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Wednesday at the Barn.......Crispy Skin Striped Bass...Goldie Delivers...

Dish of the Week

Crispy Skin Striped Bass with Tapenade, Tomato Relish & Mediterranean Vegetables

Mike the fish guy is what you’d call a raconteur. A charmer and a storyteller with a hint of malarkey in his smile. He’s one of the few purveyors I’ve ever seen Chef stop work to spend time with ~ the genuine hospitality in his voice can lift your whole day. Sure, he’s selling fish, that’s what he does, extremely well as it turns out. But this lovely man’s personality flows from a interest in people, in being connected to them.

Ryan’s known Mike for 18 years, and he’s been supplying Barndiva with much of it’s fish since we opened ~ we made the switch with him when he moved to Aloha from Royal Hawaiian. If you don’t live by the sea or have fishermen stopping by the back door, as we used to daily, you need a good fishmonger more than they need you.

But as we’ve grappled with ~ and shared with our customers ~ questions of sustainability that bump up against the wide range of what's available and tastes the best, Mike has happily gone along for the ride. He’s never given up trying to convince us to buy farmed fish, going so far as to put together a Clean Fish seminar here at Barndiva a while back, open to any local chefs who wanted to attend. He put himself out for that knowing, going in, he probably wouldn’t convert us to farmed. But as long as we had questions, he wanted to try and answer them.

On Friday Mike bounced through the kitchen and caught Chef and I talking in the office, which led to a riff of funny fish stories, one after another, that ended with him cajoling Ryan into frying up a striped bass he'd brought for us to try. It was farmed not far from Sacramento. Ryan obliged, in part because he’s been dreaming of crispy skin fish of late and wanted to taste through a presentation using tapenade and a medley of Mediterranean vegetables. He had the idea to use thin discs of watermelon radish as a foil for the fish and olives, heirloom cherry tomatoes, baby artichoke hearts, squash, minced carrots and confit garlic. Lots of rich, competing flavors which frequent bites of cooling radish helping to differentiate them.

Alas, though the dish was a success, when we put it on the menu later this week it will not be with the farmed bass. Chef will go in search of something wild that will deliver crispy skin without sacrificing a sweet flesh that holds its texture, which the farmed bass did not. Eric and the staff, who tasted the dish with us, said it reminded them of bottom feeders, like catfish. Fish like that need a heavy crust to offset the hint of muddiness that comes in the finish. Sorry Mike. But come back soon. We miss you already.

And on the home front...Goldie delivers!

More newborn news this week with pictures of the day-old chicks born to Goldie, Lukka and Daniel's favorite hen. What with their Mule Foot pigs, trapping wild boar, starting a huge new garden and documenting every apple tree up on the farm, these guys are on a roll.

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

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Wednesday at the Barn.......Chef's Best Dish (ever) ......On the Farm in Philo ...

Introducing Rylee Ann Fancher (!)

The best dish Chef is ever likely to cook up arrived on the plate of life last Monday afternoon just after 2. Taking the fact it was 'officially' Labor Day in stride, Chef’s wife Bekah delivered her first baby in just over three hours. Rylee Ann Fancher was 8 lb 13 oz and 22 inches of perfect at birth. Not all babies are cute, nor should we expect them to be, but this one is gorgeous. Mellow to boot.

Now that she’s here, the world has shifted in its rotation for the new parents ~ if you’ve had kids you know what that feels like ~ but instead of being thrown for a loop, Chef hasn’t missed a service and he’s cooking like a man inspired. We all are ~ there’s nothing like a new baby to give life a sense of purpose, hope and outright joy.

Sept. 3, 2012, On the Ridge in Philo

A week ago Monday, at just about the moment Rylee was coming into this world, I was wandering around the farm pondering the efficacy of timing in life which seems to hold us all in constant thrall, whether it’s a baby we are waitin’ on or a crop of heirloom Damsons.

The farm is astounding this time of year, especially when you take the time to stop, smell and listen. It’s a living, breathing machine for energy production, only a fraction of which we actually see. While I am struck dumb by the beauty of the gardens and the trees, laden with known and mysterious varieties of nuts and fruit, more fascinating by far is what's happening beneath the ground, where all this relentless life begins and ends.

Patience has never been my long suit. It took me a decade to understand what the first great gardener friend I ever had, Stephanie Tebbutt, meant when she said, "It's going to take a while to settle in." She wasn't just referring to the new flower gardens. I needed time, before I had a prayer of grasping the fluctuating intangibles that control everything ~ the health of the soil, the rain that may or may not come this year, the predators both small and large that have their own proprietary interests in what we grow and hope to harvest.

Late at night, when it’s so quiet you can hear the gardens breathing, Geoff and I sit in two old blue metal lawn chairs from the 60’s drinking wine from somewhere in the valley. When we stop talking about other things the conversation always rolls around to what to pick the next morning. We know we are not the only animals up here who will dream of ripening fruit. If we miss the cherries by a few days the jays will have at them. They are even ruder when it comes to the figs, which they poke holes in and leave to rot as they ripen. The bears make off with the apples and pears, smashing the vegetable gardens as they go; the squirrels can strip the filberts and our old chestnut trees bare inside of a night. The animals have the clear advantage ~ Chef sets the bar at ripe, not just edible ~ but while their marauding used to make me run for the shotgun or the poison, it's been a long time since I've reached for either. I've learned to accommodate, to a point just north of contentment, that I’m not the only living thing up here playing the waiting game.

And I see a synergy here between Ryan and Bekah waiting for their baby to be born, playing for keeps, and the patience and perspective required to farm and garden every year knowing however much we want them, there are no constants. Patience and perspective are qualities you need in abundance in life. And that holds true whether it’s a child or a garden you hope will thrive under your care.

Enjoy the last weeks of summer…Eat the View!

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

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Wednesday at the Barn.......Primal Brain Food......Ginger and Pierre's Wedding...

Dish of the Week

Crispy Ballantine of Marrow & Pan Roasted Scallop

 Summer Corn, Micro Greens & Basil Coulis

Long before we were hunters, we were foragers eating what scraps of meat we could scavenge off fallen prey after the apex predators with full stomachs had moved on. No one knows where the impulse to raise a stone and break the bones of those animals to get to the nutrient rich marrow inside came from, but the fat gleaned from them helped us survive the early winters of our civilization. Many scientists believe the fat-soluble vitamins found in those bones, and the interior columns of marrow, were crucial to hominids developing larger brains.

With the invention of weapons we moved on, to whole animals and choice cuts of meat, but marrow never disappeared from the playing field of cuisine. Every country has classic recipes using it ~ to thicken soups, as a base for sauces, to inspire pasta fillings, or just slathered on bread instead of butter. When served on its own, you usually get the roasted bone with a scoop, a tradition for which we have Louis XV to thank. But whether you eat it off an elegant silver spoon in Monaco (at Alain Ducasse’ Louis XV) or chow down in East London with a platter overflowing with bones in a sea of parsley (at Fergus Henderson's St. John), marrow is delicious. There are some things you put in your mouth ~ oysters and foie gras come to mind ~  when sensation precedes all thought and taste. The flavor of marrow is fragrant and meaty but secondary to its texture, which is incredibly light. It’s fat, yes, but fat with attitude.

When served as an entrée marrow is usually paired with red meat, the classic ‘whole animal’ connection. Makes sense, but ultimately, a bit limiting. After a few bites, with nothing for the rich flavors to play against, umami on umami cancel each other out.

Ryan has found a way around this conundrum by creating a dish that features marrow as a luxurious condiment in a main course. It’s an inspired pairing with scallops that results in a frisson similar to the one you get with Chorizo and Clams ~ disparate ingredients that compliment each other, but ultimately stand alone.

While this week’s DOW is probably not a ‘try this at home dish,’ if you want to cook marrow out of the bone all you need do is soak the bones first in ice water. This will pull any remaining blood out (even yellow marrow will have some), while time in icy water chills the fat making it oh so easy to slide out of the bone. Drew rolls the marrow in sifted flour before sautéing in grape oil and finishing with Maldon salt. Timing is crucial. You need just enough heat to warm the marrow through, stopping just short of its melting point. Drew, always admirably stoic even when facing a full incoming board of orders, handily coordinates a perfect scallop with the perfectly cooked marrow, but it could be nerve wracking for a lesser chef.

