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Welcome to Gardens to Tables
Perfect for All Those In-Season Oranges: Pantescan Winter Salad Print E-mail
Written by Tasha Zemke   

Winter Pantescan SaladIf the increasing number of oranges and grapefruits given to me by friends whose trees are going nuts is any indication, we are smack dab in the middle of citrus season. As such, it seemed appropriate for me to remind you all about this wonderful recipe — first posted here four years ago — for a Winter Pantescan Salad from Tasha Zemke. Enjoy!

Oranges are a real treat each winter for Sicilians. Although the fruit does grow here on the Italian island of Pantelleria, my mother-in-law always looks forward to the annual visit from a vendor who hails from the southern Sicilian town of Sciacca. He arrives here via ship and drives his enormous truck around our narrow streets, stopping for whomever flags him down, until his shipment is gone. It doesn't take long. My mother-in-law buys a good six kilos from him and then uses the oranges in a salad each Sunday when we gather for a family lunch. There is something truly amazing about these oranges -- they aren't the famous Sicilian sanguinelli (blood oranges) but are some of the sweetest, best oranges I've ever tasted.

The salad, which I've come to refer to as the Pantescan Winter Salad, makes great use of good oranges; without good oranges, it is simply passable. It's as bright on the table as it is low fat (the dressing consists only of salt, pepper and olive oil) and, as the cut-up tomatoes and oranges make it a bit runny, you should have some crunchy bread on hand to sop up the remaining juices at the bottom of the salad bowl. (For recipe, click "read more").

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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.

 
Sacramento's Farm-to-Fork Celebration Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Sacramento beetsLocated at the geographic center of a region filled with an abundance of farms, growers, food producers and culinary leaders, Sacramento will be celebrating that bounty with its second annual Farm-to-Fork Celebration, which got under way last Friday and runs through September 28. The two-week-long celebration in the city, which has been designated by the state of California as "America's Farm-to-Fork Capital," includes a "Legends of Wine" event on September 18, a farm-to-fork festival on the Capitol Mall on September 27 and a gala dinner on September 28 on Tower Bridge that sold out in three minutes.

For those unable to get to the festival, Sacramento offers Gardens-to-Tables-types five full-time and six seasonal farmers' markets and a number of food tours and restaurants featuring local products. One of those -- restaurant ten22 in Old Sacramento -- was kind enough to share their recipe for Roasted Beet Salad (pictured). Enjoy! (Click "read more" for recipe.)

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Italian Style + Southern California Produce = the Peach Bellini at Locanda de Lago Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Lago peach bellini

It’s always nice to find a gem you didn’t know about in your own back yard. In my case, the back yard is Santa Monica and the gem is Locanda de Lago, which has been on the Third Street Promenade for 20 years. I have to admit I’ve walked by it a million times but didn’t realize until a recent visit just how much care and energy the restaurant spends in not only creating a true Northern Italian (specifically, the Lake Region) experience but also in crafting that experience using the best in local produce. It doesn’t hurt that their location is steps from the legendary Santa Monica Farmers Market, which means many of the farmers are able to walk their produce right into the kitchen.

The summer menu, which changes weekly depending on the fare at the farmers market, includes Borage Tortellini, Verdure Carta Fata (vegetables steamed in parchment paper), Summer Filetto (with eggplant caviar, sauteed zucchini and summer truffles) and a burrata salad highlighted by market tomatoes and a basil sorbet. Even better, the burrata is made locally and traditionally by an Italian family. (You may utter a quiet guttural “mmmmmmm” now.)

Also on the current menu are cocktails named after celebrities with summer homes at Lake Como (the De Niro, the Madonna and the Clooney, which features blood oranges) and, particularly appropriate because of the preponderance of peaches available right now, a White Peach Bellini, made using the original recipe from Harry’s Bar in Venice. If you’d like to make it at home, the recipe is quite simple: just muddle a quarter of a ripe white peach and then fill the rest of the champagne glass with prosecco. Like Lago, it’s the perfect combination of seasonal produce and Italian style.

 
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