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Wyeth Acres Vanilla Bean Goat Milk Ice Cream w/ Barndiva Farm Cherries & Honey Almond Pralines

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 Chef and I have been reading Cooked in tandem for the past few weeks, amazed and grateful that opportunities keep cropping up to take what we love about Michael Pollen's new book directly onto Barndiva’s menu. Case in point: a few weeks back, after salivating over his description of slow roasted pork (“an irreducible packet of salt, fat and wood smoke… with the occasional mahogany shard of crackling”), I was contemplating an acre of scrub Oak and Madrone we’d just cleared from the upper ridge when David Pronsalino, our forester at the farm for the past 35 years quipped, “You could chip it all ...or you could have a lifetime of wood fired BBQ.” The following Wednesday, at lunch with Mimi and Peter Buckley at their beautiful Front Porch Farm, we got to talking about Peter’s passion project in Yorkville where he is breeding pure bred Italian Cinta Senese ~ the ultimate salumi pig. Which, as it turns out, is also delicious slow roasted. Over wood. Bingo.

bright eyed goat

In the last section of Cooked, on fermentation, Pollen makes the point that in our 20th century haste to eradicate all bacteria from our food, American producers missed the fact (by accident or design) that, er, actually not all bacteria are bad. Many in fact, like those found in raw and fermented products are very, very good, especially when it comes to bolstering our increasingly beleaguered immune systems. Chef was ahead of me on this one. When the engaging Hannah Paquette from Wyeth Acres showed up at our kitchen door with fresh goat milk he wasted no time asking Octavio to produce a batch of ice cream with it. Diners have been loving it and after one bite I could see why ~ the taste is fresh and clean with the slightest hint of a welcome acidity, like alpine snow that still carries the herbal memory of Spring.

bucket of goats milk

I like goats because they are so light on the land, the meat is lean, the milk nutrient dense, packed with calcium and minerals ~ especially the important antioxidant selenium. What I didn't know before I met Hannah was that absent the protein aggllutinin, the fat globules in goat's milk do not cluster together like cow's milk which makes it easier for the body to digest ~ better tolerated by folks with lactose sensitivity. Goat’s milk is rich in oligosaccharides (in an amount similar to human milk) which acts as a prebiotic in helping maintain the health of the digestive tract by encouraging the growth of valuable gut bacteria.

One of the things I love most about Healdsburg is that you can drive a few blocks from downtown and find an enterprise like Wyeth Acres where they produce goats milk and sell eggs. Lots of them. And that’s not all they do ~ Rian Rinn and Jenine Alexander, Wyeth Acres owners, just opened the Sonoma Meat Company in Santa Rosa, where the enterprising Hannah also works in addition to her feeding, milking, egg polishing and bottle washing duties at Wyeth Acres. CSA's get most of the milk, but Wyeth Acres eggs and Sonoma Meat Company bacon and sausages can be found at the Healdsburg Farmers Market every Saturday.

pied piper

I had a great time with Hannah ~ though I bombed at milking. I’m not at all squeamish but for the life of me I couldn’t get the right hold on that docile animal's teat and get more than a few squirts out of it. Hannah, on the other hand, is a natural. She has an ease around the animals at Wyeth Acres (besides the pure bred Toggenburg and Saanen and American Lamancha mixed breed goats there are dozens of chicks and hens, a sheep and a few mismatched dogs) that you’d guess came from years of working on a farm. Not so. She fell into goatlove when she and her sweetheart were asked to babysit for Rian and Jenine one winter while they traveled. Her previous experience with goats had come from run-ins with Billy goats, by nature irascible and menacing to whatever strikes their fancy. Working with the females she found a simpatico nature, a lean supple beauty in the way they looked and moved, a subtle intelligence that gave up a perfect product through a delivery system that was almost as easy to access (except for me apparently) as turning on a tap. Hannah, the epitome of girl power in a rapidly changing world starving for relevance, knew she’d found kindred spirits.

