Going to the Source

June 4, 2012

Photos by Ted Holladay, courtesy of edible Monterey Bay

       The first time I visited my then-fiancé in San Benito County I sped right by the road that led to his family’s ranch and ended up in Hollister, Calif. I called him from a Round Table pay phone (yes, we still used those back then) at a strip mall, trying to hide the panic in my voice that this was my new home. Fast forward 21 years and I can say that I have adjusted to life outside of The City and learned to appreciate living in a rural place. We are surrounded by breathtaking views, interesting people, a rich ranching heritage, and amazing, locally grown foods and wine. This month’s feature Reimagining San Benito County, by Deborah Luhrman in edible Monterey Bay features the foodie businesses that make up this amazing place, including our own Morris Grassfed Beef. Thanks to Luhrman and edible Editor Sarah Wood for their keen sense of style and appreciation of places off the beaten path. Hope you’ll click on the link and read the whole article … and then come and enjoy the fruits of San Benito County!

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Food Forward

July 27, 2010

We had the pleasure last month of meeting Greg Roden and Stett Holbrook, two independent film makers working on a documentary about … food. I know, I know, maybe some of you are experiencing some “food fatigue” with all the recent books and documentaries about how our food is produced.

Indeed, people like Michael Pollan and Alice Waters have raised awareness about our food. Films like Food Inc., and Fast Food Nation have prompted the question: “What is this made of?” These are good questions though, and, larger than just ourselves. The food we eat affects more than our own health. Depending on how it is produced, food can be a hindrance (CAFOs, large monocrops, and pesticides flowing to the Gulf of Mexico) or help (healthy watersheds, carbon-sucking, healthy grasslands, abundant oceans) to our planet.

Greg and Stett are tackling a new angle on the food theme: looking at the people who produce it. They have moved beyond criticism of federal subsidies for corn and pollutants in industrial production (not that those are not still problems) to Solutions. Food Forward is a celebration of fishermen who catch sustainable fish, community gardens that feed inner-city neighborhoods and build community, and – full disclosure here: grassfed beef ranchers that manage for healthy rangelands and humane treatment of animals. Check out the trailer here: http://www.foodforward.tv/default.aspx

As a journalist, I was taught to write about all the sides of the story, offer an informed and balanced account to complex issues so readers can come to their own, educated conclusion. Food Forward does this by going beyond the problem of industrial food production and offering a way for everyone to participate in choices that are not only good for their bodies, but good for the planet.  Here’s a note from Greg on how you can get involved. Hope to see you there!

Dear food lover,

A special night of food, wine and inspiration at San Francisco’s new Radius restaurant is just a week away and there’s still time to save your seat at the table. We, the co-creators of the Food Forward documentary TV series, are holding a one-of-a kind fundraising dinner Aug. 3. KQED has agreed to present our show to a national PBS audience upon successful completion of our pilot episode. We’d love to have your support to help us get there.

Chef Kelly Hughett is preparing a delicious menu of local foods that celebrate the flavors of late summer. The evening will also include wine pairings and gift bottles from premier local wineries that practice sustainable, organic or biodynamic winemaking including Burrell School Vineyards and Winery, Poetic Cellars, Sky Saddle Winery, Bonterra Vineyards, Robert Sinskey Vineyards, Thomas Fogarty Winery, and Loma Prieta Winery.

Attendees will also receive an organic cotton Food Forward grocery bag loaded with hand-selected, premium products from local purveyors including Swanton Berrry Farm, Katz and Company, Point Reyes Cheese Co., Route 1 Farms, Miette and other delicious products.

Check out yesterday’s great post on yesterday’s post on the excellent Grist.org!

What: Fundraising dinner for Food Forward pilot episode on urban agriculture.
When: 6 – 9 PM, Tuesday, August 3, 2010.
Where: Radius Restaurant, 1123 Folsom (btw. 7th & 8th), San Francisco.
Why:  Let’s eat. Right. Now.
Cost: $250 / person.

In addition to a night of great food and wine, this dinner will include a screening of the new Food Forward trailer in HD. Guests will also have the opportunity to hear from some of the stars of our show and words of inspiration from environmental attorney Nicolette Hahn Niman, author of Righteous Porkchop and co-owner of BN Ranch in Bolinas, a farm she runs with husband and sustainable meat pioneer Bill Niman.