This isn’t a straight up surf and turf attraction, but something far more subtle. Ryan's is a very modern presentation which explores marrowfat’s incredible lightness of being, taking it out of the context of the bone altogether. Visually, on its own, marrow is but a white plug of fat, so Chef surrounds it with color ~ a single gorgeously golden pan roasted scallop with late summer corn and a vibrant basil coulis. The dish is finished with a conga line of pungent micro greens with just enough punch in the Russian Kale and Bull’s Blood to refresh the palate.

Reading up on marrow I came across a highly entertaining blog called Mark’s Daily Apple written by a body builder with a discernible jones for primal brain food. No silver spoon for this guy ~ according to Mark Sisson “paleo reenactment is the only justifiable course of action,” when eating marrow.  Just have at it, he says, like our ancestors used to. He (and Fergus) have a point, but when it comes to the evolution of this remarkable ingredient,  I think I’ll stick with Ryan.

Best of the Blogs this Week...

No one would argue that Barndiva isn't extremely photogenic, but though we see ourselves frequently in food and weddings blogs we rarely link you to them. Mea Culpa. My extremely talented goddaughter Zem Joquin (ecofabulous.com), no slouch when it comes to all things 'virtual,' implores me to remember the internet is all about SHARING. And hey, it's ok to blow your own horn. I know she’s right, but I fear I come from another time and place. Chef and I have wanted to keep the blog ‘clean’ looking and ad free, with original copy and images every week that aren't just re-posted. But I'm coming around to see that for those of us dedicated to DO EPIC SHIT (more on this next week) we are stronger in numbers.

So here are two blogs that came across the desktop this week I really admired. The first is the beautiful wedding album of Ginger and Pierre, shot by Traci Griffin. By any accounts, this is a pretty stunning couple. But it’s the warmth of these images, which flowed from the wedding couple and every one of their family and friends on the day that makes this album so special. These guys are from New Orleans, so they started with a surfeit of soul, but Traci captured all the sweet details that made this wedding remarkable. The couple even skipped out during the salad course to quickly shoot the fading sunlight of their wedding day in random vineyards and fields around Healdsburg. (It was nice to see Hotel Les Mars in the early shots, and Dragonfly's florals, which captured the casual elegance of the day.)

Amber got an email this week from the newlyweds, back in the Big Easy, bailing out water from Hurricane Issac, still high from their nuptials. No worries: these guys can float.

The second link is to a personal blog by a couple who travels to ride their bikes, eat and drink wine. Lots of it. Not a day goes by I don’t walk through the dining room and see someone lifting a cell phone to take a snap of their meal, and while I think visual diaries are fun (in small doses), rarely do I see blogs as tight as the one Katie posted about her and Whit's trip to Sonoma on her blog,  Is There Any Wine Left?. Was it laudatory? You bet. Would I have posted it if it weren’t? Probably not, but I sleep better knowing there are bloggers out there who put real time and effort into relaying their lives to friends, especially when what we do is involved. There is so much crap on the internet. And while we’re long past the point of thinking every image taken steals our souls (if true, then we have none), I still believe when you come into someone else's house and take an image away, you should try and make it a good one. Katie can write, as well.

Eat the View!

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

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Wednesday at the Barn.......A Love Supreme......

Barndiva welcomes a very special Justice of the Peace

Since we opened our doors eight years ago, weddings have been a part ~ some would say the very heart ~ of the definition of hospitality we have sought to honor, always taking its cue from the landscape surrounding us. We will move small mountains to deliver indelible dining experiences served in rooms and gardens filled with flowers, art, and music.

But ultimately it’s up to the bride and groom, and their family and friends, to make their wedding speak to them in a way that is unique to the union they hope to forge. Only they know what that means, drawing from how and why they fell in love, the importance of family and community, the contours of the things that make them glad to be alive and for that reason want represented on the day they say their vows. It’s not, after all, a vow of silence.

So when we use the word ‘bespoke’ to describe our wedding services, we’re not just offering to accommodate the curious nuptial request, we’re pretty much saying ‘bring it on.’ As a result, we’ve had our share of unusual moments ~ dueling bag pipes, full gospel choirs, New Orleans jazz bands, dogs as ring bearers, the entire USC marching band, even the odd fortune teller (prediction: a long and happy marriage).  A few weeks ago the best man gave his speech via a live link from Afghanistan, where he’d been suddenly deployed.

But by any standards the wedding on Saturday, August 18 between Miriam Seifter and Robert Yablon was exceptional. We are used to hearing the words “by the power vested in me by the State of California (or increasingly, the Universal Life Church) but it’s quite another thing, and thrilling indeed, to hear a member of the Supreme Court utter the words “by the authority vested in me by the constitution and laws of the United States,” knowing she is one of only eight other people in the world who can do so.

Before Associate Chief Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pronounced Miriam and Robert 'husband and wife' (words she alternated throughout the ceremony with 'wife and husband'), she spoke eloquently about the meaning of the chuppa the couple stood beneath, a cloth canopy supported by four poles, open on all sides. The Chuppa is meant to represent the ideal of a Jewish home. Justice Ginsburg made the point that it has no furniture to indicate that the basis of any home always starts with the people in it. It was a great reminder to all of us gathered, of how easy it is living in a culture overly obsessed with possessions, to lose sight of what is left of any relationship when stripped back to its essentials.

Though a living symbol of the most august institution in our land, standing there in the late afternoon sun as a sudden breeze scattered yellow and white rose petals across the ground was a small, delicate women, speaking from her heart. And so it goes. Whether your reach in life is grand or singular (in her case, both) the depth of any genuine connection we hope to forge with other human beings has the best chance of thriving when it starts with empathy. This is true in a marriage of two, or a nation of millions.  We build from the ground up, hopefully, with common purpose, shared goals, hard work. Somewhere in the mix is the desire to be loved. In this last respect at least, it's a good idea to give as good as you get.

We want to thank Miriam and Robert for allowing us to use these images from their wedding. And for entrusting Lukka, Amber, Ryan and our entire staff to care-take and hopefully inspire their wedding day.

Yes, we loved this article (and so will you)

I worked in journalism for a number of years in London and I know how hard it is to control what you write vs. what is eventually printed. The English dailies are among the best written and rigorously researched in the world, and it helped that some of the people I interviewed were important ~ with fully swinging legal departments if you got a quote wrong. In my own small way, being on the other side of the equation these last few years I am constantly reminded of the power writers and editors and art directors have. So I am doubly grateful for articles like Elizabeth Cosin's in last Sunday's Press Democrat about our video Eat the View. I've been a fan of Elizabeth's since she took over for Scott Keneally for Healdsburg's Towns section in the PD, writing wonderfully about neighbors like Dino Bugica and Doralice of The Healdsburg Cheese Shop. I think The Town's articles are the best thing the PD has done in a long while. We were thrilled to be included.

Here is the link to Elizabeth's article, In Healdsburg, you can Eat the View

For a link to the video go to our website, or directly to Vimeo or Youtube.

Eat the View.

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

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Wednesday at the Barn..... A New 3 Minute Version of Eat the View.....

THE NEW 3 MINUTE VERSION ~ CHECK  IT OUT!

We were all very excited with the reception our video Eat the View received after its "premiere" at the Salon des Sens opening in June, especially after Carey Sweet's wonderful article in SF Gate got the attention of the Huffington Post. We are re-posting it here for three great reasons: to give a shout out to all the kind writers who have been passing it along...and to present a brand new 3 minute version that our talented editor Amanda Larson just finished. We think it is EVEN BETTER THAN THE ORIGINAL.

The third reason is perhaps the most important.  In November, Proposition 37, the Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food Initiative, faces the voters.  Eat the View tells a story that should be part of the discussion of why passing Prop 37 is so important to anyone who raises a fork and wonders what's on it. We're hoping after you watch our video again (or for the first time!) you will see the importance of sharing it on Facebook, as a Vimeo or Youtube link, or on your blog.

A big Thank You to all the great blogs below who gave us precious space in the last few months to tell this beautiful story. Check Them Out! (Elizabeth Cosin's article, posted last night on the Press Democrat's blog, will also appear in this Sunday's paper.)

