Buongiorno. Although I went to Slow Food's Golden Glass event this past Sunday, I spent very little time tasting wine. How can this be? Who in their right mind skips free, top-quality wine? Well... I ran into several local producers - some new to me and some familiar faces - showing off their latest creations. There were so many excellent treats to sample and discuss that without even realizing it, my glass had been empty for almost two hours. Shocking, I know.
What I found at Slow Food's Golden Glass:
Pescadero's Harley Farms Goat Dairy
I've been a fan of Dee Harley and her flower-studded Van Goat chevre and goat ricotta for a long time. Right now the goats are munching on blackberry bushes, Canada thistle, poison oak and even poison hemlock, and it's giving the ricotta a distinctively sweet, floral scent (no itchiness involved). Try it before the season changes, and the goats move on to other plants. She's also hosting farm tours and farm-to-table dinners in the farm's wooden, rustic barn: book ahead, because these fill up fast.
California's organic Apollo extra virgin olive oil
Let's be honest here: there are so many self-anointed 'specialty' olive oils around that knowing which one is actually worth your hard-earned cash isn't easy. The last thing I thought I was going to get excited about at a wine event is extra-virgin olive oil, but then I met Pablo Voizuk, an enthusiastic, kind-mannered gentleman from Buenos Aires. He's very confident in Apollo's California-grown oil: he knew that if I smelled it, I'd want to have it. After all the labor I put into making organic home-baked breads, you know I wouldn't put just anything on them - but these are the kind of aromatic olive oils that can stand up to hearty, crusty bread.
- The Sierra needs robust flavors to balance its herbal, slightly bitter Tuscan-style aroma. A suitable match would be wheat bread, beef stew, a braised rabbit, or a Moroccan olive and oranges salad.
- The Barouni is made with a variety of olive originally from Tunisia. The trees were planted in California some 40 years ago and abandoned - and I'm so glad they found them. This oil has a pronounced pungency that comes back to your nose about ten seconds after you swallow it, slowly unfolding layers of cumin and pepper. I can't wait to sprinkle some of this one on a nice rack of lamb or rustic Italian loaf.
You can find Apollo's olive oil at Whole Foods, Rainbow, or at Bay Area farmers markets.
Now I'm not such a fan of their salame and their standard Italian cured meats - their texture and flavor are not well-developed yet. But complimenti to them for branching off into Italian specialties like lardo (cured lard) and porchetta: a fully cooked pig that's gutted, boned, arranged carefully into layers of stuffing, meat, fat, and skin, then rolled, spitted, and roasted, traditionally over wood.
The Brentwood Agricultural Land Trust tour for chefs
My favorite find for the day: I'm going on the 29th from 9:30-1:30 to tour Brentwood-area farms - and I'm really looking forward to the Blenheim apricots. Let me know if you want to come along, to visit and sample from Frog Hollow farms, Brookside farms, Dwelley farms and Smith family farms.
Did you know we have 102 mini-farms in San Francisco's backyards? You can be the 103rd: MyFarm will help you set up and maintain your backyard orchard, and share what you produce through a citywide CSA. How great is that?