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Wednesday at the Barn Menu..... Introducing: Salon des Sens....

For this week’s Eat the View, we are thrilled to announce an exciting new exhibition in collaboration with San Francisco curator Maggie Spicer.

Salon des Sens is a food art show engaging the senses from compost to carrot crémeux, a curated collection from 15 remarkable artists who work in a variety of media ~ photography, video, acrylics, wire sculpture, watercolor, soil and food.

The opening reception on June 2 will feature edible art by Barndiva’s Chef Ryan Fancher and cocktails by St. George Spirits.

Details for the show are below and we will be writing more about it over the next few weeks, but mark your calendars now. This will be the art event of the season in Sonoma County.

Studio BARNDIVA

presents

Salon des Sens

To experience life’s cycle from compost to plant to plate, is a sensual journey we take every day with little or no thought. Yet it is potentially a visual exploration of taste, texture, shape, and smell which has the power to affect and teach us on the deepest level.

Studio Barndiva and Guest Curator Maggie Spicer are proud to present Salon des Sens, a group exhibition which sets out to explore how art can frame and elevate a conversation we should be having about the food we eat.

Opening Reception

Studio BARNDIVA Saturday, June 2, 2012 6-8pm Show runs June 2-12

Artists: Caren Alpert photographer, electron microscopes Carol Beck artist, poet, author, acrylic on canvas Maren Caruso photographer, vegetable dissection, wine viscosity Ryan Fancher chef, savory edible art Jil Hales visionary, video creative direction, 3 Minute Meal Drew Kelly videographer, 3 Minute Meal Nader Khouri photographer, food & landscapes Michael Lamotte photographer, local food stills Seth Minor wire sculptor Susan Preston mixed-media artist Rob Scheid photographer, food & travel Maria Schoettler painter, watercolors Maggie Spicer  curator, edible compost Rachel Weidinger watercolorist, farmer's markets John Youngblood photographer, selenium agriculture

All text Jil Hales. All photos Jil Hales (unless otherwise noted).

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Wednesday at the Barn Menu..... Photo Coverage: Fashion for a Cure.... Passport Weekend meets Art Walk........

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"Couture for a Cure" Rocks Out

In the end, it wasn't just about the money we raised, though the sum of $25,000 is fantastic, especially in these trying times when worthy causes go begging. It wasn't entirely about the Diabetes Foundation either, though their efforts to make inroads into finding a cure for this insidious disease is so very important. Diabetes affects the young and the old, the overweight, pregnant women and, increasingly, growing numbers in the Hispanic and Africa American communities. A cure is within our reach.

But what really hit home for me and the Barndiva staff late Sunday night after the last glass was polished and put away was simply how wonderful it felt to have participated. Even a small town like ours can accomplish big things when members of the community come together to work for a common goal. Hats off to David and Nicole Barnett and all the good folks at Brush Salon who instigated Couture for a Cure and brought together the talents of Susan Graf Ltd, M Clothing, Outlander Men's Clothing and Clutch who joined forces to put on a really cool fashion show. Congratulations to the wonderful people who donated to the silent and live auctions, Vin Couture for pouring their wines, Fabian for DJ'ing, KZST's Debbie Abrams for MC'ing, the incomparable auctioneer Lucy Lewand, and last but not least, The Flower Guys, who filled the Studio with glorious spring blooms.

[slideshow]

We throw beautiful, memorable parties in the gallery almost every week ~  as anyone who has been here for a wedding, baby shower, special birthday or anniversary will tell you ~ but  rarely do we get that 'change is gonna come' feeling as strongly as we did after Sunday's event. As you can see from the slideshow below, shot by our own Dawid Jaworski, we live in an extraordinary community, one that knows how to work hard and then make it look easy. People come from around the world to eat our food, drink our wine, and look around in wonder at the magnificent countryside, but for those of us who make Sonoma County our home a great place to live always comes down to the people you live alongside.

It was good to see so many of them here on Sunday.

Passport Weekend + Art Walk

This is a first: combining the energies of a sold-out Passport Weekend with Healdsburg Galleries Art Walk. This Friday, April 27th, all 18 of our member galleries will be paired with wineries that normally don't have a presence downtown. I know what you're thinking, Passport Weekend is for tourists, why fight the crowds? Because it's a chance to support our wonderfully diverse collection of galleries, sipping as you go. Think of it as a scavenger hunt where you may just discover a work of art you can't live without. Or a wine you've been wanting to try. Book dinner here in town after the walk!

Mother's Day, Barndiva Style

We love your mum. We do.  And to prove it we're going to open the gardens just for her on Sunday May 13, give her a sparkling cocktail on the house, and while we're at it send out one of Octavio's best crumbles for the whole table to enjoy while you watch mum sip away and smile. Chef will be serving our full Brunch Menu with a few special entrées which we'll reveal next week, but consider this a heads up:  make your reservations now. Mother's Day at Barndiva always attracts a sell out crowd.

All text Jil Hales. All photos Jil Hales and Dawid Jaworski (unless otherwise noted).

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Wednesday at the Barn Menu..... Return of the Rabbit.........Runway Fashion........

Dish of the Week:  Rabbit Redeux with Spring Vegetable Quiche

Fiddleheads, ramps, nettles, English peas and favas all started arriving in the kitchen a while back, a pretty good auger of Spring, but with all that rain and gray skies it was hard to feel it. Then the white Clematis went into glorious, full bloom over the arbor and Chef marched in to announce the return of the rabbit. This dish is Spring incarnate: bright green color from the favas, peas, chives, and baby greens, sharp pickled ramps, sweet tomato conserve, and just enough heft to the succulent meat and the richness of the quiche to warm the chilly evenings that are part of the beauty of this most precious season.

We are doing the quiche in terrines ~ flaky edges, big chunks of bacon, favas ~ it's almost too pretty to eat. Almost. Rabbit is great stewed whole, but chef’s signature presentation is to break it down and cook each cut separately. A bit more time and labor but you get a perfectly moist sirloin, juicy little rack, whole grilled kidney. Perhaps the most flavorful part of the dish is the rillette, which uses the dark meat from the legs and shoulder. We confit them in duck fat for about four hours, then pull the meat off while it's still warm and falling off the bone. Lots of dijon, sherry vinegar, salt, pepper, chives, and just a hit of minced sweet red onion. Before forming patties the mix is rolled in plastic wrap and chilled, which also gives the flavors time to meld. Taking the dark meat on any animal and making rillettes is worth learning how to do; it's a great way to use the least expensive cuts with the most flavor. In our case we are buying whole animals ~ using everything goes with the territory. Rabbit is only one dish on the new Spring Menu, but it is always a favorite. The flavor is subtle and light, with a hint of grassy sweetness in the finish. Our menus change often this time of year, as delicacies like ramps and fiddleheads have an especially short season. I can't promise how long the clematis will be blooming either. The best part of spring is the worst part of spring: blink and you miss it.

Tickets yet?

They are going fast! Don't miss out on a chance to spend a great 'guilt free' afternoon of drinking, eating, and talking clothes as Studio Barndiva joins forces with the talented folks at Brush Salon to support the American Diabetes Association's Tour de Cure. Joining us with a wonderful runway fashion show will be four of Healdsburg's finest clothing shops ~ Susan Graf Limited, M Clothing, Outlander Men's Gear and Clutch. Barndiva will be doing the cocktails and food, Vin Couture will be pouring the wine.

The evening also includes an exciting live auction with auctioneer Lucy Lewand, KZST's Debbie Abrams as MC and DJ Fabian.

Come out and have some spring fashion fun while we raise money to help find a cure for diabetes.

•••
All text Jil Hales. All photos Jil Hales and Dawid Jaworski (unless otherwise noted).

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Wednesday at the Barn Menu..... Sweetbread Microgreen Salad..... Fashion for a Cure

Dish of the Week: Sweetbread Microgreen Salad

No one really knows why they are called Sweetbreads, though a good guess might be that “pass the thymus gland” is not the sexiest come on in culinary history. Then again, when food is in short supply you probably don't care what an affordable ingredient is called. Intrepid and talented chefs have always found a way to cook the less salubrious parts of the animals we eat ~ brain, heart, intestine, feet, tails... glands. Our greatest techniques (and from them, our classic dishes) have not sprung from boredom, so much as necessity. Still, to paraphrase the bard, a thymus gland by any other name… is bound to sound more appealing.

The thymus gland has two parts, one in the throat and a larger lobe near the heart which is considered more desirable because of its size (though in truth they basically taste the same). Pastured veal is the animal of choice for most chefs. The traditional method to prepare them for cooking is to soak them in milk for 24 hours to soften, then blanch, shock in cold water, press, drain, and chill. At this stage you can easily peel the outer membrane and portion before cooking. Ryan braises his sweetbreads first, slowly heating them through, after which he dredges them in flour and secret spices (secret to me, at any rate) before a quick sauté in foamy butter and fresh thyme. This results in sweetbreads which have a beautiful crunch, yet are still bursting with meat juice.

As it turns out, when properly prepared, they actually are kind of sweet. It’s not a sugary sweet to be sure, but a soft, mild, loamy sweet, enhanced by the consistency of custard crossed with tofu. Serving them with a bright salad of microgreens, cress, shaved carrot, pickled onion, and mache makes for an inspired pairing, not least because it brings forward the mellow nuance of the sweetbreads, taking the dish in an unexpectedly light direction.

Talking to Daniel about our new microgreen program ~ which both he and Mix Garden supply ~ I’ve learned a lot about these funny little guys. They have a range of flavors ~ alliumous, herbaceous, floral, spicy ~ that is quite remarkable. The biggest surprise was to find that microgreens are not really true leaves at all, but something called cotyledons. Formed in the seed, if left to grow after breaching the soil they would swiftly fall off the plant and die.  The word cotyledon comes from the Greek word for 'seed leaf'.

