Noe Valley Voice December 2002 - January 2003

Noe Brims with Holiday Spirit

By Laura McHale Holland

Holiday gatherings, volunteer opportunities, musical and dramatic events, Christmas pageants, Santa visits, collection barrels for toys, food, and clothes--they're all here in Noe Valley this season. So, come on out and catch some spirit.

Hanukkah comes early this year, but it's not too late for you to help celebrate what Rabbi Michael Lerner of the Beyt Tikkun Community Synagogue calls "the first national liberation struggle." (Hanukkah commemorates the victory in 165 B.C. of the Maccabees over the occupying forces of Antiochus Epiphanes.) Neighbors--Jews and non-Jews, children and adults--are invited to not one, but two celebrations on Friday evening, Dec. 6.

The Hanukkah bash sponsored by the Jewish orthodox group Chabad of Noe Valley starts at 6 p.m. and takes place at 889 Elizabeth Street. "Everyone's welcome. You can expect a very lively and enthusiastic Jewish experience. It's not to be missed," says Rabbi Gedalia Potash. For more details, call Potash at 821-7046.

The Beyt Tikkun celebration will begin at 7 p.m. at the Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez Street, at 23rd Street. There will be a candle-lighting ceremony, followed by a telling of the Hanukkah story, singing, dancing, a Shabbat service, and a vegetarian potluck. Admission is a main course veggie dish to share. For more information about Beyt Tikkun, call 575-1432 or e-mail

A week later, Santa's sleigh will be pulling into town -- for a whirlwind visit to 24th Street. On Saturday, Dec. 14, old St. Nick will listen to children's wishes at the Bank of America (corner of 24th and Castro streets) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., as a favor to the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association. Incredibly, on that same day, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Santa will also hold forth at Zephyr Real Estate, a half a block down the street at 4040 24th Street. Elves will be on hand to pass out free candy canes and apple cider.

Trim a Tree

For those in search of the perfect Christmas tree, no organization will be selling trees on the James Lick Middle School grounds this year, alas. However, Delancey Street Foundation will have lots set up in the Castro, at 2299 Market Street at Noe (861-2150), and in Glen Park at 2815 Diamond Street (586-8721). Delancey Street is a leading self-help residential education center for former substance abusers and ex-convicts.

Some extravagant tree trimming and dazzling decorating to check out each year is at Hollyrock--Donnie Tinsley's hillside home on 28th Street between Castro and Diamond--and in front of the charming Victorian belonging to Tom Taylor and Jerry Goldstein on 21st Street between Sanchez and Church. Walk to these visual feasts if you can, because as Christmas draws near, cars are often bumper-to-bumper as people gawk at giant presents, ribbons, ornaments, stuffed animals, and glittering lights.

Revel in the Entertainment

Once you've got your fill of decorations, you might want to hear some holiday music. The Priests Choir of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, a troupe of 15 priests from parishes throughout the Archdiocese, will perform at St. Paul's Church, at Church and Valley streets, on Dec. 11, 7:30 p.m. The 70-minute program will include 12 Christmas songs and six Advent songs. Some are old favorites, some are prayers for peace, and some will invite audience participation. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted.

Then on Saturday, Dec. 14, at 5:30 p.m., in the upstairs sanctuary of the Noe Valley Ministry, a Nativity pageant will unfold. Entitled "The Baby Born in Bethlehem," the pageant was written by Ministry member and Voice contributor Betsy Bannerman. "It's a short, four-scene play about the birth of Jesus," says Bannerman. "The narrative structure comes right out of Matthew and Luke, but it is set in the present day, with hints linking the location to San Francisco, New York, and even Bethlehem itself."

Bannerman also directs. "I had a lot of fun writing the play and am enjoying the process of directing it--a first for me. I hope that people will appreciate the intimacy and spontaneity of the production and will overlook some of the rough edges," she adds. Be prepared for a BART scene, three wise guys instead of wise men, and shepherds with cell phones. Following the pageant will be a lasagna-and-salad dinner downstairs. The event is free.

Also at the Ministry, on Saturday, Dec. 21, at 8:15 p.m., the Noe Valley Music Series presents a Celtic Solstice/Celtic Peace Concert. The program features Irish dancers, song, and a variety of musicians, including members of the Aniar band, with Kyle Thayer on vocals and guitar, Kevin Bernhagen on fiddle, and Todd Denman on uilleann pipes. The show will include other musicians from the Bay Area Celtic community as well. Tickets are $13 in advance and $15 at the door ($11 for children under 12 and seniors over 65, available only at the door). Advance tickets are available at Streetlight Records at 3979 24th Street. For more information, call 454-5238 or visit

Donations, Donations

Until Christmas Day, Zephyr Real Estate will have three collection barrels in its office on 24th Street. "Two barrels are for toys, and one is for food. We're collecting toys for Toys 4 Tots and for the Child Abuse Prevention Council. The food barrel is for the San Francisco Food Bank," says sales manager Randall Kostick. "We've had great success with these in the past. People have bought whole sacks of groceries at Bell Market and then dropped them off here."

