Locavore Lite 2010
You may have heard of Kris and Joanne Young, the Ojai duo who spearheaded the 2009 project Eat Local One Year. Their latest endeavor is called Locavore Lite 2010. They are looking for people to commit to eating three completely local meals over the course of the year. In addition, participants are being asked to shop more at their local farmers’ market, utilize local community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs and eat food grown in a home garden. They are hoping to inspire others to eat local for their own health, the health of our plan- et and to support local farmers because, as Kris says, “Large-scale agribusiness is not good for people or the earth.” Through this project, they are hoping to increase public awareness of the importance and availability of local produce, by encouraging people both near and far to involve themselves in their local food system. Joanne explains, “If food has to travel less, there is more accountability and less potential for things to go wrong.” They will be partnering with chefs at local restaurants like the Sidecar Restaurant, Main Course California, The Farmer and the Cook, and Bonano’s Peruvian Cuisine who will offer a few meals on their menus that are completely local and fit the Locavore Lite guidelines
Sidecar Restaurant: Grilled Cheese and Jazz
If anyone can take grilled cheese and elevate it to the level of godliness, it is Chef Tim Kilcoyne of the Sidecar Restaurant. On Tuesday nights this gem of a restaurant offers a simple grilled cheese–inspired menu along with live jazz. Kilcoyne believes that food and music go well together; and he keeps this menu affordable so that all ranges of people can enjoy and support the local music scene. Kilcoyne is a firm believer in slow food and a lover of all things fresh, local and seasonal. His food is simple, unadulterated and divine. Standard on his Tuesday night menu are crackling fries covered in chopped parsley and melting May- tag blue cheese, accompanied by homemade ketchup. There are grilled cheese sandwiches oozing with Tillamook cheddar or white cheddar, and roasted to- mato basil soup to dip them in. And depending on the season and what suits the chef’s fancy at the farmers’ market that day you, might also find a salad of fresh beets, Granny Smith apples and goat cheese; or a juicy Niman Ranch pastrami sandwich piled high with sweet roasted peppers and onions. Spring will bring a sandwich made with asparagus, Meyer lemon marmalade and goat cheese and another of English pea purée, prosciutto and black truffle cheese.
make your way to Rocket Fizz in downtown Ventura. This unique store with an old-fashioned feel is outfitted with shiny corrugated metal walls, vintage posters and more treats than any 6-year-old could ever imagine. The store is filled with over 500 sodas including Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray (a vegetable-based soda) and flavors like key lime cream soda, honey blood orange (made with real honey), banana-flavored soda and Oregon marionberry. They also carry a selection of domestic and imported waters, sparkling fruit drinks and uniquely flavored teas. All come in glass bottles, guaranteed to take you back to the good old days. Their over-the-top candy selection includes saltwater taffy in attention-grabbing flavors like coconut, pomegranate, apple pie and cherry cola. Think Wonka bars, Pop Rocks, candy buttons, bubble gum cigars, and you’re starting to grasp what this store is all about. Whether you arrive by bicycle or by minivan, whether you’re 2 years old or 92, at Rocket Fizz you’ll get your fix and leave with a smile on your face.
Looking for a personalized gift or a case of your own custom-made wine? Then Squashed Grapes is the place for you. Owners Allen and Danielle Aue help customers make their own custom wines in this little storefront winery in Camarillo. You start the process by tasting 15–20 of their wines, made from juices from California and faraway places like Chile, Italy, Argentina and France. Perhaps a Stags’ Leap Merlot out of Lodi will strike your fancy, or maybe you’ll love the Golden Heights Chardonnay from Australia. After selecting your wine, the juice ferments for approximately six to eight weeks in their winery. If you really want to throw your blood, sweat and tears into your wine, you can stop in occasionally to help with some of the chores like transferring your wine from one container to another or checking its alcohol content. Once the wine is fermented, you host your very own bottling party with friends: sanitizing the bottles, filling them, corking them and adding your own custom label. You leave with 30 bottles that are young but still good enough to drink. And if you really want to kick the wine up a notch, let it age at home in the bottle for 3–12 months. Squashed Grapes also sells their wines by the bottle ($15), with the option of adding a custom-designed label for an additional $5. Imagine showing up at a dinner party with a bottle of wine customized for your host. In August and September, Squashed Grapes will be offering Customer Crush events, where guests spend the day at a winery in Rincon, wine tasting, picking their own grapes and crushing them onsite.