The microgreens Chef used for this dish were cotyledons from seedlings which, planted with the proper spacing would eventually have grown into Russian Kale, Early Wonder Beets, Dwarf Grey Sugar Peas and Large Leaf Mustard Greens.

I love this dish. It’s another delicious reason I’m thankful we live in an age when the ethical sense of eating every part of an animal we take such great care to raise has placed cuts like sweetbreads front and center. Happily, on thoughtful menus, in hands like Ryan’s, they produce the most revelatory share of wows every night.

Tickets yet?

They are going fast! Don't miss out on a chance to spend a great 'guilt free' afternoon of drinking, eating, and talking clothes as Studio Barndiva joins forces with the talented folks at Brush Salon to support the American Diabetes Association's Tour de Cure. Joining us with a wonderful runway fashion show will be four of Healdsburg's finest clothing shops ~ Susan Graf Limited, M Clothing, Outlander Men's Gear and Clutch.  Barndiva will be doing the cocktails and food, Vin Couture will be pouring the wine.

The evening also includes an exciting live auction with auctioneer Lucy Lewand, KZST's Debbie Abrams as MC and DJ Fabian.

Come out and have some spring fashion fun while we raise money to help find a cure for diabetes.

•••
All text Jil Hales. All photos Jil Hales(unless otherwise noted).

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Wednesday at the Barn Menu..... Hot Cross Buns.....Easter Menu....Jazz Festival Announcement....

Wednesday at the Barn Prix Fixe Menu

April 4, 2012

Asparagus Salad Araucana Egg, Shaved Pecorino, Béarnaise Vinaigrette Domäne Wachau, ‘Terassen’ Federspiel, Grüner Veltliner, Wachau, Austria

Fritschen Vineyard Leg of Lamb Caramelized Fennel, Spring Vegetable Jardinière, Natural Jus L. Preston, Rhone Blend, Dry Creek Valley 2009

Mandarin and Chocolate Shortbread Ice Cream Sandwiches Citrus Supremes, Vanilla Bean Crème Fraîche

$35 per person *Special wine pairings for this menu, add $18, Large Parties Welcome

Dish of the Week: The Case for Hot Cross Buns

Food that carries a religious message is bound to be about more than taste. At Passover, which like Easter falls in the redemptive season of Spring, Jews empty their homes of all flour and eat unleavened Matzo instead of bread. They don't eat Matzo because it tastes good ~ trust me on this one ~ no matter how much butter and salt you slather on to make it palatable it sticks in your throat, dry as the desert. If you had lived in Egypt as slaves for over two hundred years, then were given just 24 hours to leave, would you have waited for bread to rise? Eating Matzo today is a way of remembering their story, which took place thousands of years ago.

Passover and Easter share a season and the same etymology but taste wise Hot Cross Buns have a lot more going for them. Which makes sense, as the story they tell is complex and bittersweet. Though they are no longer made from the same dough used in the communion wafer (the reason English Protestants who feared Catholicism only allowed them to be eaten on Good Friday), they still represent bread as the staff of life; the cross baked into their shiny carapace a not so subliminal reference to the crucifixion.

Most of their flavor comes from the hit of dried fruit ~ currents and sultanas ~ for a balance of sweet to sharp, that is folded into the dough before it rises. Sweet frosting is a recent invention ~ buns baked the first few hundred years after the death of Christ had only simple flour and water crosses across the top.

Octavio’s buns honor the simplicity of the recipe and its history, with a few decisive changes. For the frosting he uses sifted powdered sugar, a good quality Madagascar vanilla and whole milk, which makes for a sweet aromatic glaze. While traditionally the cross should be baked down into the bun ~ the better to represent the wounds on Jesus’ body ~ Octavio is a chef, not a liturgist, so no dry frosting for this good Catholic. To ensure a beautiful golden color, he brushes the buns with melted butter after a shorter than normal proofing stage, then allows them to split slightly, creating a warm crevasse for the frosting to melt down into.

Whether or not it’s true that even further back in time the cross held a pantheistic meaning ~ thought to symbolize the four quarters of the moon ~ there’s no denying Easter’s connection to Spring and a continuum that remembers history ~ personal, social, religious ~ through food. The kids may not know the meaningful, complicated story behind Hot Cross Buns as they gobble them down, but if it holds them at the table a bit longer hopefully, someday, they will. For just as it’s true that if we don’t know our history we are doomed to repeat it, the corollary holds even greater power: when you don’t know your history you have no reason to carry it forward, with food traditions that may ultimately fill more than your stomach.

Speaking of Easter...

Barndiva will be serving an expanded Brunch menu this Easter Sunday with Octavio's Hot Cross Buns in pride of place and a few special additions, notably a delicious entrée featuring Fritschen Lamb with all the fixings. For the kids we will be hiding chocolate eggs in the garden (weather permitting). For the adults, Mimosas, Bloody Marys, and a chance to Lift, Flirt or Slide your way through Easter with one of our new series of cocktails we wrote about in last week's Eat the View.  For reservations and the full menu call the Barn: 707 431 0100.

Happy Easter!

 

Hot Off the Press... Jazz Festival News!

All text Jil Hales. All photos Jil Hales(unless otherwise noted).

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Cocktails of the Week.....Easter Menu....

Cocktails of the Week: Introducing Lift, Flirt &  Slide

Interpersonal Neurobiology is a recently touted approach pulling from several disciplines, namely science and psychology, to advance the premise that the way we focus our attention has the power to change the way the circuitry of the brain sends messages.  Started by Dr. Daniel Siegel of The Mindsight Institute (by way of Harvard and UCLA), it's an integrated science with a lot of moving parts, the most intriguing of which is the idea that how we make distinctions and connections between thoughts and feelings will affect the trajectories of our actions and, it follows, their outcomes.

Eating and drinking are ephemeral experiences at best, ones which easily put the senses on overload. They are feeling-led activities  ~  we come to a restaurant in a specific state of mind we want enhanced or softened as we look to satisfy "hunger" on more than one level.  The role alcohol plays ~ while its absence is not a deal breaker ~can be significant, not least because in limited amounts alcohol increases dopamine in the part of the brain that triggers feelings of pleasure. For both the customer and the restaurant, pleasure isn’t just the endgame, it’s a journey, one that starts the minute you walk in the door.

I first started thinking about a series of spirit elixirs called Lift, Flirt and Slide a number of years ago as a way of bringing aromatherapy to the cocktail glass. Like many innovative bars across the country we were already incorporating herbs and edible flowers into our drinks, based rather loosely on their perceived curative qualities ~ citrus to enliven, spice to invigorate, mint to soothe ~ but very few drinks I’d ever come across took homeopathic tinctures seriously, much less engaged the powerful sense of smell as it affects mood and memory. Most people are creatures of habit when it comes to ordering cocktails ~ they get a favorite stuck in their minds and order it year after year. What I wanted was a different approach based less on preconceived notions of what a guest "thought" they wanted, more on a sensually triggered desire to lift the spirit, engage in social play, or just channel the day's exhaustion into sliding home and into bed.

I did some research, wrote up my notes, then moved on. While I was more than intrigued with the concept, I could see that a great deal of trial and error would be necessary in order to take the next steps. I needed a bartender who was not just spirit smart but had energy and patience in equal measure. Great cocktails, at the end of the day, aren’t about whiz kids using esoteric ingredients with procedures that belong in a laboratory setting. They are about balancing science and art,  having a great palate, a methodical mind, and a healthy dose of humility. When Rachel arrived three months ago, happily, she seemed to possess all four qualities. And a fifth: that finding out how a customer feels when they sidle up to the bar goes a long way in making them a drink that heightens or changes their mood. In a restaurant like ours, cocktails are also crucial to opening a way into the food, and the total experience of dining here.

So here's how it's going to work: tell us how you feel when you walk in the door and we’ll give you a drink designed to keep you there (if that’s what you desire) or take you somewhere else (if that’s what you need). Lift, Flirt and Slide are experimental cocktails. While we don't promise they will re-wire your brain, they damn well will taste good and get you started in the direction you want to go on the night. The best part? If they work, all you’ll need is one.

The steps to making A Flirt Cocktail

1. Rachel chars the peppers in a dry skillet. 2. slices and 3. mixes them with a platinum tequila where they are allowed to steep for 4-6 hours. 4. She combine the ingredients: the pepper infused tequila brings an earthy profile to the drink while Agave syrup lends sweet smokiness, Curaçao and fresh lime juice lift the flavors while adding citrus punch, a hint of peach bitters softens the heat and bite of the peppers. 5. Before shaking, she turns a chilled martini glass in red pepper sugar (made with dried pepper flakes left in a fine grain sugar for at least two days, then repeatedly sifted out). 6. Shake vigorously. 7. Strain into the rimmed glass. 8. Spritz with Rhodiola Rosea, a dioecious herb thought to be effective for improving mood, physical and mental performance, and may (according to the Chinese) increase sexual energy. 9. Garnish with baby mustard leaves (variety: Giant Red, harvested just after sprouting).

If you're interested in a decidedly more comprehensive take on Interpersonal Neurobiology follow this link to Diane Ackerman's The Brain on Love, an article published in the NY Times Sunday Review. It provided a nifty bridge to my thoughts about the way we think about cocktails. With apologies for my hubris, there's a lot more to think about here.

