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Willie Jane Brings the Cook's Garden to the Table in Venice Beach Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Willie JaneChef Govind Armstrong has found a way to bring a true garden-to-table quality to his Willie Jane Restaurant in Venice Beach through a partnership with Master Gardener Geri Miller, whose Cook's Garden is found right next door. "Geri's vision to create an expansive garden on a vacant urban lot next door to Willie Jane presented us with the opportunity to take the garden-to-table concept to a different level," said Armstrong. Not only is Miller's garden supplying Willie Jane with a number of ingredients for the restaurant but the two are working together on a series of fall classes -- through Miller's company, Home Grown Edible Landscapes, for both gardeners and cooks.

At Willie Jane, ingredients from the Cook's Garden (including both produce and eggs from the garden's coop) are used both for dishes such as a salad made using garden lettuces, sunchoke, roasted grapes, Point Reyes & pumpkin seed dressing (click here for recipe) but also in the cocktails created by Mixologist Derrick Bass. Willie Jane restaurant was kind enough to share recipes for both the Coal Miner's Daughter (click here), which adds fresh ginger, lemon juice, honey and lavender ("slapped" lavender, no less) to a bourbon base, and Chef Armstrong's salad recipe (click here). You can also find both under the recipes tab above. Enjoy!

 
Victoria Public Market at the Hudson Opens Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Victoria Public MarketThe new Victoria Public Market at the Hudson has opened in Victoria, British Columbia. Modeled on public markets such as the Ferry Building in San Francisco and the Atwater Market in Montreal, Victoria's public market is located in the historic Hudson building in downtown Victoria near the spot where a farmers' market ran from the late 1800s until around 1960. The new market will feature day tables for farmers and a commercial kitchen for cooking classes, urban agriculture workshops and special events.

Also included will be semi-permanent kiosks and permanent vendors that include local favorites Silk Road, Salt Spring Cheese and Wildfire Bakery. Tours of the market and a larger farmers' market will be available on Wednesdays. Regular hours are expected to be 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. For more information on the new Victoria Public Market, visit victoriapublicmarket.com.

 
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.

 
A Tasty Way to Explore Sacramento Print E-mail
Written by Lisa Armstrong   

Local Roots farmLocal Roots Food Tours was developed in 2010 with a simple concept: I wanted to share my passion for the great local cuisine found in the Sacramento area. After participating in several food tours across the nation, my husband and I realized that many of the dishes being offered consisted of ingredients from our own Sacramento Valley. As a gardener and a chef, I wanted to highlight the farm fresh food and inspiration of our local chefs -- so I researched restaurants offering local food and the history of some of the oldest neighborhoods in Sacramento.

Our first tour was the "Origins of Sacramento," a walking tour that ventures into Midtown's Sutter District and East Sacramento's Fabulous Forties. The tour showcases restaurants that provide authentic tastes from the diverse groups that forged our great city and created its agricultural dominance. I hand-select the establishments that have rich California history and support local farms by using fresh fruit, produce and meats.

Local Roots wineLast March we launched a tour in nearby Murphys, California. Aptly named the "Queen of the Sierras," the old mining town of Murphys is the perfect destination for a food and wine tour. Another new tour is the "Gourmet on K Culinary Walking Tour," which shows participants everything gourmet along one of Sacramento's most historic streets. Folks are guided down the city's original main street, exploring the beautiful architecture with many stories dating back to the 1800s. Locals and tourists alike enjoy this culinary excursion as it enlightens their views of the most controversial street in the city.

More tours are on the way. And, for those interested in more information on local food and history, my Local Roots blog is updated daily with recipes, events and coverage of Northern California "foodie" news. Along with the tours, this virtual table provides another opportunity to connect with fellow food enthusiasts, fostering that most intangible -- yet valuable -- result: a sense of community, right here in Sacramento. You can also visit our Facebook page or find us on Twitter @LocalRootsFood.

 
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