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Welcome to Gardens to Tables
New for Spring: The Grand Del Mar's Apricot Jul-Up Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

The Grand Del Mar Mint Jul-up CocktailIt's at about this point in the spring season that it feels appropriate to start thinking about creating a great spring cocktail using seasonal produce that we can break out at parties celebrating grads or dads or whatever else you'd like to celebrate. To that end, I bring you -- courtesy of The Grand Del Mar in Del Mar, California -- the Apricot Jul-up, using fresh mint, apricot-honey syrup and apricot-infused bourbon, in honor of another great spring celebration: the Kentucky Derby. Enjoy!

Apricot Jul-up

Ingredients
3 oz. apricot-infused Bulleit Bourbon
1 1/2 ounces apricot-honey syrup (recipe below)
8 leaves of fresh mint
Fresh mint for garnish

Method
Muddle mint in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and remaining ingredients. Shake well and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with mint.

Apricot-honey syrup
1 cup dried apricot
2 cups water
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup lemon juice

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to a simmer and stir constantly for approximately three to five minutes. Before using or storing, strain out apricot pulp and let the syrup cool to room temperature.

 
A New Farm Grows at Travaasa Austin Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Travaasa Austin farmLast summer, Linda Hayes visited Travaasa Austin and wrote a piece for GardenstoTables on "Farm to Table at Travaasa Austin" that highlighted the farm-to-table offerings Chef Benjamin Baker was creating with produce from local Austin farms. I recently had the good fortune to visit Travaasa Austin myself and am happy to report that, while they are still sourcing from local Austin farms, the resort has also added its own 3.25-acre farm (left) to its offerings. Run by Farm Manager Kim Grabosky, the farm is incorporating both organic and permaculture practices into growing the vegetables, fruits, herbs and edible flowers that will be used in the kitchen, in signature cocktails and in treatments at its Spa Travaasa.

Travaasa Austin eggsBecause Travaasa Austin wants to continue to support the local organic farm community, Kim said she is going to concentrate on growing vegetables, fruits and herbs that are harder to get locally and, to that end, has already been growing greens and herbs and tomato and pepper seedlings in a greenhouse operation through the winter months. Kim is also overseeing a variety of chickens who will be laying farm fresh eggs for the kitchen -- we were there when the first arrived (right) -- and is planning to bring a honey bee operation in next.

Travaasa Austin will soon be adding farm-related classes to its extensive schedule of "experiences" -- and is also using land near the farm for its equestrian offering, including trail rides and its well-regarded Equine Experience. For more information, visit http://travaasa.com/austin/

 
Coconut Fish Stew at Lumeria Maui's Harvest Cafe Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Lumeria dining areaIn my travel post on Lumeria Maui, I mentioned that one of the benefits of its location was the proximity to both the ocean and the Upcountry farms. It's perhaps not surprising then, that the focus at their Harvest Cafe is on locally grown, organic and free-range foods. The cafe's Chef Indica Chaves said that she "seeks to share the joy of supporting local organic farmers and enjoying a farm-to-table experience." To that end, Chef Chaves was kind enough to share the recipe (below) for a dish that reflects both those local farms and the bounty of the nearby ocean: coconut fish stew. Enjoy!

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Phuket's Paresa Resort Adds Hydroponic Garden Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Paresa PhuketThe Paresa Resort, located on Kamala Bay in Phuket, Thailand, has added its own eco-friendly hydroponic garden. The new garden, which already accounts for 30 percent of the herbs and greens that are used in the kitchen, was designed to grow products for both the kitchen and spa -- with extras grown and donated to the local community garden at the Kajonkiet International School Phuket.

Herbs and salad greens to be grown for the kitchen are decided on by Executive Chef Ryan Arboleda (right) and currently include Holy Basil, green and red lettuces, and lemon grass, which is used in the tea that greets arriving guests. Also grown are bananas, which are used in the morning smoothies.The resort also offers daily traditional Thai cooking classes using herbs from the hydroponic garden. At the Spa by Paresa, local Pandanus leaves are picked and burned to release their sweet-smelling scent, and fresh papaya, which has enzymes and vitamins that are good for the skin, is incorporated into treatments.

 
Fresco's Bruschetta Flavored by Hawaiian Farms Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Fresco BruschettaAs some of you no doubt already know, the word "bruschetta" really just means grilled bread rubbed with garlic and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. What you put on top of that is really up to you -- even though many people (especially in the U.S.) associate bruschetta with chopped tomatoes, garlic, onion and basil. At Fresco, the new Italian restaurant in the Rainbow Bazaar at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki, Executive Chef Rodhel Ibay -- inspired by the name of the restaurant ("fresco" means "fresh" in Italian) -- decided to take the flavors of local farms to create his version of the dish.

"Going out to the farms brought to light how much the flavors of one simple fresh vegetable or spice can transform into a single dish," said Ibay. "When I first tried the tomato straight off the vine at Waimanalo Farm, that first bite is what motivated me to create my bruschetta."

In addition to the "traditional" tomato bruschetta, Ibay highlights other local produce with a macadamia-crusted avocado bruschetta and a roasted Big Island mushroom bruschetta -- and was kind enough to share his recipe here with us (below). Enjoy!

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