Archive | Winter 2014

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Escoffier Questionnaire

BARBARA ALEXANDER

BY MARISSA LA BRECQUE

Barbara Alexander with visiting chef Hiroo Nagahara

PHOTO BY MARISSA LABRECQUE

A mention of “cooking school” is often the beginning to a rollicking conversation amongst chefs.

There are those who feel that showing up for the abuse and intensity of an actual commercial kitchen every day until you are worthy to chop, and then one day to filet, and then one day to cook, is the only career path for a chef.

And then there is the other school of thought. Chef Barbara Alexander has been the executive chef of the Napa Valley Cooking School in St. Helena for 12 years (after a stint at that other culinary school in St. Helena). Observing her with her students reminded me of the sanctity of the culinary school path to a life in the back of the house. How well she understands the phases of confidence and competence, how each student becomes a cook over the course of their education.

Whether you are baptized in potato peels or coursework, cooking is still blessedly a world of mentors and students. Cooks learn from masters—sometimes just one, but often many.

I spent a few days at the very … Read More

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Nose To Tail—The Roast

TEXT AND PHOTOS BY MARISSA LA BRECQUE

ILLUSTRATION: BAMBI EDLUND, BAMBIEDLUND.COM

Eating “nose to tail” does not mean that you need to choke down animal organs in some kind of Fear Factor dare.

It does mean acknowledging that we live as a tribe, that a living creature has been raised with care, and gave its life, in order to nourish a community. To honor that life, and to live within the natural order of things, we do well to eat or otherwise utilize every part of the animal.

The modern-day priests of this practice are farmers like Julie and Tony Rossotti of West Marin’s Rossotti Ranch, who offer their meats at local farmers’ markets; butchers at shops like Petaluma’s Thistle Meats, who purchase and butcher whole animals, offering them to customers as fresh cuts as well as transformed into other delicacies like sausages and pates; and cooks in restaurants such as Point Reyes Station’s Osteria Stellina, where every part of whole animals is transformed into pleasure on the plate.

In this new column in Edible Marin & Wine Country, we intend to bring you recipes and cooking techniques that will give you the savoir-faire to own your place in … Read More

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Take Heart, Take Action

The Uplifting Secret Ingredient Behind Daily Acts’ Success

BY KATY MAMEN

PHOTO: KELLEN WATSON

Chris Mann and other Daily Acts volunteers plant a Gravenstein apple tree.

On the surface, the Petaluma-based nonprofit organization Daily Acts looks like many other groups working to lighten our footprint on the land. Their programs encourage the widespread adoption of household- and community-level sustainability projects, empowering people with the tools to grow their own food, reduce water and energy consumption, and other efforts to build community resilience in the face of climate change.

The group works with a wide swath of society, from individuals to municipalities, churches and businesses, to foster change one action at a time, while also working to remove policy barriers that stand in the way.

But look a little closer and you’ll find that Daily Acts has a certain je ne sais quoi that reveals a richness far beyond the practical aspects of its programs: The organization radiates a particular constellation of spirit, warmth, intelligence and resolve.

Daily Acts is one of those rare organizations that manages to marry concrete and effective action for a better world with an attention to the inner landscape, which founder Trathen Heckman refers to as … Read More

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Cherry On Top

Find one of the little people in this photograph by Matthew Carden that has been hidden in another location within this issue and enter the page number of the hidden location on the Edible Marin & Wine Country homepage. The first five people to enter a correct answer will receive a $20 gift card good at any Whole Foods Market location in Marin, Napa or Sonoma county. WholeFoodsMarket.com

Enter to win at EdibleMarinAndWineCountry.com

Entries are due by midnight on January 2, 2015

Winners will be notified by email.

Experience all of Matthew Carden’s unique “food as art” pieces that have been published in Edible Marin & Wine Country, and more, in person at his Super Fresh Art Gallery, 906 Grant Ave., Novato.

MatthewCarden.com and Facebook.com/SuperFreshArtGallery

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Yummy Supper, Indeed

 

Local author and photographer Erin Scott’s new cookbook serves up 100 fresh, luscious and honest recipes

PHOTOS BY ERIN SCOTT

BOLINAS CRAB PASTA WITH CITRUS AND MINT

Every year around Thanksgiving, Dungeness crab season begins in Bolinas, the charming surf town where my mom lives, just north of San Francisco. Bolinas is one beautiful spot, and it’s no wonder crabs plucked from those waters taste especially good.

When we glimpse the fishermen dragging their seaweed-encrusted traps to the docks, we all wiggle with anticipation. We give thanks for those tasty crustaceans.

While we look forward to the yearly ritual of buying, cooking and shelling fresh Bolinas crab, truly you don’t need anything more than good-quality lump crabmeat for this recipe. If you buy the crab already cooked, cleaned and shelled, this delectable dish can be thrown together in less than half an hour.

