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Barndiva Restaurant

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Young rabbit with wild morels, fiddleheads, cherries, ramps, baby turnips and blood sorrel

carrot topper
prix-fixe-menu

Dish of the Week

young rabbit with wild morels, fiddleheads, cherries, ramps, baby turnips and blood sorrel

morels and fiddlehead2
cherries and sorel

What a palaver ~ forget about the difficulty sourcing quality rabbit these days ~ the rush is on for those delicacies that only make a brief appearance in late April, early May. All week this incredible bounty arrived in fits and starts. The indefatigable Charmoon brought in two big bags of wild morels on Wednesday, the same day ramps and fiddleheads appeared. Three kinds of tiny pink and white turnips arrived from our friends at MIX, who also dropped flats of beautiful blood sorrel, so named for the vein of vibrant red that runs down the center (and not incidentally, a curiously wonderful iron bite to the finish). I harvested the Bing cherries at our farm in Mendocino County on Saturday morning, by Saturday evening they were on plates in the dining room.

chef and raw ingredients

There's a precarious balancing act with ephemeral ingredients like these ~ the trick is to present them as simply as possible so they play with and not against each other. The rabbit loin was wrapped in ramp tops, then cooked sous vide with the kidney in fragrant aromatics. (Pan sear or grill the kidney and you risk losing that moist pop of meat juice when you cut into it.) The morels were glazed in butter and chives. The ramps and cherries were lightly pickled. The turnips were steamed, then brushed with butter. This is one of Chef's favorite times of the year: blink and you'll miss it. Manage to score a table for lunch or dinner in the next few weeks and you won't!

finished dish

The "Real" Key Ingredients

Admittedly most of the talk in our blog week after week is about sourcing food, but make no mistake: the most important ingredient here at Barndiva is of the human kind. The front of house is the kitchen's direct conduit to you; but while they provide the most powerful way to communicate the narrative around each dish, great service is a high wire act where one mis-step can reverberate throughout the meal. Some diners like a lot of talk about the food, others want only the salient facts. Knowing the difference is almost as important as knowing the food.

Sincerity is not something you can teach alongside the daily special, but it's the first thing a customer registers no matter how 'educated' their palate. What I love most about the dedicated, smart, food and wine obsessed young men and women that work here is the passion they manage to bring to the barn with every service. We are so lucky to have each and every one of them.

restaurant-staff

Matt, Kaireesa, Cathryn, Stacie, Mark, Brendan, George

The snap above was taken just before we opened for lunch last Thursday. Servers, hosts, back waiters, bartenders and Brendan, our SOM, often trade day and evening shifts, but the guiding force behind our increasingly popular lunch service is the beautiful lady third from the left, Cathryn Hulsman, our AM manager.

All text and photos Jil Hales and Dawid Jaworski

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House Cured Salmon, Crispy Capers, Heirloom Beets, Avocado, Kumquat & American Sturgeon Caviar

springtime garden
prix-fixe-menu

Dish of the Week

Sunday morning breakfast never varied in our house all the years I was growing up: lox and bagels lathered with Philadelphia cream cheese and thick rings of red onion. When, on my first trip to France, I ordered a first course of ‘gravlax’ thinking I’d come upon an old friend, what arrived at the table was exotic and unfamiliar ~ transparent slices of salmon cut so thinly they shimmered like silk, a languorous trail of crème frâiche, a light dusting of capers. On a separate plate were little pillows of pancakes called blini. My first thought, ‘ok, we’re not in Kansas anymore,’ was followed by complete surprise when I took that first bite. For all its refinements, the dish brought me home.

