Around Mendo Island

Southbound? Don’t miss the Chicken Gravy….


img_2041Fantasy cake from recent dream partially inspired by first scene from Close Encounters of the Third Kind?

From Dave Smith

If you travel south periodically from Mendocino County to Sonoma County and the Bay Area, you probably have developed favorite food stops that you frequent along the 101 corridor.

Having lived near Healdsburg for years before moving up here to Mendo, we have to stop at the Downtown Bakery on the plaza for a sticky bun and/or croissant on the way down.

Coming back, we may stop at either Amy’s (Vegetarian) Kitchen in Rohnert Park, Whole Foods, or In-and-Out. Now that we are getting our own In-and-Out here in Ukiah, that will soon be off the list due to burger fatigue. But there is also Cape Cod Fish and Chips in Cotati that Jeff Cox, longtime food critic for the Press Democrat, praised years ago.

We may stop again at Downtown Bakery to take home some Bread (Croissant) Pudding.

Just recently we’ve crossed Whole Foods off our list because of Big John’s Market in Healdsburg (Dry Creek turnoff). They’ve expanded into a wonderful Whole Foods style market that is not to be missed. Say hi to Babs at the cheese counter who used to work at the Ukiah Co-op.

Unfortunately, Big John’s deli features organic fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and superb chicken gravy that is so good I cannot get around to trying the many other offerings… I just go straight for the chicken and gravy every time. Unfortunate indeed!

If I still lived in Healdsburg I would have died and gone to heaven by now, but at least my arteries would have been clogged organically.


Dave Smith: Hal Zina Bennett interview now available…



From Dave

My Mendocino Talking interview with Hal Zina Bennett, Local Author and Creative Writing Coach, is now available in this week’s Anderson Valley Advertiser.

For subscribers to The AVA online, available here.

Also available on the Mendocino Talking website, here.

TODD WALTON: Two Love Stories


love story

love story photo by Todd

Under The Table Books

Here are two brief love stories from my new novel Magenta.

Henry’s Story

When I was a senior in high school at Fort Orford High and causing my God-fearing parents great distress by playing the guitar, I fell in love with Iriana Ceja, a beautiful Mexican woman three years older than I.

Iriana was a waitress at the North End Café, now Dave’s Donuts, and believe me, Iriana was the only reason anyone knowingly went to the North End Café. The food was bad, the coffee uniformly bitter, the décor ugly and uncomfortable. But Iriana was so lovely, so friendly, and such a sparkling conversationalist, hundreds of people made the North End Café a daily part of their lives, and I was one of those people.

I went there after school to gawk at Iriana and listen to her talk and laugh. I would buy a stale cookie and a cup of bitter coffee and stay for hours, supposedly doing my homework, but really just reveling in Iriana. My life at home was torture because my parents were so fiercely opposed to everything I loved, especially my playing the guitar and writing songs. School was drudgery and my peers were largely disinterested in the poets and artists I admired.

Iriana was my solace.

TODD WALTON: Cali Nation


last little carrots

Last Little Carrots photo by Todd

Under The Table Books

Marcia and I woke the morning after the election to the sounds of Waste Management trucks picking up the recycling cans, and my first words to Marcia were, “Apparently total collapse of the system has been delayed.”

I find I am not surprised Trump won. He is the fruit, if you will, of forty years of economic policies that destroyed the manufacturing infrastructure of the nation and stole trillions from the lower and middle classes to fatten the rich; and people who were hurt economically and emotionally by that destruction and thievery elected Trump.

When I traveled around America in the 1960s and 70s, it became clear to me that America is a union of regions as different from each other as the countries of Europe are different from each other. Because of the physical enormity of our country, the design of our union encourages states to make their own laws and create their own operating systems, and that is what California needs to do now, more than ever, in the wake of Trump’s election and Congress becoming overwhelmingly Republican.

When Arnold Schwarzenegger was Governor of California, our state legislators twice passed a bill that would have created a statewide Single Payer Healthcare plan to provide all Californians with truly affordable healthcare and save the state tens of billions of dollars every year. Arnold vetoed those bills in service to the pharmaceutical and insurance companies who gave him millions of dollars in exchange for his veto.

Michael Laybourn — Mr. Red Tail Ale



From Dave Smith

I’ve resurrected my interview series with Mendocino community stalwarts in the Anderson Valley Advertiser. Michael Laybourn – Mr. Red Tail Ale has just been published here:

Past interviews are available here:…/category/features/mendocino-talking

If you are not a subscriber to The AVA, they are also available on the Mendocino Talking website here:

Past interviews include: Els Cooperrider, Will Siegel, Tom Liden, Janie Sheppard, Ron Epstein, Steve Baird, Todd Walton, Pinky Kushner, Bruce Anderson, Margaret Fox, Will Parrish, Patrick Ford, Terry d’Selkie, Doug Mosel, and many more.

TODD WALTON: Sweet Libby’s


queen for a day toddq

Queen For A Day painting by Nolan Winkler

Under The Table

“Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow.” Romeo and Juliet

There are days when things juxtapose so exquisitely, one can’t help feeling some sort of transcendent author is writing out the simultaneous arrival of related elements composing a harmonious whole greater than the sum of the parts.

To wit: on the very day Marcia read to me from the Anderson Valley Advertiser that Libby’s restaurant in Philo is closing, we received in the mail our Netflix copy of the Japanese movie Sweet Bean. Libby’s beans—if you have never dined at that incomparable Mexican restaurant—are not sweet, but the experience of eating Libby’s beans comingled on a fork with her delectable rice is a divine culinary experience—sweet in the sense of magnificent.

