Archive | Winter 2013

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There’s something about Truffles

THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT TRUFFLES

Photo: White truffle pizza at Ca’Momi by Fabio Rosas

BY CHRISTINA MUELLER

When I saw it, I could not believe it. There I was in early September, standing in a 3 1/2-year-old orchard in Carneros, the sun beating its ferocious wave energy into my skull, and all I saw was parched, dry ground and trees no taller than your average middle schooler. And yet, underground, the slow but steady growth of Tuber melanosporum and Tuber aestivum was underway.

Tuber melanosporum, known colloquially as Périgord or black truffle, and Tuber aestivum, or Burgundy truffle, are two of the most sought-after mycorrhiza in the world. Revered by chefs and beloved by food enthusiasts for their incomparable aroma and flavor, truffles routinely sell for hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars per pound. Their prestige among agricultural products is unquestioned and demand perpetually outstrips supply.

France, the traditional home of Périgord and Burgundy truffles, and Italy, the home of white or Alba truffles (Tuber magnatum), cannot produce enough supply to meet the burgeoning demand for these highly prized flavor nuggets. Each year, the French plant more of the trees that foster the truffle and these … Read More

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Sweeten up the holidays

SWEETEN UP THE HOLIDAYS—WITHOUT GLUTEN

BY CHRISTINA MUELLER

Heather Hardcastle knows pastry. Diagnosed with gluten intolerance in 2000, Hardcastle set out to re-create her favorite foods without the troublesome protein found in wheat and other grains.

“It led to a career change,” says Hardcastle, who subsequently completed the general pastry program at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena. More recently, Hardcastle took on the roles of owner and founding chef when she opened San Anselmo’s Flour Craft Bakery in the spring of 2013. Perhaps best known for their granolas, sold on Thursdays at the Marin County Civic Center Farmers’ Market, on Saturdays at Larkspur’s Marin Country Mart Farmers’ Market, and at most regional Whole Foods Markets and other specialty stores, Flour Craft Bakery sells a range of gluten-free (and often vegan or paleo) baked goods, including breads, scones and brown-butter brownies.

At the bakery in San Anselmo, a newly expanded lunch menu includes savory quiche, sandwiches and salads. Beginning in November, Flour Craft Bakery granolas—cranberry almond and maple pecan—will be sold online at Williams-Sonoma.com.

Inspired by French yogurt style cakes, Hardcastle crafted this chocolate and almond confection as ideal for the home cook. “It is an extremely … Read More

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Rustic Bakery

RUSTIC BAKERY

Nothing Half Baked About This Couple’s Success

BY KIRSTEN JONES NEFF PHOTOS BY STACY VENTURA

 

 

 

It is a known fact that the baked goods at Rustic Bakery are habit forming. Many of us in Marin County (yes, count this as a personal confession) need to stop by one of their cafés several times a week, if not every day, to get our fix.

As busy as our collective love affair with their wide array of offerings surely makes them, Rustic Bakery and Café cofounders Carol LeValley and Josh Harris make the business of creating and running the wildly successful bakery seem easy: First, you nurture a baking hobby, even as you manage a successful fashion design company. Then you identify a need for beautiful flatbread crackers to accompany the artisanal cheeses of West Marin. Next, jump out of the fashion business as you perfect recipes and establish relations with the finest local growers and producers. Open cafés and wholesale kitchens as you increase your employee base to 130. Sign contracts with companies such as Google and Virgin Airlines that want to feature your goods on their menus. Finally, hire a chef partner to expand … Read More

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Calistoga’s lighted Tractor Parade

CALISTOGA LIGHTS IT UP

CALISTOGA’S ANNUAL LIGHTED TRACTOR PARADE, celebrating the area’s rich agricultural history—and present—is the ultimate small-town holiday celebration. Vintage and modern tractors and trucks festooned with colorful holiday lights parade down Calistoga’s charming main street and Santa himself even takes a break from his North Pole toy shop duties to delight kids of all ages. Celebrating the 18th anniversary of this wonderful tradition, this year’s parade takes place Saturday, December 7. VisitCalistoga.com

PHOTOS BY ROBB MCDONOUGH

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Escoffier Questionnaire

ESCOFFIER QUESTIONNAIRE

Putting Together the Pieces

BY MARISSA LA BRECQUE

Photos: Bradley Ogden by Jeremy Ball, Tyler Florence by John Lee, Brad Farmerie by Marissa La Brecque, Estes and John Stewart by Gerald Bybee, Juan Pablo Loza Courtesy of Maroma Resort, John Franchetti by Dan Bransfield, Ari Rosen by Marissa La Brecque, Michael Chiarello courtesy of Napa Style, Cindy Pawlcyn by Laurie Smith, Chris Cosentino by Marissa La Brecque, Justin Everett by Courtney Michalik.

The Escoffier Questionnaire published in each issue of Edible Marin & Wine Country was inspired by my conversations with chefs from across the United States while I was working on my book Off the Menu: Staff Meals from America’s Top Restaurants (Welcome Books, 2011).