Bonano’s Fine Peruvian Cuisine
A taste of Peru has made its way to Ventura by way of a restaurant called Bonano’s. Once inside this dark little restaurant, you’ll be greeted with good service and, if it’s your first time, a brief introduction to the Peruvian specialties on the menu. Start your meal with one of their Peruvian beers and the shrimp appetizer—tender shrimp in a creamy red sauce tinged with cilantro and lime. Though their ceviche and rotisserie chicken have been turning heads since they opened, the lomo soltado and tallarin soltado are not to be overlooked either. The former consists of super-tender strips of filet mignon sautéed with onion and tomato in a tangy brown sauce, served with french fries and a scoop of sticky rice. Lest you think it strange to serve an entrée with two starches, once you try it, you will quickly be converted to the Peruvian way. The tallarin soltado consists of tender strips of chicken sautéed with tomatoes and onion tossed with spaghetti. This Peruvian version of chow mein is savory, hearty, and full of flavor. There are so many ways to combine the flavors and textures on your fork, and every bite can be enhanced by the dipping sauces on your table. One is spicy and made with chiles; the other is cooling and creamy and made with cilantro.
Nothing Bundt Cake
Next time you’re thinking of sending flowers to brighten someone’s day, whynot send them a Bundt cake instead? Seriously, everyone loves a good cake. The ones from Nothing Bundt Cakes in Thousand Oaks are made fresh onsite each day. They come in a variety of sizes ranging from little individual Bundtlets to two-tiered cakes drizzled with icing. Red velvet, pecan praline, white chocolate raspberry and chocolate turtle are just a few of the moist, buttery and scrump- tious flavors that come out of this little store. They can decorate your cake with whimsical details, ribbons and even flowers, depending on the occasion. Maybe it’s roses for Mother’s Day, stars and sparklers for the Fourth of July or pink and blue ribbons for a baby shower. They can deliver locally or ship your cake across the country.
Make Your Own Tempeh
Betsy Shipley and Gunter Pfaff of Port Hueneme have been blazing trails in the tempeh-making world since 1982. What does that mean, you might ask? Good and tired of store-bought and sometimes flavorless tempeh, they started making their own version of this soybean-based vegetarian delicacy in Michi- gan, calling it Betsy’s Tempeh. They patented their process and began making it commercially, with most of the customers calling it the best tempeh they’d ever tasted. Fast forward to 2010: They are now living in Port Hueneme (having closed their business in Michigan) and sharing their process with anyone who wants to make it for themselves. On their website, they lay out the step-by-step pro- cess, and though it may seem labor intensive, their recipe and process yield a nutty and satisfying tempeh, the perfect blank canvas to adapt to your favorite recipe. Whether you’re a vegetarian or meat eater, a home cook or a profes- sional chef, their process is worth checking out. And if you want to use their method and start your own tempeh business, they’ll help you with that as well.
Ever thought of making your kitchen green? No, I’m not talking about paint- ing it sage green or filling it with ’70s-era avocado-colored appliances. I’m talking about making sure your kitchen remodel doesn’t do irreparable dam- age to the environment. Kitchen Places, a kitchen design company in Ventura, has made it their mission to help clients create kitchens that they feel good about. Owner and designer Jeff King believes in taking a holistic approach to kitchen design. When working with clients, Kitchen Places considers the air quality and emissions of the manufacturing process, sources products made from sustainable materials and seeks out energy-efficient appliances. These details might include a backsplash built with tiles made of recycled glass, cabinets made from recycled and salvaged wood, dark ceramic tile floors that retain heat, or quartz counter tops made from an abundant natural resource. LED lighting, EnergyStar appliances and energy-efficient windows are the ic- ing on the cake of their environmentally friendly designs.
Jodi Brandt has a thing for flowers. And what distinguishes the arrangements that come out of her floral shop, Curly Willow, is that she often pairs her flowers with fresh fruits, vegetables and even herbs. In spring, she might mix vibrant yellow lemons with pale yellow roses. In the fall, persimmons, pome- granates and artichokes grace her designs. She integrates bright mandarin or- anges, crisp green apples and cascades of fresh grapes alongside garden roses and orchids. Stop by Curly Willow to take in the sights and smells of this delicious little shop.
Allison Costa is a seasoned cook, restaurant enthusiast and lover of all things food, cooking and eating. She works as a freelance writer and restaurant critic for the VC Reporter. She lives in Ventura with her family. Check out her blog www.venturafoodhappen- ings.com.