The 2015 movie Sweet Bean is based on the novel An by Durian Sukegawa, adapted to the screen and directed by Naomi Kawase. An translates as “sweet red bean paste” and is the filling for a favorite Japanese confection know as dorayaki, consisting of sweet red Azuki bean paste sandwiched between two small round sponge-cake patties. The quality of the dorayaki depends entirely on the quality of that red bean paste, and thereby hangs the cinematic parable Sweet Bean.

Ukiah Bakery Selling Mendocino-Grown Bread


Zach Schat, seen Thursday with freshly baked loaves of Sonora Wheat bread, is using locally produced flour to bake one of the sourdough varieties he sells in his downtown Ukiah bakery.
Zach Schat, seen Thursday with freshly baked loaves of Sonora Wheat bread, is using locally produced flour to bake one of the sourdough varieties he sells in his downtown Ukiah bakery. Chris Pugh-Ukiah Daily Journal

The Sonora Wheat loaves need to be baked longer, so they have a thick crust, and the long fermenting process gives them an “incredible shelf life,” Schat said.The Sonora Wheat loaves need to be baked longer, so they have a thick crust, and the long fermenting process gives them an “incredible shelf life,” Schat said. Chris Pugh-Ukiah Daily Journal

The main challenge in baking with the Sonora Wheat, he said, is it has a lot less gluten than most of the wheat strains used for breads. And, as most people know by now, gluten is pretty much what makes bread worth eating.

So instead of the one-day process for a typical sourdough, Schat has designed a three-day one for the Sonora Wheat.

“About 2 a.m. Tuesday we start the pre-ferment process, then we mix the dough on Wednesday, and on Thursday we put it in the oven,” he said, explaining that it took many weeks of trial and error to make a consistently good loaf that he thought people would want to eat.

And like many people in a frustrating relationship, Schat turned to family members and other trusted advisers for help.

Doug Mosel — Mendocino’s Bread Grower



From Our Companion Blog Mendocino Talking

(Since landing in Mendocino County, Doug Mosel has involved himself in several worthwhile community projects: running the successful Measure H campaign against GMOs; co-founding the Agriculture & Ecology Hour on KZYX; and most recently creating the Mendocino Grain Project where he farms, mills and distributes locally-grown grains and flour to CSA members of the project and local stores. —DS)

For all my life I’ve introduced myself as a Nebraska farm boy. It’s deeply ingrained in me (no pun intended)… the core of my being. Although I left the farm to go into the big world and leave that all behind, I think I’ve now come full circle here on the west coast.

After high school, I had wanted to be an aeronautical engineer and had applied for a scholarship to Purdue University, but changed my mind and moved to Washington D.C. where my brother lived. While there I was accepted at VPI, Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg. At the time it was a military school, all strait-laced, spit polished and regimented and I could only stand it for two weeks. So I went back and enrolled at the University of Nebraska… which lasted 3 semesters of figuring out that Physics and engineering didn’t work well for me either.

So back to D.C. where I took a job with the Association of American Railroads starting in the basement. At the time, the railroads were still a very romantic part of this culture. We had really nice linen covered table dining cars. AAR was the legislative and public voice of the railroads. Reams of information, comic books, PR brochures, etc. being shipped out was my job. In a year or so they invited me upstairs to distribute the mail, then after a few months I was invited to become a clerk in the law department before ending up as the Administrative Assistant to the Executive Vice President.

WILL PARRISH: Mendo Support Caravan Heads to Oil Pipeline Stand-Off


 1Growing pile of donated supplies at the Ukiah Courthouse rally (photo by Haji Warf).


While Sierra Rose Alexander was growing up on the Northern Cheyenne reservation in southeastern Montana, several influential members of the tribe were keen on leasing reservation land to Arch Coal Corporation.  This corporate leviathan was seeking to develop one of the USA’s largest coal strip mines, link it by rail to a Washington State terminal, and thence ship the dark and combustible substance to burgeoning Asian energy markets, in addition to domestic ones.

An area of rolling prairies and statuesque buttes called Otter Creek would have been sacrificed.  Arch Coal and other companies were in the midst of a broader push to expand mining in the Powder River Basin along the Montana-Wyoming border, the nation’s largest coal-producing region.

But Alexander’s grandfather had helped lead the opposition to a similar proposal in the 1970s. She and her immediate family members are among many Cheyenne traditionalists who continue to oppose any coal mining.

“My grandpa’ told my mom, ‘Never go for coal. Never tear up the land,’” recalls Alexander, who is 24 years old.  “I grew up with my mom telling me how important the land is, that the land is all we have.”

This past March, Sierra and other Northern Cheyenne traditionalists could breathe easier when Arch Coal suspended its application for the mine, citing a weak market and “an uncertain permitting environment.”  Nearby ranchers and conservation groups had also resisted the mine proposal.

Currently a goat herder and vegetable farmer at Green Uprising Farm in Willits, Sierra is now spearheading a combined Mendocino County/Bay Area support caravan to Standing Rock Sioux territory in North Dakota, where indigenous people, local ranchers, and environmentalists are standing off against construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline: a $3.7 billion, 1,168-mile-long mega-project that would carry up to 570,000 barrels a day of Bakken Shale oil to Illinois (via South Dakota and Iowa). From there, it would link with another pipeline for transport to terminals and refineries along the Gulf of Mexico, perhaps also connecting to rail lines to the East Coast.