Like the more famous—at least for the time being—Proust Questionnaire, my questions were designed to elicit short responses that are long on meaning.

The chefs’ answers give us an ephemeral glance. Some responses run deep and others could be different a week later. Since we started posing these questions in 2011, a collage has emerged. It tells us something about each of these talented and generous souls and it also reveals something about our home and our time.

An end of … Read More

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Winter Citrus Spices up The Salt

STONE’S SOUP CORNER

WINTER CITRUS SPICES UP THE SALT

BY JENNIFER CARDEN PHOTOS BY MATTHEW CARDEN

Salt is an indispensable flavor enhancer, and boy-oh-boy do we Americans love our salt. Some say the difference between a home cook and a restaurant chef is the chef’s fearlessness in adding salt to dishes. Yet we hear on the news everyday that too much salt is bad for us.

We also love “crunch.” Unfortunately, most crunchy foods fall into the salty snack food category and we are constantly warned against those, too.

Yes, if your diet is heavy on processed foods and snacks, salt can quickly become your enemy. But the right kind of salt, and crunch, goes a long way, so why not skip the junk and add some salty, crunchy goodness to your delicious, healthy foods instead?

Salt isn’t inherently evil, of course. Some types are downright heavenly. Take Pink Himalayan salt, said to have been created during the Jurassic era and thought by many to have exceptional healing properties. France, Spain and Sicily, among others, vie for the honor of producing the favorite sea salt of top chefs. From Australia comes the delicious Murray River salt. In our area, … Read More

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Farmers’ Market and 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

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, CommunityFarmersMarkets.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 E. Blithedale Ave., Mill Valley, 415.382.7846

SAUSALITO CERTIFIED FARMERS’ MARKET

Year round, Sundays, 10am–2pm, Dunphy Park,

Sausalito, 415.382.7846

Star Route Farms Farmstand

Year round, Fridays, 2–6pm, 95 Olema-Bolinas Rd.,

Bolinas, 415.868.1658

NAPA COUNTY

Calistoga Farmers’ Market

Year Round, Saturdays, 8:30am–noon, 1546 Lincoln

Ave., in the parking lot between the Police Station and

Community Center on Washington St., Calistoga,

CalistogaFarmersMarket.org

SONOMA COUNTY

PETALUMA EAST-SIDE FARMERS’ MARKET

Year round, Tuesdays, 10am–1:30pm, Petaluma

Community Center, 320 N. McDowell, Petaluma,

415.999.5635, CommunityFarmersMarkets.com

Santa Rosa Oakmont Farmers’ Market

Year … Read More

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Year Round Favorites at their Peak this Season_Winter2013

WHAT’S IN SEASON

YEAR-ROUND FAVORITES AT THEIR PEAK THIS SEASON

BY GEORGEANNE BRENNAN

Walnuts, almonds and pistachios, all major crops in California, have a place in my pantry year round, but they are especially good in winter, just after the new crop has been harvested and their fresh, nutty flavor is intense.

I use them in salads, cookies and cakes and always include a handful with a cheese platter, along with dried fruit—another winter pantry staple.

I live surrounded by walnut and almond orchards, and even have a few trees of my own, so it gives me extra pleasure when I see local nuts in the markets. It’s like they are my own grown children, having watched them mature from their early leafing out in spring, to clusters of green nuts, to the moment of harvest.

In September and October I start anticipating the new crop of nuts as I see the shakers moving into the orchards. The strange-looking machines remind me of World War I submarines I once saw in the military museum in London, low to the ground with long front ends and the driver encased in a cage. However, unlike the submarines, the shakers have a … Read More

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Working with nature Comes Naturally to this Couple

PORTABLE PAIRINGS

WORKING WITH NATURE COMES NATURALLY TO THIS COUPLE

BY DAVID KATZ

PHOTOS BY ROBB MCDONOUGH

I first met Jon Grant and Ashley King at a harvest dinner I cooked at Turley Wine Cellars in 2009. They were, on that September day, known to me only as “that vegan couple on table 3,” one of whom was Turley’s assistant winemaker.

They cheerfully supped on a gratin of Tondini beans, wild mushrooms and seasonal vegetables, while the guests all around them devoured slabs of slow-grilled lamb. I liked them immediately, in part because they appreciated our efforts, but mostly because they were so good-natured about lambapalooza.

Grant, owner and winemaker of Couloir Wines and Straight Line Wine, and King, now general manager of both labels, have done extraordinary things this year. Couloir Wines was selected by Wine & Spirits magazine as one of seven brands from around the world to watch in 2013. Grant’s Straight Line Wine Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, California 2010, at just $28, won the top honors in a blind tasting of Pinot Noir–based wines from around the world by Sommelier Journal’s editorial staff.

Perhaps most extraordinary of all, they have opened a hip in-town tasting room, … Read More

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