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Welcome to Gardens to Tables
Chef Tylun Pang on "What Maui Likes to Eat" Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Chef Pang on farmMaui food. I only have to say the words and your mouth begins to water thinking of all the fresh products -- from local fish to Maui onions -- available on the island, doesn't it? Obviously, the best way to get Maui food is to, well, go to Maui -- and enjoy it yourself at one of island's many food outlets, which range from local stands to fine dining restaurants (some of which were featured in our story "Celebrating Agricultural Abundance on the Island of Maui").

A new one to add to the list is Ko at the Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui, which translates to "sugar cane" in Hawaiian, and celebrates both the agricultural abundance of the island and the mix of cultures that came together during the plantation era. Even better, Ko's executive chef, Tylun Pang (pictured above at Otani Farms), sources 90 percent of his produce from regional farms, including Hali'imaile Farms, Escobedo Farms, Kula Farms, Keaau Farms, Evonuk Farms, CN Farms, Allen Nago Farms, Anuhea Farms, Kamuela Farms, Shishido Farms, Pacific Produce and Island Paradise Farms. As Chef Pang says, "Listening to the farmers and fishermen and their stories helps me understand what they produce and what's being caught. I can then use my knowledge and training to take the flavors to the next level."

For those who'd like to bring some of those flavors home, Chef Pang has a book called "What Maui Likes to Eat" (click on the Amazon link on the right if you'd like to order) that is filled with recipes and stories from the island. Even better, 100 percent of the sales from the book are donated to the local culinary academy on Maui. And, Chef Pang was kind enough to share one of his signature recipes with us. See below for his Kobe Beef Poke, which uses island favorites such as Kula onion, Maui raw sugar, Hawaiian alaea salt and Japanese cucumber. Enjoy!

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Seasons 52's Cliff Pleau Talks Beets Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Seasons 52 beetsAs many of you may know, Seasons 52 is part of a unique chain of restaurants found throughout the continental U.S. that focus on healthy food using fresh seasonal ingredients (nothing on the menu is over 475 calories). As part of that focus, the Century City location features an indoor herb garden, a chef's garden and a spectacular outdoor living wall. At the preview, we were treated to a series of dishes created by Cliff Pleau, the Seasons 52 Culinary Director. The highlight, for me, was his beet carpaccio (pictured here) so I asked him for some tips on working with beets at home for those of us who are growing them or looking at them at the farmers markets and he was kind enough to send his thoughts (below). Enjoy!

Beets are awesome if you think of them as a natural root that has all the nutrients to push a plant through the soil and allow its leaves to reach sunlight. Their earthy quality allows for lots of flavor combinations. I like using gold beets and chiogga beets, but whatever is in the market is fun and tasty. Beets do need to be washed well. The tops can be de-stemmed and steamed. I like to eat them with sea salt, olive oil and red wine vinegar.

Roast beets by putting them in a roasting dish with a little bit of water (just a little in the bottom), some olive oil and sea salt to cover. Roast until almost tender in a 425 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 45 minutes. Then let them rest covered for 15 minutes. They can be chunked or peeled, and used for various creative applications. To peel, just rub off the skins with your hands and a paper towel.

For a beet carpaccio, slice peeled beets thin on a mandolin and plate with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt and add an herb salad mixture. A couple of flavors and ingredients that work well with beets include: goat cheese, wasabi (mix with sour cream), herbs, grains, citrus, ginger and black pepper.

 
Red (as in Wine) for Valentine's Day Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Phillips Hill 2008 Oppenlander LabelWhile champagne is nice for celebrations, in my mind nothing says love like a good red wine - especially a good pinot noir. For Valentine's Day this year, Jeff and I will be enjoying the Oppenlander Vineyard Pinot Noir from my friend Toby Hill's Phillips Hill Winery, which makes limited edition pinot noirs from the Anderson Valley and Comptche up in Mendocino. Artwork on the label for the Oppenlander (pictured right) is also Toby's. For those looking for an excuse to make the trek to Mendocino, this summer Phillips Hill will be holding a farm-to-table winemakers dinner, held in a field atop Mendocino Ridge overlooking the Anderson Valley. All the food will be sourced from local farms and ranches and prepared by a guest celebrity chef to match the wines. Phillips Hill limited edition wine club members will be the first ones notified of the final details for the dinner. For more information, call 707-877-1151 or visit PhillipsHillEstates.com.

And with that, I bid you a very Happy Valentine's Day!

 
Willie Jane Brings the Cook's Garden to the Table in Venice Beach Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Willie JaneChef Govind Armstrong has found a way to bring a true garden-to-table quality to his Willie Jane Restaurant in Venice Beach through a partnership with Master Gardener Geri Miller, whose Cook's Garden is found right next door. "Geri's vision to create an expansive garden on a vacant urban lot next door to Willie Jane presented us with the opportunity to take the garden-to-table concept to a different level," said Armstrong. Not only is Miller's garden supplying Willie Jane with a number of ingredients for the restaurant but the two are working together on a series of fall classes -- through Miller's company, Home Grown Edible Landscapes, for both gardeners and cooks.

At Willie Jane, ingredients from the Cook's Garden (including both produce and eggs from the garden's coop) are used both for dishes such as a salad made using garden lettuces, sunchoke, roasted grapes, Point Reyes & pumpkin seed dressing (click here for recipe) but also in the cocktails created by Mixologist Derrick Bass. Willie Jane restaurant was kind enough to share recipes for both the Coal Miner's Daughter (click here), which adds fresh ginger, lemon juice, honey and lavender ("slapped" lavender, no less) to a bourbon base, and Chef Armstrong's salad recipe (click here). You can also find both under the recipes tab above. Enjoy!

 
10 Steps to Help Get Those Seeds Started Print E-mail
Written by Maree Gaetani, Gardener's Supply Company   

SeedlingsWe've noticed a significant increase in consumers wanting to either try seedstarting or elevate their capability with new equipment and lights. Here are 10 steps along that make seedstarting simple and successful:

1. Choose Seeds Wisely. If you're new to seed starting, stick with easy-to-grow vegetables and flowers such as tomato, cucumber, basil, squash, morning glories, bachelor buttons, calendula and cosmos. Don't start your seeds too early. Find the last expected frost date in your area and count back from that date based on the seed packet recommendations to determine when to start seeds indoors. Starting too early will create monster plants that need to be tamed because the outdoor environment isn't ready for them yet.

2. The Right Equipment. You can start seeds in just about any container, provided it's sturdy and allows for water drainage. However, for those new to seedstarting, complete systems are also available.

3. Start with the Right Organic Mix. For best success, use a seed-starting mix that contains peat moss and vermiculite. These ingredients provide a medium that holds moisture, drains water, and is light enough to germinate and grow even small seeds such as pansies.

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