Carey Sweet of SF Gate Huffington Post timvidraeats.com food52.com somethingaboutsonoma.com fantasticdl.wordpress.com thebraiser.com diaryofatomato.com beegs.com sfcitysbest.com slowlysmoked.com elizabethonfood.com splendidtable twitter acqtaste.com nourishyamhillvalley.org goodlifevancouver.com Press Democrat pipocaglobal.com Portuguese blog sabrosia.com Venezuelan blog curiosidadesgastronomicas.com Mexican blog

Eat the View!

All text Jil Hales. All photos Jil Hales and Drew Kelly.

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Wednesday at the Barn..... Notes on Barndiva Hors d'oeuvre.....

Dish of the Week

5 Hors d'oeuvre

The analogies between food and sex run as wide as they do deep, but perhaps nowhere are they more apt than when comparing hors d’oeuvre to foreplay. In both, inspiration and imagination go a long way to making you feel an evening holds great promise, while a lack of either does not bode well.

The best hors d’oeuvre should be visually beautiful, with an abbreviated aesthetic that makes you smile, not smirk. Unlike the plated dishes that follow in a meal where the complexities of taste have time to resonate, hors d’oeuvre need to be one bite wonders, a kapow to the senses. They have strict limitations however. The most important is that hot or cold they can’t be messy ~ you aren’t sitting down when you reach for one but talking, laughing, flirting, and most likely juggling a glass of wine or a cocktail in the other hand. A contrast in texture is also crucial, and given the brevity of time you will spend eating and enjoying them, there needs to be an easy congruity to discerning taste ~ these are haikus of flavor, not short stories or novellas. Martha Stewart, an undisputed queen of the hors d’oeuvre party, got it right: “all good things start here.”

Here are our notes on five hors d’oeuvre Ryan served on Friday to a snazzy group from West Palm Beach celebrating a wedding rehearsal dinner in the Studio Gardens.

On paper, Barndiva’s Goat Cheese Croquettes (a BD Classic) and Ryan’s take on Spanakopita (in the style of an empanada, with a deft switch from feta to ricotta) could both be described as basically hot and creamy. But where the goat balls had a thin carapace of golden crunch, followed by warm creamy goat cheese and finished with a hidden nugget of sweet tomato jam, Ryan took the Spanakopita in another direction. Here hot and creamy hid beneath layers of flaky puff pastry in a mouthful that was a rounded tome to the Mediterranean flavors of olive, spinach, ricotta, and garlic confit, with a punch of lemon zest in the finish.

BLTs are another BD classic, but unlike the croquettes which are never off the regular menu, only available at events as they are one of the more difficult hors d’oeuvre to pull off for a large crowd. While the crispy pancetta (a stand in for bacon) and brioche toast squares can be made in advance, the quail eggs need to be fried à la minute, swiftly composed with aioli and cress and served immediately. The reward is a beautiful presentation followed by a mouthful that is pure umami (or as one guest this weekend shouted, "oh mommy") wonderful, triggering every great memory of BLTs and Eggs Benny you ever had.

Cucumbers are an hors d’oeuvre standby ~ they come with their own easy delivery system and are a great base to pile other ingredients upon. The downside to using them is a bland crunch and not a hell of a lot more. Chef uses them here hollowed out, with fresh crab and shaved apple ~ a combination where sweet plays off the salt and sea ~  in a light dressing of tarragon and aioli. They are finished with a slice of perfectly ripe fig and a touch of citrus.

Watermelon cubes compressed with lemon verbena rounded out the hors menu. While they are the simplest hors d'ouevre we produce, they are always welcome (especially by bridesmaids in form fitting dresses) as the ultimate in cool and refreshing.

At the end of the day creating anticipation is perhaps the greatest technique in both the chef’s and the lover’s skill set. A great hors d’oeuvre should be fresh ~ not just the ingredients, that’s a given ~ but the feeling you get when you pop them in your mouth and think, wow, this is new, this is good, I can’t wait to see what comes next. Like candlelight and music and flowers, some things never get old when done right. So it is with flavors you’ve had before but never stop craving, like bright vinegars and sultry sugars which in combination fire the imagination.

We all want to feel that anything is possible in life. Especially true when the night is just getting started.

Eat the View

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

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Wednesday at the Barn..... Chef's Mid-Summer Tasting Menu with Wine Notes From our Som...

Dish of the Week

A Mid-Summer Tasting Menu

There’s a big difference between the food snob who can bore you silly about the 24 course Omakase he had in Japan just last week and the diner who has yet to step up and put a single meal of his life in the hands of a talented chef, but I’m willing to bet that for most of us, cost, time, and the fear of disappointment does a juggling act in our heads whenever we come upon the Tasting Menu option. Because it’s expedient, restaurants insist an entire table order a Tasting Menu; it only takes one diner to say "I”ll pass" and the decision has been made for you. Which makes the growing success of Barndiva's Tasting Menu curiousier and curiouser. In a good way of course, but still…

Common sense implies that as Ryan’s reputation has grown, so too has the desire to follow a meal where he will take it if you let him. Chef is a very smart guy, secure in his talent, he knows that’s only part of the story. A gentle price and a shorter dance card, with fewer courses longer on taste also factor into making his Tasting Menu “OMG” (the most frequent description we read on the comment cards each week.) But while Ryan and the brigade take great pride in crafting sequential course dining that guides guests on a visually stunning, soulfully satisfying experience, the role sublime ingredients play is key to how far Chef (for that matter any chef, no matter how talented), can truly extend flavor.

Once upon a time the measure of a Tasting Menu was in how many courses the Chef sent out. Even if you didn't lose count during the meal, it was a recipe for a nice little food hangover the next day. Then there was a man I knew once who was convinced all menus were Tasting Menus, providing everyone at the table (his optimum number was four) ordered different things and paid special attention to dishes the chef was best known for. In awkward mouthfuls passed across the table (sounds like a server’s nightmare) I suppose he got some sense of a restaurant's oeuvre ~ but  I think this misses the point entirely as well. While there is certainly a 'greatest hits' aspect to a memorable Tasting Menu, it is, like the counting of plates, but a small part of their ineffable charm. Tasting Menus are first and foremost a celebration: of seasonality, of the beauty to be found in a parade of exquisite plates, of the art of building flavor profiles as courses unfold through calibrated beginnings, sustained middles, and multiple endings. When that end finally does come you should trundle off home in a mood of complete satiety bordering on joy.

Ryan’s touchstone is surprise ~ his own, as he pushes his boundaries, and the guest on the other side of the kitchen door, who really has only a cursory idea of what they will be eating. We print a different Tasting Menu each week, but it's little more than a literary enticement, one that can advise us on any allergies we need to avoid ~  it leaves more out, than in, by design. The fun is in giving up control, in stopping mid-conversation to ohh and ahh as another plate arrives. There should be just enough of each course to get you to the last bite wishing you had one bite more.

Timing is crucial. Tasting Menus are high wire acts: for the kitchen (especially our small kitchen), which has to concurrently contend with a full board of à la carte orders, and for the guest, seduced by a visual joy ride that attempts to raise the bar with each course as it explores, modulates and simply yet elegantly pulls out all the stops when it comes to taste, texture and aroma. Too many dishes delivered too fast and a diner can end up feeling they’ve spent the evening speed dating at MOMA. Too slow and you kill the momentum which should be building with each course. There should be just enough time to linger and memorialize the ingredients of each dish so when they appear again, like characters in a story whose personalities keep evolving, you make the connections. Incandescent melon flirts with crab in an amuse-bouche before taking a sexier approach, compressed with lemongrass, in a vibrant heirloom tomato salad Ryan calls "king of the summer." Squash, first encountered as a blossom in a delicate tempura over a creamy lobster risotto returns a few courses later stuffed Provinçial style, all garlicky crunch, sweet hot mustard, bright green herbs.

Seasonality is a major inspiration, but it should not be considered a mandate. A potato is a potato is a potato ~ delicious all year round. Drew’s pomme de terre can make you weep, pair it with crème de morel, tiny garlic chips and chive blossoms and you have rich, creamy, salty, earthy, sweet. Would it be wonderful in autumn or winter? Yes, but crowned with a perfect piece of halibut you have an ode to summer you will never forget.

