Archive | Fall 2013

Cultivating Awareness: Farming is daily meditation at Green Gulch

At left: Abiding Abbess Linda Ruth Cutts

Farming is daily meditation at Green Gulch


Trails of wispy fog cling to the switchback slopes along Highway 1 from Mill Valley to Muir Beach, past a hand-carved wooden sign leading to the Green Gulch Farm Zen Center.

From the road above, the tall eucalyptus trees form an arch over the gentle curve of the fertile valley below, which empties out into the Pacific Ocean. Drive a bit farther in and you’ll catch glimpses of iridescent crops laid out in neat ribbons, forming the heart of Green Gulch Farm: six acres of certified organic vegetable fields, fruit trees and flower gardens.

Green Gulch, also known as Green Dragon Zen Temple (Soryu-ji), is a residential Buddhist practice center in the Japanese Soto Zen tradition, rural retreat center and organic farm. You don’t have to be a Zen practitioner to experience deep gratitude at this temple farm. Everyone is welcome to walk the gardens and farm and, on Sundays, join the dharma talks, or stop by afterwards for hot tea and homemade muffins. You can also pick up a few loaves of freshly baked bread and … Read More

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Notable Edibles


Chalkboard Opens in Healdsburg

Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Cyrus, anymore. . . Chalkboard, the hip, casual new restaurant that has taken over the former Cyrus space in Healdsburg’s Hotel Les Mars, is a breath of fresh air.

From the moment you take in the open kitchen, newly exposed large-paned windows, whitewashed oak floors, nine-foot communal table and oversized chalkboard displaying the restaurant’s daily specials, you know you are in a “Sonoma County” kind of place.

And that is before you get to the food. Executive Chef Shane McAnelly (formerly executive chef of Va de Vi in Walnut Creek) sources many of the ingredients for his seasonally driven small-plates menu from the restaurant’s own three-acre organic garden at Chalk Hill Winery, located just down the road. Chalkboard, Hotel Les Mars and Chalk Hill are all owned by Bill Foley. Chef McAnelly, together with Chalk Hill gardener Bradley Agerter, thoughtfully plan the year-round garden with an eye to bringing diners the best of each season. What they don’t raise themselves, they source from Chef McAnelly’s longtime friends in the local food community.

It goes without saying that the wine list is stacked with locally produced treasures, and … Read More

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Day of The Dead




As I wrote in the Fall 2010 issue of Edible Marin & Wine Country, I have always loved the festival known as Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

Originating with the Aztecs and other Meso-American peoples, these annual rituals remember and celebrate deceased loved ones. The tradition survived the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores and their efforts to wipe out native rites, and continues to resist popular culture’s push to “modernize and homogenize.”

The celebration is carried on today by people from a wide spectrum of cultural backgrounds, including many descendants of these ancient peoples who now call the Bay Area home.

An important part of Day of the Dead rituals has always been the preparing of special foods. In addition to the dishes that were favorites of the deceased, traditional Day of the Dead foods such as chiles en nogadas, pozole and pan de muertos, often served alongside specialty libations, and skulls made of sugar or chocolate and beautifully decorated, are always part of the celebrations.

For the second year, Sausalito’s Copita Tequileria y Comida, the traditional … Read More

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A Quirky Kitchen


Photos: G. Mack Hill,


My quirky obsession with antique kitchen utensils started as my husband, Gerald, and I began to travel inexpensively (well, cheaply) as newlyweds. We hunted and haunted little remote antique shops in California’s Gold Country looking for gifts for my mother, an artist and interior designer. I am sure I felt less guilt about buying things—since they were gifts for my mother—but I don’t even remember if she liked them.

Actually, it all really began in my grandmother McKelligon’s kitchen in Berkeley, where I considered it a privilege to sit in her breakfast nook and quietly shell peas while she listened to her “programs” (soap operas) on the radio. I never got to chop anything, but occasionally walked the three blocks to Solano Avenue alone to pick up cans of sweet petit pois. Of course, the store owners had orders to call her when I arrived and again when I left for home, which took a while if they slipped me a free Tootsie Roll.

Note that our grandmothers never had to go to the gym. They expended a lot more energy than we do in actually growing … Read More

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Escoffier Questionnaire



I’m showing my bias here, but if there were only going to be one restaurant available to me, for the rest of my digesting days, I would be happy if it were one of Ari Rosen’s two restaurants in Healdsburg. There’s something so deeply Sonoma County about Ari’s take on Italian: nonparochial, generous and ambling.

We stayed for a game of bocce, after our long early-evening meal on the patio of Campo Fina, and I experienced beginner’s luck and a Vermintina buzz in one memorable match. It was the exclamation point to a sublime meal, one of many I have enjoyed from the kitchen of this easy master.

Chef: Ari Rosen

Restaurants: Scopa and Campo Fina, Healdsburg

What was your favorite food as a kid?

Bagna cauda with raw vegetables for dipping. We ate this every Christmas Eve. Garlic, anchovies and cream—how can you go wrong?

