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Welcome to Gardens to Tables
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!

 
Connecting Gardens to Tables at the Hermosa Inn Print E-mail
Written by Executive Chef Jeremy Pacheco   

Garden to table is more than a trend; it's something that we do on a daily basis here at LON's at the Hermosa. While we do purchase from local farmers (and, for many restaurants, that's all they need to say they are "farm to table"), we also have a one-acre on-site garden behind the kitchen and durum wheat from my own family's farm here in Arizona is used to make our house-made gnocchi and other pastas. So, while it may be a passing phase for others, it's something we take great pride in here at LON's.

We grow more than 20 ingredients in the garden -- from lettuce, arugula, English lavender and Bloomsdale spinach to onions, strawberries, heirloom tomatoes and various types of squash. Lemon, orange and grapefruit trees are also scattered throughout the grounds and used in many of the dishes at LON's, along with our signature cocktails at Last Drop at the Hermosa.

While it's a labor of love and takes hard work, it's also great training ground for my culinary team and instills a deeper connection and a sense of pride in the food we serve when we have to personally plant, water, weed and harvest. It's how I was raised and something I like to share with others. It's what brought me to this business and continues to drive me and our team, and is what inspires our recipes.

One such recipe is our Local Gem Lettuce Wedge with goat cheese vinaigrette -- all made from locally sourced ingredients. (Click "read more" for recipe.)

Read more...
 
A Fleurishing Concept Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

NoFleurish flower barthing says Valentine's Day like flowers. For most that means the store-bought variety but for those who want to add the special touch of creating a bouquet themselves — or, perhaps, learn how to take the flowers from their own gardens and make them into beautiful arrangements, a visit to the new Fleurish flower bar in Brentwood, California, might be in order. The brainchild of Amy Marella, who also owns The Hidden Garden Floral Design and founded Fleurish with Allyson Arons and Alex Frost, Fleurish creates the space and offers the expertise (from tablet tutorials to professional floral designers on hand) to help people create custom bouquets using seasonal flowers. Beginners can start with the FleurKits, which provide a recipe card, vase, fresh flowers and other cuttings and all the tools needed to create a particular seasonal arrangement (below is the one I made from the Winter Solstice kit during my visit last Thursday), while those looking for more instruction might be interested in the beginner and intermediate classes or special workshops offered throughout the year. (Yes, there are Valentine's-themed events all next week.)

Fleurish arrangementThe Fleurish space is also available for private or semi-private group events, ranging from parties for "petite fleurists" (children over 7) to those celebrating birthdays or showers to corporate events. Groups are even free to bring in their own food and drinks at no extra charge.

For most of us, the garden(or farm)-to-table idea conjures thoughts of the herbs, fruits and vegetables we use in our kitchens but the truth is the garden-to-table concept can also be applied to flowers. As we all know, it's important to have flowers in our gardens to provide an environment that keeps the beneficial insects (including the all-important bees) happy but, the truth is, they also keep us happy. I have to admit that nothing brings a smile to my face like seeing fresh blooms in my garden, which range (depending on the season) from roses to poppies to lilies to chrysanthemums to zinnias. So what could be better than bringing that happiness to the table (especially in an arrangement we created ourselves)?

Happy Valentine's Day!

 
Maui Merriment: Cocktail Ideas from Ocean Vodka Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Ocean Vodka Cosmo

It's that time — time to start thinking about holiday cocktails, especially those that use local, seasonal produce. If you are looking for ideas, here are some from the good folks at Ocean Vodka. The first is the Berry Cosmo, which was part of our post on Ocean Vodka last year (below). This year, they're offered two more ideas, which follow. If you visit the Ocean Vodka website, you can also find recipes for many more cocktails, all featuring fresh produce. And if you find yourself on the island of Maui, they offer wonderful tours of the farm and distillery. The cost is only $10 and includes samples and a souvenir shot glass. It's also a wonderful way to see the beautiful Upcountry area of Maui — one of my favorite places in the world. Enjoy! And Happy Holidays!