I never forgot the lesson: whatever hide 'n seek we play with food, signature flavors have the power to haunt us. Sure, in chasing them down we more often than not find ourselves disappointed. But on those rare occasions when we aren’t, the experience is a remarkable convergence of known yet new, comforting yet exciting.

smoked-salmon-plate

Our first course on last Sunday’s Mother’s Day tasting menu was remarkable in precisely this way as it managed to remind me of my mother’s kitchen while seamlessly bridging the gap between homey and elevated. The taste of the sea was alive in the house cured salmon, a bright dollop of caviar like an exploding punctuation mark on the palate. The salmon was cured in equal parts salt and sugar with fresh dill, lemon and orange slices. The heirloom beets pickled in sugar, mustard seed and champagne vinegar, were punched out with a scalloped ring mold.

Everything on the plate played off or with the fish: the earthiness of the beets, the sharp bitterness of the kumquat, the creaminess of the avocado and the crème frâiche. Pink peppercorns, fresh chives, deep fried capers, opal basil and tiny mince of red onions ~ spicy herbal notes ~ wove in and around the salmon refreshing each bite. My mother would have loved it.

beautiful-beet

SOM's notes:

Sekthaus Solter Spätburgunder Brut Rosé, NV, Rheingau, Germany

A sparkling rosé wine is a great pairing to the first course on our Mother’s Day menu because underneath the German lingo this German sparkler is in fact simply a pink Champagne from Pinot Noir. Light bodied and dry, it delivers crisp red cherry and strawberry notes that stand out against a background of sorrel herb minerality. Brighter than any stateside Blanc du Noirs I've had, it's a perfect refreshing palate cleanser that elevates the richness of cured salmon and the crème fraîche, while holding it's own with the earthy and herbal elements of the dish, as well as the bright acids and tangy tartness of the kumquats. 

Brendan O'Donovan

In the Gardens last week

audi-experience

The versatility of the Barndiva Gardens had a nice workout last week when days before double barrel weddings we played host to an Audi Sportscar Experience that brought close to two million dollars worth of exquisite vehicles into the Studio Gardens. It probably was not fair that we told our staff the cars were this year's bonus for their hard work.

Our beautiful Saturday wedding made the New York Times Wedding Section because the bride was the great great grand-daughter of our 27th President. That would be William Howard Taft, if you are counting. Aside from the impressive lineage (the bride's father is the former legal adviser to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell) this was one lovely couple who blessed their vows in the gardens on what turned out to be an unusually warm late spring evening.

barndiva-wedding

All text and photos Jil Hales and Dawid Jaworski

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Kale & Spinach Crusted Fritschen Lamb w/ Valbreso Tarte

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prix-fixe-menu

Dish of the Week

lamb in breadcrumbs

The brilliant color in this panko crust comes from deep frying spinach and kale separately, then crushing and mixing them with a blend of spices. The Valbreso Feta tarte stars hothouse heirloom sweet 100's and baby artichoke hearts. Marigold flowers from Alex at MIX were part of a light spring vegetable tasting that surrounded the lamb, which included Fritschen olives grown on the land where the animal grazed. We love it when we can connect elements in a dish like this. Summer made it's first tentative appearance with the cherry toms which Drew blistered and left whole, and tiny Marigold flowers, picked fresh and served raw.

tomato tart

Our SOM's notes: "I wanted to play off the beautiful vegetables with something that held up to the lamb, and immediately thought of a Chinon. A region in Loire Valley in France, Chinon is known primarily for it's Cabernet Franc ~ though they make a fine little rosé and a few whites. A great place to look when pairing vegetal flavors and red meats, Cabernet Franc is lighter bodied than our local Cab Franc, complimenting the rich, meaty flavors of the lamb while not overwhelming the spinach and kale in the crust and Chef's well edited tasting of vegetables. We are serving Domaine de Pallus 'Les Pensées de Pallus,' from the Rare Wine Co. It’s rich in texture; bursting with well-rounded red fruits, herbal notes, and a finish that has both balance and finesse."    Brendan O'Donovan

edible marigold

All text and photos Jil Hales.

