Gardens to Tables

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The Tomatomania folks will be offering pop-ups through the end of April throughout Southern California. They will not only (obviously) have a wide variety of tomato seedlings but also peppers and other veggies. For more information, click here.

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Welcome to Gardens to Tables
A Flair for Local Talent -- and Hawaii Regional Cuisine -- at Chai's Island Bistro Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Chai Island Bistro CookbookLocated at the Aloha Tower Marketplace on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, Chai's Island Bistro is a haven for local talent. This is true both on the stage (where local entertainment is featured nightly) and in the kitchen, where produce from local farms is featured in Hawaii Regional Cuisine influenced by Chef/Owner Chai Chaowasaree's native Thailand. Chef Chai works closely with local farmers at Nalo Farms and Aloun Farms. He also helped found Hawaiian Island Chefs, an organization whose mission is to promote agriculture and aquaculture in Hawaii and to help promote academic scholarships in the culinary arts. 

For those who can't get to Oahu and would like to learn more about Chef Chai's cooking -- or try it themselves at home -- his cookbook, "The Island Bistro Cookbook," is a great place to start. Below is one of the recipes. According to Chef Chai, "This is one of the easiest dishes to make. You don't have to follow the recipe exactly and you can substitute pork or anything else. You can stir-fry it any way you want and make it as fancy or simple as you like. It depends on how much you want to show off for your dinner guests!"

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Bringing Local Farms to the Table at M Bistro in New Orleans Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Chef Matt MurphyThere may be no city more beloved by foodies than New Orleans. And, while the city has always been known for its fresh local fish, not as much of the attention has been focused on the area’s farms and farmers. Matt Murphy (pictured right), executive chef at the Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans, is helping to change all that with his M bistro restaurant. Named one of the top farm-to-table hotel restaurants by Travel + Leisure magazine, Chef Murphy recently launched a new seasonal menu with items that include cauliflower bisque, roasted sweet corn cioppino, grilled quail and arugula salad, and chanterelle and morel mushroom gnocchi – from local farmers that include Anne and Sandy Sharpe at Covey Rise Farm (mixed greens, baby veggies and heirloom tomatoes), Nick Usher at Grow Farms (greens, root vegetables and herbs) and Costa Family Farms (broccoli, cauliflower, citrus).

For us, Chef Murphy has kindly provided a great recipe for crab-stuffed artichoke heart with organic mixed greens and Meyer lemon sauce. (Click "Read More" for recipe.) Enjoy!

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Bringing Italy Home with "The Elixir of Life" Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

The Elixir of LifeHappy New Year! I don't know if any of you made resolutions but I just have one: to travel to Italy. It's something I've wanted to do since I took Italian in college at UCLA more than 20 years ago but have somehow never made it. Naturally one of the biggest reasons I'd like to go is the country's great farm-to-table tradition, which is celebated in a great new cookbook called "The Elixir of Life" by Lisa Dahl. Dahl is executive sous-chef and co-owner of Cucina Rustica and Dahl & DiLuca Ristorante Italiano in Sedona, Arizona, and her travels through Tuscany are the inspiration for the book.

Here is just one of the wonderful recipes found in "The Elixir of Life": carmelized onion and garlic soup. Not only is it particularly appropriate for this winter season but the recipe focuses more on getting the most flavor out of the onions and garlic instead of covering it up with a lot of cheese or bread (not that there is ever anything wrong with cheese or bread!). As Dahl says in the book, "A sprinkle of good Parmesan cheese and a handful of croutons can add a nice touch but try it by itself first as pure elixir." Enjoy!

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Preserving the Perennial Heritage of the Sierra Print E-mail
Written by Amigo Cantisano   

Felix Gillet portraitA very significant portion of my life has been devoted to research and action related to the life and projects of Felix Gillet (pictured left). Gillet was the pioneering nurseryman in California, opening his nursery in Nevada City in 1871, and importing and breeding most of the plants that became the foundation of California's and the Pacific Northwest's perennial agriculture. I have worked as a part-time volunteer on this project for 40 years, finding and identifying hundreds of plants from his introductions, researching his life and published works, propagating and preserving some of these grandparent trees and vines, and promoting his place in California's history.

Just one segment of his important work was wine grapes. Gillet introduced hundreds of grape varieties. A few that are still in California wine production include Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petite Syrah, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Merlot, Marsanne, Rousanne, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Vert, Alicante Bouchet, Gamay, Petite Verdot, Malbec and dozens more. One of his catalogs had 241 varieties of grapes!

This breadth of detail and importance is evident in more than 15 other important West Coast crops introduced first by Gillet: Cherries, Walnuts, Almonds, Chestnuts, Filberts, Pears, Plums, Prunes, Strawberries, Raspberries, Apples, Table and Raisin Grapes, Figs, Nectarines, Apricots, Peaches and more. Felix also published numerous articles that taught the foundation principles for the growing, propagation and pest management for many of these crops.

Now it is time to move the Felix Gillet project into high gear. I and 6 other plant enthusiast friends have formed a 501(c)3 non profit organization, The Felix Gillet Institute, to further the development of many aspects of this important work. You can find bits and pieces about Felix by doing a Google search but, unfortunately, no one has done the thorough research that is necessary to document his most important work. That's where we come in.

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Kai Market's Kabocha and Fuji Apple Salad Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Chef Darren Demaya of Kai MarketWith a goal of sourcing at least 60 percent of its produce from certified local farms (which it helped certify through its support of Hawaii Farm Bill 1471), the Sheraton Waikiki takes its farm-to-table seriously. Nowhere is that more apparent than in its Kai Market restaurant. Instead of a traditional buffet, Executive Chef Darren Demaya (pictured right) uses recipes gathered from local families and creates dishes using as much local, seasonal produce (including herbs growing out of the wall) as possible. Here's one of his recent recipes, featuring in-season kabocha and Fuji apples.

Ingredients: 
1 5 lb kabocha cut in 1" cubes, cleaned and steamed
3 fuji apples cut in 1" cubes
1 lb tear-drop tomatoes cut in halves
½ lb dried cranberries or raisins
2 cup macadamia nuts rough cut
2 tblspoons madras curry
2 pc lemongrass smahed
½ cup salad oil

Method:
Place all ingredients in mixing bowl except the curry. Take a small sauté pan add ½ cup salad oil and 2 stalks smashed lemongrass and slightly heat up oil. When oil is hot add curry powder and take off the heat mixing the curry into the oil. Use the curry-infused oil to season kabocha salad finish with salt and pepper to taste. 

 
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