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A Day in Marin County & Wine Country: Where to Eat & Drink

Marin is your oyster…
Photo: Stacy Ventura

There are many reasons why the San Francisco Bay Area is one of the world’s premier travel destinations, and at the top of the list for many is the ability to get out of the bustling cities and into gorgeous rural landscapes in literally a matter of minutes. Expedia has teamed up with Edible Feast and Edible Marin & Wine Country magazine to bring you a food and drink lover’s perfect day trip into the wilds north of San Francisco.

Tour Marin in photos.

Tour Sonoma in photos.

Head north out of the city and mid-span over the iconic Golden Gate Bridge you will find yourself in Marin County, which boasts a spectacular coastline, rolling hills and flat interior valleys—and over 167,000 acres of farms and ranches. That’s half of the total land in the county…

 

Read the full story here.

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The Official Thistle

ARTICHOKE

Cynara cardunculus

BY GEORGEANNE BRENNAN

ILLUSTRATION BY MICHAEL SCHWAB, MICHAELSCHWAB.COM

It’s official: The artichoke is California’s state vegetable, a declaration made in April 2013 by Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom while Governor Jerry Brown was out of the country and Newsom was the acting governor.

I don’t know if Brown agreed, but to me it does seem an appropriate selection since California grows virtually 100% of the artichokes produced and consumed in the United States. Of that, Monterey Country (which also named the artichoke its official vegetable) produces 75% of the total production, the majority of that centered around Castroville, which has proclaimed itself the Artichoke Capital of the World.

Proclamations aside, the artichoke is a fascinating vegetable. It originated in the Mediterranean region, where it has been consumed for thousands of years and remains a commonplace vegetable. However, some of the artichokes of southern France and southern Italy are quite unlike the big, heavy globes we see in the markets here. There, you’ll find smallish, pointed leafed, purple artichokes on long stems, gathered into bundles of three to five. Sometimes the leaves have nasty thorns on them, a throwback to the original, wild species—a type of thistle.

These are … Read More

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Beekind’s Doug and Katia Vincent

The Royal Couple of Beekeeping

BY KIRSTEN JONES NEFF

PHOTO BY MEG SMITH

Doug and Katia Vincent were excited for a robust harvest when they planted their garden in Pocket Canyon, outside Guerneville, 15 years ago. But by spring they were disappointed; their garden was not thriving and producing the way they had hoped.

They were not sure what the problem was, but Doug, who Katia describes as “a quiet book-reading mechanic at the time,” had a solution in mind. Although his wife was terrified of bees, he suggested they start a hive to see if the prolific pollinators might help. He mail-ordered bees and quietly set up a hive at the back of their land.

The next year their garden “exploded,” says Katia. “And Doug began to spend more and more time in the back of the property.” Katia, still afraid, stayed away until eventually her curiosity got the best of her and she ventured out to investigate her husband’s project. “I found eight hives out there!” she laughs.

In the following years, as their garden thrived, Doug’s passion bloomed as well.

“Then he became very talkative, and all he talked about was bees,” says Katia. “I had never … Read More

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Honey:The Taste of Terrain

A flavor wheel is a tool to “listen with your nose”

BY M. E. A. MCNEIL

A statue in the garden at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science at UC Davis is engraved with the likeness of the wine aroma wheel, a tool developed by Ann C. Noble, a now-retired sensory chemist and professor at Davis, and credited with broadening consumer understanding of wine tasting, thereby greatly increasing demand.

It seems only fitting, then, that out of this revered research center for food and wine would also arise a similar tool for describing the deeply nuanced tastes of honey.

In the world of wine, the existence of terroir, the concept that the specific place where wine grapes are grown imparts particular flavor, is still argued by some, but it is an indisputable fact that honeys taste of their environments.

Well beyond the simplistic descriptor “sweet,” an entire spectrum of bloom and season opens when a taster is encouraged to pause and savor the rich profusion of scents and flavors of a honey. But something was needed to make that experience as user friendly for the honey-loving public as the wine aroma wheel had for oenophiles.