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Sonoma Shellfish with Chorizo and Spring Vegetables

rose petal garden
prix-fixe-menu

Dish of the Week

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A Mediterranean favorite of Chef's, Shellfish and Chorizo, appeared on the menu last week with mussels and scallops bathed in a Basil Saffron Seafood fumet. A terrior version sourced directly from the North Coast, the vegetables were stellar, arriving from all the gardens surrounding us that are bursting into production right now. It's an elegant dish redolent of the sea. As a perfect foil to its heady aromatics, Pancho's Chorizo patties explode with flavor and spicy heat ~ fat and crunchy. The mussels are steamed, scallops pan seared to give them a crusty edge. As for the fresh green bounty, wait for it: favas, asparagus, English peas, fiddleheads, ramps, baby carrots, radishes, turnips and red onion. Society Garlic flowers and tender purslane provide herbal notes. This is a dish that implores you to embrace life!

frying pan

Wine Pairing Notes from Brendan, our sommelier: For this dish, my first-choice pairing would be a great Rosé: something young, not too crisp, not too sweet. From our list I would choose a Triennes Provence Rosé. Balanced and friendly, complimenting the spice of the Chorizo while embracing the delicacy of the scallops. The fresh herbs of this dish stand out against the ripe fruit notes in the wine, which leaves a bright finish that lingers into the next forkful.

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mum.madre.mama.moeder.ahm.ama.muter.makuahine.haha.mzami.matka.'eh.

Happy-Mother's-Day
Happy Mother's Day

All text and photos Jil Hales, Dawid Jaworski.

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Yellowfin Tuna Sashimi w/ Sushi Rice, Avocado, Pickled Jalapeño, Kumquat

beautiful california
prix-fixe-menu

Dish of the Week

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When Chef said the words Tuna Sashimi and Jalapeño in the same sentence, I must admit I didn't get it. For the most part the mercurial flavors of raw fish call for a subtle touch. Surprisingly, the cool umami flavor of the tuna really worked in combination with the creamy avocado, citrus pop of kumquat and laid back heat of pickled jalapeño peppers. Who knew? (Chef, obviously.)

cocktail pairing

In the coming weeks we are going to choose unusual wine and cocktail pairings for each Dish of the Week, with notes from Brendan our SOM, and Rachel our bar manager and lead mixologist. First up is Ray with a cocktail pairing for the Sashimi that takes its classic Asian flavors and puts a Barndiva spin on them.

HER NOTES: The natural pairing here would be a sake cocktail, but while I wanted to create a cocktail with a clean profile so as not to overwhelm the dish, Chef's use of pickled jalapeño opened the door to a different, more playful approach. I chose a Roasted Jalapeño Tequila to wake up the palate with spice, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, cucumber water (with solids removed- no texture, just clean cucumber), fresh squeezed citrus and yellow chartreuse to add a bit of herbaciousness. The heat you get from the infused tequila dissipates almost immediately, allowing the redolent flavors of tuna, avocado and perfectly cooked sushi rice to predominate. Delicious and a great foil for the intensely salt-forward soy vinaigrette.

sushi with bubbles

A Special Brunch Menu

Happy-Mother's-Day
Happy Mother's Day

All text and photos Jil Hales.

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Bacon Wrapped Sturgeon

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It was great to read Andrew Carmellini’s strident defense of “the long lost art of the arroser” in the New York Times last week as we are big time proponents of this traditional French technique of rapid butter basting to finish proteins. À la minute cooking allows a little butter to go a long way; done right it has the potential to deliver saturated flavor that is as rich as it is nuanced.

bacon wrapped sturgeon delicious

Drew’s Dish of the Week ~ Bacon Wrapped Sturgeon with Smashed English Peas and Hedgehog Mushroom Tempura ~ relies on arroser and several other tricks of the trade that make the most of ingredients that are inherently umami, the basic taste profile we define as savory which, crave them as we do, can easily overwhelm the palate. On a scale of 1 -10, sturgeon has the potential to be gloriously satisfying, but without a deft approach to respect its subtle flavor and fragile texture it can easily go dry and bland. Drew’s use of thin strips of raw bacon tightly wrapped around the portioned fish and left to rest in the fridge keeps the cut flesh from drying out. It also lightly flavors the fish, adding a layer of complexity which his cooking method ~ a four sided pan sear ~ extends as the sturgeon slow cooks inside its carapace of sizzling bacon. The result is heavenly moist fish inside a golden crispy outer ‘skin.’