What was the first meal you made that you were proud of?

When I was 16, I harvested mussels on the coast and cooked them for my friends. I wanted to retire after that meal.

What three adjectives describe your cuisine?

Simple, simpler and simplest … Read More

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An Island With Cuisine You Can’t Refuse


Last fall, I had the great pleasure of spending almost two weeks in the feast of the senses that is Sicily, the island off the coast of the tip of Italy’s boot.

The 9,925-square-mile island, the largest in the Mediterranean, including 620 miles of coastline, is a cacophony of cultures as a result of the many times it has been “conquered” by one invading army after the next. Once the site of Roman, Greek and Phoenician colonies, the Byzantines used the island as a launching pad to conquer the rest of Italy. The Arabs invaded in 965 BC, followed by the Normans, Germans, French and, ultimately, the mainland of Italy itself.

Made famous, or, rather, infamous, as the birthplace of the Corleone family in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather (based on the novel by Mario Puzo), the taint of organized crime has perhaps spared the island from being overrun by the throngs of tourists that flock to other parts of Italy—and the inevitable homogenizing changes that brings.

A survey done among readers of the family of Edible publications around the United States and Canada showed that a great majority … Read More

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The Mill Valley Market & Farm


A Canepa Family Legacy


In 1929, Genovese immigrant Frank Canepa took an important wrong turn. On his way north from San Francisco, where he worked for a North Beach produce market, heading for Corte Madera, he took a left somewhere along the way, wandered into Mill Valley, and immediately felt at home. The small enclave on the eastern slope of Mount Tamalpais reminded Canepa of the villages in his Italian homeland, and he knew right away that he wanted to open a produce market in the little town.

What he didn’t know was that his presence as an able-bodied young man was about to become critical to the town’s very existence. On July 2, 1929, the hills above Mill Valley sparked up in flames—speculation is that a passenger on the Mt. Tamalpais Railway threw a cigarette butt into the dry fields of the mountainside—and the town that Canepa had just fallen in love with was suddenly at risk of being destroyed.

Canepa grabbed a shovel and dug trenches in Cascade Canyon for the next three days, fighting the fire side by side with the … Read More

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The Soup Shall Set You Free



Soups, like salads, seem to trip up the wine world. For centuries, the conventional wisdom has been that soups are difficult to bring to the table with wine. It is worth mentioning that this sort of nonsense also left the wine elite of yesteryear cowering at the sight of eggs, artichokes and asparagus.

We can only surmise that the authors of these long held rules and regulations of fine dining found the soups of their day off-putting with the wines of their day, or at least thought it sounded smart. I’ll grant that consommé and other clear broth-based soups aren’t terribly exciting with most beverage partners, because of their textural similarity, but there is a big world of soup out there, and an equally big world of wine, so surely we can find a few combinations that don’t repel each other.

Since a soup might be crafted to have any aroma, flavor, color or temperature we find in so-called “wine-friendly” solid foods, we are left with texture as the only possible deal-breaker. If texture, the liquidity of soup, is the root of this problem, then … Read More

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The 7% Solution



Of the more than 3 million tons of wine grapes grown in California each year, 93% come from only eight major varietals: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and Zinfandel.

The remaining 7% includes lesser-known varieties such as Arneis, Grenache Blanc, Malvasia, Ribolla Gialla, St. Laurent, Tocai Friulano, Trousseau Gris, Verdelho, Vermentino and others.

These “other” varietals are, however, finding their way into the hands and hearts of a growing number of Napa and Sonoma winemakers looking to craft distinctive American wines by identifying California’s oldest vineyards, varied climates and esoteric grapes!

For the past three years, we have hosted what we call a “Pink & White” party at 750 Wines, our private tasting room and wine shop in St. Helena. This event, held on the last Friday in April, showcases and celebrates the release of the top rosé and white wines for summer, aka “poolside sippers”—crisp, lean wines that are best consumed icy cold in warm weather. Refreshers, if you will.

Many of the varietals presented at this event are new to most of our clients, and some are new to us as well. From … Read More

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OxBow Merchants Fork it Over



Photo: T.J. Salsman

For those of you who, like me, have been watching the significant evolution of downtown Napa the last few years, I do not have to tell you that “it’s come a long way, baby.”

A major player, and catalyst, in that evolution is Oxbow Public Market. A smorgasbord of sights, tastes and smells, Oxbow has the community feel of a farmers’ market, just one that has put on its “Sunday best.”

From the outset, the property was plagued by a series of bad luck: the closing of Copia, the much-heralded but short-lived food and wine museum that is Oxbow’s neighbor along the Napa River; then construction on Napa’s First Street Bridge that turned the surrounding streets into a prohibitive maze; then the economic downturn. Indeed, some of the opening tenants have come and gone, but a good number have stayed—and new businesses have moved in—and they all appear to be thriving.

Today, Oxbow is a bustling hub of culinary delights, a destination for locals and Wine Country visitors alike. You are as likely to spot a famous local winemaker or chef meeting a friend for lunch at … Read More

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