Inaugural Sonoma County Food Forum focuses on ag, food and economy
Celebrity chefs, out.
Farmers, in. Suddenly its cool to be a hick again.
What the dime-sized boon lacks in diameter, it makes up for in taste — both in its pared-down decor and simply done menu of spot-on eats.
A family works to save their Sonoma County farm, Gleason Ranch, by raising heritage poultry. Will it work?
Food, Inc.: Whether you’re a hard-core food purist or merely interested in hearing the other side of gloriously choreographed commercials for cheaper-than-dirt burgers, chips and soda, it’s worth considering the less-glamorous side of the food industry and making up your own mind.
The kind of glee that CSA bags can instill in even the most jaded of fast-foodies is rather remarkable to watch. Just ask my children, who before last summer eyed anything green or leafy with serious suspicion. They now clamor for kale, organic carrots and fresh apples. Miraculous
Where to find the best artisan olive oil in Sonoma & Wine Country
Top restaurants for vegetarians, vegans, raw foods in Wine Country
Zazu Restaurant: Devoted to Slow Food and sustainability, the restaurant pulls from its own backyard garden along with a biodynamic plot grown for them at Quivira Winery and other local food sources.
Epicurean Connection: Sheana Davis is a Sonoma catering institution and nationally-known cheesemaker who recently opened her tiny deli in in Boyes Hot Springs (just outside the town of Sonoma).
It happened before we were ready, which is often the way with death.
Walking toward the barn, a 22-caliber rifle popped once. Then again. The sound, unmistakable.
Despite being barely 8 a.m. in the morning, Chef John Stewart and I rush toward a small pig sty in the freezing hills north of Santa Rosa. “Damn. We missed it,” I said, having spent the previous 24-hours emotionally girding myself to watch a 300-pound animal die at my feet. The pigs had been shot. The slaughter doesn’t wait.
The menu is brief, with a strong focus on seafood. Because the duo are committed to using line-caught, ecologically-harvested foods, expect to see ingredients change up frequently. Best appetizer bets: Grilled squid with jalapeno pesto and chickpeas ($11) or salt cod fritters with peppers and lemon aioli ($9). The pork terrine ($11) brought over from Coco500 was a huge disappointment, served too cold to be very enjoyable to eat. (Think cold bacon grease.)
Where things get really interesting are with entrees: A perfectly poached line-caught black cod blanketed by its own crisp skin, Himalayan truffles and wild mushrooms ($26) or rich Kobe beef with charmoula, a Moroccan marinade ($25). What could be a spice-rack gone wrong in less adept hands becomes a rich, perfumed, exotic experience. Other dishes pasta with duck, pork loin and a whole baked fish.
The wine list features a handful of organic and sustainable wines, along with a healthy number of wines by the glass. Californian and European wines are fairly equally represented, but what’s even more fascinating are a number of beers and ales and specialty cocktails featuring artisan distilleries (and made with no more than three ingredients).
Pace yourself to include dessert. Though ice cream always seems a cop-out to me, pastry chef Rachel Leising’s Cookies and Cream is a scoop of fresh mint leaf ice cream with chocolate cookies. The tarte Tatin is a personal-sized pastry with Calvados ice cream. But tops is the vacherin, a meringue with creme anglaise, chocolate sauce and coffee gelato.
Worth the drive: What could easily seem a bit hokey with all its earnestness about sustainability and artisan foods has serious cred with so many solid cooks in the kitchen. There are still some staff kinks to work out (there were a few long waits) and the menu doesn’t have the broadest appeal. But what works well works REALLY well. Prices are reasonable, considering the quality and location, but not cheap. There aren’t any views and the minimal decor can feel a bit stark. But like so many destination restaurants, dinner at The Moss Room Restaurant is a singular event that will give you plenty of mileage around the water cooler.
Provided you can find the place.
The Moss Room Restaurant at the California Academy of Science, dinner daily from 5:30pm to 10pm, 415.876.6121. 55 Music Concourse Dr., Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.
A lot of restaurants are talking a big game about using local foods, but the reality of securing what they need in a timely manner can be a whole other story. Enter Fork & Shovel, which is hosting a kickoff party Oct. 5 with a stellar lineup of farmers and chefs.