prepping sturgeon

An arroser can use any variety of herbs that will hold up to the heat ~ Drew chose fresh rosemary and garlic for their pungency and green notes. The secret of the technique ~ like many great things in life that have nothing to do with cooking ~ is all in the wrist. You need to move the spoon into and over the pan at a constant speed; this rhythmic basting motion results in dozens of tiny bubbles that aerate the butter. You’re going for foamy butter that does not burn. The fish is then pulled off the flame and allowed to briefly rest while the flavors harmonize, and it finishes cooking.

arroser

The earthiness of the hedgehog mushrooms, dredged lightly in tempura batter and deep fried, were an inspired land-meets-sea pairing for the fish, but Drew wanted more ~ color to brighten the dish and something to provide a foil for the savory proteins. Happily, the first of the English peas arrived in kitchen the same morning as the sturgeon, so we were off to the races. The peas were lightly smashed, then sautéed in VOO with a small dice of confit garlic, tomato and carrot, emulsified with a spoonful of fragrant spring vegetable stock. Pancho then made a vibrant pea purée (with a touch of spinach to hold the color) and a broken vinaigrette of VOO and port reduction.

Pancho and I did a little spring jig over this dish ~ he while plating it, me while eating it. Drew just stood back, arms folded, big smile.

hedgehog mushroom tempura

Of all the reasons I’ve come to see Ryan as a great chef, the talent he’s nurtured in this team resonates the most. Encouraging them to shine isn’t just his way of honoring his own mentors, though it certainly does that in spades. It’s also a reminder that for all the years of hard work it takes to become great at this profession, cooking like this is all about love, and respect.

Sprung!

votive

The first container of treasures we found on our recent trip to Paris this past (freezing!) January have just arrived in the Studio. Thick felt firewood carriers (also perfect for kids toys); handwoven cotton and leather everyday summer bags (larger ones for market or beach); elegant wire votive holders; a delightful selection of distressed steel bird feeders and planters; handcarved and painted picture frames ~ we done good! Come in and let us talk you through our charming Spring Collection.

gallery-collection3

Also just in time for Easter are the first of Neeru Kumar's elegant scarves in black & white and light summer colors. Kumar is one of the most beloved and well known textile designers in India at the moment ~ reviving hand loomed textile traditions one village at a time. Her work is sold at the V&A in London, at the Met and Guggenheim in New York...and now at Studio Barndiva!

Nerru Kumars textiles

All text Jil Hales. All photos Jil Hales, Dawid Jaworski

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Exciting News!

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Saveur

EAT THE VIEW won the most votes in the documentary category in Saveur Magazine’s Video Festival last week, taking home the People's Choice Award.

How cool is that? Very! In addition to bragging rights (Saveur’s Editor-in-Chief and Top Chef Masters judge James Oseland commended us for a video that “really stood out to us for strong sense of place and story”), we will be getting a check for $250 which will go directly into the video kitty. Making EAT THE VIEW with Drew and the crew was a joy. It is ganache on the cake to have been recognized in this fashion.

To each and every one of you WHO TOOK THE TIME TO VOTE  ~ THANK YOU! We are especially grateful to the social media mavens who helped get the word out ~ Carey Sweet, Elizabeth Cosin, Tod Brilliant, Scott Keneally, John Mamus, you are the best! E.A.T. (all the way in Richmond, Virginia) thank you for your infectious support. As for our co-stars, a shout out to Preston Family Farm, all the guys at MIX, and the Callahan’s and Lenny at Bellwether, who also urged folks to vote through their websites and blogs. Drew and I are sincerely grateful for the continued support we’ve felt on this project ~ with a special nod to the indomitable K2’s, who entered us in the competition and kept the energy flowing. As a result more people will come to know what we mean by eating the view here in Healdsburg.