Easter

Barndiva will be serving an expanded Brunch menu this Easter with special additions ~ an entrée featuring Fritschen Lamb with all the fixings and Octavio's version of Hot Cross Buns ~ in honor of this special Holiday. For the kids there will be a few chocolate eggs hidden in the garden (weather permitting).  For the adults, Mimosas, Bloody Marys, and a chance to Lift, Flirt or Slide your way through Easter.  For reservations and the full menu call the Barn: 707 431 0100.

Happy Easter!

All text Jil Hales. All photos Jil Hales(unless otherwise noted).

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Dish of the Week: The Lazar Lissitzky Side Salad..... In the Gallery: Fashion for a Cure......

Dish of the Week

Filet Mignon & Ricotta- Egg Yolk Ravioli with "just a salad on the side"

Lazar “El” Lissitzky was one interesting dude, an architect, designer, photographer and typographer who lived between the Czar’s downfall and the rise of Communism in a little window of time when a humanist approach to the arts in Russia was allowed to flourish.  Though he played a role in some of the most revolutionary art movements catching wind in Europe at the time ~ developing Suprematism with Chagall, teaching in Germany with the Bauhaus ~ his lasting contribution was a unique visual language which considered the power of geometric form when projected into the third dimension. Alive today he’d probably be rich and famous at Pixar or Apple.

He was not, to my knowledge, ever a chef, nor does anything you read about him (except perhaps the fact that he once walked across Italy) indicate any interest in food beyond eating it. Yet I think about El a lot these days as I watch our dishes leave Barndiva’s kitchen.

How important is the way food looks to our enjoyment of eating it? Ryan is fond of saying we eat with our eyes first, but do we actually taste things differently depending on the way we perceive them? If a great landscape painting has the power to wake us up to the beauty of nature, does a beautiful plate of food help connect us ~ even subliminally ~ to the place where it was grown, the people who raised or grew it?

Pretentious looking food isn’t what I’m on about; a plate of “beautiful food” that makes no connection to taste ~ and through taste to a field or meadow or body of water ~ is as lost an opportunity as a painting appreciated for its technical prowess that does not have the power to move us toward a love of nature and from there, a desire to protect it.

Over the past year shooting Ryan’s food for Dish of the Week, while I’ve enjoyed writing about all the tricks and clicks that separate the amateur from the professional cook, I find I keep coming back this question. Lazar's language for art had a social context which for him ~ given the times ~ made it relevant. His theory posed that if the right connections were made between the components of "volume, mass, color, space and rhythm," the eye would make an emotional connection to the work which supplied a meaningful narrative, even when the work was 'abstract.' That was art, this is food, but in a curious way the sensory connection we bring to cooking and eating is also the dominate force that defines our relationship to it. We eat to live, but we also live to eat. And the vibrant life of vegetables, the texture of proteins, the delicate colors of edible flowers, the filigreed edges of herbs have all the same compositional resonance we respond to in a work of art. What's more, we don't experience food in a fine dining setting from the prescribed museum distance; we are an essential part of the process, bringing to the experience a crucial interactive piece.

Fine dining is a hybrid art using the physical picture plane of a small 3D canvas with the repetitive timing of a theatrical production. It takes an enormously disciplined aesthetic. As a performance art it starts with sourcing, moves through the precision of cutting, prep and a range of cooking techniques (with and without heat) to the minutes before presentation. Only then are the final 'colors' added 'backstage' in a moment of intense choreography that can make or break ~ within seconds ~ everything that's come before.

Think I'm crazy? Perhaps, but check out the visual appeal and the production values of what Ryan calls "a simple side salad" which we serve with the Filet Mignon and Ricotta-Egg Yolk Ravioli on the lunch menu: slivered dark heart carrots, red and gold beets, tiny toy box radishes, spicy micro sprouts and pineapple sage petals follow a sinuous line that transitions from raw to cooked ~ garlic confit, steamed baby carrots, artichoke hearts and pearl onions ~ halfway across the plate. What's interesting beyond the visual delight of the plating is the narrative arc of the dish, which manages to give equal billing to the salad and vegetables (and for crunch, two house-made lattice potato chips which look like they drifted onto the plate on a breeze) without upstaging the star of the show: a perfectly cooked Filet Mignon.

There are few things in life as satisfying to a carnivore as a forkful of charred steak flooded with glorious golden egg yolk, but the umani seduction we get from eating animal proteins does not necessarily need to rely on the amount of it we consume. Ryan's plating, beyond its visual appeal, also reflects this evolving consideration, and choices that stretch from the plate all the way back to how and where we source our food.

As much as I respect (and try to adhere) to Michael Pollen’s #1 rule: “eat food, not too much, mostly plants", I don't believe any directive ~ no matter how sensible ~ can teach us as much as an actual experience we feel connected to. Dining is a journey, the more visual the better. Our appreciation and joy should be something we build upon, one which grows with every bite we take. Barndiva was created from a desire to feed people delicious food, sourced sustainably, leaving them wanting to eat with us again. Like Lazar Lissitzky, who believed in transformative art ~ the idea that beyond the experience of looking lay connections which could effect a society of change ~ I’d like to think we are also part of a transformative food movement.

Art first, food first, or for us, any thoughtful combination in between.

Tour de Cure

Studio Barndiva is thrilled to be working with our good friends David and Nicole at Brush Salon to help host their Couture for the Cure Fashion Show on Sunday, April 22 in support of the American Diabetes Association. Entertainment for the evening will be an exciting runway show courtesy of four of Healdsburg's most popular shops: Susan Graf Limited, M Clothing, Outlander Men's Gear and Clutch. Before the show Barndiva will provide cocktails and hors d'ouvres, Vin Couture will be pouring wine ~ so don't be late. A live and silent auction will augment the runway show which will star local and professionals models with hair and make-up by the talented folks at Brush. Space is limited for this very special evening. Great night, important charity. We hope to see you here.

To make reservations for dinner after the show, call us at 707 431 0100, and mention the show. For tickets to the event, see below.

All text Jil Hales. All photos Jil Hales(unless otherwise noted).

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DOW: Warm Pea Shoot Salad........Diwale In the Gallery......Hangin' with the Lambs......

Dish of the Week

Warm Pea Shoot Salad

Chef and I were working on a plan to use fava flowers or nettles for some intricate Dish of the Week when Daniel walked through the kitchen door on Friday carrying a flat of pea shoots. It was the first crop of micro greens he and Lukka have been growing as a surprise ~ Chef's been complaining that no matter how quickly he gets them from our farmers (when we can get them), micro greens are so fragile they suffer in transit. He was ecstatic.

Seeing the pea shoots didn’t just make Ryan happy. Since I’ve been back I’ve been off the sauce and trying to eat a light, mostly vegetarian diet to recover from my two weeks of excess in London and Paris. As a result I'm hungry all the time. When Chef offered to make me a quick warm pea shoot salad that incorporated vegetables he had on hand I was all over it. Check it out: purple potatoes, peas, favas, baby turnips, preserved tomatoes, chives, sorrel, artichoke hearts, and rapini flowers.

All the work for the dish had already been done in prepping the veg ~ we do more whittling in a morning than cowboys on a cattle drive. Once you have this exquisite mise en place all you need is some heat in a pan with olive oil. For a sauce Ryan warmed crème frâiche with fragrant sorrel and hit it with his indispensable (and inexpensive) battery-run cappuccino frother. To plate, he gently piled the warm vegetables in a bowl, added a halo of foam, a few squirts of VOO, and a generous handful of freshly cut pea shoots.  The foam added richness but hardly any fat, which I’m beginning to realize is what I like best about its return to the kitchen. I think my initial antipathy to foam was a reaction to a less than judicious use of it in the past ~ not, I must add, by Ryan, who loves it for the way it lightly carries the essence of a flavor.  And of course the way it looks. Heavenly.

Pea shoots are packed full of carotenes ~ strong antioxidants that protect cells from damage and help prevent disease.  Daniel and Lukka got their seeds ~ the variety is Dwarf Gray Sugar ~ from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. They are usually grown for quick harvest as micro greens but would produce a pea pod if given more space and left to grow. Next time you are at the Barn tool out to the patio and gardens and take a look at what’s growing; already poking out of the dirt are tiny blood red sorrel leaves. While we expect rain this week, with all the trees starting to bloom it feels like winter has come and gone, and like it or not, we are already hurling headlong into spring.

In the Gallery: Diwale from Paris

I've seen my share of lovely cotton scarves and ethnic jewelry the last few years as I've gone about ethically sourcing for the Studio. Still, I couldn't help but stop when I  passed the Diwale window display on Île Saint-Louis when I was in Paris. The colorways were straight off the runway and some of the jewelry, especially the colored bangles with thin gold training bands, were uncannily like...  Bulgari's? Someone's got a great eye, I thought. Diwale is the brainchild of a Frenchman working in India who has been so successful he's now got about six shops in Paris. I liked what I saw so much we've reached out to see how and where they are made ~ and if that all checks out, whether or not we can get more. But for now all we have is what I could fit in my suitcases ~ and hey, my suitcases aren't that big.

In the Gallery: Great chunky bone cuffs and très chic metal bangles (also available: hand carved bone necklaces, earrings and rings.) Prices start at $35. Also available: Cotton scarves and a few exquisite wool shawls.

