Cinnabar Theatre, always known for its musical prowess, begins its 42nd season with this beloved musical. The original Broadway incarnation of Fiddler on the Roof racked up an astonishing 10 Tony Awards and brought us unforgettable songs like “Tradition”, “Sunrise, Sunset” and “If I Were a Rich Man.” The message of family, faith, and flexibility has never gone out of style. Happiness and tears intermix with 40 talented singers and dancers in a timeless story of love and difficult choices. I brought a box of tissues and used many of them in this touching story, but then I am part Irish.
No wonder Cinnabar Theater’s production of Fiddler on the Roof sold out the first two weeks of its run. Don’t despair…this poignant and powerful family musical added extra dates and has already been extended through September 28. As of press time, good seats in this intimate 99-seat theater are available for the weekends of September 19-21 and 26-28. A few additional Thursday evening performances may be added to accommodate this show’s overwhelming popularity.