Last night, I visited the brand new Green Music Center at Sonoma State University for the first time, and was frankly blown away.
It is a state of the art, 150-million dollar facility, complete with retracting walls for outdoor performances, that will no doubt draw world-class talent and a lot of visitors to an agricultural corner of Rohnert Park.
Buika is the Spanish daughter of political refugees from Equatorial Guinea. She grew up in a gypsy neighborhood of Mallorca, and her music is born from traditional flamenco, but as you have never heard it, laced with jazz, blues and Afro Caribbean rhythms. But the thing is, she has this voice that demands your full attention, even if you can't understand spanish.
From the moment she walked on stage, with only a pianist and a percussionist supporting her, she filled the space completely and bewitched everyone in the room. Her voice has ridiculous range and tremendous power, and yet is full of tenderness, heartache and emotion. I've never heard anything quite like it, and I haven't yet found an online clip that conveys it sufficiently. I get the sense that this is an artist that is best seen live, and strongly suggest you check her out if she comes to a venue anywhere near you.
Buika is performing a sold out show in San Francisco tonight that I was disappointed to miss, until I was very happily surprised to learn I had the option to see her perform at Sonoma State the night before. I will most definitely add the Green Center to my list of venue calendars to be checking regularly, and look forward to the opportunity to see more top performers in the area. Now we just need to work on getting some life into the audiences...I guarantee the crowd in SF tonight will be dancing, shouting and clapping along with Buika in a way that would've shocked the polite, well-heeled guests at last night's show.
And for a totally different entry in the realm of recent surprises and revelations....
I recently received an email with the following recipe from the wife of our newest staff member. When Bill Shenas joined Gundlach Bundschu as our new sales manager (welcome Bill!), his wife Sandi threw him a surprise party with a fully 'Gun Bunned' menu - not only were GB wines on the table, they were used to prepare each dish in the meal.
The hit of the night was apparently a French Onion soup made with 2011 Gewurztraminer. (I was relieved to learn only a half cup was sacrificed in the process, and far more was enjoyed as its accompaniment.) Sounds like a possible addition to my Thanksgiving menu this year....
Have a great holiday everyone!
- 1 pound White Onions, large dice
- 1 pound Sweet Onions, large dice
- 4 Cloves Garlic, minced
- 2 T. Butter
- 2 T. Olive Oil (plus more Olive Oil or Olive Oil spray for croutons)
- 1 t. Sugar
- 1 – 2 t. Salt, or to taste
- 1 T. Flour
- 1 t. Dried Thyme (or Oregano)
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 1/2 cup Gundlach Bundschu Gewürztraminer
- 4 cups Beef Stock
- 1 1/2 cups Water
- 1/2 t. Black Pepper
- 1 Tablespoon Sherry Vinegar
- 1/2 Loaf of Italian Bread or Baguette
- 1/2 cup finely grated Gruyère Cheese
- 4 T. Grated Parmesan Cheese
1. First of all, make the croutons without too much drama. I like to cut the bread into one-inch cubes – that’s part of the “easy to eat” platform. Simply spray (or toss) them with olive oil, place on a flat cookie sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Give them a quick toss, and continue baking until they are golden brown. After they cool, wrap them in several layers of aluminum foil. They will keep indefinitely.
2. For the non-string-inducing cheese topping: Mix the finely grated Gruyère with the finely grated Parmesan, set aside.
3. In a large stock pot, melt the butter and add the olive oil. Add the onions and season with 1 – 2 teaspoons of salt. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, then stir. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar, reduce the heat and cook for another 10 minutes at low heat. Add the garlic. Continue to cook the onion/garlic mixture for 40 minutes or longer, stopping to stir the mixture and check for browning every 10 minutes. Cook until they onions are very soft and a deep golden brown.
4. Add the flour, thyme or oregano, bay leaves, and pepper. Stir over medium-high heat for two minutes.
5. Add the wine, stock, and water. Stir until the mixture simmers, then allow to simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Check back and stir the mixture every 10 minutes.
6. Remove the Bay leaves, and give the soup its final “zing” by adding a generous Tablespoon of Sherry Vinegar.
7. When ready to serve, heat the soup to a simmer and divide among bowls. Spread a pile of croutons out over each bowl, and top with your finely grated cheese mixture. Broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly, and serve your “easy to eat, non-string-inducing” delicious French Onion Soup with a chilled glass of Gundlach Bundschu Gewürztraminer. Enjoy!