Looking for a new cocktail for your holiday party? Ocean Vodka brings us the Holiday Berry Cosmo (pictured), featuring raspberries and red currants. In case you haven't heard of Ocean Vodka, it's made on the island of Maui using organic sugar cane and deep ocean mineral water, sourced from a depth of 3,000 feet off the Kona Coast of the Island of Hawaii. It's 100 percent certified USDA Organic — and it's gluten free. In short, a vodka you can feel good about on many levels.

Ocean Organic Vodka Holiday Berry Cosmo
1 1/2 oz. Ocean Organic Vodka
1/2 oz. Chambord Raspberry Liqueur
6 Raspberries
20 Red Currants
1/2 oz. Simple Syrup
Macerate raspberries and red currants in Chambord Raspberry Liqueur. Place berry mixture into a shaker and add simple syrup, bruise ingredients in a  shaker. Add Ocean Vodka and ice, and shake vigorously. Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with red currants.

Ocean Organic Vodka Seasons Greetings
1 1/2 oz. Ocean Organic Vodka
1 oz. Pear Nectar
Splash of Fresh Orange Juice
Place all ingredients into a shaker with ice and bruise. Pour into a martini glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Ocean Organic Vodka Santa's Helper
1 1/2 oz. Ocean Organic Vodka
2 Basil leaves
8 Fresh Bing cherries
1/2 oz. Lemon juice
1/2 oz. Simple Syrup
1 oz. Prosecco
Muddle cherries and basil in a shaker. Add Ocean Organic Vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup and ice and bruise. Strain into a champagne flute. Top with Prosecco.

 
Exploring the Farm Towns of Turkey Print E-mail
Written by Scott Archer   

Turkey FarmA little more than 50 percent of Turkey's population is rural, where agriculture is the focus of life and the typical farm town is surrounded with land for agriculture. Usually in these towns, there is a coffeehouse, guest rooms, schools and small shops and the houses are built around a central place and include courtyards. If you are interested in visiting some of the farm towns in Turkey, here are a few that deserve to be explored:

Alacati: This Aegean farm town in Turkey's Izmir province is famous for its architecture and vineyards. The town's hilltop mound is covered in windmills, while it's entrance is guarded by a Selchuk barrel-house that dates back 800 years. As a result of the consistent, steady wind and crystal clear water there, Alacati has also become a popular destination for kite surfing and windsurfing. The town is also acclaimed for its hospitality and nightlife.

Assos: This small historically rich farm town is located in Turkey's Canakkale province in the Ayvacik district. A trachyte crag in the town has the ancient Temple of Athena built on top o it from where most of the surrounding area can be seen. There was a harbor in Assos that made it a key shipping station. The town features a mixture of ancient ruins and rural life, with travelers welcomed by the quay-front hotels and small stretch of sand at the fishing port below.

Ayvalik: This town is filled with the scent of apricots because the flat-topped houses have roofs that are blanketed with the harvest. The sound of drums can be heard in the distance at sunset and the sight of women baking bread in age-old rock ovens for the evening meal is particularly memorable.

Kalekoy: Simena is another name for this seaside farm town, which unlike its sunken neighbors is located right next to a rock. The town is so small that there is not even a street. The 300 inhabitants live somewhat on top of each other with a hazhazard series of paths weaving around them.

Sirince: Back when the Greek city of Ephesus was nearing its demise, this farm town was a Greek sanctuary. Today, a landscape of grape orchids encloses the town's dense hillside, where the ancient Greek houses are surprisingly well preserved, making it an ideal destination for archaeology enthusiasts. Travelers can also enjoy a bottle of wine at the old Artemis School House.

The farm towns are a must-see for those who want to explore Turkey's natural beauty, get a taste of its rural life and meet the farms and farmers who make up the backbone of the country.

Scott Archer is a passionate blogger who works on behalf of Turkish Visa. He is an avid reader and has been writing content on the web professionally on topics such as travel, education, technology and parenting since 2006.

 
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