Tip of My Tongue: Ribs for Kids adds chili cook off

After building up their very successful Ribs for Kids event over the past six years, the Petaluma Active 20-30 club has moved locations, and with the added space available at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds, has added a chili competition to the mix, rebranding this event Ribs for Kids & Chili Cook Off. Many of you may remember that Petaluma used to put on a yearly favorite food event known as the Great Petaluma Chili Cookoff. Well, for those who have missed competing, or those who always wanted to compete but didn’t get the chance, this is your shot as Active 20-30 revives this great competition! The event will be held at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds on Saturday, May 21, from noon to 4 p.m., and yours truly will on hand yet again as an eager judge.

“The competition is open to everyone,” says Petaluma Active 20-30 member Matt Larrabure. “Over the years we’ve had competitors join as first-timers showcasing their delicious home cooking and returning competitors who continue to entice the crowds with their tastiest barbecue yet.”

Registration to compete in the chili competition is $25, while the rib competition entry fee is $150, but includes the ribs. To register as a competitor (or buy tickets or provide donations) visit or call 707-559-8212.

Awards will be given both by a panel of local celebrity judges, as well as People’s Choice awards, and along with all the great food and drink, festivities will include live music, raffle prizes and games for the whole family to enjoy. And as with all local festivals, costumes are encouraged. All proceeds go towards Petaluma Active 20-30’s largest charitable event, the Children’s Shopping Spree.

Barber Lee Spirit award

Not being a big spirit drinker, likely due to too much cheap booze in my underage days, it takes a lot to impress my palette once a drink goes even slightly above the ABV of my beloved port wines. One such spirit that impressed me from the very first sip was Barber Lee Spirits’ Gravenstein Apple Brandy. Maybe it is a terroir thing, in that I have a deep passion for Gravenstein apples, spanning all the way from my youth, when my father would drive around with several boxes stockpiled behind the seat in the work van for easy snacking. Whatever it is, while having a complimentary cocktail of Barber Lee’s Apple Brandy at a recent event, I was pleasantly surprised at the flavor and even went so far as to purchase a few bottles as holiday gifts for booze drinking friends.

Apparently, I am not alone in my love of Barber Lee’s Gravenstein Apple Brandy. It just won Double Gold – Best in Class at the San Francisco World Spirit Competition, one of the oldest and most well-respected spirits competitions in the world. This brandy is fermented and double-distilled local Gravenstein (and Fuji) apples and is matured in heavily charred new American oak barrels.

Sassy and grassy

The Transhumance Festival is this weekend and is “an annual celebration dedicated to reconnecting people to the land.” The festivals starts on Friday, April 29, with a dinner hosted at Tara Firma Farms, followed by plenty of festival activities on Saturday, April 30. Trade Secret’s Chef Brenda Anderson promises some tasty treats served family style, including Indochina inspired slow-brased coconut True Grass Farms beef with caramelized shallots, Korean grilled True Grass Farms beef short ribs, Rijsttafel (Golden Tower of rice), colorful bundle of local vegetable Bahji and AcaJawa (Japanese pickled local Vegetables), followed by a dessert of cardamom fruit frangipane upside down cake with ice cream. The evening starts at 5:30 p.m. with an apertivo of charred bread with tierra vegetables bean puree and broccolini caper relish and mini Tara Firma Farms pork meatballs with local pepper jelly glaze, followed by a welcome from the Transhumance Festival Planning Committee and the opening of the Silent Auction. Prior to dinner at 7 p.m., will be a short set of films and a Q&A with the filmmakers. Saturday’s festivities start with breakfast from 10-11:15 a.m. at Grand Central Café, followed by a walk with the goats to Steamer Landing Park. Lunch, drinks and live music will be served, followed by a panel discussion and then more live music. For more information and to purchase dinner tickets and see the silent auction items, visit (Saturday’s festivities are free to the public and are family friendly).

Farm Trails

Farm Trail’s “Blossom Bees & Barnyard Babies” spring tours is this weekend, Saturday, April 30, and Sunday, May 1. This spring event is free to all, but registration is required and can be completed at in the “Events” section. “Choose your own agrarian adventure from dozens of farms and producers to discover where your food, fiber, and flowers come from. Cuddle with adorable baby farm animals,” according to the website.

Lunchette and Grand Central collaboration

Back to the topic of Grand Central Café, the restaurant has joined forces with Lunchette and is now carry Lunchette salads Tuesday through Sunday, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. With the picture-perfect postcard view of downtown Petaluma from its riverside seating, Grand Central has earned itself a reputation as a great place for to enjoy everything from empanadas to fresh coffee to high-quality chocolate, and now it adds some of the best fresh-made salads in town. As regular readers know, veggies are not my forte. However, I actually crave Lunchette’s salads because they are so hearty and delicious. For the time being, Grand Central will carry a limited selection of five salads, but these are the stalwarts of Lunchette’s menu: Caesar with Harissa Roasted Chicken, Chickpea with Feta and Dates, Kale and Kelp Noodle with Spicy Miso Dressing, House Smoked Trout with Preserved Lemon Dressing and last but certainly not least, and my favorite - the Farro with Harissa Roasted Chicken.

Fresh fruits and veggies

Two bits of excited news crossed the social media pages this week regarding fresh fruits and veggies. The big one is the long-awaited confirmation that work has begun on repairing or rebuilding the Palace of Fruit. Bill Fishman, part of Penngrove’s Fishman clan and soon to retire local attorney posted earlier this week, “Work has begun rebuilding the Palace of Fruit.” Among the dozens of positive responses were a couple of folks who wanted further proof after waiting so patiently for so long. “I saw some work last week and knew it was good news! You have been missed,” responded Jacki Chretien, with Brian Rhonda Cossey confirming shortly after, “It's true. I noticed it today on my way home.”

The second announcement is that our local strawberry stands appear to be open and serving. There has been confirmation that the stand out on Stony Point Road and the stand on Petaluma Blvd. N., just south and on the opposite side of the Outlet Mall, are both open. I suspect Live Oak Farm on Lohrmann Lane is probably open by now too, but have no confirmation. Katie Watts posted that strawberries have been offered at the Tuesday farmers market for the past month, but they have been coming up from the south, so it is nice to see our local sources are finally ripe for the picking.

Olive oil outlet

McEvoy Ranch has sneaked an outlet into one of the warehouses south of D Street while we weren’t looking. It’s open Thursday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 425 1st Street, Suite B. That’s kitty-corner from Pearl Restaurant, which is a good place to stop for breakfast or lunch while heading over to check out McEvoy’s overstocked and discontinued items at up to 40% off.

Finally open for indoor dining

Sol Food is now open for indoor dining and has expanded its hours to 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days per week.

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