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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Elderberry Cordial

FOOD AS MEDICINE

ELDERBERRY CORDIAL

Sip Your Way to Better Health This Winter

BY CHERYL FROMHOLZER

PHOTOS BY STACY VENTURA

As an herbalist and herbal educator, I have always used food as medicine and like to incorporate herbs with health-promoting qualities into food and drink whenever I can.

The use of herbs, berries and barks infused into distilled spirits dates back hundreds, if not thousands, of years, and these tinctures have long been hailed for their restorative and life-giving qualities.

The elder or elderberry tree (Latin name Sambucus) is native to Marin County, where you’ll find them growing along waterways. Historical references to the use of elder date back to the Greeks and the tree even garnered a nod in the popular Harry Potter book series: The most powerful wand in the land was made from elder wood.

The ancients recognized its power and it is, indeed, one of the best natural medicines for the cold and flu season. Sipped daily during the fall and winter months, this Elderberry Cordial made with the berries of the tree can keep colds and flus from progressing. Scientific studies have shown elder is effective in-vitro against 10 strains of influenza virus. … Read More

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Notable Edibles

NOTABLE EDIBLES

Sonoma County Gives a FIG!

Every time you savor a bite of your favorite local cheese, pasture-raised meat, vine-ripened vegetable or fruit, or artisan-baked bread, you probably think fondly of the farmer, rancher or artisan food maker responsible. But there are many unsung heroes whose behind-the-scenes work is also critical in bringing this bounty to our tables. Investors, distributors and other supporting businesses are all vital links in the chain of a healthy foodshed and regional economy overall.

With the goal of bringing all of these folks together to discuss common challenges, share best practices and create mutually beneficial partnerships, the Sonoma County BEST (Building Economic Success Together) collaborative, an organization whose stated purpose is to promote job creation and economic growth, has recently launched the Food Industry Group, fondly known as FIG.

One of the first things accomplished by the group was the development of the enlightening graphic on this page that illustrates just how important the food and beverage industry is to our entire regional economic well-being.

FIG currently has over 30 industry-leader members, including Amy’s Kitchen, Clover Stornetta, Guayaki, La Tortilla Factory, Mike Hudson Distributing, Sonoma Gourmet, Traditional Medicinals and Warren Capital. Blair Kellison, CEO … Read More

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Edible Gift Guide

EDIBLE GIFT GUIDE

Our annual holiday gift guide is back!

Our annual holiday gift guide is back and it’s bigger and better than ever. You really could just close your eyes and point your finger anywhere on this list to select a perfect gift for each of the local-food-loving folks lucky enough to grace your list this year. Here in Edible Marin & Wine Country, it’s never been easier to be a very gifted giver.

SUGAR AND SPICE AND EVERYTHING NICE…

It’s no coincidence that this category is our heartiest. Seems everyone’s a foodie during this magical season. Check out this feast of ideas!

Clif Family Winery co-owner Kit Crawford has always found ways to preserve the fruit and vegetables from bountiful summer harvests on the Clif Family Farm. Each year, family and friends eagerly await some delicious fruit preserve or tomato sauce from Kit around the holidays. To widen this circle of love, Clif Family Winery now makes a variety of fruit preserves, pepper jelly and tomato chutney available to the public. This season’s favorites include Pluot Lavender Preserves, Meyer Lemon Marmalade, Fig Preserves and Tomato Chutney (plus about six other delicious varieties) all made from organic … 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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