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Welcome to Gardens to Tables
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 nothingsays love like a good red wine - especially a good pinot noir. For Valentine's Day this year,Jeff and Iwill be enjoyingthe Oppenlander Vineyard Pinot Noir from my friend Toby Hill'sPhillips Hill Winery, which makes limited edition pinot noirs from the Anderson Valley and Comptcheupin Mendocino. Artwork on the label for the Oppenlander (pictured right) isalso Toby's. For those looking for an excuse to make the trek to Mendocino, this summer Phillips Hillwill 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 thedinner. For more information, call 707-877-1151 or visitPhillipsHillEstates.com.

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

 
Keeping Pests at Bay Through Diversity Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Called the "eco-oracle" by Wine Spectator magazine, "Amigo Bob" Cantisano (below) was a legend in the organic gardening field. Sadly, he passed away at the end of 2020 but I had the opportunity to learn so much from him during the organic gardening workshops I took up at Esalen and wanted to share some of his wisdom.

Amigo Bob Cantisano

One of the most important things Amigo imparted was the critical role diversity plays in our gardens. He started by imparting this interesting fact: There are 70,000 different species of insects in the world and less than 100 are pests in the garden. The rest are our allies. That's pretty cool, huh? We have 69,900 allies! Yea!

So the question becomes: how do we get these allies into our gardens? The answer is through diversity. The greater the diversity, the more stability a garden has. So if you're growing mostly vegetables, you will want to add flowers and herbs and allium (onions, garlic, etc.) as they attract the beneficial insects (those allies we talked about) like ladybugs, which are predators and eat the pests, and wasps, which are parasites and love to lay their eggs within the little buggers.

The reason the pretty flowers attract the ladybug-style predators (and who doesn't love a ladybug? come on!) is that they are omnivores. They eat insects but they also feed on nectar and pollen. They need both so will be attracted to gardens with the diversity they crave.

 

 
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.

 
Preserving Farm-Fresh Flavor at Sacramento's Grange Restaurant Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Grange RestaurantIf your garden is like mine, you're starting to an abundance of tomatoes from your garden (or local farmers market) so I thought I'd bring back this recipe that Chef Michael Tuohy shared with us in 2009 when he was the executive chef at the Grange Restaurant & Bar in Sacramento. The highly regarded Grange is still in Sacramento, with Chef Oliver Ridgeway now in charge, while Chef Tuohy has a new assignment as the executive chef and general manager for the new arena being built in downtown Sacramento. What hasn't changed is the focus on farm-fresh ingredients, including (yes) summer tomatoes. Enjoy!

Surrounded by the fertile Central Valley of California and with a weekly farmers market just outside its front door, the Grange Restaurant & Bar in Sacramento prides itself on using the freshest seasonal produce. Local farms such as Capay Organics and Del Rio Farm are even credited on the menu, which changes daily based on whats in season. Even the wine list is focused on the local, featuring small production, boutique wineries from approved viticulture areas in California.

As this is the season of the tomato, we asked Chef Michael Tuohy for some tips on how to get the most out of those lovely heirlooms:

In a perfect world, tomatoes would be ripened by the sun and enjoyed directly off the vine, said Chef Tuohy. In order to preserve farm-fresh flavor, I suggest storing heirloom tomatoes on their shoulders and out in the open air. Storing tomatoes refrigerated cuts flavor and brings out acidity.

But, in the meantime, enjoy his Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho.

Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho
Serves 6-8 persons

Ingredients
3 Heirloom Tomatoes, rough chopped
2 Cucumbers, peeled, seeded and rough chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T pimenton dulce (sweet smoked Spanish paprika)
1 T pimenton piquante (spicy smoked Spanish paprika)
1 T toasted ground cumin
1 C torn sour dough bread
1 C almonds, rough chopped (marcona preferred)
2 C extra virgin olive oil
1/2 C sherry vinegar
salt to taste

Method:
***note: For best results, I like to double puree using an immersion blender first,
then transfer to a high powered blender like a Vita Prep for a smooth, light airy texture.
If you blend just once using a standard blender or food processor, you will have a more
coarse texture, which can be nice and just as satisfying.

1. Place all of the ingredients except for the olive oil in a container large enough to hold while blending with an immersion blender. Or, place into a standard blender container.
2. Begin blending and slowly adding the olive oil to create an emulsion.
3. After all ingredients are incorporated, taste and adjust for seasoning.
4. Chill very well before serving.

Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, some chopped almonds and a bit of coarse sea salt like Fleur de sel, or maldon.

 
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