Fritschen Lamb

There are worst things in life than to end up at Fritschen vineyards if you are born a lamb: the food is great, the caretakers gentle and the view ain't bad either.  Of course the lambs don't care that John Fritschen's vineyards sit smack dab in the middle of some of the most fertile and beautiful land in Sonoma County, but watching them grazing through the olive orchards sure makes for a pretty bucolic scene. John's lambs are Dorpers, a cross between the English Dorset and a breed from the deserts of Somalia. They were introduced in the 1940's because of a strange anomaly which makes them perfect for our warm days and cool nights. The first time I laid eyes on them I thought something weird was going on with their wool, which on the older animals seemed to be sliding right off their bodies. Turns out this is what Dorpers do, they self-shed, and it isn't wool they shed, but hair. The birds love it (wool nests anyone?) as does John, who never has to shear them in summer. We love them too, though perhaps for slightly different reasons. (If you haven't already, check out the Wed prix fixe menu.)

All text Jil Hales. All photos Jil Hales and Dawid Jaworski (unless otherwise noted).

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Recipes for Barndiva Oscar Cocktails........Preparing for the Red Carpet..............

This Week's 'Dish' comes courtesy of "Homage to Oscar," an article by Diane Peterson in today's Press Democrat...

While I am still off visiting loved ones in London and Paris, we are once again relying on the kindness of strangers to supply worthy contenders for Dish of the Week. Last week we lucked out to have the talented folks at Mix Gardens and their beautiful photographic rendition of Ryan's Lobster Risotto to piggy back off of ~ this week our cup runneth over with an Oscar friendly article from the Press Democrat's talented Diane Peterson.  It comes complete with recipes for Barndiva Oscar Night cocktails, The Clooney and Dragongirl, in addition to two inimitable Chef Fancher dishes that are part of our six course, big screen menu.

Whether you plan to watch the Oscar's at home barefoot or come to Barndiva in boots or a ballgown, we urge you to consider getting together with friends this Sunday night and turning up the sound a little. Living up to our New Year's Resolution of taking every opportunity that comes our way to eat, drink and party with friends this year is not only incredibly fun and seriously delicious, it's turning out to be a direction that's wise beyond measure.

Click here for article.

The One (and only) Barndiva Annual Oscar Party Menu

Click menu to view.

Grace (or rather Gracie) Notes

I’ve been doing some serious eating over here in Europe, from chefs hitting their stride (Medlar in London, Comptoir here in Paris) and a few just starting out (the rock n' roll boys at Vivant).  Walked through some impressive gardens (yes, even in winter) and taken the requisite tour of winding rooms in great museums that never fail to inject my flagging spirit with a sense of wonder. Cézanne's apples and a walk in the winter sunshine through the Luxumborg Gardens with Geoffrey and trust me, it's a good day.

But the best thing I’ve experienced by far has been looking into the eyes of baby Gracie ~ whom I’ve just met for the first time ~ as she attempted to form words last week as we sat with mother Elly in a bistro in West London. She had no idea what she wanted to say ~  but boy did she have a go. And there wasn't an ounce of frustration in the extraordinary joy she had in trying.

Ryan, K2 and I talk a lot about what the words and pictures we’ve been sending out into the blogosphere over the past year really mean. Truth be told, OUR attempts often come with a surfeit of frustration. But every now and then I get a glimmer that all this talk about food, farming, art and friendship is good. Even if we don't get it right, our attempts to plant seeds for things which can be truly nourishing keeps us going in the right direction. Maybe that's the connection between all of us when we try and communicate. Even imperfectly, there can be, should be,  joy in the effort.  We just need to keep digging.

If you missed this last week, click below for Mix Garden's blog, and don't overlook the slideshow of Chef Ryan's Creamy Celery Root & Lobster Risotto with Mix Garden Greens and Edible Flowers.

Diners' Choice Award 2012

All text Jil Hales. All photos Jil Hales (unless otherwise noted).

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Guest Dish of the Week.....Happy Valentines Day!

Dish of the Week - The Mix Garden Special

It's a well known adage that one should never do business with family or friends, one which we have sadly found to be true the hard way over the years. Yet there's something counter intuitive about the notion that spending your working life with strangers is healthy or wise. Nothing feels better than helping grow a business you believe in while supporting and working alongside people you care about and enjoy spending time with. We love the folks at Mix Gardens and are proud to call them friends. Mick Kopetsky has built up a series of fruit and vegetable gardens across Sonoma County that supply some of the county's finest restaurants with extraordinary produce. With Healdsburg Landscape Materials he has created a valuable community resource that offers everything a gardener needs ~ from soils to seeds. We were very proud to be included in a series he's currently doing for his newsletter which follows the food Mix grows from their garden to the plate.  It's beautifully shot by local photographer Caitlin McCaffrey.

Come spring we hope to collaborate with Mix by supplying 'starts' for some of the fine herbs, edible flowers and vegetables we feature in Dish of the Week directly to our guests for them to grow. Redefining and expanding the notion of farm to table is a goal we share with Mick, Alex and Bryan, whether it's our table here at the restaurant, or yours at home.  Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, we invite you to click below, which will take you to the beautiful Mix Blog and a slideshow of this week's Dish: Creamy Celery Root & Lobster Risotto with Mix Garden Greens and Edible Flowers Enjoy.

All text Jil Hales. All photos Jil Hales(unless otherwise noted).

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Oven Roasted Squab ...... Valentine's Day Menu......

Dish of the Week

Oven Roasted Squab with Huckleberries and Fois Toast

Squab may look like baby chicken, but with a thicker layer of fat beneath the skin these farmed gamebirds react to heat more like duck.  Cooked properly the dark meat is rich and delicious. Before I tasted this dish the best squab I ever had was at St. John’s in London, where they grill and serve the heart and liver alongside the whole bird, as close to nose to tail as you get with poultry.

Ryan used two kinds of sage in the dish. He stuffed the birds with garden sage before searing and oven roasting them; for plating, he pulled the petals off the flowering spikes of the pineapple sage we have blooming in the garden as if it were spring ~ probably as confused as we are by the unseasonably warm weather. Alongside the lush purple velvet of the huckleberries, the edible flowers added a tropical note of color to a dish which otherwise would have been all golden hued brown.  We sourced our pineapple sage from one of Occidental Arts and Ecology's popular plant sales a few seasons ago. Its fragrant leaves are wonderful in cocktails.

Chef cooked the squab in three stages. First, over high heat he seared the bird on all sides (including the ends), then popped it in the oven to roast before finishing back in the pan, basting furiously with garlic, thyme and butter as the skin caramelized. It's a labor intensive way to cook each bird but you can't argue with the result: a brilliantly crisp skin with meat the consistency of a medium rare steak. Seeing red when you cut into a gamebird takes some getting used to, but no worries: what the eye perceives as underdone, the mouth will soon convince you is moist and bursting with flavor.

Ryan served the squab over a bed of sautéed endive. He balanced the breast of the bird over the leg and thigh, placed a triangle of toast on top, grated the fois and then dribbled huckleberry sauce over the dish like they were pancakes on Sunday.  There was crunch and then creaminess from the shaved fois which bumped up nicely against the sharp tang of the huckleberries and the soft herbaceous notes of the sage.  Surprisingly, if you take fois gras directly from the refrigerator and use a fine microplaner, it grates into flakes as light as snow. They melt on the tongue, playing off the subtle but distinctly gamy flavor of the squab.

Strip away all the beautiful finesse Ryan brings to this dish and you could well imagine eating it on the ridge in Philo 100 years ago when all the ingredients could be found without leaving the farm.  Though most of the larger animals have fled farther north in the last decade ~ it’s five years since we’ve seen a wild boar around our place ~ we still have small game birds in abundance, wild sage grows everywhere, and huckleberries line the road in from Greenwood Ridge, plentiful when the deer don’t get them first. Even in low water years, shaded by the towering conifers and redwoods, they are one of the great delights of foraging.

Be Mine?

Last week Rachel and I came up with a great cocktail for the Winter Menu called What A Girl Wants. It would have been fine to star with the Valentine’s Menu, but I’m getting (happily) used to the fact that our new bar manager is never satisfied with one drink when she can come up with two.

Be Mine? is without a doubt a more girlie drink than What a Girl Wants ~ which is fine, as the "girls" who frequent our bar come in all temperatures, cool to smoking hot. Made with Tito’s handmade vodka and fresh Meyer Lemon Juice, with a hint of lavender infused simple syrup, it’s finished with a foamy egg white which Rachel will use as a canvas on the night for a simple Crème Yvette heart.

Click on menu to view.

All text Jil Hales. All photos Jil Hales (unless otherwise noted). Valentine's artwork K2pdesigns.

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Chocolate Bomb ......

Dish of the Week

The Bomb: Dark Chocolate Ganache, Chocolate Bavarois, Hazelnut  Praline Feuilletine, Coconut Ice Cream & Orange Gastrique

The Cacao bean is one of the oldest and most versatile spices in history with thousands of sweet and savory flavor profiles for a Chef to play with, but when it comes to eating it and satisfying that craving for chocolate that has been around since the Aztec's, your best bet is to go big or go home.  Scientists tell us our attraction to chocolate comes from a chemical reaction to the alkaloids in cocoa solids which produce serotonin and its trigger cousin tryptophane in the brain. Tryptophane is that very neat amino acid thought to regulate mood, appetite, sleep ~ all the stuff which can make or break your day. Sadly, it doesn’t matter if you get there after a virtuous ten mile run or a guilty session at the chocotelier, when tryptophane floods the system with endorphins, it's gonna feel a lot like happiness.

The fact that we mix chocolate with sugar to counteract its natural bitterness also inadvertently contributes to the psycho-chemical reasons we love it, as sugar also acts to slow down our fight or flight impulses. The thing to keep in mind if you plan to use the tryptophane angle to justify a chocolate jones is that it only occurs in cocoa solids. Quality chocolate can be as high as 80% cocoa solids at the top of the  ‘chocolate’ spectrum, but white chocolate, yummy as it may look and taste, actually contains no cocoa solids at all.