Toys should be new and unwrapped, and food should be non-perishable. Gifts that are popular with young ones are makeup kits, board games, dolls (especially Barbies), basketballs, footballs, soccer balls, Tonka trucks, bath items for pre-teen and teenage girls, and for teenagers, gift certificates to music stores, movie theaters, department stores, and bookstores.

Other places to drop off new, unwrapped toys are at our local Bank of America branch, at Small Frys children's clothing store at 4066 24th Street, or at the Friends of Noe Valley Holiday Party on Thursday, Dec. 12, 7 p.m., at Latvian Hall, 425 Hoffman Avenue. All three are collecting toys to give to children at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation's annual Women and Family Holiday Party.

Vicksburg Street residents Carl and Andrea Alban Gosline, along with their homespun group Circle of Peace, are also collecting gifts, food, and clothes for needy families this year. "What's most needed are things appropriate for teens, like movie tickets and gift certificates, and new toys, shoes, jackets, cans of tuna or meat-based soups, jars of peanut butter, protein bars, blankets, and supermarket gift certificates," says Andrea. If you would like to participate, call 824-6511 by Dec. 8. (The deliveries to various charities will be made on Dec. 9.)

Through Jan. 6, at a temporary station in Stonestown Galleria, you can help keep people warm this winter by donating new or gently used coats to children and adults in need. This is thanks to the efforts of the Girl Scouts of the Bay Area and One Warm Coat, a community service organization. They have joined forces to collect coats and distribute them free of charge. For more information, call 564-8848.

Calling All Wrappers and Stackers

The San Francisco AIDS Foundation needs volunteers to help sort, wrap, and tag the gifts they collect for their party, which will be held Dec. 19 from 6 to 8 p.m. "This is for women, children, and their families who are impacted by HIV," says volunteer recruiter Cal Callahan. The volunteer shifts are two Saturdays, Dec. 7 and 14, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Tuesday, Dec. 17, from 6 to 9 p.m. Helping hands will be needed at the party as well. For details call Callahan at 487-8081.

You can also help the San Francisco Food Bank pick up, sort, stack, and deliver food this season. The Food Bank is the largest distributor of food to nonprofit agencies in San Francisco, and it aims to distribute 9,000 food boxes to needy families by the end of December.

Fair Oaks Street residents Kevin, Barbara, and 11-year-old Monica Brickley have been volunteering at the Food Bank two evenings a month for two years. The decision to make community service an important part of their lives came about when Monica was 4 years old and asked her parents about a homeless man she'd noticed on the street. "It doesn't take a lot of effort [to volunteer]," says Barbara. "Once you get involved and understand the impact of your small contribution, it's a 'pebble in the pond' ripple effect."

Volunteers are most needed during the daytime, Monday through Friday, but evening and weekend shifts are also available. To sign up at the Food Bank, call Lisa Start at 282-1900.

Watch What You Nibble

If you're tempted to eat too many treats over the holidays, nutritionist Maribeth Goldstein, who lives on 23rd Street, has some advice.

"Minimize hors d'oeuvres, because eating them before a big meal is not a great thing, unless it's fresh fruit or veggies with a light dip. But something rich like nuts or cheese is definitely going to add up the calories," she says.

"If people like eggnog, they should try light eggnog made with 1 percent milk instead of cream. And when it comes to recipes, cut down on the butter and cream, using about half the regular amount, and add some different spices, or replace the creams with yogurt or light sour cream."

To help make your holiday gatherings scrumptious and satisfying, here is Goldstein's recipe for a reduced-fat deep-dish apple cobbler.

Deep-Dish Apple Cobbler

From the kitchen of Maribeth Goldstein

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour

3 tablespoons plus 3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

3/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, cut up

1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream

6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

In a large bowl, stir together
1 cup of the flour, 3 tablespoons of the sugar, the lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and the baking powder. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the 3 tablespoons of butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the sour cream and 2 tablespoons of cold water. Add up to 1 tablespoon more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the dough just comes together. Pat into a flat round shape, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the apples, remaining 3/4 cup sugar, and remaining 1 tablespoon flour, and toss well to coat. Add the lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, and toss to combine. Spoon the mixture into a 9-inch, deep-dish pie plate, and dot the top with the remaining 2 teaspoons butter.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. On a lightly floured board, pat the chilled dough into an 8-inch circle. Gently lift the dough and place it on top of the filling. Place the cobbler on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

Reduce the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 25 minutes longer, or until the crust is golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and cool the cobbler for 10 minutes, then serve.

Serves 8. Each piece has 294 calories and 7 grams fat.