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Thistle Meats returns to Petaluma

Thistle Meats has re-opened after a brief hiatus in order for new owner Travis Day to reorganize the space, which I am told now allows customers access to the restroom. This means Thistle now has an official dining room, which will be quite cozy at just 13 seats.

Day is a seasoned Bay Area butcher and charcuterier, having worked at Central Kitchen and Commonwealth in San Francisco, and he looks forward to continuing what Molly Best started, which is bringing Petaluma the best ethically-raised and harvested whole-animal butchery possible.

Luau dinner

The Petaluma Auxiliary of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) will hold their yearly fundraiser Luau Dinner on Saturday, May 20 at the Petaluma Vets Hall. Cocktail hour starts at 4 p.m., with dinner from 5-6:30 p.m., and live music from 6:30- 8:30 p.m.

Mike Harris is the master of ceremonies, and there will be a silent auction, raffle prizes, and a 50/50 raffle. Local chef Richard Reynolds will serve Kailua Pork shoulder wrapped in banana leaves and slow cooked, Huli Huli Chicken (sweet soy glazed chicken), Lumpia (Filipino style spring rolls filled with meat and veggies), Chicken Long Rice (rice noodles stir fried with chicken and veggies), Sticky Rice, Cucumber and Cabbage Salad, Tropical Fruit Salad, and Hawaiian Sweet Rolls.

The Disabled American Veterans’ charitable trust has been awarded an excellent rating by Charity Navigator for putting 96 percent of its donations towards helping disabled vets. With the motto of “Fulfilling our promises to the men and women who served,” DAV has been helping disabled vets since 1920.

Part of the reason DAV spends so little of its donations on administration and fundraising costs is because of partnerships with local businesses like long-time sponsors of the Petaluma Auxiliary DAV event, which include Sonoma Raceway, Rex Hardware, Cinnabar Theater, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, Sonoma Canopy Tours, Kastania Vineyards, Oil Stop, Bodega Bay Lodge and the Willowbrook.

Tickets are $15 and are available from DAV Auxiliary Commander Marilee Gatlin, 494-5867 or at the VFW bar located at the Petaluma Vets Hall.

Spicy fundraiser

Join F.A. Nino’s for an afternoon of great food, friends, music and prizes, all in support of Quinn’s Kids. The fundraiser will run from 1-5 p.m. on May 21 at F.A. Nino’s tasting room and warehouse, located at 1370 Industrial Ave., Suite D. They will have tacos, with a touch of F.A. Nino’s special hot sauces, as well as local craft beer and live music from the Mad Men Quartet.

There will also be crafts for the kids, raffle prizes, and a silent auction. Although it isn’t listed anywhere, it isn’t unusual for F.A. Nino’s to offer two-for-one deals on all their products at these types of events, so bring a few extra bucks so you can stock up on their great sauces and rubs. Whenever we run into these specials, we usually buy a couple of full sets so we can give them away as gifts. The door donation is $20, with free admission for kids under 12 years old.

The Quinn Boyer Memorial Foundation was established in 2013 to help less privileged Bay Area kids attend the CYO Summer Camp in Occidental. Quinn Boyer, was a Santa Clara County paramedic, Sonoma State University graduate, and former CYO Camp counselor, who was murdered by a group of teenagers that clearly could have benefited from the guidance gained through the friendships and mentoring opportunities afforded to attendees of CYO Camps. Visit www.quinnskids.org for more info.

Salmon season

May 18 marks the season opener for Copper River salmon, with fish arriving in the Bay Area a few days later, depending on weather, processing capacity, and available flights. Yes, this fish is so good that it gets first-class service.

Copper River salmon are considered the best tasting salmon in the world because of the extra fat and oil they store for the long and arduous trip up the fast flowing Copper River in Alaska. High-end restaurants and home chefs alike covet these fish because of their brilliant red color, remarkable quality and extraordinary flavor.

Alaska Airlines, which distributes the salmon nationwide, holds a Best Chef competition on the tarmac at Seattle-Tacoma Airport upon the arrival of the very first catch. Although the expected 1 million Copper River Salmon harvest may seem like a lot, the worldwide demand for these fish will make them pretty hard to find, so keep your eyes peeled at your local fish shop and pay attention to your favorite restaurants’ menus if you are a fan of salmon, because you have never tasted anything like this.

However, be warned, because once you taste Copper River Salmon, all other salmon pales in comparison.

Local sauce goes regional

For those that can’t make it to the fundraiser but still want their F.A. Nino’s, the Godfather of Sauces just finished rolling out to 109 Raley’s stores across Northern California, and as of May 21 will also be available in 190 Safeway stores. This is exciting news for anyone who likes hot sauces, BBQ sauces, and dry rubs that favor flavor over fire, but who can’t always make it out to F.A. Nino’s tasting room on the north end of town

We like their Smokin’ Green Hot Sauce so much that we actually travel with a few bottles. We carry one for personal use, and gift the rest to anyone who is interested along the way, which often times is a chef or server who sees me using it while dining out.

Although we have every single F.A. Nino’s product in our kitchen and use them all regularly, we find ourselves going back again and again to their Jamaican Dry Rub, which we apply to just about anything we cook, and thoroughly enjoy dipping in their Beer-BQ Sauce, which is made with Lagunitas’ Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale.

Beekeeping demo

Heidrun Meadery will hold their “Bee, Experienced” event on Sunday, May 21, from 1 to 3 p.m. Beekeeping suits are provided. Tickets are $90 ($80 for Club Mead Members), and will include an “in-depth, flower-to-flute adventure into the life and times of the honeybee. Includes hands-on hive inspection, honey extraction, bee-centric horticulture tour and mead tasting.”

Mead is wine made from honey instead of grapes, and Heidrun creates theirs in the méthode champenoise style, which requires a secondary fermentation in the bottle, and is how the best champagnes are made. Visit www.heidrunmeadery.com for more info.

Cheese gala

Barber Cellars’ Cheese Gala will be on Friday, June 2, starting at 6 p.m., and will feature cheese from Two Rock, Laura Chenel and Tomales Farmstead, along with salumi, a selection of honey from Kiss the Flower, and of course, Barber’s great wines. Guests can talk with the cheesemakers about what they are eating, while enjoying live music. Tickets are $35 each and include 2 glasses of wine and all the cheese you can eat. Visit www.barbercellars.com for more info.

Farmers market season

The Downtown Farmers Market kicked off the summer season this past Saturday, May 13 at Walnut park and will continue through Nov. 18, running weekly from 2-5:30 p.m. As someone who enjoys growing a garden, we have switched to growing mostly flowers because we not only like to support our local small farmers by buying our veggies at a local farmers market, but to be honest, we rarely have the time to attend to our veggie garden like the pros do.

The Theater District Farmers Market will start on June 7 and will be held on Wednesdays from 4:30 to 8 p.m. through Aug. 30. The East Side Farmers Market runs year round on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., although rumor has it that the east side market is looking for a new location, so stay tuned.

(Contact Houston Porter at houston@avant-larde.com.)