pouring into jar

The goats jump up and down from the milking platform with alacrity, munching from a bucket of oats and molasses while being milked (their main diet is alfalfa). Two goats fill a bucket with gorgeous white foaming milk, which Hannah filters through stainless steel, then pours into sparkling clean glass bottles. The milk we use to make our ice cream is but a few hours old. Take it from a city born girl who has walked a bumpy road toward understanding what a healthy relationship to land and animal should look and taste like: this is as good as it gets.

hanna flexing

We are serving Wyeth Acres Vanilla Bean Goat Milk Ice Cream with Barndiva Farm cherries and delicate honey almond pralines this week ~ and while we’ll swap the fruit in the coming month as summer comes into its own, we’ll try to keep it on the menu as long as Hannah and the goats oblige.  Enjoy.

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LEARN MORE: The life changing book Nourishing Traditions should have a place on your book shelf ~ what I didn't know until Hannah told me was that its author, Sally Fallon Morell, is also the driving force behind A Campaign for Real Milk. The indefatigable Morell has some profoundly important things to say about food (this campaign is about more than milk) that you owe to your yourself (especially if you have young children) to hear. A Campaign for Real Milk and videos of Morell can be found online.  Closer to home, Shed in Healdsburg is a great proponent of delicious ways to incorporate raw and fermented things into a probiotic lifestyle ~ with delicious kombuchas and shrubs they serve by the glass, fermenting kits and the occasional class upstairs.

links to: Wyeth AcresSonoma Meat CompanyReal MilkFront Porch Farm Shed

All text Jil Hales. Photos © Jil Hales

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Seared Halibut with Citrus and Olives

eggs topper

Chef and I talk a lot about how to indulge our shared passion for clean, beautifully composed dishes with dinerswhose main wish is just to see an abundance when their plate arrives at the table. Common sense would tell you the best time to judge how satiated you’ve been by a meal is after you’ve consumed it, but too much white on a plate scares people. They jump to the conclusion they are in for a show and tell, one that’s going to be more about the chef's ego than what they came in hankering for, which most of the time they have a pretty good handle on.

Or do they? No one leaves hungry after a meal at Barndiva, but neither do we throw away food at the end of a night, which I’m proud of. But that begs the question of where one draws the line between food that fills you up and food that fills you out ~ stimulating all five senses, capable of connecting you to a time and place that memory might tag indelible.

halibut

It's long been thought that for most of human history we ate simply to survive, but as Michael Pollen's wonderful new book “Cooked” explores in depth, there’s a lot more to why we came to crave certain tastes in food, and avoid others. For thousands of years, most of the early signs which informed us of what might taste good as opposed to what might kill us were visual, which got me wondering what replaced those signifiers once we started growing and cooking food as opposed to just foraging for it. We know that aroma triggers hunger, while ten thousand taste buds wait to inform your brain whether the commingling of sweet salty sour bitter and umami in the food you ingest is delicious or not. But to what extent does visual appeal ~ the color, form, and texture of food ~ affect imagination and memory?

plate

Last week Spring produce was still bountiful in the kitchen when a bright sharp heat wave took us all by surprise. Spring was not yet behind us but Summer had suddenly arrived, demanding a place on the menu. As I set up the camera to shoot Dish of the Week the question of how food tells a purely visual story was still very much on my mind. Chef seared off a glistening filet of Alaskan Halibut, then started plating by added caper berries bathed in a sea salty brine with sliced rings and whole Calabria chilies which he'd made earlier into a quick pickle with a little sugar and Bates and Schmitt Apple Cider Vinegar. Next he reached for an avocado, paring creamy pale green cubes which played off the color and promised taste of the cool bitter citrus of the kumquats. The plate was now beautiful, but stagnant. Fresh olive tapenade, dots of saffron aioli, tiny deep green pools of watercress purée and a few strategically placed leaves of microgreens took less than a minute to add, but made all the difference, setting the ingredients in motion as if they were about to dance off the plate. Looking back now at what I shot that morning I realize how visually, before we'd even taken a bite, Chef had plated a dish that was a perfect snapshot of that vibrant Spring meets Summer moment.

Ryan's laconic comment: “citrus and olives like each other.” But he had a wicked glint in his eye. And so the education continues.