Saveur is running all the winning videos on their site.

All text Jil Hales. All photos Jil Hales, Dawid Jaworski.

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two cameras, one sunset

healdsburg-blossoms2
healdsburg vineyard

It was just chance that Dawid and I were both out and about at sunset last Tuesday, reaching for our cameras at more or less the same moment in time. Dawid was traveling south on 101, looking out over Old Redwood Hwy towards Dry Creek Valley ~ his shot of vineyards, back-lit blooming plum trees and gently rolling coastal ridges is bathed in a spectral glow. A methodical photographer who longs to capture light as the eye sees it, I can imagine him stopping the car and getting out, carefully contemplating the layers of color and lineal form as traffic whizzed by and the sun dipped behind the mountains.

headsburg sunset

I was in a speeding car on Hwy 128, Geoffrey driving, between Philo and Boonville, playing the viewfinder game ~ half a second to intimate just when to push the shutter before 'the shot' flashes by, gone forever. 128 is a road etched in my brain after 30 years, yet still revealing its secrets. Just when I think nothing about it can surprise me, that I’ve squeezed everything out of the landscape, it stands up and bites me in the ass.

With much of the country still locked in the cold clasp of winter we are counting our many blessings here in Northern California, luxuriating in glorious weather and sherbet colored sunsets. Both images capture what many of us were feeling this week: if you don’t believe nature is sublime, now is a good time to start.

All text Jil Hales. All photos Jil Hales, Dawid Jaworski.

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Cocktails for Lovers

valentines cocktail
prix-fixe-menu
special cocktails

It’s harder to create ‘romantic’ cocktails than one might think ~ any drink themed to an ideal (as opposed to a season) comes with so many various interpretations. Valentine's Day runs the libidinal gauntlet from starter romances that don’t need anything more than a gentle nudge, to long married couples in search of a jump start. And then there’s everything in between.

Rachel Beardsley bartender

Be Mine? is a Barndiva Valentine's Day favorite ~ a shy come-on of a cocktail that flirts with just enough flavor in an egg white lavender foam so the punch of citrus you get from Meyer lemon infused vodka comes as a nice, if unexpected, surprise. It's finished with a crème de violette and huckleberry syrup heart, which adds top notes both floral and forest berry. It's a pretty drink, one that's elegantly sexy.

rishi tea cocktail

It’s All About You (a.k.a me me me) is a cocktail for seasoned lovers ~ c'mon, if you haven't heard that refrain in an argument, chances are you've said it. Construction of the cocktail was also a response to the notion that men don’t order champagne cocktails. Gay or straight, they do, of course, but more often than not they like a kick to them. And while It’s All About You could read as hipster chic from a cursory look at the ingredients ~ Rishi organic white rose tea, St. Germain elderflower liqueur ~ its spirit (in both senses of the word) is Pisco, a fortified grape brandy which to our mind is not used often enough in great cocktails. There are so many directions Pisco can take other than sour! Rachel finishes It's All About You with a bracing swirl of creole bitters so you end up thinking New Orleans, not Brooklyn.

sipping cocktail

Then again, think whatever you like. At the end of the day what’s sexy about any cocktail is that it takes you where you want to go. What you do when you get there is another story.

oscars party

Oscar Party!

Speaking of  One Night Only Cocktails ... Oscar Sunday is within sight and we have Tiger Blood on the mind. The hype around this year's Academy Awards continues to grow ~ latest from the mediaplatz is that Silver Linings Playbook is "surging," while Argo is falling back. Whatever. It's a great field of films this year. Our favorite, Beasts of the Southern Wild, is a genre hybrid of unsettling beauty, with bravura performances and a first time director who makes heartbreaking connections between the personal and political. Doesn't have a chance in hell of winning ~ but let's hear it for the nominations! The best part about watching the Oscars is all the schmoozing going on ~ a good indication of who will get work next year.

