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The Edible Traveler

A New Wave of French Artisans

STORY AND PHOTOS BY GEORGEANNE BRENNAN

A confiserie that includes a museum and candy-making demonstrations? A bread maker on a narrow stretch of road who grows his own wheat, mills it into flour and bakes it into gorgeous loaves in a wood oven? A cheesemaker who keeps his herd of 250 goats just a long stone’s throw up a dirt road from his small cheesemaking rooms? A charcutière couple who raise the pigs they transform into the sausages, pâtés and roasts on display behind a gleaming glass showcase inside the old stone building that houses their shop and equipment?

I was enchanted to discover each of these places in the Parc du Pilat on a brief wander with a friend through the Northern Rhone wine region in France.

Perhaps most surprisingly, these establishments are not the last-standing remnants of a bygone era, manned by the aged remaining few of past generations, but new, vibrant artisanal establishments created by young people set in what I can only describe as la France profonde, where bucolic countryside lives in harmony with the simple life of small farms and villages, far from the modern trappings of Paris … Read More

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Price Check on Aisle Five

PRICE CHECK ON AISLE FIVE: CRICKET COOKIES—WAIT, WHAT?

Edible insect products coming to a store near you

BY SARAH HENRY • PHOTOS BY MICHAEL WOOLSEY

Bugs have a branding problem. Megan Miller, who founded Bitty Foods in 2013, is determined to change that. The former trend forecaster is on a mission to make U.S. consumers comfortable eating insects. She started with chocolate chip cricket cookies.

Have no fear, there’s not an insect leg or long antennae in sight: The crickets are dry-roasted and milled into a fine powder that evokes a neutral, nutty flavor with toasted grain notes.

Miller, whose media background comes in handy around product messaging, calls crickets “the gateway bug” to the edible insect trend and touts their nutritional benefits and eco-cred as a sustainable alternative protein source.

Until now, Bitty Foods has served as a niche, small-batch food producer, with a price point to match. The company manufactures cricket cookies and all-purpose flour. Both are available online and locally at Woodlands Markets in Kentfield and Tiburon. A bag of orange ginger cookies retails for $10 a dozen; the flour runs $20 for a 20-ounce bag. Miller makes muffins, pizza crust and other baked goods with the … Read More

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Clif Family Farm & Winery

 

PHOTO BY  COURTESY CLIF FAMILY FARM

Kit Crawford and Gary Erickson

PHOTO BY ANNE HAMERSKY

PHOTO BY ERIN ERICKSON

Raising the Bar

BY KIRS TEN NEFF

When I was young I liked to draw pictures of my “dream town.” These were colorful scenes of winding roads dotted with happy chickens, goats and sheep. Farmers with big hats and oversized smiles stood in the middle of their fields of leafy greens, bright yellow squash and towering cornstalks. Children rode bikes every which way and “downtown” on Main Street there was always a restaurant, with, you guessed it, lots of smiling customers.

In short, I drew a land where everyone worked together and had fun, making the world a happy place. Of course, this hopeful scene has been hard to find in the real world.

Recently, though, I had the pleasure of getting to know some of the extended community of individuals who work together to create the Clif Family Farm and Winery; the Bruschetteria food truck at Velo Vino, the winery’s tasting room; and the Clif Family Foundation’s Seed Matters project, and was brought back to thinking those wishful sketches might just be possible in real life.

Clif Bar founders … Read More

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Get Juiced

Siena and Lillian of Grey Goose Farm

PHOTOS: KARENPREUSS.COM

GET JUICED AT SEBASTOPOL’S COMMUNITY APPLE PRESS

BY KATHLEEN THOMPSON HILL • PHOTOS BY K AREN PREUSS

Come one, come all. Come press your apples at the Community Apple Press at the Luther Burbank Gold Ridge Experiment Farm in Sebastopol this apple season. For free!