Mother's Day 2014

mothers day pics

Last Sunday at the Barn it was all about Mothers and Grandmothers, with some lucky Dads and Granddads along for the ride. Families with young children filled the dining rooms and gardens for a knock out brunch followed by kids buying mom a cocktail and dinner. The energy all day and into the evening was incredible ~ here are just a few wonderful moments captured by our intrepid Dawid Jaworski. To all those families who have made Mother’s Day at Barndiva a yearly tradition, we thank you for the gift of watching your families grow.

All text Jil Hales. Photos © Jil Hales, Dawid Jaworski

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Spring Lamb with Stinging Nettle Foam

lawn topper

We get a lamb a week from the Preston's, lovingly grazed on their biodynamic farm, and while I’ve seen the hours that go into breaking down the animals and prepping an incredible range of veg (much of it from Preston Farm and Vineyard as well) all chef will say about the beautiful spring entrée we shot last week is:

lamb shank

We had assembled some amazing ingredients.  We did not mess with them too much.   We let them fall naturally on the plate.

The most elegant preparation of the whole animal is the chop and saddle, grilled like this was, to perfection. But when Ryan says the ingredients ‘fell’ naturally on the plate, don’t believe him. His mastery of all the colors in his culinary paint box only make it look easy. I ate the dish with my fingers, the better to enjoy every morsel, though a spoon was in order for the stinging nettle foam. The color reminded me of what my mom used to call new spring grass ~ a singing green. It's everywhere you look right now.

veg delivery

Later that night Chef sent me this:

Here are some other gifts the lamb gives us. Braised shanks Crispy meat balls Rillettes Fresh ground burgers (with feta & olive) Rosemary roasted & sliced leg of lamb Braised tail salad (with frisée) Little tiny tenderloins (wrapped in chard or green garlic) A wonderful rich natural jus Sautéed liver (and onions)

A man of few words our chef. But when it comes to food, they seem to be always the right ones.

Enjoy the rest of Spring.

spring lamb

A Special Sunday

mothers day bouquet
mothers-day-brunch

All text Jil Hales. Photos © Jil Hales

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Notes from the Ridge

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greenwood ridge
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The New Bar Menu!

THE BARNDIVA BAR MENU

DUNGENESS CRAB SALAD avocado, mandarin, pickled chili 20

 ALL KALE CAESAR pickled pearl onion, tapenade crostini, boquerones 12

 Yellowfin Tuna SASHIMI sticky rice, avocado, pickled chili, ponzu 18

 Crispy PORK BELLY asparagus tempura, organic hen egg, gribiche 16

 ‘FRIED CHICKEN” crispy chicken leg confit, shaved endive & apple slaw

caper berries, calabrian chilis 12

 HALIBUT CHEEKS mussels, fava beans, chorizo, potato, saffron tomato broth 28

 FILET MIGNON potato purée, asparagus, caramelized onion jam

bone marrow “tater tot” 38

 BD FRITES crisp kennebec potatoes, spicy ketchup 12

 Goat Cheese CROQUETTES wildflower honey, lavender 12

Putting a new kitchen in Studio Barndiva means we never have to close the restaurant again when we host a wedding or private party ~ a long time coming. It also means the new kitchen affords us the space and extra hands on deck to offer new menus and hours of service. I love this bar menu because it has something for everyone. Some of the dishes are favorites pulled from the lunch and dinner menus; others, like Ryan's fabulous new fried chicken over spring slaw, are built for speed and lighter dining (by lighter in this case we mean incredible crust, but no gluten). Over the years we've had to say no to so many guests who dropped in for a late lunch or early dinner. No more!

fried chicken2

All text Jil Hales. Photos © Jil Hales

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Play the Cat ~ Spring Cocktails are here!!

snail topper
ray prepping cocktail

Ray gets these giant bursts of creativity that always follow the same trajectory ~ she comes in mumbling for a few days, then goes into a flurry of chopping, infusing and cooking up a storm. Pacing behind the bar mid-service comes next, as she second guesses every step in every drink she's considering. All this is AFTER she’s researched and ordered a bunch of stuff she can’t source from any of Ryan’s farmers or purveyors. By the time she presents the list to me with ‘certain’ members of staff hovering nearby (they shall remain nameless but you know who you are, Cathryn) we’re all as excited as kids the day before a trip to the fair. Kids who drink.