There is no prix fixe menu this year ~ come in for a drink and fill out a ballot or stay all evening ~ but come ~ schmooz with us! We've been hosting an Oscar party since the year we opened, it's great fun, and to make it more exciting this year there will be a $50 Barndiva gift certificate for the winning ballot. Voting starts at brunch on Sunday, and you need not be present to win.

All text Jil Hales. All photos Jil Hales, Dawid Jaworski. Oscar Graphics: k2pdesigns.

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Happy Valentine's Day (almost)

ducky topper
prix-fixe-menu
carrot heart new darker

If you haven't bought a gift or made dinner plans for V Day this Thursday, we've got you covered. While the restaurant has been booked up for weeks, a Barndiva Gift Certificate holds the promise of a romantic dinner on an evening of your own choosing ~ surely one of the few instances where 'it's the thought that counts' rings true. We also have lovely gifts ~ from the quirky to the sublime ~ to choose from in the Gallery. Ain't love grand?

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

oscars silver

The Race is heating up, with Argo upending an expected rout by Lincoln in all the press awards ceremonies leading up to the big night on Feb. 24th. This will be Barndiva's 9th Annual Big Screen Oscar Party ~ a great night at the Barn. We will offer an à la carte menu so you can eat and drink as little or as much as you want, and back by popular demand an in-house ballot contest that could win you a $50 BD gift certificate if you turn out to be the cinéaste Nate Silver of Sonoma County. You don't have to be present to win (balloting opens at 11 am Sunday Feb. 24) but where's the fun in that? There is a great field of films this year ~ come for the Red Carpet and stay for Best Picture....and dessert!

Lucky Ducks

smiling duck

The post office called Bonnie Z at 4am last week with the news her day old baby ducklings had arrived ~ I had no idea our beleaguered postal facility even offered that service! Bonnie dutifully got out of bed and picked them up and voilà, the Dragonfly flock had doubled in size. Well, almost. The little ones, Runners and Campbells, will stay inside until their fluff turns into proper water repellant feathers. After that they will join the other ducks and chickens waddling, eating and fertilizing the beautiful flower farm on Westside Road. They should start laying eggs in early Fall ~ if they produce enough Barndiva can start using them in Octavio's desserts by September. Stay tuned. Better yet, take a trip out to Dragonfly and see them for yourself. For a list of Dragonfly's ever changing but always wonderful educational and social calendar, check them out online here.

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happy boy and ducks

All text Jil Hales. All photos Jil Hales. Oscar Graphics: k2pdesigns.

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Great Fun in Feb

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prix-fixe-menu

February 7

Click here for more details

What could be a nicer way to spend an evening in the middle of Winter than dining in Barndiva, listening to great jazz and knowing the proceeds will go to support music education in Healdsburg public schools?

For this year's Jazz in the Schools citywide benefit, we are thrilled to welcome the Dick Conte Trio with Steve Webber and Bill Moody. Rachel will be shaking signature cocktails & Chef has put together a very cool prix fixe menu in addition to our regular à la carte. Call for table availability ~ 431 0100. If there's room at the bar, of course you will be most welcome. It's going to be great to have live music back in the Barn.

February 14th

studio gifts2

Valentine's Dinner reservations are pretty much sold out, but if you had your heart set on spending a romantic evening here at Barndiva, all is not lost. What's that they say about pleasure delayed is pleasure multiplied? Pick up a Barndiva Gift Certificate ~ good all year for a great night out. While you are here, check out the beautiful gifts we have in the gallery. Not all pleasure needs to be delayed!

February 24

oscars-menu

Hard to believe this will be our ninth year hosting a big screen Oscar Party ~ one of the few things I miss about growing up in Los Angeles (oh Swifty, where art thou?).  But it is: we've hosted a variety of themed parties for Oscar Sunday since the year we opened. This year the field is particularly exciting ~ if challenging themes don't set your teeth to grind ~ with some stellar performances.

