Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, February 3, 2024

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MVNews this week:  Page 6



Mountain View News Saturday, February 3, 2024 



I’m Gustavo Lira, Tasting Room Manager 
and Wine Buyer at The Bottle Shop in Sierra 
Madre. I’ll be writing a column on wine and 
spirits for The Mountain Views News. 

I have been a resident of Sierra Madre for 
the past 14 years. My son attended Sierra 
Madre Elementary School, Sierra Madre 
Middle School, and Pasadena High School. 
Now that he’s attending The Ohio State 
University, I have time to share my thoughts 
and opinions on the over 100 wines that I 
taste each week. 

I prefer the small production, family run 
wineries over the mass-produced wines you see at the grocery/big box stores. The 
smaller wineries have wonderful stories to tell. They tend to be farmed sustainably, 
organically, or biodynamically. Most importantly, they are higher quality wines and 
aren’t mass-produced. The bottom line is you get wines that taste much better because 
the winemaker pays attention to the small details that make all the difference in the 

The first wine up is the 2021 Stephen Ross “Bee Sweet Vineyard” Chardonnay from 
Edna Valley in the San Luis Obispo area. The winemaker/owner is Stephen Ross 
Dooley who is a living legend in Edna Valley. I told Stephen that he’s the Nick Saban 
of the Edna Valley wine region because many of the people who have worked for him 
in the past have gone on to make their own wines to great acclaim. Stephen’s wife 
Paula – a graduate of the University of Texas (Hook em Horns!) - runs the winery 
with Stephen. They are salt of the earth people and consider themselves one of the 
luckiest married work teams ever. Stephen grew up in Minnesota where he learned to 
make rhubarb and apple wines in the family basement. He attended UC Davis where 
he earned his degree in Enology. He then worked 19 harvests in California and the 
Southern Hemisphere before he started Stephen Ross Wine Cellars in 1994.

The 2021 “Bee Sweet Vineyard” Chardonnay is an exceptional wine. It’s bright, zesty, 
and laced with minerality. Stephen sources grapes from the sustainably farmed Bee 
Sweet Vineyard which is only 5 miles from the Pacific Ocean and contains alluvial 
and rocky soil. On the palate, green apple and lemon zest are balanced with subtle 
spice. The finish is superb. This is not the overly oaked, high-octane Chardonnay that 
was prominent back in the day. It is an elegant and focused 
Chardonnay that will pleasantly surprise people who 
normally don’t care for Chardonnay. 

This wine is available at The Bottle Shop for $34.99. It is 
part of the wine tasting coming up on February 8th and 9th 
at The Bottle Shop Tasting Room featuring Chardonnay 
and Pinot Noir from Oregon and California. Until next 
time – Salud!

Use the QRCode to subscribe to The Bottle Shop newsletter 
and stay informed on our weekly wine tasting, beer tasting, 
and special winemaker events. 

See you next week!


The pride of Pasadena, John Mathues got to me just in time, asking for suggestions for wine 
to pair with Valentine’s Day. John tells me that he is a big Chardonnay fan. He’s looking for 
something reasonable in the $30 range.

I’ve got the answer, Frank Family Chardonnay

Not only will this Napa gem be a perfect Valentine’s Day gift, it’s a wine that drinks so well 
with any entrees that you might have planned to cook that day, heck even the desserts.

John asked me to describe the wine that I picked for him. This wine is truly the gem of the 
Carneros region, brimming with Meyer lemon, yellow apple and note of butterscotch. The 
first taste is a delight, and if you have been following my columns, you know I don’t swirl -- I 
go for a complete taste. There’s no need to let this chardonnay sit; it ‘s ready to enjoy with 
your Valentine’s Day sweetie right after opening. This is an absolute favorite of mine, and 
one of the best chardonnays that I have tasted at any price. It’s available at VONS Pasadena 
for $28, there is catch this price is part of their one-day sale on this Thursday the 8th of 

I give it a score of 95 out of 100, I haven’t been let down once no matter the vintage. I would 
call this chardonnay crisp, opposed to 
buttery or oaky.

A bit more

Frank Family has consistently recognized 
as a premier wineries in Napa and though 
I haven’t been there, Sunset magazine 
gave it “Best tasting experience for 2023”!!

Email Peter at thechefknows@yahoo.
com and follow me on Twitter @

Susie’s seafood gumbo*

Tomorrow is my birthday, so I thought I would share one of my 
favorite dishes. Don’t worry, it’s not as difficult as you might 
think! This recipe feeds about 12 and is great for a SuperBowl 

By Anita W. Harris

Alison Arngrim’s one-woman show “Confessions 
of a Prairie B*tch”—which completed its run at 
the Sierra Madre Playhouse last weekend—was 
surprisingly fitting for the venue celebrating its 

Arngrim’s show, and her book of the same title, 
is based on her seven years playing Nellie Oleson 
on the 1970s hit television show, “Little House on 
the Prairie.” 

Nellie was the notoriously mean and snobbish 
golden-haired daughter of the rich Olesons, 
who owned the mercantile of Walnut Grove, the 
pioneer town described in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s 
1930s book series. 

Arngrim hilariously recounts in her show how 
she’s been called a “b*tch” ever since, beginning 
when she was only 11. Rather than take offense, 
Arngrim owned the moniker, noting at the end of 
the show that she’d rather be that than someone 
who never speaks up for herself.

But rather than making a shrill personal statement, 
Arngrim’s 90-minute performance is enjoyable 
stand-up comedy, which she’s been doing since 
she was a teenager, with video clips from “Little 
House” and other shows sprinkled in, including 
another iconic 1970s series, “Fantasy Island.” 