Have a backyard full of apples? Someone else’s backyard full? Or a real deal on a bushel’s worth? Gleaning a few? Bring ’em all. Or buy some on the way at local roadside stands, farmers’ markets or even at a store. It’ll be the best juice you ever tasted.

Community pressing has been offered at Sonoma’s Olive Press and Petaluma’s McEvoy Ranch for several years, where anyone can bring olives from one tree or a whole orchard and take back olive oil in proportion to what you brought in, but never before for apples.

And who do we have to thank for this unique and wonderful opportunity? Slow Food Russian River, a local chapter of Slow Food, the international organization that was founded in 1989 to “counteract fast food and fast life,” according to its website.

Slow Food Russian River is an extraordinarily active and successful … Read More

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Scottish Traditions and Family

PHOTO: AVIS MANDEL

SCOTTISH TRADITIONS AND FAMILY HONORED AT CAIRDEAN ESTATE

BY CHRIS TINA MUELLER

Naming wines after family members can seem so cliché as to be almost meaningless. For Stacia and Edwin “Ed” Williams, the owners of Cairdean Estate Vineyards and Winery in St. Helena, family and a commitment to their joint heritage is at the heart of their expansive new business venture.

Haley Margaret, Stacia’s cousin who passed away in 2012 from complications of cystic fibrosis, has a wine named for her, an unoaked Roussane, Pinot Gris and Viognier blend that won gold at the 2015 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. The bottle design, a spray of 65 roses, is interlaced with icons of Haley Margaret’s favorite activities—knitting needles, a hockey stick—and $10 from the sale of each bottle goes to support the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

“Kids say ‘sixty-five roses’ instead of ‘cystic fibrosis,’” said Stacia. “That is how we got the name for the wine.” Meaningless? No. Inspiring? Yes.

It is these small, intimate touches that inform the business trajectory of Cairdean and bring a touch of Scottish hospitality to northern Napa. “My maternal grandfather was Scottish,” said Stacia, who honors this heritage in everything at Cairdean … Read More

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Edible Diy

YOGURT: MORNING, NOON AND NIGHT

In her latest cookbook, Janet Fletcher, the award winning Napa-based cheese writer and educator, comes clean—she loved yogurt first. “Frozen yogurt” hadn’t even been invented when she was regularly taking little cartons of store-bought yogurt that she stashed overnight in her home freezer to school. Tucked into her lunch bag, the yogurt would be slushy and spoonable by noon. She acknowledges that this may not have been the safest practice in steamy Texas, but she’s still here!

In Yogurt: Sweet & Savory Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner (Ten Speed Press, 2015), Fletcher offers all of us Johnny Come Latelys to the yogurt party a thorough and well-crafted guide to the myriad of yogurt choices found on today’s grocery shelves, as well as easy-to-follow instructions on how to make your own for the truly inspired.

The beautiful book also explores yogurt as an ingredient in delicious and diverse recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as in desserts and beverages. We especially love the Hanger Steak with Red Onion Raita and Greek Yogurt Sorbet for the summer season.

Janet’s new book can be found at many local booksellers, as well as online. Janet herself Read More

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Stone’s Soup Corner

MAKE YOUR OWN SWEET SUMMER MEMORIES

STORY AND RECIPE BY JENNIFER CARDEN • PHOTOS BY MAT THEW CARDEN

The ice cream man makes his way down our street near Old Town Novato every day starting in April. The familiar tunes puffing loudly out of the tinny speaker atop the ramshackle old truck waft right in through our front door.

The sights and sounds never fail to evoke memories from my childhood, the whole neighborhood of kids running like a pack of dogs following that long ago ice cream man down the street. While waiting impatiently in line, we were always looking to see if there were any new frozen treats on board. Fresh stickers depicting the new items on offer were haphazardly stuck over the old stickers on the side of the truck. Usually it was the same old stuff: the red, white and blue bomb pop, the giant ice cream sandwich or the blue one shaped like a foot with the gumball for the toe. I’m not sure exactly why we wanted to eat ice cream shaped like a foot, but we did.

