Category Archives: Going Green and Sustainable

Little Gem Is A Gem

Pork shoulder at Little Gem.

Pork shoulder at Little Gem.

 

Imagine a restaurant, in which all the food is gluten-free. And dairy-free. And sans refined sugar.

No doubt, you’re probably fearing it also will be flavor-free and dismally low in satisfaction.

Not so. Not when it’s Little Gem in San Francisco, which opened in December.

After all, when the head chef is Dave Cruz, formerly of Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc in Yountville, you’re guaranteed to be in good hands with the food, as I found out when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant last week. Little Gem’s other partners are Eric Lilavois, former chief operating officer of the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, and John DiFazio, an investment banker, who has such an appreciation of good food that he did an apprenticeship at Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York.

Chef Dave Cruz, formerly of Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc.

Chef Dave Cruz, formerly of Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc.

The compact kitchen.

The compact kitchen.

This is clean eating the way it should be — with bold flavors, freshness, finesse but not fussiness, and great ingredients from purveyors such as Marin Sun Farms, Five Dot Ranch and Rancho Gordo.

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A Chocolate Bar With An Unusual Ingredient

A new chocolate bar that uses Coffee Flour. And yes, that's a mound of Coffee Flour on the plate.

A new chocolate bar that uses Coffee Flour. And yes, that’s a mound of Coffee Flour on the plate.

 

Jcoco’s newest chocolate bar tastes of cherries.

Yet there are no actual cherries in it.

Instead, its fruity taste comes from discarded coffee waste, otherwise known as the pulp leftover when a coffee bean is extracted from its fruit.

Canadian company Coffee Flour, which has offices in Redwood City, started working with coffee farmers five years ago to turn coffee waste into a type of gluten-free flour. Now, food manufacturers are starting to use coffee waste in new products like this chocolate bar.

Coffee flour has more iron per gram than spinach, more fiber than whole wheat flour, more protein than kale, and more potassium than a banana.

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Don’t Just Drink Beer — Eat It, Too

The predominant ingredient in these bars? Spent grain from brewing beer.

The predominant ingredient in these bars? Spent grain from brewing beer.

 

It’s a good bet that when you’re downing that frosty mug of beer, you’re not thinking about the spent grain that went into brewing it.

But there’s a lot of it. A whole lot.

Indeed, when beer is made, about 85 percent of its ingredients ends up as waste that is usually composted or sold off to feed livestock.

Now, Dan Kurzrock and Jordan Schwartz have come up with a novel — and delicious — way to reuse that discarded grain.

The hobbyist brewers created ReGrained, granola-like bars made from spent grain donated by three Bay Area craft breweries: Magnolia Brewing, 21st Amendment Brewery, and Triple Voodoo.

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Florida Expands Into the Caviar Game

A luxurious little potato crowned with creme fraiche and Black Opal caviar.

A luxurious little potato crowned with creme fraiche and Black Opal caviar.

 

California may can lay claim to being the first producer of farmed caviar way back in 1993 with Sacramento County’s successful Sterling Caviar.

But now, the other side of the country is expanding its reach into the game, most notably Healthy Earth Inc.’s Black Opal caviar from Sarasota, FL.

It, too, is farm-raised, from Siberian black sturgeon fed a vegetarian diet. The company has worked with Sarasota’s Mote Marine Laboratory to grow the sturgeon for both meat and caviar.

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A Visit to Healdsburg Shed

You can find house-milled flour at the Healdsburg Shed -- and a whole lot more.

You can find house-milled flour at the Healdsburg Shed — and a whole lot more.

 

Imagine the San Francisco Ferry Building Marketplace — only miniaturized, condensed, moved to Wine Country, and all owned and operated under one umbrella by one couple.

That’s what Healdsburg Shed is like.

It’s also the winner of the 2014 James Beard Award for “Best Restaurant Design.” So, you know it’s a beautiful place to behold.

It’s also so much more than just a restaurant. The soaring, 10,000-square foot space is also a retail cookware store, a fresh produce stand, a gourmet foods purveyor, a mill (yes, they grind their own fresh flour there), a kombucha bar, and a community gathering space for concerts, movies, visiting chef dinners, and cooking demonstrations.

As owner Cindy Daniel describes her nearly three-year-old endeavor, “It’s all to celebrate good farming, good cooking, and good eating.”

The award-winning design.

The award-winning design.

Everything under one roof.

Everything under one roof.

Daniel, who has an air of Alice Waters about her, and her husband, Doug Lipton, an environmental scientist, left San Francisco 20 years ago to start a 15-acre farm in Healdsburg, about five miles from the Shed.

Daniel had a yoga studio and a retail store in San Francisco; Lipton once ran a food co-op in Boulder, CO in the 1970s. But this is their first restaurant.

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