In 2016, Carlo Mondavi — yes, grandson of Robert Mondavi — created the Monarch Challenge to bring attention to the plight of the beautiful Monarch butterfly, whose population has been devastated since the advent of Roundup.
Every year since then, he and his brother Dante have produced a limited rosé through their RAEN Winery in Sebastopol to bring attention to this environmental calamity befalling this invaluablepollinator, and to inspire other like-minded vintners to do the same.
I had a chance to try a sample of this year’s 2021 Monarch Challenge North Coast Rosé ($30), sales of which will benefit the conservation organization, the Xerces Society, and Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue, dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating sick or orphaned wildlife.
Produced from RAEN Pinot Noir grapes and old-vine Grenache, all farmed organically, this pale salmon wine is an exuberant expression of strawberries and raspberries, with a hint of guava. It is crisp, tangy, and laced with minerality. It’s pure deliciousness.
Admittedly, I love all things Danish — the timeless architecture, the clean-lined furniture, and the haunting murder-mystery thrillers.
And of course, the food.
So, when a review copy of “Nordic Family Kitchen” (Prestel, 2021) landed on my porch, I found myself beyond intrigued.
The book is by Mikkel Karstad, a Danish chef who cooked for years at world-renowned Noma in Copenhagen.
The book features 73 recipes that espouse Karstad’s eco-conscious sensibilities that prize foraged, home-grown and good-for-you ingredients in dishes such as “Seaweed Flatbread with Sea Salt, Herbs, Flowers, and Olive Oil,” “Elderflower Lemonade with Herbs,” “Pickled Chanterelles with Spruce, Apple, and Shallots,” and “Rhubarb and Marzipan Cake.”
Now, I’ve salt-preserved lemons for years. But apple cores?
Second-generation farmer Aomboon Deasy admits she never harbored fantasies about owning a restaurant.
After all, being a part of a family-run farm, K&J Orchards in Winters and Yuba City, was work enough. But when the owners of Homestead restaurant in Oakland — longtime buyers of the farm’s produce — approached her about taking over the space, she thought it over for a few weeks, then decided to dive in whole-heartedly.
“It was another challenge, another chapter,” she told me.
And one she obviously couldn’t resist.
The result is Pomet on Piedmont Avenue, which I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant to try last weekend. The cozy establishment takes its name from the Romanian word for “orchard,” a fitting choice for the farm, founded by her parents, whose pristine fruit can be found at farmers markets around the Bay Area, as well as incorporated into dishes at some of the region’s most respected restaurants.
Farmer Brooke Hazen knows every tree planted on his 88 acres in the rolling hills of Sebastopol. Not in the “Hi! How are you?” kind of way, he jokes. But in the truest sense of nurtured familiarity, having planted each and every one of them with the help of only one assistant.
He started his Gold Ridge Organic Farms in 2001 to create an edible wonderland. He’s more than succeeded, growing 13,000 olive trees of Spanish, Italian and French cultivars; 12,000 apple trees of 75 different varieties, including rare heirlooms; and a smattering of citrus, including Blood Oranges and Mandarin-Kumquats. All are grown organically, too.
You may very well know his apples already from his branded bags of Heirloom Apple Blend that are sold at Northern California Whole Foods. These treasure bags can contain such unusual antique varieties as Pitmaster Pineapple that actually tastes like pineapple, and Strawberry Parfait that — yes — tastes like strawberry. Indeed, Gold Ridge is one of the largest heirloom apple growers in California.
This month, you can get the opportunity to visit this wonderful farm for the first time.
That’s because this pasta was made in partnership with ReGrained, the innovative Bay Area company upcycles or reuses spent grain from beer-making and turns it into nutritious new products such as energy bars and snack crisps. ReGrained’s resulting SuperGrain+ — made of barley, wheat, and rye — has more than three times the fiber of wheat flour, and twice the protein of oats.
Leah Ferrazzani of the Semolina Artisanal Pasta company in Pasadena, whose pasta products are beloved by Southern California chefs, took that SuperGrain+ and combined it with her usual semolina to create strozzapreti, the striking elongated, twisted noodle shape. But it took a few fits and tries to get it just right.
“We had to find the right ratio of semolina to SuperGrain+, and extrusion speed, to help maintain texture and shape, and to keep a balanced flavor,” Ferrazzani told me in an email. “The resulting pasta packs a punch — the flavor of the SuperGrain+ isn’t subtle — but it’s something truly unique and special.”