There is no set menu this year ~ come in for a drink to catch the Red Carpet or stay for the entire evening until Best Picture. Call if you don't want to risk disappointment ~ it's hard to leave once you get here, and we will honor dinner reservations. And yes, we will have a bottle of sparkling for a local Nate Silver who guesses the most winners (and no, you don't have to be present to win ~ come in anytime Sunday and vote.)

All text Jil Hales. All photos Jil Hales. All graphics (except Jazz): k2pdesigns

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Wild Striped Sea Bass in Saffron Bouillabaisse Butter

healdsburg rainy day
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chef drew wycoff
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The conversation continues around here about serving farmed fish. A few months back we did a tasting of a farmed Striped Bass and we tried, we really tried, to love it. No luck. There was something slightly muddy in the finish that anything forced to live in containment water probably can’t avoid. We all know the oceans are straining, but in every way we prefer fish sustainably caught in the wide open seas. When Mike Torrise showed up last week with this gorgeous wild Striped Bass from California we felt vindicated: sweet smelling, eyes still lucid, flesh still firm.

Striped Bass has the most wonderful skin ~ it scores into neat diamond bands that crisp up like crackling. With fish this fresh each bite brings with it the taste of salt from the sea. A little butter and thyme and there is nothing between you and perfection, except knowing when to take the pan off the heat. And what to serve it with.

Mix Garden has been providing us with exquisite tiny young vegetables; time consuming to peel, pare and steam (each separately) but the flavors they pack are condensed, Shangri-la. The third component was a vibrant shellfish sauce ~ mussel, clam and fennel broth suffused with tarragon and saffron, reduced, strained and buttered out. Chef finished the dish with a light drizzle of first press virgin olive oil that just arrived from our friends the Pates at Serendipity Farm. A glorious dish to start the year.

healdsburg kitchen
chef ryans wild sea bass

Per our conversation about seafood sustainability, check out Studio Barndiva exhibitor Nader Khouri's beautiful photo blog Visual Appetite this week. It talks about a new food model called Community Supported Fisheries. Nader writes "CSF supporters say it’s a way to deliver local, seasonal, and mostly wild-caught seafood to consumers while shortening the supply chain and giving fishermen a more fair price for their catch. In the past year the number of CSF programs in the U.S. has doubled to 35." Not sure if it will reach us up here in Healdsburg, but it sure sounds like a good thing for the Bay Area.

All text and photos, Jil Hales.

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Wednesday at the Barn Says Adieu As It Welcomes in 2013

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Hello, Goodbye

It would be boorish indeed to post images of our guests wearing silly hats they've donned after imbibing copious amount of drink, but when it comes to our staff all bets are off.  Chef may have slipped out the back door with Bekah and the baby just after midnight, but the rest of us partied on to a playlist of Prince, MJ, Barry and an extended homage to Donna (RIP, girl).

NYE is a great night around here syncopated as it is to base notes of bleating horns and the clarion call of champagne corks popping, but for the staff it also serves a higher salutatory purpose. By the time the room emptied and the balloons had begun their inexorable drift into the new year, cliff or no cliff we were ready to say goodbye to 2012, happily done and dusted.

wine cellar
kitchen guys
chef
cocktails
rachel beardsley
lukka
isabel and geoff
brandon
bekah
bartenders
bar light

Incredibly, this is our 200th blog as Eat the View. Next week we will post one more time (wild sea bass) before taking an extended travel break. We hope to return ~ invigoration is an art around here ~  but you'll have to stay tuned to see in what form. New Year's may be over, but metaphorically (and, no doubt edibly) speaking, the night is still young.

All text Jil Hales. All photos Jil Hales.

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Wednesday at the Barn ~ 2012 ~ A Look Back in Pictures

chef and rylee

And a Very Happy New Year to You!

