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Welcome to Gardens to Tables
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.

 
Finding Farm-to-Table on Molokai Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Molokai FarmersAt first glance, the Hawaiian island of Molokai may not appear to have all that much to offer the farm-to-table foodie. There are only a smattering of restaurants in the main town of Kaunakakai, and two of the best feature burgers and pizza. But, like a lot of things on Molokai, dig a little deeper and you'll find an abundance of fresh local (and, yes, organic) products. For instance, that burger spot, Molokai Burger, has a sign outside stating its meat is sourced from local ranches (and the burger was yummy) and the vegetables topping the pizza at the Molokai Pizza Cafe were incredibly fresh.

The truth is the island has always been an agricultural powerhouse, with its earliest inhabitants farming taro, sweet potatoes and fish ponds more than a century ago. Heck, even the high school mascot is a farmer (above) -- and a read of the local newspaper and signs alongside the road highlights the importance of agriculture (and, as with the other Hawaiian islands, the tussle between proponents of sustainable farming and the presence of Monsanto) to the community. With most accommodations on the island coming with kitchens or kitchenettes, Molokai offers a great chance to take advantage of truly local Hawaiian offerings.

Here are some gems we discovered on a recent trip:

Read more...
 
Sangrita Opens on Maui Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Sangrita GrillMaui is probably not the first place one thinks of for Cinco de Mayo celebrations, but this year the holiday was celebrated in style as part of the grand opening for the Sangrita Grill & Cantina in Ka'anapali. The new restaurant is from Chef Paris Nabavi, who has been a long-time proponent of sourcing food from local farms on Maui and was featured in our story on "Celebrating the Agricultural Abundance of Maui" in 2010 and also in a story I wrote on "Maui Restaurants" for FarewellTravels.com

While we were not able to attending the grand opening, which served as a benefit for the Lahainaluna High School Agricultural Program, we did get a taste of the menu the day before. Highlights included the guacamole three ways (pictured), which included traditional, pomegranate and chipotle-pineapple (yum!); the camarones ceviche, which featured shrimp, watermelon, jicama and avocado; and the chorizo taco, with pickled onion and jicama.

We also got to try the special margarita created for the celebration: the Devil on Thyme (also pictured). As its name suggests, the drink includes a sprig of fresh thyme along with fresh orange juice, lime juice, serrano peppers and strawberry puree. For those who'd like to try it at home, they were happy to share the recipe. Enjoy!

The Devil on Thyme
2 oz. Sauza or Diva Mezcal
3/4 oz. strawberry puree
1/2 oz fresh squeezed orange juice
1 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup

Muddle together:
2 sprigs thyme
4 slices serrano peppers

Serve over ice. Garnish with as sprig of thyme, lime wheel and serrano slice.

 
Beyond the Farmers Market in Whitefish, Montana Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Whitefish Farmers Market

A great way to get to know a community is to visit its Farmers Market. The Farmers Market in Whitefish, Montana, located in Northwest Montana, is no exception. Held every Tuesday evening from May through September, there are booths with fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers, baked goods, arts and crafts -- even soap made from buffalo tallow. Music is playing and it often appears everyone in the town has come out.

But Whitefish has taken the farm-to-table concept one step further and also provides a map to the farms and fresh food (including community and school gardens) found throughout the Flathead Valley, produced by an organization called FarmHands, which has as its mission "connecting people with working lands." (Note: they also offer a groovy "Who's Your Farmer?" bumper sticker.)

The map identifies 65 farms, plus seasonal farmers markets in Kalispell, Whitefish, Bigfork, West Glacier and Columbia Falls, a harvest calendar AND the names of local businesses -- restaurants, hotels and markets -- that buy from local farms. The map and the groovy bumper sticker are available at the farmers market and in businesses throughout town and at the FarmHands website.

The town of Whitefish is ideal for those who love outdoor adventure -- with summer offerings that include hiking, biking, kayaking, rafting and horseback riding, plus easy access to Glacier National Park, which celebrated its centennial in 2010 -- and for those who enjoy returning from those adventures to a great meal in a number of wonderful restaurants (that use local produce!). For more information, visit www.explorewhitefish.com

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

Klaus Puck at Ritz-Carlton cocktail garden

The Ritz-Carlton and J.W. Marriott at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles are launching their spring cocktail program today. Included on the roster are the "Spice of Spring" at gLAnce; "Orange You Glad It's Spring" at the Mixing Room; and Nest at WP24's "Flower to Flute," featuring herbs and blossoms picked from the Ritz-Carlton's rooftop garden, which we first wrote about in 2012 (story and cocktail recipe below). Hello Spring!

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 recently announced 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.

 
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