Showing posts with label Events. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Events. Show all posts

Outstanding in the field 2013 - Everett Family Farm, Soquel

Like many, I love summer.  I loved it as a kid (camping, no school, long days) and I love it now (camping, no school, long days)!  The main difference is that time seems to fly by and before I can blink; June is a far distant memory with August in full view.

Each year the past three years I've attended one event from the roster of Outstanding in the Field events (OITF) to fill my "summer activity passport" and which serves to remind me "what I did last summer".  This year I selected a dinner at the Everett Family Farm in Soquel.

I will say that this was one of my favorites to date for many reasons.   Obviously the farm is chock full of lovingly tended crops but in addition, the structures are beautifully maintained with amazing attention to detail (I noticed the carefully crafted wood doors immediately).  That detail carried over to the dinner table setting - the "baseball field" - and the food itself.

The dinner was cooked by Santos Majano of Soif Restaurant & Wine Bar in Santa Cruz and the lineup included pulled pork mini-sliders, fresh greens with a salty, piquant feta, a delectable duck with potatoes and rock cod with quick pickles and farro.  But the dessert capped it all:  goat cheese panna cotta with berries and a touch of super sweet honey.  I really wanted to snap a picture but the dish was gone before I could even half-heartedly gesture for my camera.

As with many memories, this one is now past and I'm thinking about that Yosemite camping trip in August (I know, sigh..what a life I lead!)  If only I could bottle the season to hold onto before it slips from my tenuous grasp.  Soon enough it will be time for pumpkins and all the fine visions of fall.  Until then...I plan to savor the delights of summer and the feeling of youthful freedom most abundant this time of year.

The honor system;  stop by the farm for just-picked produce and fresh eggs.  You tally the final cost, drop the money in the lockbox and go on your merry way!

Destined for a great salad somewhere.

Outstanding in the field 2012

Over the hills and past the wind turbines of Vasco, the road I travelled led me to Brentwood CA in the East Bay. Once past all the traffic jammed on 580 I breathed a sigh of relief and some fresh country air before nabbing my seat (and the many excellent appetizers) at this year's Outstanding in the Field event hosted by Knoll Farm.

If you've never heard of it, Outstanding in the Field an organization dedicated to fostering greater connection with the land and those who nurture the food grown on that land.  After a short intro by the OITF founder and an overview of the farm from Rick Knoll we were seated at a long table right in the orchard with the setting sun. 

An amazing setting for a fine dinner
The dinner we were treated to was vegetarian and all dishes were prepared onsite by local chef Leif Hedendal.  With most ingredients just-picked and wine flowing the dinner courses moved along as easily as the conversation with our table mates.  I have to say that this is an event where the animated guests almost compete with the star(s) of the show - the super-fresh food - because everyone has a passion for food and an opinion about favorite places to indulge that passion.

A menu fit for vegetarians and those who just love food!
With the sun almost set and a chill in the air I began to walk out of the orchard and back to my car.  The host - Rick - walked with our group and chatted about the farm, food and Brentwood.  He too seemed as passionate about the food he grows and the land we were standing on. 

As we talked I thought about the fact that we should give more importance to people like him, people responsible for feeding us and ensuring our food basket is healthy and sustainable and the land is productive for generations to come.   With that revelation I gave a hearty thanks to Rick -and ALL farmers - then pulled out onto the busy country road for the trek home.

Starter plants patiently waiting in the summer sun

Knoll Farm, Brentwood CA
Outstanding in the Field

Maker Fair 2010

Motorized cupcake "mini floats", a roller coaster fit for your backyard and many more sights were on hand at the Maker Faire in San Mateo CA this past May 2010.

"I'm not really into the technical stuff" I said to a friend as I looked for a place to sit and people watch. Fortunately for me I sat down at the knitting table and before I knew it was hooked (literally) on my newest hobby. Who knew? I certainly didn't and with excitement I set out to check the rest of the scene.

Of course, part of the scenery for me included the food area which, yawn, wasn't too compelling. However, right after downing a mediocre bratwurst, I saw what had to be the most gigantic paella pan. And not just one, but, like the spawn of gigantic paella cookers. All lined up with what seemed to be more rice and seafood than the crowd could possibly consume.

