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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.

 
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 what’s 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:

Chef Michael Tuohy“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.”

Chef Tuohy offers more seasonal tips (and his own ode to summer tomatoes) on his blog at http://michaeltuohy.typepad.com/

But, in the meantime, enjoy his Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho (click "read more" for the recipe). If you’re looking for a wine that will go well with the gazpacho, Chef Tuohy suggests the Albarino, Ca’ del Solo, Soledad, 2007 to accompany it. The wine is from Bonny Doon’s Biodynamic estate vineyard, Ca' del Solo. For more information, visit https://www.bonnydoonvineyard.com/

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