Top Ten lists tend to wax toward the superlatives, but there is a fine but distinct line between 'best' and 'favorite,' especially when it comes to food. We try to make every dish we serve as beautiful, seasonal and delicious as we can, but every year there are a few that linger for us as truly memorable, and often it's for reasons even we can’t always define. They aren't our most complex creations, and it isn’t necessarily their wow factor, though we love delivering that.  A dish that is classic Barndiva is a nuanced dance across the plate. It's fueled by eat the view ingredients, their essence unobscured, and masterful technique.  Every step that lands on the plate needs to connect, and resonate. 

Food is political, yes. But like the political, it starts out as personal, a subterranean urge to recreate (on our part) and rediscover (on yours) a taste or smell which once upon a time gave immense pleasure. 

Here then, is a very personal shortlist of dishes we loved sourcing, fabricating and serving to you this past year. 


In 1st Place The Ratatouille Board was hands down the dish that just made us grin from ear to ear every day it appeared on the menu. Tommy's 'wheel,' the tempura squash blossoms, cherry toms, pearls of fresh green peas, baby vegetables grown by Daniel at the farm, the flowers from the beds here at the Barn. Every vegetable on the plate sang of summer.  


#2 Heirloom Tomato Soup. Truth be told, Ryan's favorite. Just, well, because.

#3 Kale Cesar is a favorite of the Barndiva lunch crowd, with a mast of white anchovy and pale wilted onions, grated pecorino and enough minuscule chives to set sail. Every time we think we're over kale, it pulls us back in.


#4. Chestnut Flour Frangipane Apple Tart, the best use ever of chestnuts from our very old orchards on the ridge. Served with the last of the summer apples (not a bumper year, which only made us appreciate our dry farmed beauties all the more).


#5 Tuna Niçoise (sort of). We don't use the word deconstructed around here anymore, but damn if this dish wasn't a Proustian homage to a South of France summer. Why it tasted so good: runny egg, check, flash grilled fresh tuna, check, charred cherry toms, check. There were perfect haricot vert, and the dressing was a bright tapenade in which olives were only part of the charm. Split second timing and consistency are hallmarks of Ryan's cooking. As for freshness, all this dish didn't do was swim.


#6 Osso Bucco, another bistro star. With roasted root vegetables, and a three day, marrow rich reduction, the definition of cyrenaicism. Look it up.

#7.  Barndiva Farm Figs, lightly poached, then set to rest in a flaky Custard Tart. The finished dessert came with a scoop of balsamic sherbet and dried fig chips. For a brief two weeks in August our heirloom figs flood the kitchen. We serve them fresh, we make compote for charcuterie and cheese platters, we work them into savory dishes. And our wonderful pastry chef Scott Noll bakes. Boy, does he bake. 


#8: Wild Salmon. Strawberries, kumquats, red and gold beets. Shaved burgundy carrots. Pansies and nasturtiums and pea shoots from the gardens. A plate of beauty and nourishment that just made you glad to be alive.


#9: Short Rib Wellington, which we also offered as a vegetarian entree. At one point in the season I counted 10 different vegetables, all cooked à la minute or lightly pickled. 


#10: Scotty's play on S'mores for the Barn dinner menu, mid summer: triple layer devil's food cake w/ graham ganache, honey ice cream, campfire 'mallows.'


Team Barndiva! They worked (and rode) together through the year like champs. And this was some year for us: bad (the fires of October) and very good (the births of Remy & LouLou and the launch of Somm's Table). Barndiva thanks each and every member of our incredible kitchen brigade for putting heartfelt effort into a year unlike any other. For all the trials and tribulations here in Sonoma County, and across the country, and around the world, we continue to gather over food and drink and that, dear friend, is a good thing. Onward!