In reviewing our Tasting Menus from the past year, I realize they are as much a journal of our days here at Barndiva as the blog. Someday we will look back and talk about Ryan’s Tasting Menus at Barndiva in 2012, the year baby Rylee was born, and know, for all the hard work it took .... good times.

A word about wine pairing the Tasting Menu: while we never forget Barndiva is in the heart of wine country, Brendan O'Donovan, a wonderful sommelier, is careful not to overwhelm dishes whose pedigree vintages may be remarkable on their own but neglect to take their cue from the food. Wine is paired with the dish, rather than the other way around. Connections are there if you look for them ~ in the July Tasting Menu, the fish course incorporates a vibrant Pinot reduction with the halibut, which Brendan complimented by a lighter Pinot in the glass (yes, Virginia, you can drink red with fish) allowing the next course ~ a rich grass fed beef filet ~ to be paired with a commanding bordeaux .

It’s all in the details, but they need to come naturally to the plate and the mouth. His notes for the July Tasting Menu are below.

With the Amuse: Azur Syrah Rosé, California 2011 Watermelon, Crispy Proscuitto, and Crab Salad? I can't think of anything I'd rather have than Azur Rosé. Light, dry, and crisp, this gorgeous wine made by Julien Fayard is a small production local gem. This wine is no afterthought; the vineyards are carefully chosen and the grapes are grown just to make a beautiful Rosé wine.

With the first course: Simmonet-Febvre 1er Cru Vaillons, Chablis 2009 Vaillons is sandwiched between the prestigious Grand Cru of Les Clos and the well-known Premier Cru Mountains. Showcasing a bright, clean style, this wine is 100% Chardonnay. It is an embodiment of a beautiful Chablis with notes of green apple, lemon peel and crushed oyster shell; a hint of fresh fennel on the finish sets this effort apart. This wine is a match made in heaven for the Lobster Risotto accentuated with crème fraîche.

With the second course: Navarro "Methode a l'Ancienne" Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2007- A gorgeous wine from Navarro, their award-winning flagship Pinot displays light red fruits, silky tannins, and a pleasant earthy character reminiscent of Burgundy. It showcases some of the best of what Anderson Valley and our old friends at Navarro produce.  The earth notes play off of the chanterelles, while the bright fruits and background acidity show beautifully in contrast to the delicate white fish and sweet summer corn.

With the Third Course: Lasseter 'Paysage' Bordeaux Blend, Sonoma Valley 2008 This is the flagship wine from relative newcomer Lasseter Winery in Sonoma Valley. Their inaugural effort, this impressive wine is inspired by the wines of St. Emilion. Well balanced and food friendly, this Merlot-based wine truly reflects the French style. Paired with Filet of Beef and Squash Provençal, the dark fruit, tea and earth tones are a perfect compliment.

With the Fourth Course: Cossart-Gordon 10yr Bual Madeira Bual Madeira, while oft-overlooked, is a prize pairing with our Chocolate Bavarois. This fortified wine is only lightly sweet, not cloying as some dessert wines can be. The character of this wine, with notes of nuts, coconut, and chocolate is reminiscent of a fine tawny port. Lingering brandied fruit character pays delicate homage to the cherries and a note of sweet saltwater air plays well with the sprinkle of Maldon salt on the chocolate. The perfect finish to a evening of stunning wine and food.

Truffles are served with Coffee, Herbal Teas, and a wonderful selection of Digestifs.

Eat the View.

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

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Wednesday at the Barn Menu..... Lucknam Park.....The Microgreen Project Continues...

Dish of the Week

A Summery Microgreen Salad

Lucknam Park, the 500 acre estate where Geoff and I spent two blissfully sybaritic days at the tail end of our recent trip to England boasts an equestrian center, a world class spa and a Michelin star restaurant led by the extremely talented chef Hywel Jones. If you’re willing to spend a bundle England has a good number of historically luxurious country house hotels ~ Downton Abbeys with mod coms ~ to choose from. (For the ultimate in posh food and wine a la campagne, Raymond Blanc’s La Manoir aux Quatre Saisons is just up the road.) What brought us to Lucknam, however, was not the desire to spend a few days pretending to be 'to the manor born'. It was the chance to explore this part of Wiltshire on horseback, along with the compelling detail that in writing about their kitchen garden on their website, Lucknam had taken the time to wax poetic about their microgreens. Here in Healdsburg we are six months into a microgreens program that may soon involve building a dedicated greenhouse. My not-so-stealth mission was to find out if that made sense, and what Lucknam had that Barndiva didn’t.

The most obvious thing, of course, is the weather. Lucknam, an hour from Bath, has mornings blanketed with dense fog, ghostly shadows of towering plane trees followed by afternoon skies the bluest of blue, mischievous clouds playing endless games of hide and seek with the sun. Plants that drink water from the air love this kind of weather. While the main buildings date back to the Doomsday Book, improvements made over the centuries by a succession of heirless owners have thankfully been more sensible than grandiose, resulting in a series of well built cottages and renovated stables that feel like they have been kitted out by someone’s rich aunt. The nicest thing about the ground floor suites is the uninterrupted views they afford across faded formal gardens, parterres with buried fountains and lush green lawns which flow unimpeded into acres of open fields dancing with cover crop grasses.

The first day and night we fell into a stupor lulled by the slow ticking of clocks, the gleam of breakfast silver, spa, swim, spa, drinks in the library, and to cap it all off, a stunning gourmandise menu that Jones sent out ~ which was excellently wine paired and simply did not put a foot wrong. The second day I spent riding, then recovering from my ride, which again seemed to involve a good many libations, more spa and yet more food. Could one get used to this life of leisure? My guess is that one could.

It was only on the third morning that I remembered my mission and headed out into the mist to meet Lucknam’s charming lady gardeners, Lou and Sarah. Though they do it as a loss leader, as we do, Lucknam has an exciting microgreen planting schedule under the talented hands of these two gals. One hopes more of their guests will begin to take notice at the table, which will allow Jones to expand the kitchen garden program. They certainly have talent and land in abundance.

It must be noted that Ryan’s admiration for microgreens has its limitations ~ while he loves the ability to step outside into the gardens, especially to harvest herbs and edible flowers that do not travel well, anything with the word ‘micro’ in it needs to justify its culinary street cred. He especially abhors using microgreens as a garnish, going so far as to call the bit of fluff one (too) often finds on top of entrées “lazy plating.” Up to a point I’m on the same page, but where he believes most varieties have inherent heat which can throw the careful flavor layering of a dish off, I’ve come to disagree.

While heat is certainly present in the cress and mustard families, many microgreen varieties make it through the exceedingly short growing time ~ which can be as swift as five days ~ with subtlety and a range of fragrances that gently hint at the flavors of the full grown plant from which they take their name. Amaranth, chards, kales and micro basils are wonderfully creamy, earthy and herbaceous by turn, without being in the least overwhelming on the palate.

Below are some Lucknam Park microgreen varieties.

The fact that I am a new convert may account for my enthusiasm ~ until a few years ago I avoided microgreens completely as I simply (and stupidly) did not realize there was a difference between them and sprouts. I do not like sprouts. Something about the idea of growing and transporting produce in water, coupled with their wan flavor, has always made me queasy. I have since learned that because sprouts are just seeds, their first leaves are always pale and inedible, their stems an afterthought. With microgreens it’s all about a lilliputian world of crunchy stems and plump flavor packed leaves redolent of curious flavors that a mindful chef like Ryan can build upon. Add to this the fact that they are beautiful, dancing on the eye as if drawn by Matisse, and you have a good enough reason to embark upon yet another build and grow project. Stay tuned.

The microgreens in Ryan’s delightful summer dinner salad are delivered daily from Mix Gardens, Daniel’s Flats, or Earlybird’s Place. This week it featured blood sorrel, purslane, watercress, bachelor buttons, yellow and red beets, shaved purple carrot and calendula. It was lightly dressed with a citrus vinaigrette and slivers of opal and green basil from the raised beds here at the barn.

Eat the View.

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

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Wednesday at the Barn Menu.....Bernier Garlic!