When I crave a brief out of body experience from chocolate I want primo bittersweet nibs pulverized into submission, mixed with cream and nuts and fruit. Which is why we invented The Bomb.

The first things Octavio makes is the last you eat: Caramelized Hazelnuts flecked with dark chocolate, rolled with a bit of flour and chilled. This praline feuilletine provides the base for a tower of  vanilla crème frâiche and whipped cream over which he pours  a shiny carapace of 80% dark chocolate ganache. Light meets dark, sweet meets bitter, crunchy meets heavenly soft. It's a chocolate dessert which has everything, even an historical pedigree as we are now using Guittard Chocolate ~ the only remaining San Francisco Chocolate company still family owned.

In summer we love to pair the bomb with the sweetest red berries we can find; in winter citrus is the perfect foil. When Vicki and Bruce Pate dropped off a bag of mixed oranges from Serendipity Farms, Octavio made a gastrique out of them using their tartness to play against the dark and light nuances already going on in the dish. It was a beautiful color. Chef trailed it like lattice work across the plate, connecting the bomb with the final element of this elegant romantic dessert ~ a house-made coconut ice cream.

Octavio has been working on a stellar recipe for coconut ice cream that will be part of our upcoming Oscar Night dinner where each course is inspired by the country of origin of an Oscar Nominee. That dessert will also have compressed pineapple and Kona Coffee mousse as the dessert course is themed to Hawaii, very much the heart of The Descendants.

We couldn't help but wonder how Big O's coconut ice cream would pair with chocolate. In a similar way that the flakes of Maldon Salt on top of the dome serve to extend the complexity of the dark chocolate, the ice cream momentarily stuns the palate, taking your mind away from chocolate altogether, making the return to its luxurious silkiness all the more decadent. It was so good, we decided to put the pairing on our Valentine's Menu.

Like I said, go big or go home.

All text Jil Hales. All photos Jil Hales and Dawid Jaworski (unless otherwise noted).

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Wild Mushroom Hunting ......

Dish of the Week

Wild Mushrooms

Growing up in LA I had a good friend whose father often disappeared on weekends to go mushroom hunting. Everybody, including his wife, thought it was the weirdest thing to do. This was in the years before being weird was cool; a few years before ‘shrooming’ took on a whole other significance.

I think about my friend’s dad from time to time because looking back now I realize he was the only person I’d ever met that went into the wild to look for food. Foraging was something people only did when they didn’t have access to a supermarket; it never would have occurred to me then that it might even be preferable to needing one.

There’s no telling what he would think if he were around today, with mushroom foraging weekends offered up and down the North Coast, wild mushroom classes in every cooking school, and shelves in local bookstores stocked with books on mycology. Last week I even heard tell of an app that can identify mushrooms you find in the wild instantly by simply uploading an image of them. Here in Healdsburg, as part of Epicurean Winter, for one week in February (Mushroom Week!) you will be able to restaurant hop across town, eating a different dish starring a locally foraged mushroom at each stop.

But for certain folks, like Corey Gates and the generations of families like his, who have lived and foraged in Northern California for the past century, mushroom hunting has never been geeky or a food fad. It has always been just a part of their lives, a cherished piece of their culinary history.

Corey’s grandmother first took him foraging for wild Chanterelles at the age of three; over the years she taught him all she knew, making him swear never to reveal their secret spots  ~  always the number one mushroom hunting rule, which took on extra significance after she died.  For Corey, foraging for mushrooms went from a hobby to a passion to a business, The Mushroom Hunters.

On Tuesday he stopped by to show me his bounty from what he considered to be a good day foraging the mountains around Ukiah. All but one belonged to the genus Cantharellus, aka Chanterelles. He had California Golds (C. formosus); Black Trumpets (C. cornucopioides); rarer whites (C. subalbidus) and Yellowfoot (C. tubaeformis). He was most proud of the beautiful cream colored Hedgehogs (Hydnum repandum), which are technically not in the same genus. They are great eating mushrooms, if you don't get put off by the tiny razor teeth which make them look like they belong in a Tim Burton movie. Hedgehogs are delicious, with a wonderful earthy, almost nutty aroma.

Ryan loves to caramelized wild mushrooms; in truth he is not a big fan up cutting them up because they can go too soft as they sweat, resulting in a less than desirable texture. Cut up they are best when used in a sauce, or a dish like Ragu where the flavor is paramount. With a few exceptions he prefers his mushrooms small, the better to be served whole. He likes Morels in a nice Madeira sauce, rich and creamy; his Girolles and King Trumpets grilled, preferably over an open flame; meaty Hen of the Woods, sweet Chanterelles and woody Porcinis are best for him roasted, lightly dressed with a nice sherry vinaigrette. Last week he quickly sautéed white Chanterelles serving them with a crispy duck leg, sliced duck breast and root vegetables on onion soubise.

A few months ago I wrote a bit about the complex taxonomic history of fungus and their mycorrhizal (symbiotic) relationship to the conifers, oaks and redwoods that grow in abundance throughout the North Coast. Sonoma, and especially Mendocino counties benefit greatly from mixed new and old growth forests. That, along with our mild extended winters make this part of the world prime mushroom hunting terrain ~ hell, it's almost impossible to take a walk in the country from January on and not come upon some growing wild. All the more reason to learn some salient features it takes to begin to identify them. Forget eating any wild mushroom you haven't foraged with an expert ~ just identifying them can be great fun. Check out the graph below courtesy of (thankfully still) free file sharing Wikipedia. Learn how to forage and if nothing else, you'll never go hungry in the forest. (As long as our forests are there ~ but that's another blog altogether).

All text Jil Hales. All photos Jil Hales and Dawid Jaworski (unless otherwise noted).

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Cocktail of the Week ......

Cocktail of the Week

(part 1) Pickled Pearl Onions

Continuing on from last week’s (Meyer Lemon) preserving session, we come to one of Chef's favorites ~ Pickled Pearl Onions ~ which pair beautifully with many a savory starter or entrée.  Not to mention being an indispensable component to a great Bloody Mary.

Preserving doesn't get much easier than this: the only thing fiddly about pickling pearl onions is peeling the papery outer skin and membrane to get to the inner bulb. Pickling spices tend to work best when peppercorns, fennel seeds and a wide flake salt like Maldon are in play. Use firm, good quality onions. Once you are past the peeling stage and have chosen your spices, all you need is a clean jar and equal parts vinegar and sugar … that's it.

Depending on what he will be serving them with, Ryan chooses a vinegar that will push or pull on the pearl's mild bulby onion taste. With the return of duck confit this week he used a good quality champagne vinegar. Ready to eat after 24 hours, these vibrant pink pickled onions will keep for months. Depending, of course, on how many times you find yourself reaching into the fridge for them to garnish a Bloody Mary.

(part 2) Barndiva's Bloody Mary

Anyone who tells you there is only one definitive recipe for the Bloody Mary is either a fool or a liar.  This is not all down to the fact that for all its sunny charm, it's a surprisingly complex cocktail. Depending upon your MO for ordering it ~ whether you are coming into brunch still wet from the gym or just out of bed with a headache you acquired getting up to no good the night before, chances are you’re going to taste something quite different every time you order one.

From the bartender's perspective the usual suspects are vodka, tomato juice, spices like cayenne and celery salt, hot sauce, and, at the finish, something to give you a great restorative green crunch. While it’s certainly nice in summer if you can purée your own tomatoes ~ the heirloom varieties we grew at the farm made for a remarkable Bloody Mary last summer  ~ it's not a deal breaker. The argument could even be made that tinned tomato juice, with its distinctive metallic edge, brings something to the table. The vinegary kick in our Bloody Marys since Rachel took over brunch bar duties on Sundays comes from a potent trio: the aforementioned pickled onions, brine from the olives and fresh lemon juice. Whatever spin the bartender puts on it needs to be bold, because at heart this is a bold cocktail. Is horseradish necessary? I didn’t used to think so, now I’m not so sure. I am sure, though, that using Sriracha for the hot sauce component brings a nice complex heat. Maldon is the salt to use as it doesn't break down, rewarding the drinker with well timed salty jolts which heighten all the wonderful red, green and spicy notes that make this drink a classic.

As for the garnish it shouldn't be an afterthought ~ a sad bit of celery just doesn't cut it.  The entry point to a great Bloody Mary is a juicy olive, pickled pearl onion, bit of shaved carrot, baby radish and a wedge of lime ~ fresh, bright, beautiful color and crunch that signals the transition to sharply sour, salty and hot. Close your eyes and you should be able to imagine sitting in a beautiful garden on a sunny day surrounded by ripening tomatoes. Wherever you actually are, there are worse ways to start your Sunday.

All text Jil Hales. All photos Jil Hales and Dawid Jaworski (unless otherwise noted).

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Dish of the Week ...... In the Gallery....... Introducing the Barndiva Winter Brunch Special.....

Dish of the Week

Preserved Meyer Lemons

I love apples, but truth be told if Eve had been any kind of cook when she was flirting with being thrown out of Eden, she would have given some thought to reaching for a lemon no matter how puckery that first bite might have been for Adam. Why? Because when it comes to cooking the things we comfort loving heathens love, citrus is all but indispensable. Without acid producing fruits like lemons and grapes (for vinegar), we’d drown in a sea of rich fatty flavors. Ryan’s a big fan of all things acidic ~ when we talk about food the words ‘brighten’ and ‘lift’ always go hand in hand with ‘rich,’ ‘buttery’ and ‘redolent.’

