Gardens to Tables

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Welcome to Gardens to Tables
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!

 
A Fleurishing Concept Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

NoFleurish flower barthing says Valentine's Day like flowers. For most that means the store-bought variety but for those who want to add the special touch of creating a bouquet themselves — or, perhaps, learn how to take the flowers from their own gardens and make them into beautiful arrangements, a visit to the new Fleurish flower bar in Brentwood, California, might be in order. The brainchild of Amy Marella, who also owns The Hidden Garden Floral Design and founded Fleurish with Allyson Arons and Alex Frost, Fleurish creates the space and offers the expertise (from tablet tutorials to professional floral designers on hand) to help people create custom bouquets using seasonal flowers. Beginners can start with the FleurKits, which provide a recipe card, vase, fresh flowers and other cuttings and all the tools needed to create a particular seasonal arrangement (below is the one I made from the Winter Solstice kit during my visit last Thursday), while those looking for more instruction might be interested in the beginner and intermediate classes or special workshops offered throughout the year. (Yes, there are Valentine's-themed events all next week.)

Fleurish arrangementThe Fleurish space is also available for private or semi-private group events, ranging from parties for "petite fleurists" (children over 7) to those celebrating birthdays or showers to corporate events. Groups are even free to bring in their own food and drinks at no extra charge.

For most of us, the garden(or farm)-to-table idea conjures thoughts of the herbs, fruits and vegetables we use in our kitchens but the truth is the garden-to-table concept can also be applied to flowers. As we all know, it's important to have flowers in our gardens to provide an environment that keeps the beneficial insects (including the all-important bees) happy but, the truth is, they also keep us happy. I have to admit that nothing brings a smile to my face like seeing fresh blooms in my garden, which range (depending on the season) from roses to poppies to lilies to chrysanthemums to zinnias. So what could be better than bringing that happiness to the table (especially in an arrangement we created ourselves)?

Happy Valentine's Day!

 
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.

 
A Chat with the Ocean House's Food Forager (Plus a Recipe From Their Kitchen!) Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Ocean House Chef Eric HaugenWith designated "food forager" on its staff, the newly re-opened Ocean House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island, takes farm-to-table seriously. Pam Stone, whose full title is food forager and director of culinary education, not only serves as a liaison between local farmers and the Ocean House's chefs (headed by Executive Chef Albert Cannito) but, as a master gardener, also oversees the resort's private gardens and provides education and tours for visiting guests. To give us a taste of that partnership between garden and table, Pam Stone lets us in on what's going on in their gardens -- and then Chef Eric Haugen (pictured) offers a recipe that makes the most of the corn and tomatoes that are currently in season.

What is just being planted now (mid-August) in the garden?
We are beginning to plant Forono beets, Hakurei turnips and D' Avignon radishes, which we will harvest in September.

What are some tips for home gardeners planting those crops?
Be sure your dirt is good. It is also important that the soil is loose when planting root crops. Barely cover your future crop with soil, keep the soil moist and start thinning when it reaches two inches in height.

What are some of the things on your garden tours that guests seem to particularly enjoy?
Guests enjoy seeing things they buy in the market that they have never seen planted, like brussel sprouts. We also grow heirloom vegetables with seeds from “the Chefs Collaborative." Guests are also drawn to unusual things like Boothbay cucumbers and Gilfeather turnip.

When you go into the kitchen, what are you telling the chefs is ready for harvest?
Corn and tomatoes are in their prime and ready for harvest. Enjoy them while you can because they are only here for a short time! (Click "Read More" for Recipe)

Read more...
 
Maui Merriment: Cocktail Ideas from Ocean Vodka Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Ocean Vodka Cosmo

It's that time — time to start thinking about holiday cocktails, especially those that use local, seasonal produce. If you are looking for ideas, here are some from the good folks at Ocean Vodka. The first is the Berry Cosmo, which was part of our post on Ocean Vodka last year (below). This year, they're offered two more ideas, which follow. If you visit the Ocean Vodka website, you can also find recipes for many more cocktails, all featuring fresh produce. And if you find yourself on the island of Maui, they offer wonderful tours of the farm and distillery. The cost is only $10 and includes samples and a souvenir shot glass. It's also a wonderful way to see the beautiful Upcountry area of Maui — one of my favorite places in the world. Enjoy! And Happy Holidays!

Looking for a new cocktail for your holiday party? Ocean Vodka brings us the Holiday Berry Cosmo (pictured), featuring raspberries and red currants. In case you haven't heard of Ocean Vodka, it's made on the island of Maui using organic sugar cane and deep ocean mineral water, sourced from a depth of 3,000 feet off the Kona Coast of the Island of Hawaii. It's 100 percent certified USDA Organic — and it's gluten free. In short, a vodka you can feel good about on many levels.

Ocean Organic Vodka Holiday Berry Cosmo
1 1/2 oz. Ocean Organic Vodka
1/2 oz. Chambord Raspberry Liqueur
6 Raspberries
20 Red Currants
1/2 oz. Simple Syrup
Macerate raspberries and red currants in Chambord Raspberry Liqueur. Place berry mixture into a shaker and add simple syrup, bruise ingredients in a  shaker. Add Ocean Vodka and ice, and shake vigorously. Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with red currants.

Ocean Organic Vodka Seasons Greetings
1 1/2 oz. Ocean Organic Vodka
1 oz. Pear Nectar
Splash of Fresh Orange Juice
Place all ingredients into a shaker with ice and bruise. Pour into a martini glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Ocean Organic Vodka Santa's Helper
1 1/2 oz. Ocean Organic Vodka
2 Basil leaves
8 Fresh Bing cherries
1/2 oz. Lemon juice
1/2 oz. Simple Syrup
1 oz. Prosecco
Muddle cherries and basil in a shaker. Add Ocean Organic Vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup and ice and bruise. Strain into a champagne flute. Top with Prosecco.

 
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