Dish of the Week

Bernier Farms Garlic Chips with Frog Hollow Peaches, Crispy Polenta & Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus Tips

While I am sure there are chefs who manage it, I can’t envision a food life that didn’t rely heavily on the genus allium ~ onions, shallots, leeks, chives, scallions, ramps ~ and somewhere at the top of the heap, the mighty garlic. Garlic is beautiful, its aroma dead sexy when it hits the pan, but with flavor both intriguing and willful, it can quickly overwhelm a dish if you don’t learn how to dance with it.

The usual fall back for home cooks if not using it raw in a pesto is to sauté it, which lends a nice bitterness that is especially compatible to dishes that also boast bright acidity (think Mediterranean). But sautéing doesn’t let you explore the surprising nuances you can get from Allium sativum, which can range from sweet to floral should you poach, dehydrate, pickle or confit it. The secret to extending its flavor bandwidth is to use a preparation that circumvents the breakdown of sulphur which sleeps in the plant's cells, waking with a vengeance when you lift your knife to crush or chop it. It’s the sulphur that gives you garlic breath (and sometimes heartburn) but it’s there for a good reason ~ as a highly effective defense against birds and animals eating the bulbs as they grow.

Our garlic chips don’t shout garlic, they are so light and delicate they melt in the mouth before most diners even register what they are.  Takes a bit of work to make them, but boy, are they wonderful.

Good sized cloves like the ones you can find at the Bernier stand at the Healdsburg Farmer's Market (see below) are peeled and sliced on the mandolin until they are semi- transparent. Then we poach them slowly in milk ~ three times. Each successive poaching leaches out more of the sulphur. The final step is to deep fry them in a skillet with enough room so they don’t stick together. A furious bubbling cauldron will ensue when they first hit the heat (250°-300°) as the last bit of  moisture is expelled from the softened milky slices, but it quickly subsides as the chips turn a burnished chanterelle gold. Drained on paper, finished with Maldon salt, they have a sweet nutty crunch that sends them to the pantheon of condiments. Stored in an airtight container, they will even keep for days. Happily, ours don't last that long.

For the next few weeks you can savor Ryan's garlic chips discreetly paired with Frog Hollow peaches on crispy polenta alongside a few tips of prosciutto wrapped asparagus ~ part of a gratifying pork entrée ~ but you may also order them off the menu as a starter, as shown here on a swath of basil coulis. Take note however: this incandescent pairing with peaches won’t be around much longer as the menu moves from the stone fruits of early summer into the heart of August.

Yael Bernier's 15 shades of garlic...

The undisputed queen of garlic in Healdsburg is Yael Bernier ~  an opinion I'm confident is shared by the thousands of fans that flock to her stand at the Healdsburg Farmer's Market each summer.

Last week I was lucky to be invited out to the barn where she dries her covetable bulbs, spending a delirious two hours in a fine de siècle light that put me in mind of Robert Altman's under appreciated masterpiece, McCabe & Mrs. Miller. I forgot my tripod so these images don't do justice to what I saw ~ except for a few shards of sunlight that managed to break through the cracks in the barn wall, it was pretty dark in there. As the temperature broke 100° outside a fine dry dust permeated the air, redolent of soil and warm wood, a hint of eau de diesel. Barns have a certain magical energy when they've been used for root storage over the years.

Yael, who farms with her son Zureal and husband Paul in several locations in the Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys, grows 15 varieties (she also sells as seed), five of which were drying on that day: Northern Italian Red, Italian Red Rocambole, Spanish Roja, China Stripe and Siberian. They don't come cheap ~ from $1.50 - $2 a head ~ but they are worth every cent, a perfect example of getting what you pay for when you know the who, what, where of what you eat. Towards that end, if you live in Sonoma County, check out Michele Anna Jordan's wonderful weekly Farmer's Market blog ~  Eat This Now ~ in the Press Democrat.

Bernier has a website ~ www.bernierfarms.com ~ but FYI for all you chefs who may be reading this ~ she sells her entire range of excellent produce to restaurants.

Eat the View.

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

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Introducing...

Our food... on film!

We made a movie because we could, because someone around here asked us to (I think it was Chef), because the words ‘farm to table’ started appearing everywhere, which was good, until it wasn’t. Like the use of the words 'organic' and ‘artisan’, it's begun to feel a bit promiscuous. There are incredible people behind each and every plate of food we send out into the dining room and it’s a beautiful thing to know who they are. If it helps fill the restaurant, to keep us all employed doing what we love, that’s great. Reminding ourselves why we fell in love in the first place is even better.

We call the blog (and now the movie) Eat the View because no one really knows straight away what that means until we explain, pointing out the window. It is time well spent. But eating the view isn’t just about food. Everything we take in needs a bit of time to be properly digested ~ broken down into a nutritious soup that keeps the human engine humming.

These are the people and animals and plants which keep our engines humming. Enjoy. And if you are so inclined, pass it on.

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/43933864 w=500&h=281]

Written & Produced: Jil Hales Directed & Filmed: Drew Kelly

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Wednesday at the Barn Menu.....Dish of the Week: A Niçoise Worthy of Dufy.....

Dish of the Week

Seared Tuna Niçoise with Saffron Aioli

Before I tasted this dish on Sunday, the best Salade Niçoise outside of France I ever had was at Wolfgang Puck’s old Ma Maison on Melrose Avenue. It was a revelation, every wonderful Mediterranean flavor on the end of the fork: the sea, briny olives, crispy haricot vert, boiled potatoes glistening in virgin olive oil.

If you are a Niçoise fan like me you've probably suffered through innumerable misguided versions through the  years trying to get back to the one that made you fall in love with this dish in the first place: overcooked fish the consistency of cardboard, sodden haricot vert, heavily sauced greens, quartered (sometimes halved) hardboiled eggs so dry they made swallowing a chore. What seems a simple dish is anything but.

Wolfie came to prominence the same time as Alice Waters, one of the first chefs who really knew how to source, though he worked his end of that passion down in Southern California. Sourcing is crucial to the dish but you also need a deft hand: each and every one of the ingredients needs to be treated with summertime love.

It starts with the fish, which should have the texture of fine silk with a  color somewhere between an overripe plum and Dior Rouge Blossom (a great lipstick color, check it out). Whether you poach it or flash sear it (as we do), when you finally glide a fork through the center the fish should be the texture and glorious color it had when it first came out of the sea. Chef uses Yellowtail, sushi grade. That's half the secret, the other is a light hand with the oil. I have a friend who swears canned tuna packed in OO makes a great Niçoise because "it is all about the oil," but while it's a dish that calls for an oily fish, I disagree. A light olive oil based dressing (ours is made with sherry vinegar and fresh basil) pulls all the ingredients under the same umbrella but each stands out ~  new potatoes, confit garlic, blanched haricot, green olives, ripe tomatoes. Ryan likes to add a spoonful of finely diced mirepoix which adds a bit of earthiness to the mix.

All the ingredients are cooked separately, warmed together in olive oil at the last minute which sets off the fragrant magic of their particular compatibility. There's a reason this dish became the go to for 'ladies who lunch' as it manages to be both incredibly rich, yet healthy (their version of not fattening) ~ rumor says it was created for Balanchine one summer as he was knocking about by the seaside in Nice. Makes sense.

As for that egg, Chef is not interested in dumbing down the palate by either hard boiling then slicing or grating it so it disintegrates into mush- his serendipitous play on a Niçoise uses a single quail egg, lightly fried in OO. It's just big enough for the yolk, once broken, to give you a few creamy mouthfuls as it settles down into the acidic tang of the dressing without upstaging a sublime saffron aioli on which he mounts all the ingredients.

For the next few months we are serving this Niçoise as a warm first course on the dinner menu. The single Calabrian pepper that sits on top, whose heat triggers the delight of everything that follows, reminds me of a flag on one of the little fishing boats in a Dufy painting. You can't see the sea from the Barn, but like Dufy, Ryan's edible semaphore makes me smile.  Summer has arrived. Eat the View.

Coming Soon...