cocktail pairing

I’m not sure when the tradition of presenting the new season of cocktails all at once started, but I don’t remember it taking on the formality it has before Ray. It usually takes a few days after the initial tasting to finesse the ingredients, which gives me time to come up with the names, but this week she had me scrambling because the first four were absolutely smashing, ready to go public. Lift #4 takes the current interest in vinegared digestifs to another level with a fennel shrub, cucumber water and verjus around a base of house infused lemon peel vodka. Play the Cat (think Lawrence of Arabia by way of Montaigne), starts out a classic gin with Pimm's Cup, but a lashing of mint syrup and a bright three citrus juice brings it decidedly fruit forward. Casa de Gumby is rosemary infused tequila, shaken with a creamy rice water with cinnamon notes reminiscent of Horchata, but light on the palate, until the peppered syrup hits you. The Neverending Now is strawberry infused vodka with rose water honey, orange bitters, Navarro Gewürztraminer grape juice and a flash of champagne at the finish.

Lift #4

By this weekend Ray, George and Sara, our most excellent bar team, should have the entire 2014 Spring Cocktail Collection ready for you to taste. If you are off spirits but still hanker for a little cocktail time, Ray has also concocted three great NA (non-alcoholic) cocktails for Spring to add to our Lift, Flirt and Slide series. Rum and bourbon cocktails will be added in the next few days. If you want the story behind the names of our cocktails you need to come in.

I’ve worked with a good number of gifted mixologists over the years, but Ray has been the sleeper. She doesn’t play the mad scientist, hang with the boys or throw down in bleary cocktail contests. Self taught, she’s grown into her talent, growing stronger with every season. The full range of house bitters she made last year were a testament to how seriously she takes the art and the science in this profession. What I love best is that for all the time she puts into crafting, she gets that cocktails are fun. They set the mood, but the best of them linger. These do. But don't just take my word for it.

never ending now

Rhubarb is Back

rhubarb dessert

The botanical description of Rhubarb is a rhizomes with long fleshy petioles, but celery dressed for a night on the town is a more apt description of the plant, which Europeans consider a vegetable but we Americans call a fruit. With its large green leaves and florescent fuchsia stalks, it's tart and slightly bitter if not cooked with something sweet. A vegetable cross-dresser then, that makes a colorful appearance just when you’re sick to death of winter’s gray palette. The plant is ancient ~ used by the Chinese as a laxative before it traveled along the silk route and ingratiated itself into the cuisines of the Middle East and European. Chef pickles and ferments it, serving it in ways you'd never expect, but he admits most of us come by our fond memories of rhubarb (often mixed with strawberries) baked into pies, cakes and cobblers.

At the French Laundry he remembers an Austrian chef who would prop the oven door open with a spoon so he could slowly cook the rhubarb at the lowest possible temp, the best way to sweat the water out and soften the fibrous stalks. This week Octavio poached it in grenadine with a touch of Grand Marnier, then dropped the slivers to sink luxuriously into a baked frangipani tart. The Hazelnut flour brought out a nutty richness.

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Join Us for Easter Brunch

Easter Menu

All text Jil Hales. Photos © Jil Hales

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Hot Off The Press

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Smithsonian

This is one of two gorgeous photographs Erin Kunkel shot at Barndiva

for the April edition of Smithsonian Magazine's much anticipated

Ten Best Small Towns to visit in America

.  Healdsburg is #2 on the list, noted for "Food and Living."  The writer nominates Wendell Berry as Healdsburg's patron saint, which gets my vote, but it took me a moment to get my head around us being "farm-to-table via nirvana, a sophisticated culture of nourriture that would have astonished 19th-century food philosopher Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin." The image of Savarin trumbling down Center Street brought a chuckle, but I had to look up nourriture. Turns out it's not far off what we've been saying all along:

mange le terrior

!  Check out the entire article here:

