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Garden Poll

What kind of tomatoes are you growing this year?
Welcome to Gardens to Tables
Farm-to-Table Among the Skyscrapers Print E-mail
Written by Michael Costa   

Fresh Picks produce

The other day a friend of mine asked what to do with all the garlic scapes she bought at a farmers market here in Chicago—she simply thought they looked cool. “I have no idea what they taste like, what they're used for, or how to prepare them. Any helpful hints?” I wanted to say, “Just scapes? What do you do with an entire box of farm-to-table vegetables that you don’t know the contents of until it arrives at your door?”

This is the culinary quiz that my wife and I gladly take each Wednesday. We live in a high-rise condo among the skyscrapers in Chicago’s Loop, we don’t own a car, and our tiny balcony has just enough room to grow handfuls of rosemary and mint this summer. We could trek down to the Green City Market or even the nearby Daley Plaza Farmers' Market once a week, but it’s just not as fun as receiving a seasonal mystery box collected from nearby farms in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana.

“Farmer's Shuffle” is what I call it—like an mp3 player’s shuffle, using food instead of music, presenting serendipitous surprises. The “shuffle” we subscribe to is Irv & Shelly’s Fresh Picks (

Dinner Down on the Farm Print E-mail
Written by Melanie Waldman   

Rain Lily FarmLooking to take Slow Food to the next level? Then by all means, try a farm dinner.

Served family-style and just this side of the lettuce patch, farm dinners across America are bringing people as close as possible to the sources of their meal.   

Just last weekend, we indulged in eleven gorgeous courses with the Dai Due Supper Club at Rain Lily Farm in Austin, Texas. Fava beans, artichokes, green garlic, beets, mint and more...never had it so good.

A New Hotel with Gardeners in Mind Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

The Oregon Garden Resort has opened 45 minutes southeast of Portland in Silverton, Oregon.

The new 103-room Craftsman-style hotel is located adjacent to the Oregon Garden and guests of the resort enjoy complimentary access to its 80 acres, with its 20 themed gardens, including a Children’s Garden, Pet-Friendly Garden, Rediscovery Forest, Recycled Water Wetlands and more. The Silverton Market Garden is also one of the gardens and, each August, September and October donates its produce to the Silverton Area Community Aid Food Bank. 

A Mania for Tomatoes Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Tomatomania in Encino There’s something about summer and growing tomatoes. Maybe it’s because they really only grow in the summer or because they taste so much better (so much better) than anything available in the stores, but there’s something really satisfying about a summer tomato you’ve grown yourself.

There are those, of course, who take their tomato growing to the extremes, such as the guy chronicled in the Los Angeles Times last year who grew something like 10,000 tomatoes in his San Fernando Valley yard. It was in reading that article that I discovered Tomatomania – no, not this particular gentleman’s mania for tomatoes, but the Tomatomania seedling sales, listed at

Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua's Grapefruit Caipiroska Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   
R-C grapefruit cocktailThe Ritz-Carlton in Kapalua, Maui, recently unveiled an herb garden that includes 18 different types of basil and 10 varieties of mint, along with a view of the Pacific Ocean and the island of Molokai. (I think we all know how well herbs grow when they have a good view.)

A larger garden, located on the property behind Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ambassadors for the Environment center, offers an extensive selection of fruits and vegetables. Both gardens are organic and the vision of Executive Sous Chef Marc McDowell, who will be offering insights and some recipes for us in a future post.

In the meantime, here's a summer cocktail that's a great use for all the mint we have growing in our gardens (whether or not they have a fabulous view) plus summer grapefruit and lime. Enjoy!

1oz cane sugar
Juice from ½ lime
6-8 fresh mint leaves from our garden
Slice of grapefruit
Muddle all the above
Add ice
1 ½ oz Finlandia Grapefruit Vodka
Top with soda water
Garnish with lime

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