Category Archives: Going Green and Sustainable

A Prodigal Son Returns — To Boonville

Grass-fed beef tartare with tomatoes and fiddlehead ferns at the Boonville Hotel restaurant.

Grass-fed beef tartare with tomatoes and fiddlehead ferns at the Boonville Hotel restaurant.

 

BOONVILLE, CA — If there ever was Wine Country royalty, Chef Perry Hoffman and his family are it.

His grandparents, Don and Sally Schmitt bought an old stone building in Yountville in 1978, and transformed it into a charming destination restaurant, before weighing several offers to sell it in 1993. They famously chose Thomas Keller, who went on to turn the French Laundry into a Michelin three-star establishment revered the world over.

Hoffman’s mother founded a Napa Valley florist company that has supplied blooms to the French Laundry for decades. His grandparents went on to restore the Philo Apple Farm that’s now run by Hoffman’s aunt, who also manages the lovely Farmhouse Mercantile store in Boonville.

Across from that store on sleepy main street, Hoffman’s Uncle Johnny has operated the Boonville Hotel for 31 years. It’s where Hoffman got one of his first jobs in the kitchen after high school. It’s where he fondly remembers tasting for the first time both Caesar salad and aioli.

Chef Perry Hoffman's return to the place it all started for him.

Chef Perry Hoffman’s return to the place it all started for him.

So in January, when Hoffman — once the youngest chef in the country to win a Michelin star when he headed √Čtoile at Domain Chandon in Yountville in 2009 — returned to become chef-partner at the quaint roadhouse built in 1860, it marked more than just a new job. It poetically signified a life coming full circle.

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Sustainable Seafood Watch Food Truck, A Call to Action, and More

The Monterey Bay Aquarium rolls out its new Seafood Watch food truck. (photo courtesy of the Monterey Bay Aquarium)

The Monterey Bay Aquarium rolls out its new Seafood Watch food truck. (photo courtesy of the Monterey Bay Aquarium)

Seafood Watch Food Truck Takes To The Road

“Eat. Drink. Save the Ocean.”

That’s the philosophy behind the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s new Seafood Watch Food Truck.

Like other food trucks, it serves up delicious fare. But it goes beyond that to offer three items that use either vegan ingredients or U.S. West Coast rockfish that garners a “Best Choice” ranking for sustainability in the Seafood Watch Guide.

The aquarium has teamed with San Francisco’s Little Green Cyclo to create the menu. You have your choice of taco ($5), butter lettuce wrap ($5) or banh mi sandwich ($8.75) filled with rockfish cooked with chili lime, tamarind or Cajun seasonings. The taco and lettuce wrap also can be filled with the vegan option of butternut squash with kale and candied walnuts.

A sustainable rockfish taco. (Photo courtesy of the Monterey Bay Aquarium)

A sustainable rockfish taco. (Photo courtesy of the Monterey Bay Aquarium)

The truck will be out and about in the Bay Area through September. Look for it at Presidio Twilight in San Francisco, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Aug. 1; at the Shuck Yeah! National Oyster Day event in San Francisco, noon to 5 p.m. Aug. 3; at the Stern Grove Festival in San Francisco, 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Aug. 4; and at Noise Pop’s 20th Street Block Party in San Francisco, noon to 6 p.m. Aug. 17.

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Duck, Duck…Dried Plums or Prunes

Duck legs get a lot of love with red wine and dried plums.

Duck legs get a lot of love with red wine and dried plums.

 

There is something that has annoyed me to no end for quite awhile. And I know I’m not the only one who frets about this rather unforgivable injustice.

It’s when someone refers to me as “ma’am.”

I bristle.

Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was “Miss”?

What happened to those days?

I know it’s only semantics. Still, it’s a bruiser. No, I may not like it, but I have glumly accepted it.

That’s what irks me about prunes. Oh sure, they get to be called “dried plums” now. What’s up with that?

Like the rest of us “ma’ams,” I’m sure they felt labeled “old and decrepit” beyond their years with that moniker. But somehow, they’re fortunate to get a new name, one that’s peppier and more youthful. We should all be so lucky, right?

I couldn’t help but think of that amusingly when I spied a recipe for “Red Wine-Braised Duck Legs with Dried Plums.” It’s a classic French country recipe, though, back in the day it was known as duck with prunes.

Wine Country Table

The recipe is from the new “Wine Country Table: With Recipes that Celebrate California’s Sustainable Harvest” (Rizzoli), of which I received a review copy. It’s written by veteran award-winning cookbook author Janet Fletcher, who makes her home in the Napa Valley, in collaboration with the Wine Institute.

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Get To Know Spokane Part II: Best Brunch, A Philanthropic Fried Chicken Joint & More

A tasting size of the fried chicken and waffles at Bruncheonette.

A tasting size of the fried chicken and waffles at Bruncheonette.

SPOKANE, WA —¬†On a recent trip in which I was invited by Visit Spokane to be a guest in its fair city, I had a chance to discover the many charms of this Northwest city.

Did you know it’s the home of Bing Crosby and even sports a Bing Crosby House Museum?

Or that there’s a giant-sized Radio Flyer downtown that you can climb on, then slide down?

Or that it boasts a 1909 historic hand-carved wooden carousel, where you can climb aboard a horse, giraffe, tiger or Chinese dragon chair for a spin?

Not your average red wagon.

Not your average red wagon.

Of course, it’s also home to some incredible restaurants not to be missed. Take a taste.

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Dinner on the Farm — In Sunnyvale

A friendly scarecrow stands watch at the Santa Clara Unified School District Farm.

A friendly scarecrow stands watch at the Santa Clara Unified School District Farm.

 

With new condos and tech buildings going up at a dizzying pace in Silicon Valley, it’s hard to believe that in the midst all this concrete and glass, one can actually still enjoy the bucolic experience of a dinner on a farm here.

But you can — right here in Sunnyvale at 1055 Dunford Way. At an 11-acre organic oasis owned by the Santa Clara Unified School District.

After taking over the property last year from Full Circle Farm, the district hired farmer Dave Tuttle to over see it. And how fruitful the SCUSD Farm has become. This season, 1,500 pounds of tomatoes were harvested and turned into sauce for use in lunches at the district’s 28 schools. In fact, every day, there is something featured from the farm on school menus, most notably in the salad bars.

Pumpkins galore.

Pumpkins galore.

Persimmons ripening on the tree.

Persimmons ripening on the tree.

Twenty tons of pumpkins were grown, along with 3,000 pounds of watermelon. There are persimmon, avocado, pomegranate and lemon trees thriving. Rows of fava beans, Persian cucumbers, and kabocha squash were planted. There are nine laying hens, and beehives, too.

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