Can’t make the dinner? You can still contribute today by donating securely via Pal Pal.

Thanks for your support,

Stett and Greg
Food Forward co-creators


Greg Roden
510.926.7626
www.foodforward.tv
www.gregroden.com

Drake's Bay oysters with jalapeno mignonette

Drake's Bay oysters with jalapeno mignonette

Farley Bar at Cavallo Point in Sausalito captures the imagination, and the taste buds. Formerly a military base, the property was sold to private investors who have turned it into a lovely hotel and restaurant. (The bar is named after the main character of the late Phil Frank’s, “Farley” comic strip.)  

Relaxing on the wooden front porch’s comfortable outdoor furniture, which overlooks the Golden Gate, it would be easy to enjoy even mediocre food here, but the menu doesn’t depend on the view for customers.  We ordered the local oysters and grilled prawns, a perfect mid-day appetizer. Paired with an Anchor Steam beer and glass of Pinot Grigio, this is a local foodie’s dream.  
View from Farley Bar

View from Farley Bar
Fennel, cucumber & apple salad with grilled prawns*

Fennel, cucumber & apple salad with grilled prawns*

*Both the oysters and prawns are in the green “Good” column of my Seafood Watch guide, which ensures that they are sustainable choices that promote ocean health. 
You can download your own Seafood Watch pocket guide at :
Good food aside, the scene is relaxed and romantic. A healthy mixture of locals, tourists, honeymooners and cyclists from the nearby Marin headlands wander the grounds. We stayed at a different place, the Inn Above Tide in Sausalito (also a wonderful find!), but Farley Bar was the perfect interlude between a day of hiking and a full course dinner in town that night.
Forget sugar plums, I tasted some of the most divine chocolate yesterday that I must write about it. Like many discoveries, I stumbled upon this one almost by accident. We were in Scotts Valley, Calif. meeting Joe’s family for a Christmas tree cutting lunch. Our waitress gave us a flyer and told us about the chocolate shop around the corner. After lunch, we followed her directions and found the staircase to a small kitchen:  Chocolate Visions, a tiny, independent chocolate maker. They sell only to retail and private orders. I imagined this off-the-beat, secret location is what it must have been like to get a bottle of Scotch during Prohibition. The Open House is a once-a-year event when they open their doors directly to the public.

Here is a brief excerpt from their website: “Our commitment is to make the finest chocolates and confections that we can. We want to make chocolates that appeal to all five senses. We want to make chocolates that not only have a superb flavor but are visually appealing as well. We want to make chocolates that are emotionally satisfying. We want to make chocolates that are almost too beautiful to eat. We want to make chocolates that are ‘High tech, High touch’; that is, we may use computers to design our chocolates, but we make them all by hand.”

By blending unusual, local ingredients with world class chocolate – E. Guittard, Callebaut or Chocovic – owner Lloyd Martin has created truly unique chocolates such as “Pegasus” – a fine, Belgian bittersweet chocolate blended with Aglianico wine from Paso Robles, and a floral olive oil from Aptos. Wow. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever tasted.

Other notable pieces:

Single Malt Scotch. I wanted to buy a whole box for my Dad, who loves good Scotch, but had to settle for the single piece that came in their “Premier Collection” sampler. In his own words, Lloyd describes it as  “a smoky Single Malt Scotch blended with fine, bittersweet chocolate to produce a ganache center that really astounds.”  He’s right.

In other pieces, they use lavender– grown by Valencia Creek Farm in Aptos, Calif. – olive oil, grown in Santa Cruz, and Fluer de Sel (sea salt) from Big Sur. This is a chocolate loving, local food blogger’s dream.

Framboise: “A blend of Bonny Doon Vineyard’s Framboise and fine Belgian chocolate to make for a small piece of chocolate heaven.”

Taste is just part of it. These pieces of candy are works of art. Each one is “signed” with a gold topping (made of all natural food color) that illustrates the origin. The Rose has an image of a real rose on it. It is infused with Turkish Rose Otto oil.

chocolate-visions3

To learn more about Chocolate Visions,  and place your own order, you can visit their website at chocolatevision.com or call them at (831)457-2883. Maybe I’ll research sugar plums next Christmas, but this year my dreams are filled with Lloyd’s unique and locally-made chocolates.

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