20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2014

First Weeks of Spring

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Poets wax romantic about Spring, but I love Margaret Atwood’s line best: ” in the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”

There’s no substitute for digging in it, but even if you aren’t so inclined, just get out there and wander. The smell of Spring will seep into your soul. For weeks now at the farm (and all around town) trees and vines and even the most ordinary curbside plants have been bursting into leaf and flower. It's Nature just doing it's thing, but to the human heart this has got to be as close as we get to Irrepressible Joy.

reaching out

All text Jil Hales. Photos © Jil Hales

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Wednesday at the Barn

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prix-fixe-menu

Fruit as Love

kumquats

Valentine cocktails should be capricious, with that air before the storm anticipation. Romantic of course, and sensual. Suggestive.

lovely rachel

Barndiva is bringing it all with a beautiful menu for our Valentine's Eve dinner ~ while the bar will be shaking up some classic favorites in addition to a new sparkling cocktail ~ Fruit as Love ~ which Rachel just created featuring house-infused kumquat vodka, Damiana syrup, fresh citrus, Prosecco and pomegranate pips.

rishi tea

Damiana is known as lover's tea because of its legendary abilities to induce erotic dreams and increase arousal ...

pommegranites

while pomegranates are the original love apple going all the way back to you know who... and that tree.

berry cocktail

All text Jil Hales. Photos © Jil Hales

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Wednesday at the Barn

wood wall

Wednesday at the Barn

prix-fixe-menu

Snack Time

At the end of the day, kitchens are kitchens... we get hungry, we raid the fridge. Here at the barn, while something we throw together on the fly may provide interesting combinations that eventually end up in the dining room, mostly they do what a snack does best ~ give us a few minutes to relax and re-fuel before dinner service.

One of the saddest things about the way Americans eat now is how dependent we've become on the ease of opening a bag of nutrient empty, preservative loaded junk instead of tossing something fresh together. Time should never be the issue: Ryan threw together this snack of Mandarin Creamsicle Ice Cream and Valencia orange segments over a mound of crushed almond streusel in less than five minutes. The only chefy thing he did was quenelle the ice cream and shave some orange rind over the dish. Talk about fast ~ did you know you can 'peel' an orange in five seconds by just swiftly slicing off the sides? Gets rid of the pith, making it easier to liberate the segments. And oh, that shaved rind made all the difference ~ a nice tart top note to the creaminess of Octavio's ice cream.

orange creamsicle
homemade dessert
healdsburg dessert
homemade ice cream
eating orange creamsicle
chef fancher

Join us!

valentines 2014

All text Jil Hales. Photos © Jil Hales

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Happy New Year!

new years party

The yin and yang of throwing a great party is a balancing act of hard work and talent behind the scenes playing to a discerning but game audience out front. Happily, we had both NYE. I stopped shooting at 11:57  but a big shout out to my fellow dancers in the bar from 12-2am ~ you know who you are ~ you guys rocked it. As did DC West for the extraordinary floral arrangements, Isabel Hales for her late night playlist, K2 for our beautifully designed menus, and the Barndiva staff, both in the kitchen and on the floor, who took what is far too often an overrated night and made it stellar.

final preparations
Mix Garden arriving
food prep
kitchen staff preparing
kidding in kitchen
beautiful bar
barndiva vip
barndiva staff
Jil and geoff2
plating food
serving cauliflower veloute
short rib truffles mash
happy guest
good times
beautiful guest
good company
party girls
ray pouring for midnight
social media

All text Jil Hales. Photos © Jil Hales

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Random by Design ~ Lingering Desktop images from 2013 + a new video!

champagne toast

Random by Design ~

Lingering Desktop images from 2013 + a new video!

barndiva specialties

Coming to terms with the year we’ve just lived as it flips over into the next is something we all grapple with in late December, as we eat and drink (too much!) while wrestling with appropriate New Year's resolutions that put a hopeful spin on all the things we should have accomplished this year, but didn’t. We’re having none of that. The random images I found floating around my desktop that grace this last blog of the year speak to life here at the Barn lived to the fullest, in the heart of a community we love and respect.

