No dilly-dallying preamble this week, Dear Readers. Straight to the mailbag!

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Rob Nelson, shop manager for St. Helena Cyclery, is planning a Christmas bike ride through St. Helena for cyclists to see Christmas light displays. There’s no better way to see Christmas lights than on a bike. Everyone is welcome on the casual ride, which will be held at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 20 at the shop, 1156 Main St. and end 30 to 40 minutes later with cocoa and cookies at the shop. Cyclists are asked to equip their bikes with lights, because it will be dark. Wear bright clothing and helmets too. No reservations are necessary. For more information call Rob at 963-7736.

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Mariah McGuire of the St. Helena Public Library sends word of a drop-in holiday crafting program. “While the kids are home for Winter Break, why not bring them to the Library’s Children’s Room to create some fun holiday-inspired crafts?” McGuire writes. No registration, no fee, and all ages are welcome. Hours are 2 to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 19, through Thursday, Dec. 21.

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Just weeks into Amy Carabba-Salazar’s tenure as CEO/President of the St. Helena Chamber of Commerce, a splashy new promotional video is singing St. Helena’s praises to potential visitors. The message is that St. Helena, like the rest of the Napa Valley, is “open for business” in spite of October’s wildfires (which are alluded to in a tactfully oblique manner). “With love and strength, we fought for the beauty of our landscape — and it shows,” the video begins. It goes on to show landmarks such as the CIA, the Cameo Cinema, Gott’s, and, of course, Bunny Foo Foo. You even catch a glimpse of The Charter Oak’s Christopher Kostow at work in the kitchen. Look for the video at the “St. Helena, CA” Facebook page.

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The members of the Class of 2018 at the Napa Valley Cooking School have done a bang-up job at their annual Winter Restaurant, which may well be the hardest reservation to get in town. The Winter Restaurant began last week and ends up on Wednesday, Dec. 13. The menu served last week was terrific, Endive salad with orange, filbert and Mimolette, a to-die-for bouillabaisse with an olive oil mahi confit and saffron aioli sauce and a dry-aged steak (beef and pork) hache, with smoked carrot, onion compote and sauce diane. Dessert was an apple galette with rum-raisin ice cream and a tiny eggnog éclair. Twenty-five Napa Valley wineries donated wines for the meals, including a fine 2005 Kelham Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. I’m no connoisseur, but I knew it was special just by sniffing its amazing aromas in the glass. The restaurant reservations are closed for the winter season, but the students will be presenting a spring restaurant next May. For information and reservations check napavalleycookingschool.org next year.

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Mark your 2018 calendar (assuming it’s not tucked in your Christmas stocking waiting for Christmas morning) for the Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon on March 4. It will be the 40th annual race, so expect it to be quite the to-do. As usual, the 26.2-mile course starts in Calistoga and heads down Silverado Trail to Napa. Lots of details at NapaValleyMarathon.org.

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A correction from last week’s column: I flubbed the name of the California Retired Teachers Association of Napa Valley, which is offering scholarships for current and aspiring teachers. My apologies.

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