The Valley Line: Annual 'Dinners From the Heart' attracts crowd

My garden loved all the rain we got when February came to an end with a series of storms. The leaves on my camellia bushes seem shinier, the azalea bushes are abundant with glorious blooms and the lemon tree is very heavy with fruit. It looks like I'm going to have plenty of juice to freeze for summer's lemonade.

Last weekend I basked in the warmth as I plumped the pillows on my favorite swing in the back patio and settled in to read a book and listen to bird song. An occasional butterfly would momentarily distract me from the pages of my book.

The biggest must of the weekend is that I had to remember to spring forward with my clocks, which I did. The only one I can't seem to change is my car clock because I never do it right so I have my neighbor's teenage kid come over to do it for me.


Generous La Cañadans (more than 350 of them) were out in force to support Hathaway-Sycamores "Dinners From the Heart." For three glorious nights they patronized wonderful restaurants throughout the San Gabriel Valley in support of the work that Hathaway-Sycamores does to help families in crisis and struggles with serious life challenges.

This year, "Dinners from the Heart" raised $65,000. Since the dinner's inception in 1991, $730,000 has been raised.

The first dinner I attended was at Claud & Co in Pasadena. Claud Beltran, a master chef, created a menu that would have pleased every gourmand. Just to give you an idea: albacore sashimi appetizer, seared scallop on parsnip latke and saffron buerre blanc, duck papperdelle with crispies and mushrooms, lobster on crisp rice cake with succotash, and filet mignon with greens and pepper sauce.

Wes Hagen, Clos Pepe's winemaker, paired each course with Clos Pepe wines, rose of mourvedre, Clos Pepe Estate homage to Chablis, chilled Azis Mundi Grenache/Syrah, and Clos Pepe Estate Pinot Noir.

Hagen, a poetic man himself, reminded us that the Italians say, "Il vino e' la Poesia della Terra," wine is the poetry of the Earth.

He said that the uncontested queen of natural complexity must be pinot noir. The noble wine, he said, "is unique in its ability to show every angle of a vintage every silt particle in the soil, and every drop of morning dew that wet its leaves. We (Clos Pepe winemakers) anticipate each vintage with a proper mix of anxiety and hope, knowing that Mother Nature and the Sta. Rita Hills have a plan that will allow time and effort to fill a glass."

At the beginning of the week he posted a YouTube video talking about the wonderful rain that the thirsty vines, although still sleeping, so needed. The video also showed the ranch dogs leading a flock of old English doll-faced sheep into the vineyards to crop the weeds.

Mary Pinola, Paulette Lang and Annsley Strong, all members of Hathaway-Sycamores boards, graciously invited friends and family to dine at Cucina Rustica in Montrose. The specially prepared menu choices were hearty and beautifully Italian representing foods of different areas of this beautiful country.

Co-event chairs were the Los Altos Auxiliary; as well as Bob and Gregg Smith of Smith Brothers Restaurant Corp. and their participating restaurants Arroyo Chop House, Cheval Blanc, Parkway Grill, Smitty's Grill, Seco and Vibrato.


JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada social scene. Email her at with news of your special event.

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