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Welcome to Gardens to Tables
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.

 
Lanai Adds Nobu Garden Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Chef Mell at Nobu GardenOnce known primarily as a producer of pineapples, the Hawaiian Island of Lanai is again getting some attention for its agriculture offerings - this time with a much more diverse array of produce designed to go straight from "field-to-plate" at the island's restaurants. The latest addition is the new chef's garden created specifically for the Nobu Lanai restaurant at the Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay.

Appropriately named the Nobu Garden, the half-acre site is overseen by Executive Chef Sean Mell (pictured) and grows a variety of herbs and vegetables, including baby lettuce, tomatoes, squash, scallions, watermelon radish, red beets, carrots, green beans, asparagus and cilantro. Specialty produce grown specifically for the Nobu menu include daikon, Japanese eggplant, edamame, shishito peppers, cucumber flowers and sesame.

Currently, more than 65 percent of the Nobu Lanai menu comes from the garden and the restaurant has identified a goal of sourcing 80 to 90 percent of its produce from the island itself. Already, all of the produce used in the restaurant's Lobster Salad with Spicy Lemon Dressing and the Bigeye Tuna Sashimi Salad with Matsuhiba dressing is island grown, with the resort itself sourcing 65 percent of its ingredients from within the state of Hawaii (including neighbor islands Maui, the Big Island and Oahu).

 
Hawaii Food & Wine Festival Showcases the Work of Local Farmers Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Hawaii Food & Wine FestivalThe recently completed Hawaii Food & Wine Festival attracted a stellar array of chefs (75 in all, from Hawaii, the U.S. mainland, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Philippines and Australia) but, in a way, the real stars were the local providers of the produce, seafood, beef and poultry used in their dishes. At the two events I attended -- "Taste Our Love for the Land," held at the Hawaii Convention Center on September 7, and "Girls Got Game +1," held at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa on September 8 -- the work of local farmers was prominently displayed.

At Taste Our Love for the Land (above), each chef listed the local producers who contributed to their dishes. For instance, Taste's Mark "Gooch" Noguchi highlighted Ho Farms and Paepae o He'ela; Foodland's Keoni Chang showcased Hawaii Island Ranchers, Ka Lei Eggs and 'Nalo Farms; and Halekulani's Mark Freischmidt celebrated the work of Big Island Bees (good work, bees!).

Hawaii Food * Wine FestivalAt the Girls Got Game +1 event, which featured women chefs and farmers, the farmers were there in person to show off their wares. They included Kahuku Farms' Kylie Matsuda-Lum, a 4th generation farmer who has helped open the family farm up for tours and added a cafe; Wailea Agricultural Group's Lesley Hill who, with Michael Crowell, has restored former sugar cane lands on the Big Island to produce Hawaiian heart of palm, tropical fruits and spices (left); and Naked Cow Dairy Farm & Creamery, started by sisters Monique Van der Stroom and Sabrina St. Martin four years ago and the only Hawaii producers of butter and cows-milk cheese.

 
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