Arngrim makes fun of the fact that she played a 
prostitute on that show, being sold at auction to a 
bunch of businessmen while her mother, played by 
Eve Plumb (who performed as Jan on “The Brady 
Bunch” and who Arngrim says was the same age 
as her) tries to save her. 

Arngrim’s show is thus a nostalgic flashback of her 
life in showbusiness, beginning with her parents. 
Her mother was the voice of Gumby and Casper, 
the Friendly Ghost, among others, and her father 
was an agent for singer Liberace. 

She also answers audience questions about “Little 
House,” including whether something was wrong 
with the Ingalls’ youngest daughter Carrie (no) 
and whether Michael Landon deliberately took his 
shirt off to appeal to fans (yes).

But it’s her deftness as a stand-up comedian that 
makes Argrim’s performance not just funny but 
warm and upbeat. 

That inviting tone—and how Argrim looks back 
at the past 50 years to a show based on a nearly 
100-year-old book series—is a fitting way for 
the Sierra Madre Playhouse to begin its own 
centennial year. 

Centennial celebration

Founded in 1924—even before Laura Ingalls 
Wilder published her books, and nestled in a 
village not unlike Walnut Grove—the nonprofit 
Sierra Madre Playhouse offers a variety of 
entertainment, including music, drama, comedy 
and family-friendly shows like Japanese taiko 
drumming, magic and storytelling.

This season’s lineup continues with a silent-film 
series on Feb. 3 and 4 featuring live piano; jazz, 
baroque and international music performances; 
stand-up comedy; and Bob Baker Marionette 
Theater for families on Saturday mornings. 

The upcoming silent-film festival includes a free 
hour of Charlie Chaplin shorts on Saturday, Feb. 
3, followed by films that include three Harold 
Lloyd comedies and a Centennial Celebration 
Gala, featuring a 1920s speakeasy and champagne 

Pianist Frederick Hodges is set to play music to 
accompany the silent films and film historian 
Lara Gabrielle, who curated the series, plans to 
guide audiences through the two-day festival. 

“We are thrilled to honor the deep and lasting 
roots, colorful history and important cultural role 
of this magnificent venue that has evolved into the 
award-winning Sierra Madre Playhouse,” Board 
Chair David Gordon said of the celebration. 

Also beginning in February, the playhouse is 
offering its 23rd year of after-school youth acting 
and musical theater workshops for ages 9 to 16, 
culminating in student showcases in May.

Matthew Cook, the venue’s newly appointed 
artistic and executive director, said he plans to 
expand the playhouse into a full performing arts 
center as it heads into its 100th year as a “Southern 
California gem and one of the region’s oldest 
cultural venues.”


Cook reflected on the playhouse’s founding in 
1924, having taken over the building from a 
furniture emporium originally constructed in 

“This spring,” Cook said, “we are honored and 
excited commemorate the milestone 100th 
anniversary of its evolution from a silent movie 
house to a leading performing arts venue with an 
array of diverse programming that reflects the 
playhouse’s unique trajectory and the community 
it serves.”

Sierra Madre Playhouse is located at 87 West 
Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre. For tickets 
and information about upcoming events and 
educational programs, call the box office at (626) 
355-4318 or visit



1 Whole Chicken

1 1/2 pound medium shrimp in shell, peeled and deveined

2 dozen shucked oysters with their liquor, oysters picked over for shell fragments 

1 Whole Dungeness Crab - cleaned and broken into fragments (in the shell)

2-4 Louisiana Hot Links

About 1/2 cup vegetable oil 

3/4 cup all-purpose flour 

2 celery ribs, chopped 

1 Stalk of Celery - whole

1 whole onion

1 medium green bell pepper, chopped 

1 medium onion, chopped 

5 garlic cloves, finely chopped 

2 1/2 quarts fish or chicken stock (or a combination)* 

1 (14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes

1 can tomato paste 

1 pound frozen cut okra (not thawed) 

Gumbo File Powder

1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley 

2 Bay Leaves


 In a pot large enough to cover the chicken with water. Fill with water, add bay leaves, whole onion, and 
celery stalk, chopped celery Put Bay Boil Chicken until well done. Remove chicken and let it cool. Keep 
the chicken stock for use later in the recipe. Remove all bones and fat, from the chicken. Cut into bite 
sized pieces, leaving the wings intact. Set aside.

 While the chicken is boiling, Slice hot links in a 10-inch heavy skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium 
heat until browned. (Add oil as needed). Remove links from the pan, and pour the drippings into a heatproof 
liquid measure, then add enough oil to bring total liquid to 3/4 cup. 

 Stir together fat and flour in skillet with a wooden spoon, then cook roux over medium-low heat, stirring 
constantly, until well browned (a shade darker than peanut butter), about 20 minutes. 

 Add chopped celery, bell pepper, onion, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are 
tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a 6- to 7-quart pot. 

 Stir in stock from chicken, tomatoes, okra, and 2 teaspoons salt and 1 tablespoon of gumbo file and 
briskly simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes. 

 Add the cooked chicken and hot links to the mixture and cook another 20 minutes, then add shrimp, and 
oysters with their liquor and cook, stirring, until seafood is just cooked through, about 5 minutes.


 Stir in crabmeat and simmer until heated through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and additional 
gumbo filet to taste. Mixture should be the consistency of chowder and full of seafood, links and chicken! 
Serve over white rice.

*It improves the flavor if you add a bottle of clam juice to the chicken broth.

626.253.1323suecookrealtor@gmail.comDRE02015404Real Estate Cooked to Perfection!
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