He’s not alone in recognizing the merits of the humble lemon which has been around since biblical times, coming  to the new world with Christopher Columbus. The recipe for preserving them ~ surely the simplest ways to extend their season ~  also hasn’t changed in centuries. In Elizabeth Raffield’s “The Experienced English Housekeeper,” written in 1769, she has a version of “lemon pickle” almost identical to one penned by an anonymous ‘Lady’ in  Shakespearean times: 

The lemons should be small, and with thick rinds: rub them with a piece of flannel; then slit them half down in four quarters, but not through to the pulp; fill the slits with salt hard pressed in, set them upright in a pan for four or five days, until the salt melts; turn them thrice a day in their own liquor, until tender.

Meyer lemons, thought to be cross between a Lisbon lemon and a Mandarin (or a Eureka and an orange, take your pick), are perfect for preserving owing to their thin skins, which are shiny, smooth, small pored and edible. The pulp has a mild sweet flavor. Here in Sonoma, our season for them is early spring, but thanks to crazy ‘new’ weather patterns, when Myrna and Earl Fincher from Early Bird's Place showed up last week with their first crop, besides a quick of the head, no one was really surprised.

Meyer’s are best when medium sized (in general they are less ellipsoidal than true lemons) and ripe when they turn a beautiful golden yellow color. To preserve, start by simply cross slitting through the skin until 1/2 to 3/4 a way down the body of the fruit.

Position the fruit on a bed of large grain salt, a thumb's distance between each one. Kosher salt, made by compacting granular salt to produce larger irregularly shaped flakes, is the least expensive option, and perfect for preserving because while it dissolves easily, its wider surface area won't overwhelm the flavors of the fruit as it softens.

Sift salt over the cut end of the lemons allowing it to fill every nook and cranny until they are covered.  If you have a ceramic terrine lying around it’s shape makes the perfect preserving vessel as its thick walls keep the fermenting temperature constant.

When the lemons are covered, replace the lid and store  in a cool larder or at the back of the fridge. For a quick lemon pickle you can blanch the fruit to get the process started.  Preserved lemons, sliced or cut into chunks, makes a delicious addition to any stew, especially those with poultry. They figure heavily in Indian and North African Cuisine. In Morocco they like to leave preserved lemons or “leems”  for months before using them.

But preserved lemons aren't just for savory dishes; they add a j’ne sais quois to sweet desserts, especially where you might expect a candied citrus peel. Perfect case in point is Octavio's newest winter dessert ~ Meyer Lemon Tart with house-made lightly spiced graham cracker crust. This week he's serving it with a gorgeous huckleberry sauce, crème frâiche ice cream, and, in pride of place on top, a translucent flourish of thinly sliced preserved Meyer lemons. Eat your heart out Eve.

In the Gallery

The first pieces of Jordy Morgan's work we represented in the Studio were steel cage stone-filled sculptural pieces of sofas, chairs and standing vases. These monumental outdoor pieces played off a use of common indoor shapes and materials which took them to a new place.  Extremely comfortable (though you don’t expect them to be), Jordy's stone sculpture/furniture manages to be both corporeal yet highly imaginative ~ physically heavy but spiritually light,  if you follow my meaning.  Rare is the day we don’t find guests from the restaurant migrating over from the main gardens to sit in these Flintstone looking armchairs, taking them in with childlike joy.

Two new pieces of Jordy's which arrived in the Gallery last week speak to yet a new direction for his work.   The first is a bar-height table and four stools that look like they stepped out of Toy Story.  Fabricated from a 1950’s steel shelving unit, with John Deere tractor-orange distressed skewed legs, the pieces work as a wonderful breakfast set or just as happily as an idiosyncratic desk for the office (whether or not you work for Pixar).

The second piece, though not without a tongue in cheek nod to the game of Tic Tac Toe, is a serious dining table, one of the most elegant pieces Jordy has ever done for us. Starting with a reclaimed 13" diameter heavy steel pipe, the artist has fabricated (perfectly pre-rusted) four-piece X casing legs. The dining surface,  1.5” thick, is satin finished Doug Fir.

Breakfast/Office Table  56"X 24.25" X 35.75" With four stools,  $3600

XO Dining Table   8'  x 24.25" wide x 30" $4200

Introducing... the $20 Barndiva Winter Brunch Special

This Week begins a series of Winter Brunch Specials. First up  a languorous Barndiva brunch that starts with a Bloody Mary (ok, or Mimosa),  followed by our classic Barndiva Benny made with Costeaux Brioche Toast, two Early Bird's Place Organic Eggs, spinach, crispy pancetta and the yummiest (and possibly lightest) Hollandaise around. While this Benny was photographed solo, rest assured if you come in to claim it this coming Sunday, yours will come with roasted potatoes and a toy box salad. Say the magic words, "I eat the view!", and we'll throw in coffee as well.

All text Jil Hales. All photos Jil Hales and Dawid Jaworski (unless otherwise noted).

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Hangover Elixers .......A Barndiva Family Album of NYE.......

Last Great Party of the Year

Hometown Celebration

While we understand (and greatly appreciate) most of the sold-out crowd on NYE came to be wowed by Chef's glorious menu, in the front of the lounge some very special friends also shared a great evening...

 Isabel Hales took time away from her studies in London to DJ;  brother Lukka with Chef's wife Rebekah Fancher.

 Studio Barndiva's manager Dawid Jaworski and his lovely wife, Priscilla.

 Daniel Carlson took time off from planning the spring gardens at the farm in Philo to string roses and create fabulous NYE decorations.

The beautiful Amber, Lukka's special events assistant, with her husband the writer Scott Keneally

Chef and Bekah announcing great news: they will be new parents in 2012!

Our incredible kitchen staff (minus Pancho and Danny) before last service of 2011.

Perrier-Jouet electrified streamers lead to an indelible Donna Summer 'Last Dance" moment, (Lladies, drinks on the house!)

Hangover Cures from the Barndiva File

There are hundreds of hangover remedies in the world, but aside from Dean Martin’s “Keep Drinking,” none of them really do more than get you over the hump of a groaning morning after too much fun. One of the great mysteries of life is why, after the age of five, there’s always hell to pay after too much fun, but it's way too soon in the New Year to think Kingsley Amis was onto something when he wrote, “When that ineffable compound of depression, sadness, anxiety, self-hatred, sense of failure and fear for the future begins to steal over you... start telling yourself that what you have is a hangover.” Far better to hope all we suffer from this week is a bit of over-indulgence that time, aspirin, a pot of coffee and that whack-a-mole known as the Human Spirit will eventually remedy.

But should you ever find after a night of too much fun that you lack any one of those things and are suddenly needed to hold up your end of a scintillating conversation, here’s two words you should commit to memory: Fernet Branca.  Though it shares the main qualities of all bitters, which have been used for centuries to revive the senses and open the palate (why they figure it is in so many cocktails), Fernet is more than a simple Amaro (Italian for 'bitter').  First concocted in 1845, Fernet reputedly contains somewhere in the region of 27- 40 herbs and spices used for their restorative medicinal properties. In any given year (the recipes are secret and despite claims to the contrary, known to be mutable) these have been thought to include:  myrrh, chamomile, cardamom, aloe, saffron, mushrooms, fermented beets, cocoa leaf, rhubarb, gentian, wormwood, zedoary, cinchona, bay leaves, absinthe, orange peel, calumba, echinacea, quinine, ginseng, St. John's wort, sage, peppermint oil and, reportedly in the 1940's, codeine.

Two of the favorite hangover remedies we favor at Barndiva, one of them starring Fernet, were revisited and revised this year by our bartender Rachel Beardsley with the thought they might be welcome right about now. They were inspired by my late ex father-in-law, the redoubtable gourmand and world class drinker Tex Feldman, who introduced me to Fernet many years ago after a memorable night drinking and dining at Maxim's a few feet away from Jean Paul Belmondo. A judicious use of Fernet the night after too much fun was one of three bits of drinking advice he gave me which I’ve tried to live by  ~ the other two were pace yourself, and if you can’t afford the good stuff, walk away.  While he never did get around to explaining how once in your cups you remember to pace yourself, trust me, I’m working on it.

Fernet Old Fashioned

Muddle 3 fresh cranberries, a wedge of ruby red grapefruit, 1 sugar cube, and 3 dashes of  Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters* Add 1 oz of buffalo trace bourbon, 1/3 oz of Fernet Branca and shake gently. Top with soda.

Bite the Dog

1 ½ oz Tito’s Organic Vodka 1 ½ oz coconut water ¼ oz fresh squeezed grapefruit juice ½ oz fresh orange juice ¼ oz Amaro Nonino Bitters

Shake and serve over rocks.

*Fee Brothers, Peychauds and Regan's bitters ~ among the best bitters in the world ~ are all but impossible to source retail, which is why we have carried a limited selection of them in the Studio for our clientele since we opened.

From all of us here at the Bar we wish you a wonderful Happy New Year.

All text Jil Hales. All photos Jil Hales and Dawid Jaworski (unless otherwise noted).

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Dish of the Week.......Singing the Praises of 2011.......

Dish of the Week

Early Bird Omelet with Caviar Crème Frâche

I think it was Julia Child who once said the single hardest dish she ever mastered was “a perfect omelet,” but I bet more than one great chef would proffer the same reply. Ryan, who’s both intuitive and technique driven in equal measure, believes the secret to a light, fluffy and oozy omelet lies in patiently stirring over constant heat, and while this is true, it's only part of the equation. Even if you start with great eggs (ours were from Early Bird's Place), the right pan, and a perfected wrist action that keeps the eggs from scorching, making the perfect omelet is no walk in the park. If anything it’s a dance. One whose music you need to listen to long and hard before you know the rhythm well enough to move to it gracefully.

