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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Sorry, Everything is Delicious!


Photos courtesy of Mustards Grill


Edible Marin & Wine Country is an exuberant fan of Chef Cindy Pawlcyn. When Pawlcyn opened Mustards Grill in Yountville in 1983, Napa Valley was certainly not the world-class culinary destination that it has become. Just seven years after California winemakers rocked the world of fine wine in the 1976 “Judgment of Paris,” the Valley was still more bars and feed stores than high-end restaurants and tasting rooms, and Pawlcyn’s read on her audience was pitch-perfect from the beginning.

Mustards Grill’s unwavering popularity with locals and tourists alike is due in large part to Pawlcyn’s natural affinity for, and mastery of, sophisticated yet down-home wine country fare. Iconic menu items like Mongolian Pork Chops with sweet and sour red cabbage and housemade mustard; Grilled Hanger Steak with red wine onion jam, French fries and watercress dip; and Niman Ranch Barbecued Baby Back Ribs with apple–golden raisin slaw and cheddar-jalapeño corn stix stand up to big California wines and offer comfort and sustenance after a hard day in the vineyards (or tasting rooms…).

A pioneer in the farm-to-table movement, Pawlcyn has long supported local farmers, ranchers, … Read More

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Preserving The Season


Photo: Craig Lee,


As a child, I loved picking plums at my grandmother’s house, then making jam with her and sticking the cloves into the fruit for her pickled peaches. When it came to actually eating, however, I preferred store-bought jams and canned fruit with proper labels, like the other kids had at home. There was something embarrassing about my grandmother’s hand-written, dated labels and the glass jars with their metal-ringed lids, as if we were too poor to buy “real food” and so had to make our own.

That wasn’t really the case. My grandmother just liked to preserve the season, so she could eat peaches whenever she wanted them, and since she had fruit trees of just about every kind, why would she want to buy somebody else’s canned fruit in December? To her, it was simply logical.

After my grandmother died, my mother carried on for a few years, making the pickled peaches, carving away the bright red watermelon flesh to make the sweet watermelon rind preserves she liked to serve with pork roasts and canning the apricots from our tree. Like my grandmother, she could can with the … Read More

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Profile: Kendra Kolling




Farming is the stuff of romance, the iconic images familiar to all: soft breezes carving fields and treetops into artistic, undulating shapes; overflowing produce baskets filled with beautiful, shiny fruit; impossibly cute baby animals, frolicking in their barnyard pastoral. Right?

Not so, laughs Kendra Kolling.

Kendra, most recently known as The Farmer’s Wife for her sandwich stands by that name at numerous Sonoma and Marin farmers’ markets, is, in fact, a farmer’s wife. Married for 16 years to Paul Kolling, the owner of Nana Mae’s Organics and the actual Nana Mae’s grandson, she knows a thing or two about the commitment required to farm.

“The cash flow for farming is a black hole,” she says, swabbing bacon grease from her hands. “Your work ethic is so important because you have to hang tough.”

Paul bought their Sebastopol farm in 1984, farming organically from the start. With the organic movement not yet a significant part of the local agricultural fabric, Paul’s decision was radical. Pioneering, even.

Putting in apples set him even further apart. “Everyone was planting wine grapes,” says Kendra. People thought he was crazy to … Read More

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Flat Delicious


El Molino Central Grinds Out Tortillas the Old-School Way


I remember when I was first taught to enjoy a tortilla. I must have been 4 years old, and the director of my bilingual daycare pulled me aside during snack time. She took a warm corn tortilla from underneath a cloth napkin and held it out flat in her hand.

“You put the butter on like this,” she said, spreading a pat of butter over one side. “And then you roll it up.”

She rolled it into the shape of a cigar and handed it to me. I was one of the only white girls at the daycare, and I thought maybe this was my rite of passage into eating Mexican food the way Mexicans do. I took a bite. It was soft, toasty and tasted faintly like grilled corn on the cob.

I still eat tortillas like this, but I’ve since realized that not all tortillas taste and feel the same. Flour tortillas are pale in color and stretchy; some corn tortillas are flat and dense, others soft and crispy. So it’s after I’ve devoured three tortillas at El Molino Central that … Read More

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