Enter … Read More

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Farmers’ Market & CSA Directory

Farmers’ Market & CSA Directory

FARMERS’ MARKETS

MARIN COUNTY

CORTE MADERA CERTIFIED FARMERS’ MARKET

Year round, Wednesdays, noon–5pm, the plaza at Town Center shopping center, Corte Madera, 415.382.7846

Downtown San Rafael Certified Farmers’ Market Festival

April–September, Thursdays, 6–9pm, Fourth St. between B St. and Cijos St., San Rafael, 415.492.8007

FAIRFAX COMMUNITY FARMERS’ MARKET

April 29–December 16, Wednesdays, 4–8pm,

Bolinas Park, 124 Bolinas Rd., Fairfax, 415.999.5635

Gospel Flat Farmstand

Year round, daily, 24-hour farmstand, 140 Olema-Bolinas Rd., Bolinas, GospelFlatFarm.com

Marin Civic Center Farmers’ Market

Year round, Thursdays and Sundays, 8am–1pm, Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium and Civic Center parking lot, San Rafael, 800.897. FARM, AgriculturalInstitute.org

MARINWOOD COMMUNITY FARMERS’ MARKET

Year round, Saturdays, 9am–2pm, Marinwood Plaza, at Marinwood

Ave. and Miller Creek Rd., San Rafael, 415.999.5635, Community-FarmersMarkets.com

Marin Country Mart Farmers’ Market

Year round, Saturdays, 9am–2pm, Marin Country Mart, 2257

Larkspur Landing Circle, Larkspur, 415.461.5700

Mill Valley Certified Farmers’ Market

Year round, Fridays, 9:30am–2:30pm, CVS Pharmacy parking

lot, 759 East Blithedale Ave., Mill Valley, 415.382.7846

NOVATO COMMUNITY FARMERS’ MARKET

May 5–September 29, Tuesdays, 4–8pm, Historical Downtown

Novato, Grant Ave. between 1st and 4th Sts.,

Novato, 415.999.5635, CommunityFarmersMarkets.com

Ross Valley Certified Farmers’ Market

May–October, Thursdays, 3–7pm, Ross Post Office, Ross,

415.382.7846

Star Route Farms FarmstandRead More

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A Buzz between the vines

Bees Don’t Do It

BY BEN WEINBERG • PHOTOS BY MEG SMITH

Although most vines are propagated from cuttings, grapes—like many other organisms—have sex.

Each seedling is thus a unique combination of genes from male and female plants. By far the majority of cultivated varieties, including those that produce wine grapes, are hermaphroditic (meaning they carry both male and female reproductive structures, and, accordingly, they fertilize themselves). Therefore, bees don’t fertilize grapevines. So why do so many wineries either keep hives or employ professional beekeepers to do it for them?

“The health of our family’s property depends on it,” declares Chris Benziger, brand manager for Benziger Family Winery in Glen Ellen. He oversees the home ranch and many of its farm-related tasks, including shepherding the Benziger flock of sheep and cows, tending to estate vegetable and fruit trees and producing biodynamic preparations for the vineyards.

“Much of an area’s agricultural health depends on nitrogen balance. Some areas have too much and others too little. Where our concentrations are high we plant crops that deplete nitrogen, mostly grasses. Where there’s not enough we plant nitrogen fixers, often leguminous. Bees are the primary pollinators for both types of plants, all of which … Read More

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The Sweetest Season

STONE’S SOUP CORNER

BY JENNIFER CARDEN • PHOTOS BY MATTHEW CARDEN

Can you hear it? It’s the buzz of bees, a sure sign that spring has arrived. A favorite time of year for local bees, plants are bursting into bloom and the bees can begin the annual rite of gorging on sweet nectar, transforming it into delicious honey.

My family recently acquired two beehives and, boy, is it magical to watch them work. On installation day, our bee man showed up with a bucket filled with around 50,000 bees and into the hive box they went, pouring out like a giant flow of honey, foreshadowing the bounty they would bring.

The bees organized themselves and started in to work right away. There is never a moment to lose in the land of hive building.

Every day we watch them fly a specific flight path, back and forth, in and out of the hive. We watch the young learn to fly by launching themselves off the deck of the hive, venturing just a few inches out at first, before seemingly circling back for praise, continuing the dance until they have the confidence to fly away on their own.