Yield: 4 main course servings

INGREDIENTS

1 package dried spaghetti

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon Juice

½ pound cooked crabmeat

Sea salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

Zest of 2 lemons

¼ cup chopped fresh mint leaves

Red-pepper flakes (optional)

1 lemon, quartered

TO PREPARE

Start by cooking your pasta according … Read More

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Insight Garden Program

The Prison Gardener Offers San Quentin Participants a New Leaf

BY SARAH HENRY

Beth Waitkus

PHOTO: STACY VENTURA, STACYVENTURA.COM

For Beth Waitkus, nature as nurture started early. As a towheaded toddler in New Jersey she helped her maternal grandmother with Dutch roots plant dozens of tulip bulbs. She spent many childhood days combing the foothills of the Berkshires in Connecticut, playing in the woods. The great outdoors offered an endless refuge from the stresses of everyday life.

Waitkus, a one-time Marin resident, has been both a political activist and an organizational management consultant. Her experiences in nature, whether hiking in Muir Woods or tending to her home garden, have continued to ground her in adulthood.

When she had a crisis of faith in humanity following the 9/11 attacks she sought solace at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre. As part of a process in shifting her priorities and better understanding human nature, she took a tour of the medium-security San Quentin State Prison. There she met the founder and director of the Insight Prison Project, which provides meditation, yoga and restorative justice classes for prisoners.

While making rounds at the facility she was stunned by the barren, gray and lifeless … Read More

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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

FAIRFAX COMMUNITY FARMERS’ MARKET

April 30–December 17, Wednesdays, 4–8pm, Bolinas Park, 415.999.5635, CommunityFarmersMarkets.com

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, 101 Marinwood Ave., 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

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, Lucchesi Park, 320 N. McDowell, Petaluma, 415.999.5635, CommunityFarmersMarkets.com

Santa Rosa Oakmont Farmers’ Market

Year round, Saturdays, 9am–noon, Oakmont Dr. and White Oak, … Read More

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Edible Gift Guide

BY BROOKE GRAY

Drumroll, please. We now present our biggest (by far) and best holiday gift guide yet. Whether you’re shopping for your craft-coffee-lovin’ cousin, beer-brewing brother or baking-obsessed aunt, we’ve gathered together an overflowing basket of unique ideas sure to delight everyone on your list. And, best of all, you’ll feel great about supporting our local good food producers and merchants with your purchases. (Pssst—don’t forget to treat yourself while you’re at it. You deserve it!)

EDIBLES & POTABLES: Crackers & cheese, chocolate & wine, hogs & rocks

Shopping for a culinary connoisseur can sometimes be challenging, but the exceptional array of offerings at Healdsburg SHED makes it a breeze. If you have not yet had a chance to visit SHED, you should run, not walk, to check it out. A market, café and community gathering space designed to bring us closer to the way we prepare and share food, SHED is truly a modern-day grange. The artisans showcased at SHED inspire creativity in the kitchen and SHED’s pantry contains all the “salt of the earth” supplies, as well as rare and hard to find ingredients, needed to bring those inspired ideas to the table. A gift certificate for … Read More

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Marin Organic

Cultivating Our Farmers

PHOTOS BY MICHAEL LAMOTTE

WHITE HAILSTORM RADISHES, MARIN ROOTS FARM

Marin Organic was founded in 1999 as a farmer-led nonprofit organization with a combined mission of educating consumers about the value of organically produced foods, and supporting local farmers in their utilization of organic practices, thereby making it economically feasible to preserve the agricultural way of life in Marin County.

Together with the Marin County Department of Agriculture, the group also established its own criteria for organic certification that went above and beyond the federal government’s then-newly codified standards for organic.

At the time of Marin Organic’s founding, Marin County was home to 13 certified organic producers, working a combined total of 400 certified organic acres. Today the organization partners with 40 local organic farms, and there are over 40,000 certified organic acres in the county.

These numbers are proof that Marin Organic has been extremely successful in accomplishing the goals set by its founders, but the organization’s current leaders are not satisfied to rest on its laurels and have evolved its mission to include promoting organic agriculture, providing food system education and increasing access to fresh produce for people in need—not to mention serving as a … Read More

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Dungeness Crab

BY GEORGEANNE BRENNAN

The local Dungeness crab season opens just in time for the holiday season, and for Bay Area old timers—and newcomers, too—it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving or Christmas without Dungeness crab on the table.

Tom Sancimino, who with his brother Steve owns the venerable Swan Oyster Depot Fish Market and Restaurant on Polk Street in San Francisco, says, “Everybody wants Dungeness crab—it’s a San Francisco tradition. People come from all over the Bay Area to buy it—they’ve been buying it from here for 100 years.” Steve and Tom’s family has been selling crab since 1946, having taken over from the previous owner who started the business in 1912.

Not being a native Bay Area person, my first initiation into the must-have Dungeness crab world was when my second husband and I were invited to his parents’ home in Lafayette for Christmas Day dinner, along with his six siblings and their spouses. We were all asked to bring a couple of Dungeness crabs. Crabs for Christmas? I was appalled. Christmas dinner in my life was standing rib roast or glazed ham and all the sides.

To me, crab was walk-away snack food you bought at Fisherman’s Wharf, not a holiday … Read More

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