Speaking of Eat the View, we're just about to release our 4 minute video of the same name. Working with Drew Kelly as we traveled across Sonoma County to Preston Vineyards, Bellwether Farms, Mix Gardens, Earlybird's Place and Daniel's Flats has been one of the most memorable experiences of the past few years. Even knowing all I do about the quality of work our staff is capable of, watching the footage we shot in the kitchen was a revelation. There's something about seeing action on film that heightens the small gestures you take for granted, in this case isolating the grace and skill they expend with every dish. We may have a small kitchen at Barndiva but, boy, do we make big memorable food.

Crowds at the opening reception for Salon des Sens were blown away but we can't wait to hear what you think, dear reader.  Coming your way later this week!

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

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Wednesday at the Barn Menu.....Giving As Good As You Get.....

After the sun goes down...

Peace, love and happiness is not a phrase that normally rolls off my tongue, not since the 60’s at any rate, but that’s the only way I can describe the extremely mellow mood that flowed through the gallery and it's gardens Saturday evening when over two hundred kindred souls came to the opening of Salon des Sens.

It didn’t hurt that the weather was sheer bliss, warm and soft, with magical early summer light. Nor that thanks to St. George Spirits and Copain Winery there was copious amounts of excellent drink to enjoy with Ryan’s infamous Quail Egg BLTs, Compressed Watermelon Gin Fizz' and Aviation Bon Bons. At one point, when I thought the evening had peaked, K2 laughed and said "Are you kidding? Have you been outside?” The garden was full. Everyone was smiling. No one had any intention of going anywhere soon.

But if anyone passing by thought the genuine bonhomie of this crowd was just down to alcohol and a sugar rush, they would have been mistaken. In fact, when the next night rolled around and the same mood prevailed as Freddy Cole sat down to play the piano beneath the chandeliers on Barndiva’s rear patio, I realized that while art and music were clearly the driving force behind both evenings, something else was at play besides Freddy.

Salon des Sens is an exhibit brim full of fresh ideas about how we view food, while the music that came out of the fabulous Freddy Cole Quartet was so comfortable and familiar it had all the ease of slipping your hand into a soft leather glove. What made these two remarkably different experiences similar was how well they both captured, without a complicated political or social agenda, something we’ve come to miss in our increasingly isolated WiFi lives. Communal good will.

There is a lot of talk these days about how the “old” Healdsburg is disappearing, and indeed, we do live in a town that’s increasingly benefiting from the kindness of strangers, thanks to our emergence as the new heart of Wine Country. But the crowds that flocked to the barn and the studio this weekend weren’t tourists looking for the latest wine thrill. I saw a lot of familiar faces as I helped pour JCB’s sparkling before the Freddy Cole concert, but I also got the sense that even folks new to Barndiva felt they had found safe harbor; a beautiful garden where for a few short hours they were exactly where they wanted to be.

Which was true. Barndiva hosted the evening, but the concert was made possible because Tommy Sparks and Jean Charles Boisset who joined forces and stepped up to support the festival. Ditto the Bay Area artists who exhibited alongside local artists at Salon des Sens  ~ strangers committed to working together to extend an important conversation about food.

It doesn’t take a social anthropologist to see that the zeitgeist Healdsburg is channeling at the moment is consistently drawing from a mindful collaboration of old and new. It takes it’s cue from the town's most cherished traditions ~ farming, food and wine ~ recharging the mission to protect them in exciting new ways, essential if we are going to survive this current economy without selling out and losing what made Healdsburg so great in the first place. It’s no accident that all the exciting new ventures coming to town ~ Ari and Dawnelise’s new Campo Fina, Doug Lipton and Cindy Daniel’s Shed project, Pete Seghesio’s Salumeria are all backed by people with deep ties to the community and a genuine investment in its long term health. All of them, along with newcomers like JCB recognize, as we did seven years ago, that however unique they hope their new ventures will be, ultimately we are all drawing from the same well. Keeping the water clear, making sure it continues to flow even as more and more come to drink from it, must be a shared goal.

Two moments exemplified what I can only call the quality of worthfulness ~ an old-fashioned concept that needs to come back into use. The first was watching Alex Lapham’s beautiful son’s face light up with pride as he watched his dad farming in the video Drew and I made that had it’s ‘world premiere’ at Salon des Sens. What Alex does ~ what all the other ‘stars’ of Eat the View do ~  is backbreaking work, far too long under appreciated as the culture has shifted it’s focus of what’s laudable to a grandiose definition that equates being rich or famous with being valuable.

The second occurred the next night, listening to my friend Joanne Derbort speak about her husband David Dietz moments before Freddy Cole took the stage. Though most of the people attending didn’t know David, who died last year of cancer, the concert was in his honor. A man of rare intelligence and charm, his loss was greatly felt throughout our small community. In a short but eloquent speech Joanne managed to communicate to hundreds of strangers the true measure of a man who believed most of life’s problems, large and small, could be solved by working thoughtfully together. This weekend took a lot out of us ~ extraordinary efforts on the part of everyone here, especially Dawid, K2, Amber, Rachel, Daniel, Ryan and the entire kitchen staff ~ but along with the exhaustion there was a great sense of pride of jobs well done.

It’s an old-fashioned concept that gets no respect in Washington these days, but is very much alive in small towns like Healdsburg, where quite a bit gets accomplished before the sun goes down. Then we party.

St. George's Botanivore Gin includes the following ingredients: Fennel seed, Caraway Seed, Bay Leaf, Cinnamon, Cardamon Seed, Star Anise, Citra Bergamont Peel, Orris Root, Black Peppercorn, Angelica Root, Juniper Berry, Celery Seed, Cilantro Seed, Seville Orange Peel, Lemon Peel, Lime Peel, Dill Seed, Coriander Seed, Ginger Root

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

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Wednesday at the Barn Menu.....Five days to Salon des Sens ......... Six days to Freddy Cole...

As Opening Night Approaches...

Finding the sensate in food ~ luxuriating in the way it looks and tastes ~ is something we give a lot of attention to around here. If our comment cards ~ not to mention the word on the street ~ are anything to go by, it’s something we have learned to do rather well. But how to capture those same deeply satisfying elements in the works of art we exhibit (and let’s not mince words, hope to sell) in the fine art gallery we run next door to the restaurant has been more of a moving target.

Up to now the shows we’ve put together for Studio Barndiva, with the exception of Laura Parker’s Taste of Place, haven’t revolved around a single subject though it’s fair to say the artists we represent ~ Cohen, Minor, Morgan, Scheid, Youngblood, Sanchez, Rizzo ~ are all deeply invested in and take inspiration from the magnificent foodshed we live in. I loved the idea of Salon des Sens when San Francisco curator Maggie Spicer first approached me with the idea of collaborating because it presented an opportunity to mount an exhibit where artists from across the Bay Area could join our existing group in an attempt to answer in paint, photography, video and sculpture a question which has come to vex us: What really constitutes art when it comes to food?

We live in a technological culture that increasingly tries to seduce us with fastidiously perfect images which glorify food in much the same way pornography exploits sex. Every year thousands of cookbooks and magazines are published that cater to a food as porn continuum based on the titillation and voyeuristic charge we get from looking at something we cannot physically touch. Social acceptability that it's food and not sex does not alter the fact that arousal is the goal when food is idolized in order to make us long for it. Qualitative differences abound, of course ~ one man's mind bending, scientifically inspired images from a series like Modernist Cuisine is another's Red Lobster advert on TV, but the end game is the same. Like sex, we go in knowing there is no substitute for what we feel when we experience the real thing, but in a revealing way that knowledge is part and parcel of the attraction.

Which begs the question Maggie and I are posing with Salon des Sens: if actual hunger is not being sated by this kind of idolatry, is there something beyond longing which we crave from these images? Is there a difference between the earnest documentation found in cookbooks and food magazines and the commercialization of endless junk food adverts? What more might we expect from work that takes food as its subject matter but asks us to elevate it to an artistic level? I’m not, in general, a great believer in the ‘reception theory’ of art where one’s personal experience is used as the litmus test for the efficacy of a work rather than the forces the artist had a hand in creating, but when it comes to a subject so basic to our needs it stands to reason our response is bound to be highly personal. More so than a painting of a landscape or a portrait, even if we know the terrain or the face well. But does that mean food as a subject for art can never really move beyond a personal narrative the way Mona Lisa’s smile, Matisse’s dancers or Cezanne's landscapes are infinitely about so much more than the subject matter they present?