We’d eat our chosen confection while popping hot sticky tar bubbles in the blacktop with our … Read More

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The Escoffier Questionnaire

MOISHE HAHN-SCHUMAN AND MATTHEW WILLIAMS

STORY AND PHOTOS BY MARISSA LA BRECQUE

RESTAURANT: RAMEN GAIJIN, SEBASTOPOL

Ramen, the broth-based noodle soup hailing from Japan, has enjoyed a spectacular renaissance in the last few years. The seemingly simple dish incites a cult following, much like punk rock, obsessed with what ramen-lovers call “authenticity.”

When I ask Moishe Hahn-Schuman and Matthew Williams, the chef owners of Sebastopol’s Ramen Gaijin, how they respond to this fevered following, they shrug. “We’re not trying to be authentic,” Moishe says. “We’re a restaurant for this community,” adds Matthew.

Actually, ramen is traditionally prepared using ingredient and technique variables that are specific to different regions and traditions in Japan, so Moishe and Matthew’s philosophy seems to be just fine on the authenticity scale. And they are not trying to fool anyone into thinking this is “business as usual” ramen, either: The name the two chose for their restaurant, gaijin, is the Japanese term for a non-Japanese person. Ramen Gaijin is, affectionately, a couple of non-traditionalists adapting ramen to their own values, the seasons and the Sonoma County foodshed.

In between service, Ramen Gaijin feels a bit like a laboratory. The day I visit, the two chef … Read More

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Calvin Lamborn’s Magic Peas

PHOTOS BY ROD LAMBORN

Fairytale Jack’s Magic Beans Have Nothing on These Beauties

BY CAROLYN JUNG

French Laundry culinary gardener Aaron Keefer knew what he cradled in his hands was special. Even legendary.

When he nestled these seeds into the ground just shy of spring this year, he had not only pored over a national magazine cover story lauding their distinctiveness, but The French Laundry’s Chef de Cuisine David Breeden had been pestering him for months to procure them to grow in the showcase garden of this landmark Yountville restaurant.

As the weeks passed, Keefer patiently watched the seeds germinate until the plants finally offered up their bountiful splendor: sugar snap peas the eye-popping colors of buttercup, deep maroon, and even sporting showy yellow and inky purple splotches like a palomino horse. There were also tiny, frilly pea leaves with a delicacy belying their intense flavor, and plump, over-sized green peas so sweet they could almost be candy.

They are all the creations of 81-year-old Calvin Lamborn, the pioneering Idaho botanist who invented the original sugar snap pea in 1979. Until this year, only one farmer in the country grew these precious peas: Rick Bishop of Mountain Sweet Berry Farm … Read More

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Eat Rutherford’s Dust

Vroom, Vroom

BY BEN WEINBERG

The late, revered winemaker André Tchelistcheff often said that “it takes Rutherford Dust to grow great Cabernet.” He was speaking of specific sensory components inherent to the appellation’s wines, but what the world now refers to as “Rutherford Dust” has also come to reflect an enduring commitment to quality, a spirit of achievement and a deep connection to this appellation’s soil.

Since Rutherford’s earliest days, its growers and vintners have been committed to quality, and this attitude is the driving force behind its distinguished vineyards and wines.

Founded in 1994 by wine grape growers and producers, the Rutherford Dust Society’s (RDS) stated mission is to help wine lovers discover Rutherford’s unique expression of wine grape terroir. In 2007, the RDS created a consumer-focused branch called Rutherford Appellation Wineries (the two branches have recently merged), with the express purpose of introducing the Rutherford AVA and its wines to consumers.

A NOTE FROM THE PREZ

Regina Weinstein, director of marketing at Honig Vineyard and Winery (and family member and partner there, as well), the current president of the RDS, says the organization “is really an opportunity to share experiences, work together to resolve issues, promote the American … Read More

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