We have never … Read More

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Edible Events Calendar

Edible Events Calendar

MARCH

BIODYNAMIC VITICULTURE & WINE TASTING

March 1 (The Grange at Healdsburg Shed, HealdsburgShed.com)

Benefit Dinner for Marin Organic at Saltwater Oyster Depot

March 3 (Inverness, MarinOrganic.org)

Women for WineSense: Women in Wine

March 5 (Napa Valley College, Napa, WWSNapa-Sonoma.com)

CLASS & BOOKSIGNING WITH SF MILKMAID, LOUELLA HILL

March 6 (Ramekins Culinary School, Sonoma, Ramekins.com)

Marin Organic: Farming 101 at Petaluma Seed Bank

March 10 (Petaluma, MarinOrganic.org)

Shuck & Sip: A Benefit for Marin Organic at Left Bank Restaurant

March 11 (Larkspur, MarinOrganic.org)

37th Annual Barrel Tasting

March 6-15 (Northern Sonoma Wineries, WineRoad.com)

BEEKIND: INTRODUCTION TO BEEKEEPING

March 7 (Grange Hall, Sebastopol, Beekind.com)

HOME CHEESEMAKING: CRÈME DE RICOTTA & SPRING LEEK TAPENADE

March 8 (Epicurean Connection, Sonoma, 707.935.7960, SheanaDavis.com)

Wild Mushroom Foray–Cooking Class & Lunch

March 8 (Relish Culinary, Healdsburg, 707.431.9999)

NAPA VALLEY COOKING SCHOOL: HOW CHEFS COOK FISH

March 12 (St. Helena, 707.967.2900, NapaValleyCookingSchool.org)

Wine +Words at McEvoy Ranch

March 14 (Petaluma, 866.617.6779, McevoyRanch.com)

APIA-SOPHIA: HONEY BEES FOR LIFE WORKSHOP WITH MICHAEL THIELE

March 15 (The Grange at Healdsburg Shed, HealdsburgShed.com)

21st Annual Taste of Yountville

March 15 (Yountville, Yountville.com/events/)

WINE COUNTRY BRUNCH WITH CHEF LISA LAVAGETTO

March 15 (Ramekins Culinary School, Sonoma, Ramekins.com)

THE FORK … Read More

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Healdsburg’s Pig & Pinot

Healdsburg’s Pig & Pinot

PHOTOS BY RON PURDY

Just as a wick needs a flame, many say “the pig needs Pinot.” For the last nine years, renowned chef Charlie Palmer has hosted Pigs & Pinot at Healdsburg’s Hotel Healdsburg, two days chock full of events that prove just that.

The weekend traditionally kicks off on Friday night with the Taste of Pigs & Pinot, where guests are invited to taste 60 different Pinots from around the world alongside swine-y delights both sweet and savory prepared by Chef Palmer and his team, as well as a “who’s who” of guest chefs from near and far. Chocolate-dipped bacon, anyone?

Saturday’s lineup includes the Tournament of the Pig, an “Iron Chef “–style cooking competition; the Ultimate Pinot Smackdown, where four master sommeliers must choose only one winner from 16 top Pinot Noirs; Spoonbar’s Swine and Wine dinner; and a gala dinner held at Chef Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen.

Perhaps the only thing more delicious than enjoying expertly prepared pork, paired with world-class Pinot Noirs, all in the wine country gem that is Healdsburg, is knowing that proceeds from the event go to Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign to end childhood hunger … Read More

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Baked at Stinson Beach

Parkside’s Loaves Help the Whole Town Rise

BY SARAH HENRY • PHOTOS BY STACY VENTURA

A couple of years ago John Gilbert, the longtime owner of the Parkside Café at Stinson Beach, wanted to add on to his beachside business. He toyed with opening a brewery in a space on his property long used for storage and kitchen prep. But then John’s wife, Maxine, chimed in.

What the town cried out for, she said, was a bakery offering crusty breads and flaky pastries. One the owners could be proud of. Lucky for the residents of this tiny town, and anyone who visits the picturesque seaside spot, the bakery idea prevailed.

It’s now been just over two years since Parkside began turning out levain loaves. Locals and visitors alike have enthusiastically welcomed the new bakery. On the financial front, it proved a smart move for the Gilberts: Bakery items typically sell out, and there’s big demand from wholesale clients.

And that’s not all. One unanticipated benefit for John is that, during the process he found his own path back to the stoves after a long hiatus. These days, he caters private dinners for a dozen served in Parkside’s recently renovated space … Read More

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