Salon des Sens will not provide definitive answers to these questions, but we’re confident the artists we’ve selected have the talent to frame them with a level of provocation that’s in sync with the true spirit of a salon.

The best art is a conversation you start with yourself where, if the art is good, some of your deepest longings to know more about what it means to be alive can be addressed in a way that leaves you wanting more ~ of life and art. In this way Caren Alpert’s work penetrates the organic yet formal elements of raw ingredients, while Maren Caruso elegantly dissects and codifies what we make from them; Michael Lamotte renders exquisite poetic light redolent of the earth, while John Youngblood documents with an Atget like respect the contours of farmworker's worn faces and hands. The movie Drew Kelly and I have made traces the human journey one plate of food takes to reach the table, while Susan Preston’s compost piece contemplates what should be the companion question ~ where all that food goes after we eat it. All the artists in Salon des Sens offer a way into a discussion we need to be having about this most precious stuff. The more we understand food in all its forms and expressions, the more we can understand what it represents: nothing less than our tenacious hold on life.

Wandering through SFMOMA on Saturday I took a detour from the Mexican photography exhibit we’d come to see and ended up in front of a Wayne Thiebaud painting. Display Cakes, like the best of Thiebaud, straddles representation and abstraction by taking desirable, seemingly well known objects and rendering them (and crucially, their shadows) into another dimension, one which hums with mysterious new possibility. What I’d never noticed before was how beautifully Thiebaud applies his paint, creating luscious texture across the surface of his cakes which elevates their formal qualities so they appear both seductive yet ironic. Go ahead, it seemed to say, swipe your finger across my frosting and see what you get. It won’t be sweet. Is that what you were hoping for?

Salon des Sens, with an opening reception on June 2 hosted by our good friends at Copain Winery and St. George Spirits, will run through June 12. Join us.

The Great Freddy Cole comes to Barndiva this Sunday

Tickets are going fast for both shows of this consummate jazz pianist and singer who kicks off the opening weekend of the Healdsburg Jazz Festival. JCB is pouring their sparkling and the weather is promising to be splendid when Freddy plays his grand in the gardens with an incredible line up that includes Randy Napoleon, Elias Bailey and Curtis Boyd. The Freddy Cole Quartet will preform an afternoon show at 4, followed by a Gold Circle JCB wine reception in the Studio Barndiva Gardens. The second show begins at 7. Tickets can be purchased by clicking here, but if you're hoping for the Freddy Cole Sunday Supper there may be a few remaining reservations to be had by calling 431 0100. The concert is dedicated to the memory of David Dietz.

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

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Wednesday at the Barn Menu.....Salon des Sens draws one week closer....Tickets on Sale for Freddy Cole .........

Finding the Joy in Irony

A few important announcements this week, but no blog. It’s my birthday and I intend to use the day I usually set aside to write to go sit on top of a mountain and do nothing. Silence packs a wallop these days. There are times when I feel more turned on to the possibilities in life than when I was 20, more engaged than when I was 30, more satisfied with what I have accomplished then when I breached 40. I’ve also felt more frustrated than when I turned 50. We make a big deal about birthdays because we can’t or won’t use arbitrary markers to judge the depth of our true feelings as we move through life. The thing is, in the big picture ~ aka what it all means ~  everyday should be as important as the one before. Youth isn’t wasted on the young, abused maybe, but not wasted. It all matters if you say it does. So get out there and eat the view.

Salon des Sens

Salon des Sens is two weeks away and the show is starting to come together. Incredible artwork from Carol Beck and Caren Alpert has just arrived, with more to follow all this week. Out in Dry Creek, Susan Preston is putting the finishing touches on her compost piece (pun intended) while here at the barn Drew and I are rushing to find a soundtrack for our movie, Farm to Table in 3 Minutes.  (The image used for our topper is Alex Lapham of Mix Gardens starting his day). We've fallen in love with all three of the artisan gins Lance and Ellie of St. George Spirits are bringing to the opening ~ so much so that Chef and Octavio will be collaborating on an Aviator Bon Bon while Rachel and I are zeroing in on a deconstructed gin and tonic with Quinine Lime Granita. Copain, our other talented host for the opening reception, has let us know they will be pouring both their remarkable Pinot and a Chardonnay. Thanks in great part to guest curator Maggie Spicer, it will all come together on Saturday June 2.  Great party, serious collectible art.  (If you think I'm kidding about how good the art for this show is going to be, check out an image from Michael Lamotte's work, below. )

The Jazz Festival Returns to Barndiva

This Grammy nominated pianist from one of the great jazz families of all time promises to up the sass and the class for this year's Healdsburg Jazz Festival. Freddie Cole will play two shows at Barndiva on June 3, in the gardens. JCB is pouring their wonderful Brut sparkling. Dedicated to the memory of David Dietz, whose presence will be profoundly missed.

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

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Wednesday at the Barn Menu.....Salon des Sens....The Jazz Festival Returns to Barndiva...

Salon des Sens is coming...

Salon des Sens is shaping up to be to one very cool show: Maren Caruso’s clean-edged, explosive photographic vegetable dissection series; Caren Alpert's astonishing microscopic studies which explore the color and texture of food we put in our mouths everyday, making them appear as if they were shot from outer space; Michael Lamotte’s exquisite black and white ‘portraits’ which exhibit a masterly control of light. I look at a lot of photographic work throughout the year, but the level of talent curator Maggie Spicer has gathered from across the Bay Area for this collection is remarkable indeed. It helps that she’s approached this show from a number of angles. Susan Preston is doing an earthwork piece with compost. Seth Minor will be back with a single-wire sculpture. John Youngblood has agreed to fill a wall with his rarely seen portraits of farm workers, printed from 8x10 negatives. Carol Beck, a new artist for us, will be showing vibrant acrylic work which captures in paint a complex of emotions triggered by the taste of certain foods.

The show will run until June 12, but don't miss the opening night party. Nader Khouri, who had the cover of SF magazine a few weeks back, shot the poster for the show, while two talented long time friends have stepped up to host the evening with us. St. George Spirits, the folks who brought you Hangar One Vodka, also have an impressive array of superb artisan spirits, including three premium gins and a rye with the intriguing name 'Breaking and Entering,' with which Rachel and I will be devising diabolical cocktails to serve on June 2. Distillers (and owners) Lance and Ellie will be here on opening night, as will the fine folks at Copain Winery, pouring something special from their cellar. (Heads up if you haven't visited Copain yet ~ it is one of the most impressive and beautiful wineries around). There are only two big unknowns: whether the video Drew Kelly and I have shot will be done in time for its grand premiere and what Chef is contemplating for his ‘edible art’ pieces. While the stars are aligning for this show, this being art it’s also nice to know there are a few uncharted planets in our orbit, right?

Click on the image for details to the show and opening party!

The Jazz Festival Returns to Barndiva

If you can’t make the Salon des Sens opening night, buy tickets for the Jazz Festival the next night ~ we will keep the gallery open so folks arriving for the afternoon performance can see the art show first.  Or, here's an idea, come to the barn both nights and kick off your summer with memorable art and music. We are thrilled to be a venue for The Healdsburg Jazz Festival again for two shows which everyone is saying will be ‘unforgettable,’ not least because our star is Freddie Cole. Yes, he's the brother of Nat, uncle of Natalie, but if you didn't know it already Freddie has had his own remarkable career in "a little less crystal, a lot more barrelhouse" jazz for going on four decades. Come for the first show to enjoy the sun setting in the gardens, or bring a sweater and listen to this smokey voiced crooner under the stars.

We want to thank the irrepressible Jean Charles Boisset for his support of Freddie Cole at Barndiva. Jean Charles, along with long time Barndiva friend Tommy Sparks, have stepped up to make this evening possible. You no doubt have been reading a lot about the French wunderkind's invasion of Sonoma and Napa lately, come meet him on Sunday June 3.  For both shows JCB will be pouring their sparkling ~  it’s the classy thing to do for this particular headliner in the Barndiva gardens on a warm Sunday evening. Trust us on this one: JCB is not one to miss a classy move.