Ok, so I exaggerate. But at least it makes for a good story! Unfortunately I was stuffed by then but at least the picture does my ridiculous story justice. If anyone was at the fair and had the paella, feel free to tell me if the taste was as impressive as the sight.

Below is part of the lego exhibit which includes a tiny lego guy grilling tiny lego burgers. Now that food looks compelling if not a tad crunchy!

FabMo is a non-profit with an interesting proposition: they rescue fabric samples destined for landfills and re-use in crafts. I picked up a few swatches to patch my favorite holey jeans which are no longer so cool and trendy (probably less so once I run them through a sewing machine!)

The backyard roller coaster named Dragon's Flight (I believe I dreamed about having one of these when I was a kid!)

I stopped by the Mad Stiches booth to check out the cute aprons in food-themed prints. The proprietor sells them and then donates the proceeds to kids' charities. Overall, cool on so many levels.

Just what everyone needs: a miniature "float" in the shape of a cupcake!

A good time was had by all and I look forward to my first hand knit scarf (in 2025!)

Carnival 2010 - San Francisco CA

Not willing to brave the traffic over the 3-day weekend (Memorial Day) we opted to stay local and partake in day trips. One of those trips involved Carnival in San Francisco.

We arrived a little late and assumed we'd caught the tail end of the parade. The street was filled with low-riders revving their engines and jumping around to show off for the appreciative crowd. I stifled a yawn and wandered around the corner to check out the guy cooking bacon wrapped hot dogs (can you imagine?) I was tempted but did not give in even once I saw the grilled onions and peppers on top. "Stay strong" I thought and returned to the parade scene.

The train of cars and their smoke had passed and I could hear the sound of musical instruments and their owners headed our way. Then...what a scene!

Beautiful costumed dancers floated along to music pulsing with the rhythms of Brazil and the Carribean. The crowd lining the parade of dancers and musicians seemed to have momentarily forgotten the cares of the world and swayed along to the infectious beat.

Me? I was transfixed for long enough to snap some amazing pictures before the vision of a bacon wrapped hot dog captured my attention again. By then the vendor had moved along and finally, we did too.

Nice spice: guajillo, ancho, pasilla, cascabel, arbol & chipotle peppers

Chile Pepper Tasting
Slow Food San Francisco

I used to think all chile peppers were the same: HOT. So for years while dining at Mexican restaurants I’d select the simplest dish with the least amount of heat. And flavor.

After a brush with the Slow Food Chile pepper tasting in San Francisco led by Naomi Friedman I have a different – and better – point of view. Or rather my taste buds do! The tasting, held at the Charanga Restaurant in San Francisco, allowed a number of us to learn about several varieties and taste them (in small quantities!) to gauge heat/spice side-by-side.

Below are the chiles we tested, listed by degree of heat.

From mild…
o Guajillo. Along with the ancho, most frequently used dried chile. Occasionally toasted and ground for table sauce, often used as a seasoning paste or sauce for meats.
o Ancho. I liked this one because it was slightly bitter, yet still had a mild pleasant flavor. Used toasted and soaked and ground smooth for cooked sauce. Can also be rehydrated and stuffed (can you say “cheese”?)

To medium…
o Pasilla. The flavor is rich but sharp. Often toasted and soaked then blended smooth with other ingredients for a sauce. It’s particularly good with seafood and fried (my favorite!)
o Cascabel. These are the small round chiles. The name is derived from cascabel or rattlesnake, because the seeds rattle inside when you shake the pepper. The flavor is rich and earthy when toasted.

To hot…
o De Arbol. Long, skinny peppers. Can be toasted and ground with other ingredients for a table sauce.
o Chipotle. Love these although they were the hottest we tried. Smoky, with a deep flavor that can’t be mistaken for any other chile, I use these to make enchilada sauce or ground as a spice for grilled meats. Yum.

I hope this article will inspire some exploration in your kitchen! Spice is nice - and a good salsa or chile sauce is even better!

Special thanks to Chef Gabriela Salas who allowed us to taste the ground/pureed chiles and the delicious mole.

2351 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

Chef: Gabriela Salas

Dried chiles from (closest) chipotle & chipotle (two varieties), arbol, cascabel, pasilla, ancho and guajillo.

A marvelous mojito!

From mild to spicy: guajillo, ancho, pasilla, cascabel, arbol and chipotle. Whew, someone throw me a tortilla!

Naomi Friedman - the host.