All year the blog strives to present delectable images of food, but at the end of the day (end of the year), there would be no blog without the people who contribute to it in every way ~ from the farmer in the field through the chefs in the kitchen to the waitstaff at your table. Because we are passionate about what we do, we are fully cognizant that we would not be here without you ~ our friends, guests, supporters of the Barn and the Studio. We want to take this opportunity to thank you for making this our most successful year, and allowing us to continue doing what we love.

So it is with a full heart that the entire Barndiva family wishes you a 2013 full of joy and meaningful endeavors. We hope it includes some time spent at our table.

Salute!

earlybirds place

foraged mushroomsbarndiva farmchef dannykitchen staffpreston vineyard lambnader khourieattheview filmpanchoruth bader ginsburglukka and amberfresh pressed apple juicefarmer vidalhen and chicksxmas gallerygeoffrey at farm

All text Jil Hales. All photos Jil Hales, Dawid Jaworski, Nader Khouri.

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Wednesday at the Barn ~ The Santa Fix

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It's not too late!restaurant gift certificate

Noun into Verb

kids with santa 2012Happiness is as ephemeral as anger, as pain. Because we crave it more doesn’t make it easier to attain than those less desirable but fully human emotions. Hit any bookstore and you’ll find dozens of titles on how to become Happy, right alongside books on how to deal with your pain or marginalize your anger. But for all the thought we give to what we want and how to get it, relatively few of us get to old age any better at making ourselves (lowercase) happy than succumbing to a grumbling melancholy. One of the tragic ironies of life may be that the most quintessentially pleasurable moments we’ve felt ~ as children running wild, as travelers the first time abroad, as lovers in the arms of our first infatuation ~ cannot be duplicated, except in paler versions.

Perhaps if we were better at knowing why the heart wants what it wants we’d live more fulfilled lives. Instead, most of us settle for a self-serving definition of happiness the culture presents as aspirational ~ we know that to be rich and famous isn’t the route to satisfaction and security, yet rare is the person who won’t take either when offered. Throughout our lives the people who choose to serve and protect ~ first responders, teachers, healers, volunteers ~ are the ones we reach out to first in times of trouble. Why is it then, for too many of us, the only time of year we acknowledge the importance of giving is at Christmas?

gallery window

Even for non-Christians, it's a holiday that speaks to the better angels in all of us. Because it’s about family, hearth and food, it recognizes the need to share a communal spirit that has goodwill embedded in its DNA. Sure, the conspicuous consumption part dumbs it down. And yes, the desire to hang fairy lights, decorate the tree and festoon gifts in gay attire comes as part of a mixed bag which can also include obnoxious relatives, too much traffic and a depleted bank account. Doesn’t matter ~ Christmas provides an opportunity to make peace, enchant the little ones, lavish those who have been good to us with an extra measure of joy. Whether you buy it or make it or simply will it into existence, it encourages a particular kind of hopefulness which only children seem to come by naturally but most adults need a yearly holiday to remember. To work selflessly for a greater good does not promise financial rewards or glory, to be sure. What it does offer is a connection between doing good and feeling good, the possibility that through virtuous deeds you find something which ultimately shines longer and brighter than bling. The good news is that to be hopeful IS a choice. While we (mostly) do not get to choose what happens to us in life, we never lose the ability to choose what we believe in, and to act on those beliefs.

In the wake of the tragedies in Newtown, which we all know by now could have happened in any town, we have an opportunity this holiday season, as we hug our loved ones close and contemplate how best to keep them safe, to consider the values that truly strengthen us as human beings, and to work towards realizing those values more fully all year, long after Santa has left the building.

 

All text Jil Hales. Photos/Graphics: Dawid Jaworski, (a stealth) Kirsten Petrie

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Wednesday at the Barn ~ Christmas in the Gallery

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Jingle Away

healdsburg gallery

The Gallery will be open with extended hours through Christmas Eve with a unique collection of beautiful things...

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... no matter what size box you are looking to fill.

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All text Jil Hales. All photos Jil Hales and Dawid Jaworski (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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