Wine Country Food Video
Writer Michele Anna Jordan speaks with Chef Alice Waters of Chez Panisse. They discuss Slow Food Nation and the "Victory Garden" in downtown San Francisco.
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Cafe La Haye - Sonoma, CA 95476 - Wine Country
Hopmonk Tavern Sebastopol, CA - Main Dining Area & Bar
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the girl & the fig Sonoma, CA - On Historic Sonoma Square
the fig cafe & wine bar - Glen Ellen, CA 95442, Sonoma Wine Country
Dry Creek Kitchen - Spice Crusted Duck w/Baby Bok Choy & 5 Bean Casoullet
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Sonoma: Local and Seasonal? A Spring Rant
Ahhh, spring. Yesterday the first of my tulips--red, which is all I grow--opened. Poe has brought in the first gopher of the season and, lucky for me, killed it before he grew bored. A gopher loose in the house is never a happy thing, but such is life in west Sonoma County in early spring. I suppose it is a small price to pay for this glorious season, when even the apple trees sport their white spring blossoms, making the landscape seem as if it has been draped in lace.
It is hard to be grumpy at this time of year but I confess that I have come close several times recently, at special dinners featuring “the best of the wine country, the best of the season, the best of Sonoma County.”
As I listen to chefs boast about all their commitment to all things local, it quickly becomes so much blah-blah-blah. Am I really supposed to believe that those fresh bell peppers thrive in some remote microclimate of Sonoma County? And must we use tomatoes weeks if not months before plants can even be set out locally?
I was served roasted fresh grapes a few weeks ago and as I sat listening to the chef I kept looking at them. Fresh grapes in Sonoma County? Now? Really? That’s news to several hundred grape growers and wine makers.
And what about that “local” wild salmon? Even if there were going to be a 2009 season, which is highly unlikely, it wouldn’t be open yet.
So, c’mon, I say. If a chef is going to announce or a restaurant is going to publicize that they serve only season and local ingredients, let’s be clear: It doesn’t mean you simply bought them from a local market or distributor. We all know this, right?
Local and seasonal means just that, that everything is in season here, now.
Let’s be honest about this before the words--so precious and true when you really think about them--become empty buzzwords, meaningless clichés.
For now, I’m looking forward to the first fresh favas, tender green garlic and the exquisite asparagus that is just now poking through the ground outside my office window. There is more than enough for us to enjoy now, delicious foods that will soon be gone, until the summer harvest begins. Use whatever ingredients you want, from wherever you want. Just don't don't to pass them off as something they aren't.
Ahhh, thank you! That felt good.
Save the Sandpiper
I got an email from a friend the other day telling me she had just gotten back from a great breakfast at The Sandpiper Restaurant
Unfortunately, there’s trouble, she wrote and included this link: Save the Sandpiper.
It seems like another beloved local business is under siege by an absentee landlord. A 15-acre parcel along Bay Flat Road sold two years ago to Richard Battaglia, an international real estate developer based in Southern California. Since that time, The Sandpiper has been served with four eviction notices despite the fact that they have seven years left on their lease. Leases survive changes in ownership; if they didn’t, they would have no value.
The partners of The Sandpiper are now going public about the struggle, with petitions, buttons, lawn signs and a web site, in part to reassure the restaurant's 25 employees that they will do all they can to preserve the business and in part to engage customers in their efforts to save one of the Bodega Bay eateries most popular with locals.
As national and international spotlights shine with increasing intensity on Sonoma County, it is important for those of us who love this place to be vigilant, especially during difficult economic times.
Things change, of course. But absentee landlords and visions of buckets of money shouldn’t be the reason we lose yet another business that has shaped our character.
One way to help is simply to stop by the Sandpiper for a meal and get to know the place in all its rustic charm.
Michele Anna Jordan permalink
Wine Country Food is a style similar to California Cuisine, with its focus on fresh ingredients, especially local and organic produce. But Wine Country Food also places an emphasis on pairing these delicious foods with the perfect wine that will that will bring both to a whole new level. Wine Country Cuisine is also an ethos. It’s about how we treat our farm animals, our soil, our fellow man, our planet. There are few acts that are as an integral part of our lives as is eating. So, how we perform this act is important. Wine Country Cuisine is about eating—and living—with joy and passion as well as with care and respect.
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