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Welcome to Gardens to Tables
The Jolly Oyster Brings Aquaculture-Farm-to-Table to Ventura's San Buenaventura State Beach Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Jolly OysterWhen Mark Reynolds wanted to go into the business of farming healthy, local, sustainable seafood, he quickly learned that the only real sustainable seafood option was to raise filter-feeding molluscs. So he started with oysters and clams. In addition to being sustainable, oysters are packed with vitamins and minerals and low in calories -- only about 10 calories apiece, according to Reynolds, who said that was one less than licking a stamp (and a whole lot tastier).

Reynolds and business partner Mark Venus started their venture down in Baja California in 1997 and seeded their first farm in 1999. They now have two farms producing Kumamoto and Pacific oysters and Manila clams. Many of their oysters and clams go directly to restaurants but consumers who want to buy directly from the source can now visit The Jolly Oyster at San Buenaventura State Beach in Ventura and either buy the molluscs to take home or just shuck them right there at the park -- which offers picnic benches and outdoor barbecues for a true seaside feast.

If you're interested in doing the latter, you'll need a shucking knife for the oysters (and some charcoal and a skillet, if you're going to be grilling the clams). You'll also need some sauce. Reynolds was kind enough to share his recipes for a mignonette sauce and a Thai chili sauce, both of which go great with the oysters. Even better, the ingredients include many of the things growing in our gardens. Enjoy!

Read more...
 
Accessing Albuquerque Agriculture Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Indian Pueblo farmThere are a number of things that Albuquerque has been well known for over the years, including (in very rough chronological order) a vibrant Native American culture, Route 66 and "Breaking Bad." One thing that hasn't changed is the area's rich agricultural heritage, from the farms of the early Pueblo Indians, which incorporate the "three sisters" (beans, corn and squash), to the famous chiles grown throughout the state and incorporated in New Mexican cuisine at local institutions such as El Pinto Restaurant & Salsa Company (which I wrote about here in this story on "Traditional Christmas Tamales from El Pinto" in 2011 -- and which now has its own small organic farm in the back). Here are a few other fun gardens-to-tables style finds I discovered on a recent visit:

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center: The center features a Native Fusion Culinary Tour that includes a visit to the adjacent garden highlighting Indian Pueblo gardening techniques such as the Zuni Waffle Garden (above), a tour through the museum and a feast in the Pueblo Harvest Cafe.

Abuquerque AlpacasAlbuquerque Alpacas: This alpaca farm, located not far from El Pinto Restaurant, is open to the public for ranch tours and classes. They don't have set hours so call or e-mail to set up an appointment beforehand. We were lucky enough on our recent tour to arrive just three hours after a new cria (baby alpaca) was born. Not sure there's anything cuter than this little guy (right).

Stables at Tamaya: Located at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa on the Santa Ana Pueblo outside of Albuquerque, the Stables at Tamaya offer trail rides, a summer rodeo every Friday night and also serve as the home for the Horse Rehab program, which works to save abandoned and neglected horses in the region. It should be noted the hotel also offers a locally inspired and sourced restaurant, the Corn Maiden, which I wrote about here in this article on "A Focus on New Mexico's Best at the Corn Maiden" in 2012.

Los PoblanosLos Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm: Just outside the city proper in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, Los Poblanos is a working lavender farm that also offers a 20-room inn (full gourmet breakfast included), La Merienda Restaurant (which has its own kitchen garden and beehive), a farm store and a number of workshops open to the public. We attended a lavender distillation workshop with Farmer Kyle (pictured) that included lessons on how to grow and harvest lavender and time spent watching the distillation process itself. And, yes, that is as mellow-inducing an experience as it sounds.

 
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, whichtranslates 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 linkon the right if you'd like to order) that is filled with recipes and storiesfrom 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!

Read more...
 
Spring Cocktails Bloom in Downtown L.A. Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Klaus Puck at Ritz-Carlton cocktail garden

It's always good news when a garden opens up in an urban setting like downtown Los Angeles. It's even better news when that garden is filled with more than 15 varieties of fruits, herbs and flowers -- including basil, chervil, chives, fennel, lemon, lime, mint, orange, pansy and verbena -- to be used in a garden cocktail list that changes with the seasons. Situated 26 floors up at the Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles, the new cocktail garden, which is overseen by Beverage Director Klaus Puck, serves both the Ritz-Carlton's "BLUE" rooftop pool bar and Wolfgang Puck's WP24 Restaurant & Lounge. The summer cocktail list features drinks such as Verbena Lemonade, which includes Kalamansi lemons and verbena leaves straight from the garden. Even better, Klaus Puck (pictured in the garden, above) was kind enough to share the recipe. Enjoy!

Verbena Lemonade

WP24 cocktails1.5 oz. Ketel Citroen Vodka
.5 oz. Kalamansi puree
1.4 oz. verbena-infused simple syrup (see below)
Juice from half a lemon
Lemon-lime soda

Add all ingredients into a mixing glass. Shake. Strain into an ice-filled Collins glass while adding the lemon-lime soda; fill to top. Garnish with verbena leaves.

For Verbena Simple Syrup
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
Generous handful of fresh lemon verbena leaves

Bring all ingredients to a boil, then let cool to room temperature. Remove lemon verbena leaves; the syrup should be a light yellow-green color and have the definite flavor and odor of lemon verbena.

 
A Deer Valley Twist on the Classic Bloody Mary Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Bloody Mary barIt's hard to think of a cocktail that lends itself more to the gardens-to-tables movement than the classic tomato-and-vodka Bloody Mary. Invented in 1934 at the St. Regis New York by bartender Fernand Petiot, contemporary Bloody Mary bars -- such as the one (left) at last September's Hawaii Food & Wine Festival -- have been known to include a garden's worth of vegetables, fruits and herbs.

St. Regis hotels around the world still serve the classic cocktail, but each has their own twist. At the St. Regis Deer Valley, this includes Park City's High West Vodka (an oat-based vodka); a wasabi, celery and apple espuma; a glass lined with black lava salt; and a pipette of Worcestershire and Tabasco sauce so guests can choose just how much kick they want. The 7452 (the resort's altitude) Bloody Mary is quite popular, selling about 2,500 a month.

For those who'd like to know just what goes into the 7452 Bloody Mary, the St. Regis Deer Valley was kind enough to share the recipe. Enjoy!

St. Regis Bloody MaryThe 7452 Bloody Mary
(four 4 oz. glasses, one of which is pictured right)

14 oz. can tomato juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cornichon juice
2 tsp. horseradish
1 tsp. Sriracha chili sauce
1/2 tsp. finely ground black pepper
1 tsp celery salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Rub a lime around the rim of each glass and dip in black Hawaiian salt. Combine all ingredients. Fill glass 3/4 full.
For the espuma: Combine celery juice, parsley, wasabi powder and some green apple. Blend and strain, and add as foam on top.

 
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