gallery

For Geoff, Lukka, Ryan and myself,  2013 will go down as a very good year. We finished construction on a much needed new kitchen in the Studio, which in addition to offering exciting new dining possibilities means the mothership will never have to close again for weddings. We hired our very first GM, the wonderful Andy O’Day, who has become indispensable. We put our name on proprietary blends of biodynamic red and white wines made by our friends at Preston of Dry Creek. Kicking and screaming, but in our own inimitable style, we joined the social media circus on Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, with a new in-house website which will launch in January. At the farm we renovated the old Tintin clubhouse as a retreat and with Daniel's help continued to expand the gardens, open the view, and planted more fruit and nut trees. For the first time in 35 years, thanks to a night scope camera, we even saw pictures of ‘our’ bears!

mendo bear

2013 will be remembered as the year Front of House and Back of House  became one extended family. Our incredibly talented staff produced and presented thousands of exquisite meals with consummate professionalism and a heartfelt commitment to the Barn, the beautiful town of Healdsburg, and the magnificent foodsheds of Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. Rylee Fancher, who blossomed from beautiful baby to beguiling toddler in our midst wasn’t the only one who mastered life changing new skills this year.

barndiva guys

Americans are culturally programmed to always want for more, which is what’s good and bad about us. Make no mistake, as we head into 2014 we have plans aplenty, but it would be hubris in the extreme to expect for more ~ we know how lucky we are! This work we do everyday with food and spirits and wine, with art and flowers and design, is bloody hard and not all that ruminative. But by God, it’s rewarding. We’ve come to see that the best New Year's resolutions are the ones you live everyday.

Thank you for your patronage this year. We wish you all the best in the coming year.

reflection

Barndiva's 2013 wedding season remembered...

Our intrepid Dawid Jaworski ~ gallery manager, event facilitator, in-house photographer ~ threw this charming video together entirely from still images he took over the course of three weddings near the end of the season. We  love the way it mixes up what's happening behind the scenes with the beautiful party out front. We love Dawid, who has high jumped into our hearts these past few years, for so many reasons. This short sweet gift to the staff is only one. Enjoy.

Barndiva Wedding Video

All text Jil Hales. Photos © Jil Hales, Dawid Jaworski, Drew Kelly, Kate Webber

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Finding New Friends in the Fields

heirloom-beans

Most of us have split personalities when it comes to travel, forever trying to reconcile our need to relax with a little (or a lot) of adventure on the side. Learning how to switch off comes with practice, it's finding destinations you hope will spark new trains of thought once you return home that's by far the harder side of the equation. It certainly doesn’t help that we usually travel as we live, burdened with stereotypes. I was born in the South, but rarely travel there ~ what's up with that? From what I've been hearing for a few years now, some of our greatest new chefs are "down there," working in some of the most dynamic food sheds left in the country. It was time to explore...

Blackberry Farm

blackberry-farm

Blackberry Farm is one of the most beautifully engaging resort properties in America, 4,200 acres of rolling green Appalachia that sits at the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains ~ and yes, smoke they do, natural plumes of fog that rise from the tree lines in the morning or after rain, a reaction to warm humid air that drifts in from the Gulf of Mexico. You can swim, ride, fish, hike and spa yourself silly at Blackberry, negotiating the extraordinarily well-tended property by day or night anywhere your legs (or the golf carts they provide) will take you.

John-Coykendall

But while cruzing around this gentile Southern estate with heirloom breeds of Friesian sheep, horses, alpaca, ducks, chickens and pigs, all cavorting happily behind hundreds of miles of undulating white split rail fences definitely channels your inner Oprah (if you were not, as I was not, to the manor born), what brought us to Walland was the chance to meet John Coykendall, the master gardener who inspires the extensive seed to table dining program. The Beall Family has owned Blackberry for three decades and in that time have made a respect for the land the heartbeat of their enterprise. Rightly proud of the fact they forage and farm with an appreciation for sustainability that goes back to the Cherokee and the founding Appalachians, what I found equally remarkable was the degree to which they allow their farmers to expand the genetic diversity of the region, a passion John shares with Jeff Ross, their engaging garden manager. Blackberry actively encourages guests to access all aspects of food production at the resort, which has grown to include impressive vegetable gardens, fruit, grain and nut orchards, a bakery, butchery, creamery, and 8,000-square-foot wine cellar.