While we are pleased to have the festival back at Barndiva, make no mistake: the heart of this evening belongs to our great friend David Dietz, whom we lost last year. David believed in the festival as a dynamic and unifying force in Healdsburg and brought his signature passion in support of it. Come and support the festival! This one’s for you David. And for Joanne, as always.

Tickets include a glass of bubbly, but to meet Freddie Cole and JCB,  if you step up and purchase a gold ticket it will include a special drinks reception in the studio gardens between the shows.

All text Jil Hales. All photos Jil Hales.

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Wednesday at the Barn Menu..... Farm to Table in 3 Minutes.... Salon de Sens....The Jazz Festival returns to Barndiva...

Yes, but what makes it art?

Like it or not, we are all defined to a large extent by the landscape we live in. If on a molecular level you are what you eat, on an emotional level you are what you look at every day.

A landscape does not have to be beautiful to feed you (though it helps) so long as you have a true relationship to it, and crucially, the people who live in it with you. Solitude is nice but only through an honest connection to community can we change our outlook, and, in effect, our lives as a whole. Sometimes in ways we never imagined.

Until we moved to Healdsburg 10 years ago I really only took note of the Sonoma countryside in passing. It was beautiful, of course, but then so were similarly stunning vistas I’d traveled through. Even in Italy and France, once you take out the castles and gorgeous old villages, after a while vineyards are vineyards are vineyards.

The truth of how differently I feel now, living in and from this foodshed for almost a decade, was brought home to me all last week as I crept from a warm bed to leave the barn before dawn and travel from one end of the county to the other capturing raw footage for a video I’m making with Drew Kelly. Farm to Table in 3 minutes will tell the story of one plate of food as the ingredients travel to reach the table here at Barndiva. Foraged and farmed, made from animals that share the view with us, the dish relies entirely upon products that were sourced from people who would not normally consider themselves artists. In my view they are, contributing to a final dish which on every compositional and sensory level form a complete, if transitory, work of art. Let me explain.

Drew and I have wanted to work together again ever since he documented A Taste of Place for us at the Studio two years ago. Laura Parker’s exhibit had fascinating aesthetic and interactive components to it ~ smelling the soil as you eat the food grown from it is pretty sensate stuff ~ but Salon des Sens, the upcoming group show where we will premiere FT3minute has a decidedly different MO. It’s SF curator, Maggie Spicer, while not denying that all food is political, is an art first girl whose distinct vision for the show is an exploration of the ways in which, in the right hands, food can be used to create an authentic aesthetic experience.  Towards this goal she has invited 15 Bay Area artists to participate, including four from Studio Barndiva. They work in a variety of media ~ photography, watercolor, acrylic, wire, compost and sod. Ryan, Drew and I have joined this group with the aforementioned video. Ryan will also be creating edible "works" which will be served on opening night.

We felt compelled to contribute to the show because while everything we do at Barndiva is made manifest by the fields and farms which surround us, even with the rise in popularity of the term Farm to Table very few people who come across a restaurant like ours for the first time have a real understanding of what it means. Lately, Ryan and I have even begun to wonder if  "farm to table" isn’t growing into just another misappropriated catchword hard on the heels of "artisan" and "handcrafted."

Drew gets this. He comes to the discussion from a perspective of someone who creates art to tell a story, a talented imagesmith who is also a passionate eater and crucially, a new father, trying to make sense of this very complicated subject.

And so it was that we found ourselves crouched in the old vines in front of Lou and Susan Preston’s house at 6:30 on Friday, just as the sun was coming up. The day before we had followed Alex Lapham, who manages the vegetable program for Mix Gardens, as he went on his rounds harvesting fennel, wild garlic, favas, rapini and chive flowers ~ all crucial ingredients in the dish that would be the star of our video. It had been cold, gray and wet, not remotely sensuous in the Maggie Spicer sense of the word. Farming is hard work, by turns sweaty, grueling, repetitive. As much as you can you rely on experience, knowing full well that weather and dumb luck will ultimately control the cards you play.

If the video is to be a success we knew we needed to connect the line that exists between the muck of a compost heap and a sculpted, beautiful vegetable presented on a gleaming white plate. Unlike any other artistic medium where raw product ~ a lump of clay or paint or steel ~ stays inert until the hand of the artist gets involved, everything about the final dishes we present on our plates, the way they look and taste and smell, starts in the field. This is our message: that everything about beautiful food ~ what it does to our senses when we take it in visually, breath it, open our mouths and suckle its taste ~ is inherent in the initial thrust of the shovel that starts the process to bring it along the food chain to us. In this regard, talent and vision and a steely focus come into play, marking the difference between grass fed beef and pink slime just the same as a lump of paint in different hands produces work as various as Vermeer to Kincaid. It is truly an art form where what you see at the end is set in place at the beginning. All the aesthetic components like shape, color and texture exist from the beginning in unadulterated form. The beauty of the process, what makes it art, relies on a partnership of artisans who alter and inform the material at every step as it winds its way to that last set of hands, waiting in the kitchen.

And the partners don’t just work together, mano a mano. They are also engaged in a profound partnership with the land and with the animals on it that fertilize, till and feed off it. There's magic in these relationships. If we do it right, FT3minute will cast a spell, the way only art can when it moves us. Alex bending in the soft gray light coaxing exquisite color from his vegetables, Liam reaching into a vat of steamy ricotta with the deft grace of a dancer, Lou’s maestro conducting of his sheep, Daniel moving up a forest road filling his basket with foraged nettles like a character out of a Thomas Hardy novel. Even Earl, talking to his hens, giving them a gentle push to get to their eggs, when viewed through the lens of our camera evokes a complicated Coen Brothers relationship to his brood that is pure visual joy.

Does it matter that our audience eats the art? According to the preeminent performance artist of our times, Marina Abramović, the answer is no. We are all participants in potential aesthetic experiences that masquerade as daily life, even if we don’t immediately recognize them as such. When you dine at Barndiva you buy a ticket to experience the talent of dozens of food artisans who would not exist, could not exist, without your patronage.

Or so I sat thinking, as the three of us waited in silence for the Preston sheep to come down the road. They would be lead by Giuseppe, the great white Maremma dog who lives with them from the day they are born. Following Lou’s instructions we were stationed off the road so as not to startle them. Nathan Cozzolino, our intrepid soundman who had traveled up from LA to work with Drew was to my left, crouching in the tall grass wearing serious looking headphones, his mic suspended on a tall pole. Drew, to my right, had set up a camera on a tripod directly across the road from the open gate to the olive field where the sheep would make their final pasture.

The grass grows high around the vines in Lou’s biodynamic vineyards, feeding the soil, creating an aerial meadow of insect sounds, more buzz than bite. When the wind picks up there is a sea swish that roils, softly, the pure definition of what it means to whisper. A cat, one of Susan’s half wild brood, jumped up on a vine to complain about something. Nathan, hearing everything in amplification, pointed up at the sky, where a curious Heron circled low.

And then we heard them coming. I’ve been in places where shepherds have the right of way on small country roads but this was different, a singular procession lead by a dog with all the dignity of a Catholic Priest leading a flock of keening mourners. Perhaps because art was on my mind, references abounded: the light on the landscape was Turneresque, the passion play had all the irony of Chaucer, the cacophony of bleating pure Philip Glass. Marina would have loved what I did with the moment.

But was it art?  While the cohesive parts that would make it whole were yet to come ~ Ryan breaking the animal down, the many hours of prep and cooking our staff would put into all the other ingredients before Ryan returned to arrange the elements on the plate in his inimitable style ~ yes, I’d argue that is was. What we filmed at dawn was as integral to the process of the finished piece as a composer picking up his pencil to jot down some notes long before the orchestra gets them, before the sound of a single virtuoso violin can wing its way through the air in some palace of fine arts.

But then, I love to argue. So come see for yourself and you decide. Salon des Sens, a Food Art Show, opens on June 2. Our talented friends at St. George spirits will be collaborating with Rachel on exciting new cocktails; Copain Winery will be pouring their extraordinary wines.

Are cocktails like ours which are made from beautiful spirits considered artful? Is wine? Don’t get me started.

Salon des Sens is coming...click for details to the show and opening party!

The Jazz Festival returns to Barndiva

And Finally...

All text Jil Hales. All photos Jil Hales (Susan Preston's hand, Drew Kelly).

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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.

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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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