To the extent that science plays a role, for an omelet that’s smooth as silk on the outside but filled with creamy wet curds, don't be tempted to mix dairy into the eggs. Though it seems counter-intuitive ~ cream should make something more creamy, not less ~ eggs don't need anything to bind to themselves, in fact, any ingredients you add will affect the omelet's ultimate viscosity. The balance at play is air, heat and time. Whip the eggs to a consistent froth and once they hit the heat (we use olive oil, not butter), drag a rubber spatula (or wooden spoon or fork) slowly front to back and side to side. Watch the edges. You will know from the look of them whether your heat is too high, or if you are dragging too slowly or too fast. When the eggs are at the soft curd stage, stop mixing. Now comes the crucial moment. You want a soft skin to form on both the top and the bottom surface while keeping the heat constant throughout. To accomplish this you can either pop the omelet under a brazier where the top will finish while the residual heat from the pan continues cooking the bottom, or stay on the burner while carefully flipping the omelet over in the skillet. Do neither and you risk the bottom sticking (or worse, turning brown). Whichever method you prefer, don't overcook the eggs.  This is essential.

Omelets stuffed with fixings like cheese, asparagus, crab, (you name it) are fun, but if we’re talking perfect omelet you don't want any other ingredients that will affect the perfect storm of  silky skin containing billowy curds.  As a topper, Caviar and Crème Frâiche are an inspired pairing ~ the cool of the crème combines with the pop of salty ocean to compliment, without overwhelming, the eggs, which should arrive to the plate as delicate in taste as they are in texture.

A word about caviar: while the name caviar can be used to describe the roe of almost any fish that produces eggs ~ salmon, steelhead, trout, lumpfish or whitefish ~ anyone who's tasted roe from the wild sturgeon living in the Caspian or Black Sea knows Beluga, Ossetra or  Sevruga are to lumpfish what cashmere is to boiled wool. That’s not to say that domestic caviar isn’t a wonderful and affordable addition to any dish that calls out for an oceanic bite. But stay away from pressed products. No matter where they come from,  no matter what size or shape the eggs, caviar needs to be fresh, to explode against your upper palate with a fresh briny snap.

Omelet with Caviar Crème Frâiche is the last Dish of the Week for the Blog this year. Looking back at the dishes we documented in 2011, we hope we managed a few Aha! moments that bridged the gap between the professional and the home cook, showcasing superior ingredients while finding the key to dishes that were both simple and elegant. No matter how labor intensive they were, and some of them were doozies, our hope was to delight your eye with finished dishes where the chef’s hand was all but invisible, his talent subsidiary to taste. The best dishes we eat in any year are usually the ones that don’t shout so much as fervently whisper, overwhelming neither the palate nor the stomach.

Because we think the first meal of the New Year should be as memorable as the last, Early Bird's Omelet with Caviar Crème Frâiche will be one of the stars of our New Year’s Day Brunch Menu this Sunday,  Janurary 1, 2012. On the drink side, for those of us who intend to party hard on New Year's Eve, the New Year's Day menu also brings back two classic Barndiva hangover cures:  Bite the Dog and the Fernet Old Fashioned.

2011: The People Who Made It All Possible

It takes a lot of hard work (not to mention talent) to keep Barndiva going all year. Even more to keep it growing in the ways we care about most. At the end of the day, ironic as it may sound, great restaurants aren’t about food as much as they are about people.  A lot of people ~ from the farmers and ranchers who grow and raise our ingredients, through the chefs of various stations who clean, cut, cook and plate,  to the servers, hostesses and bartenders who deliver our drinks and food to the table with a skilled flourish that honors the work and love that's goes  into every dish.

We are truly blessed to have talent in abundance here at Barndiva. And it isn’t just the professionalism our purveyors and staff have that is ultimately so remarkable; it's the way they rock it, with an abundance of humor and good will.

2011 was a great year for us, hard but truly wonderful.  We have always had great heart for what we do but I’m the first to admit our best intentions haven't always gone hand in hand with perfect timing. If you’ve eaten here in the past year, or shared the excitement of an event, you know we are on a roll.

None of us knows what lies ahead this year. It's hard to ignore the fact that most mornings the world outside feels like it is going to hell in a handbag. There’s too much greed and fear around, coupled with the uneasy but pervasive message from on high that even if you do a good job in life, an honest job, you’re going to end up with the short end of the stick. Don’t believe it. There are wonderful things happening all around us, they just need to be acknowledged and supported. Fought for. Enjoyed.  Joy should be at the heart of  what gets us out of bed every morning ~ even if some days it's just the fumes of the possible. But joy is like a fire, it needs kindling to get started. Constant feeding to keep it going.

So here's a Big Thank You to our kindling makers and fire builders of 2011 ~ starting with the singular farms and ranches that have supplied Barndiva throughout the year, especially the ones (you know who you are) that do not mind bringing in only one or two crops that meet Ryan’s exacting standards. Special shout out to Bonnie at Dragonfly who lets me fill the barn with the most impossibly beautiful blooms from her gardens while never failing to kick me in the ass when I need it; Alex and all the guys at Mix Gardens, Myrna and Earl at Early Bird's Place, Vidal and Daniel (and of course Lukka) at the farm, Lou and Susan Preston for writing the manual on how to raise happy pigs and sheep and besides great wine, produce some of the best olive oil around.

Thank you to our incredible Kitchen Staff  (special shout out to The Incredible Flying Wycoff Brothers, the irrepressible Pancho, Manny, Danny, Octavio, Shale,  and expediter extraordinaire Katie) and our charming and informed Front of House, now lead by the eminently able and urbane Bennett and the lovely Catherine.

To Dawid, who has taken the gallery on by storm, and to Amber, who helped Lukka fulfill all our wedding couple's dreams.  And last, but hardly least, my assistant and new mum K2, who keeps the blog (and the website) fresh, even when Chef and I threaten to run out of steam.

All of us here wish you a New Year that’s easy on the eyes, fulfilling and just plain filling ~ some of which we hope you will do here. Thank you for reading Eat the View this year (we know a lot vies for your attention) and for your support in person, here in the restaurant, the gallery, and at our weddings. Your continued health and well being matters greatly to us. Have an exciting year. Keep the home fires burning.

Salute!

All text Jil Hales. All photos Jil Hales and Dawid Jaworski (unless otherwise noted).

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Dish of the Week.......Xmas In the Gallery.......A Holiday Greeting......

Dish of the Week

Serendipity Farm Persimmon and Pomegranate Salad with Crispy Lamb Neck Croquettes

This is the perfect Early Winter dish that delivers all the satisfying meaty flavors we long for as the nights turn cold. The persimmons and pomegranates come from Bruce and Vicki Pate, who graciously opened their farm in Geyserville to us last week. If you think a single leafless persimmon tree with its gloriously colored fruit is Christmas beautiful this time of year, imagine an orchard full of them.

Admittedly, the lamb aspect of this dish would be a bit tricky for the home chef unless you have access to whole animals or are a member of a meat buying club. The beauty of nose to tail cooking goes beyond honoring an animal (and value for money); in great part it's rediscovering cuts like this.  The first thing Chef did after breaking down the animal was to get a great stock going with roasted bones and cuts like the neck and shoulder. His braising liquid for lamb consists of white wine, fennel, tomato, rosemary and loads of fresh parsley.  After a few hours in this braise, the succulent meat all but falls off the bone.

Neck meat cooked this way has marvelous flavor, redolent of the braising liquid and the free range life of the animal. Our two lambs this week were raised at Lou and Susan Preston's biodynamic Family Farm on West Dry Creek where they played an important role fertilizing the soil as they grazed the fields and vineyards.  To make the croquettes, the meat from the bones was rolled in saran wrap and refrigerated just long enough to hold its shape.  Just prior to cooking, Ryan brushed the chilled 2” croquettes with Dijon mustard and rolled them in lightly seasoned Japanese breadcrumbs.

Because the meat is fully cooked before hitting the pan, the croquettes only need a few minutes in grape seed oil over high heat,  just long enough for the breadcrumbs to turn golden and crunchy.

Ripe but firm persimmons have an unusual flavor that isn’t sweet so much as fragrant, with a silken honeydew quality that pairs beautifully with the richness of the lamb. Use non-astringent varieties for taste and ease of cutting. I think Serendipity Farm’s persimmons were Jiros, but Chef was going with Fuyus, which are everywhere this time of  year.  Chef shaved the persimmon into semi-translucent overlapping slices which he used as a canvas for a composition of baby roasted artichokes, pickled red pearl onions, red and yellow endive and one of his current favorites ~ exquisite tiny radishes. A sprinkling of red pomegranate pips completed the dish. Pomegranates are lovely this time of year but always a bit fiddly. Ryan showed me a quick way to extract the pips from their membranes: slice them in half and, using the wider end of a big kitchen knife, whack away, holding the cut side over the plate. Depending on how your day went, you can have a nice therapeutic moment as pips rain down like a shower of rubies.

In the Gallery

We always try to fill the Gallery with unique smaller gifts at Christmas time, and this year is no exception. Besides a (rapidly diminishing) table of ornaments, we have cotton tea towels from Portugal, hand-loomed scarves from India and Ethiopia, Alpaca throws from Peru, votive holders made from cinnamon bark and a small but highly eclectic selection of books and hard-to-source cocktail bitters.

One of our favorite items back in the Studio after a long, post-tsunami wait are the exquisite hand-blown blue and yellow whiskey/cordial/ you-name-it glasses from Sugahara.