inside barn

A stay at Blackberry begins with a groaning board Southern-style breakfast (I can take or leave grits, but the estate’s sausages and wildflower honey are to die for), an elegant boxed lunch you are encouraged to disappear into the landscape with, and a Michelin Star dinner served in an 18th century Amish bank barn you are chauffeured to and from each night. Or, as we chose, allowed to make your own way on the aforementioned golf carts. Getting back to our cottage after an evening of outstanding food and (possibly too much) drink proved to be highly entertaining. On our last night no sooner had we parked on a rise overlooking the Great Smokys lumbering in the dark when the fields suddenly began to blink on and off in a luminous sea of fireflies. Though we had departed the barn long after a scheduled bonfire party had dispersed, everything had been left for us: wood to feed the fire and all the fixings for s’mores in jars tucked in a stone wall. If Martha Stewart had jumped out of the bushes at this point and asked if the marshmallow toasting sticks were whittled to our satisfaction I would have been delighted, but not surprised.

overlooking-blackberry-farm

Coykendall, when we met him, was exceedingly gracious, a rich man’s Wendell Berry, and I mean that as a compliment. Subsidizing this level of food production for so few people is a significant ongoing investment. That he and Jeff polish the apple of a Relais and Chateaux lifestyle in a way that is also politically relevant is a testament to the sincerity of the Blackberry’s mission ~ and Barndiva's for that matter ~ namely to increase our guest’s understanding of the relationship that exists between the land and its food. It’s hard to get this right without having the whole dining experience turn into a polemic. Yet everywhere we ate on this trip, starting with Chef Joseph Lenn here at Blackberry, we found commitment to local mindful sourcing as a matter of course. John and Jeff constantly consider what a definition of food justice might be that would allow the riches of a farm like Blackberry’s to be the norm. While the farm program they’ve put together is a living work of art, they don’t view it as a museum of food but a depository of a collective history with a proud, hard scrapple past. The growth of the resort has also been a boon to the local economy, and the importance of that is lost on neither man.

corn-treatment

We had come bearing gifts ~ Petaluma Gold Rush beans and Burbank Barley (as in Luther), a thank you from Lukka and Daniel for seeds John had given them last year ~ a variety of Appalachian mountain beans including the coveted Reverend Taylor Butter Beans which date from the 1800’s, and we are now growing for Barndiva. Blackberry prides itself on what it calls ‘foothills cuisine’ ~ but our conversations with both men provided a fascinating overview of the differences and convergences of the Southern food sheds surrounding the farm leading all the way down to the sea ~  a preview of what we could expect in Charleston, where we were headed next to explore what is reputedly one of the best fish sheds in the country.

animal-lineup

Taking the Time to Thank Dad for All the Love

When we asked the dads who work here what their entrée of choice would be for Father's Day (if they didn't have to work!) the answer came up red, as in a prime cuts of beef. In part, we suspect, this is because that's what they too often get stuck grilling at home. Whatever the reason, while we fully intend to make all your vegetarian, vegan and pescatarian dads incredibly happy on June 16th, brunch in the gardens this year will include a special entrée of petit filet with lobster hash and sunny-side up Early Bird eggs; while for dinner we will have prime ribeye with roasted asparagus, béarnaise and an artichoke tomato tart. Special wine pairings and cocktails TBA.

As Father's Day seems to be ramping up a lot like Mother's Day this year (about time, too) call the barn for reservations even if our link on the website says we are fully booked, and we'll try to make it work. These are the holidays we love sharing with you.

All text and photos Jil Hales

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Kale & Spinach Crusted Fritschen Lamb w/ Valbreso Tarte

garden vines
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

teardrop down

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

sushi no sauce2

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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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

clouds in cocktail topper
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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Wednesday at the Barn Says Adieu As It Welcomes in 2013

pretty-girls
prix-fixe-menu

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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