Out of time to shop? Not sure what to get for that certain someone you don't know all that well (or perhaps know all too well)... The ever popular Barndiva Gift Certificate may be the the most thoughtful gift you give all season. If you can't make it into the Gallery, call (707.431.7404) and we will be happy to take your information and send the the gift certificate anywhere you want. They can also be purchased at the bar, where you can have a glass of wine or a cocktail while you contemplate how clever you are  ~ really, how much easier can we make this?

The Countdown for 2011 has begun...

We are always fully booked for our fabulous New Year's Eve soirée, with the rush for tables coming right about now.  Last I looked, we were almost out of space ~ so book now if you are thinking of joining us for a "classic" six-course menu culled from what Chef feels are the best dishes he has cooked all year.  Don't say you weren't warned! If you already have plans for NYE but would like to join us for a glass of bubbly or taste one or two of the  dishes on the NYE menu, we will serving them à la carte from noon to seven.  Seating for NYE (dressing up not required, but encouraged) starts at 8:30. Take a look! 

And Finally...

Barndiva wishes all of you a joyous holiday season. We thank you for your continued support without which we could not and would not find the vision and resolve to do what we do. Make a joyful sound, friends, for truly we have no time to waste.

Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah from all of us at BARNDIVA

All text Jil Hales. All photos Jil Hales and Dawid Jaworski (unless otherwise noted).

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Holiday Cocktail of the Week.......Xmas In the Gallery.......New Year's Eve Menu......

Cocktail of the Week

Barndiva Holiday Nog with Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Foam

The recipe for the elegant and light(ish) Egg Nog we will serve in the Barn this Christmas Eve comes to us courtesy of our new star behind the bar, Rachel Beardsley. Actually, it comes thanks to a desire on Rachel's part to continually up her game at Holiday time so her Japanese grandmother Masuyo ~ not a big fan of heavy cream and alcohol ~ can enjoy one of the richest traditions on offer this time of year.  Masuyo's not alone in craving the wonderful flavors of yule time without the cloying, hangover-in-the making qualities that too often come along with them.

All the usual suspects are here: spiced rum, full cream (cut with milk), nutmeg, vanilla and eggs. By reducing the amount of cream and using only the finest ingredients, in this case Madagascar Vanilla and whole Jamaican nutmeg, Rachel's small but significant swaps result in a wonderful Holiday concoction.  Crucial to the drink's success is using organic free range eggs in the Nog, then hand frothing the egg whites for a foam that is light but creamy. (Blenders tend to flatten and compress the ingredients.) With this Nog, less is deliciously more, a refinement you don't have to be a Japanese grandma to applaud.

Mix the ingredients together in a shaker or blender and chill.  Just before serving, add the vanilla to the egg white and whip until you produce a cloud-like frothy foam. We use a spiral whip in a glass shaker which is more a pogo move, easier on the wrist.  Pour the chilled Nog into a pretty glass, spoon on the vanilla foam, grate the nutmeg. You can make this Nog in batches but don't foam more than two egg whites at a time.  (Save the yolks for Christmas cakes or stuffing.)

Rachel will be whipping up her Holiday Nog behind the Bar on Christmas Eve ~ consider this an invitation to come by the Barn for a tipple, whatever your plans are for the night!  It's a real treat.

Recipe for Rachel’s Holiday Nog with Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Foam

1 oz brandy (Korbel) 1 oz spiced rum (Sailor Jerry) 3 oz whole milk 2 oz half & half 1 whole organic egg 1 1/2 oz simple syrup

Vanilla foam: 1 egg white Scant 1/4 oz Madagascar bourbon vanilla (most vanilla comes from the same varietal ~V. planifolia ~ from Madagascar and the West Indies, but quality varies. As with any spice, invest in the best you can find.)

Grate a light sprinkling of nutmeg over the drink

In the Gallery

There are a lot of knives in the world ~ and almost as many opinions as to what constitutes a great one. Weight and balance, type of steel, heat forged or stamped ~ they’re all critical components. But for us, in deciding what to sell in the Studio, where the knife is made and by whom is the deal breaker.  We are not mindless fanatics that just because something is old it’s good, but with certain objects ~ textiles and knives especially ~ traditional fabrication techniques carry the fingerprint of history, traces of who we once were and what we knew, which we would be wise not to lose.

Berti knives have been made by the same Italian family since 1865. While they have kept up with the times by continually refining their sinuous ergonomic designs, they have done so while adhering to a founding principal that reverently guides how each knife is made: every Berti knife is signed by the single artisan that handles it from start to finish. Perfectly balanced Valdichiana steak knives and carving sets have honed Ox handles; all Berti knives are made from the finest high carbon steel which come with a lifetime guarantee that includes repair and sharpening ~ at no cost ~  in the workshop in Firenze.

The first Laguiole knives date back to the early 1800’s ~ named for the area in Southern France where they were made. Because the name and the ubiquitous insect on the mount (most think of as a bee ~ but could very well be a horse fly) could not be copyrighted, knives trading on the Laguiole history are now made without the same regard to craftsmanship all over the world (mostly in China and Taiwan). Of the original 18 villages around Thiers, only one village collective ~ in Aubrac ~ still follows the original fabrication techniques which made these knives and wine keys remarkable. There are 109 production steps to make a single Aubrac Laguiole steak knife, over 200 for the three piece folding knives and wine keys.

Every year we are lucky to get a few mixed wood dinner knife sets (each handle is kiln dried for its specific wood species). We also carry a limited number of  harlequin pocket knives and horn handled wine keys.

A Very Special Menu For New Year's Eve

We will accommodate à la carte reservations until 7:30, with  the official party beginning at 8:30 (give or take a few glasses of bubbly).

New to the Barndiva Family

There was a very good reason we did not publish Eat the View last week as K2,  crucial to uploading all the images and pictures for the blog  (in addition to creating many of Barndiva's stunning graphics) was rather busy plating her own Dish of the Week... one she's been cooking up for  the last nine months.  Meet Atticus Gordon Petrie,  the newest member of our ever expanding, extremely beautiful Barndiva family. Well done K2. Now get some sleep!

All text Jil Hales. All photos Jil Hales and Dawid Jaworski (unless otherwise noted).  NYE artwork k2pdesigns.

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Two Great Reviews..... Xmas in the Gallery.......

 

Octavio's Pièce Montée

Octavio's gorgeous Croquembouche (aka pièces montée) garnered some of the biggest oohs and ahhs in a night filled with them  on Friday as Healdsburg celebrated its annual downtown Christmas party. Festooned with hand-blown glass birds, swirling ribbons of spun sugar and topped with a Tin Mali Angel, while we may not agree with the great Carême that pastry is the highest form of architecture, Octavio was definitely channeling Gaudi when he created this baby.

Pièces montées are architectural towers made of cream filled pastry, traditionally meant to be devoured piece by piece at the end of a special meal. Barndiva's was decorative only ~  hopefully we can keep it around for those of you who missed the party!  What we can't recreate was the mellow mood of the friends and families who stopped by on their walkabout through town. There were platters of delicious Barn Chapeau (cream filled choux you could eat), lovingly decorated Christmas cookies and pitchers of Cosmo Killer Cocktails. Can't wait to see what our talented pastry chef has in mind for Christmas Eve when the holiday party traditionally moves next door to Barndiva. Stay tuned.

Great Articles Starring Two of Barndiva's Favorite Go-To Guys

Reading The Sunday Papers was especially sweet this weekend as we woke up to find two wonderful articles in the Press Democrat about remarkable men we get to work alongside every day.  Chef Ryan Fancher's artful culinary prowess was the focus of the Jeff Cox restaurant review, accompanied by very cool photographs by Christa Jeremiason.  While we were hardly unbiased when it came to the denouement, which we hope you'll read, whether or not you always ~ or ever ~ agree with his critical assessments every week, there's no denying Cox is a wonderful writer whose reviews are keyed to nuance and unusual details, not just about food. (He's certainly the first to get the visual synchronicity in the way we choose the John Youngblood's photography in the dining room).

Click here for the Jeff Cox review

Over in the financial section the cover story was all about how Studio Barndiva's Gallery Manager Dawid Jaworski is "living his dream" in America since immigrating from Poland. Everyone who works at Barndiva has fallen in love with this man and the infectious passion he brings to everything he touches.

Dawid's Amazing Savers Contest

And Don't Forget...

Dining Out For Life ~ Thursday December 1- countywide, a wonderful once a year event to support Food For Thought, which in turn supports the Sonoma County AIDS Food Bank.

Strolling Dine Around ~ December 7, 8, 14, 15- a chance to enjoy a delicious multi-coursed meal served at various restaurants across town, benefiting the Healdsburg Shared Ministries Food Pantry.

Great Gifts in the Gallery

Yeah, well, it IS a great message for the times ~ Keep Calm and Carry On ~ but if there had been room on the ball we would have liked to add  "and for Christ's sake, be joyful," because we mean it, literally.  Joy is the spirit we hope the Gallery conveys this Holiday Season.  Studio Barndiva may not have loads of shelves stacked with merchandise in multiples, but everything we do have is beautiful and meaningful, made with respect by artists and craftspeople who are upholding traditions we hope will survive these crazy times.

Photography, ceramics, jewelery, lighting, furniture, textiles, paintings, sculpture, wine antiques, amphora, knives, books, CD's, glassware, vases, UK card collections, candles, puzzles, even hard to find bitters ~ The Studio has one hell of an eclectic collection of art and functional craft pieces we top up at Christmas time. With prices that range from the inexpensive ornament to a painting or sculpture you will treasure forever.

Support artists, artisans and local shops with a joyful, mindful, point of view this Christmas!

All text Jil Hales. All photos Jil Hales and Dawid Jaworski (unless otherwise noted).

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