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Goat Cheese Croquettes


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


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 splendidtable twitter Press Democrat Portuguese blog Venezuelan blog Mexican blog

Eat the View!

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



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.)



Barndiva's Valentine's Dinner ~ 2011

Barndiva’s Valentine’s Dinner ~ 2011

Many a great chef has floundered on the sea of expectation that is otherwise known as ‘a romantic Valentine’s Dinner’.  “It’s the equivalent of making love with your hands tied,” a chef once told me.  “Even happy couples come in with weighted expectations.”

True, but confounding expectations are what’s great about love, right? We followed a hunch this year that the only thing couples who chose Barndiva for this very special meal didn’t want us to do was bore them.  It was Chef’s idea to use the 5 senses to inspire each dish.  When his insistence on a sorbet intermezzo between the entrée and dessert brought us to six courses we did some quick research on ‘the 6th sense’.  Turns out premonitions- especially when they are of greater things yet to come- was perfect inspiration.

1st Course: Touch

We started the meal with a Barndiva Classic, Warm Goat Cheese Croquettes, which beg to be eaten with your fingers.  Golden salty crust, toothsome creamy filling with a heart of housemade tomato jam. Fingers used again to glide through rivulets of honey studded with lavender flowers.

2nd Course: Sight

You eat with your eyes, first and foremost, but the mouth and the stomach have to follow for something to be both beautiful and delicious.  The spirit of Matisse hovered above the salad course, a delightful dance of form and color: glistening gold and red beets, tutu pink and orange citrus, ripe avocado, blades of red radish, all atop a creamy mound of fresh crab meat.  Nestled in a shower of Rapini flowers was a single tiny house-made Kennebec Potato Chip.

3rd Course: Smell

How to fully enjoy the aroma of our third course, a warm wide-lipped bowl of truffle flecked risotto?  Some lifted it up and inhaled deeply, while others just closed their eyes, and slightly bowed their heads.  There was no escaping the ethereal woodsy smell redolent of truffle oil.  A big fat Maitake mushroom in a crispy tempura batter held pride of place, but the bravura touch was a halo of translucent crème fraîche foam.

4th Course: Taste

Though we offered a vegetarian option, most diners headed straight for the Snake River petite fillet seared and bathed in garlic, butter and rosemary for their main course.  Sweet buttery batons of carrots, caramelized endive, and a mount of OMG Yukon Gold Potato Purée with lobster and crème fraîche sent the dish straight to Umami Heaven.

5th Course: Sound

The snap of a sweet and nutty Florentine was point of entry to our fifth course, a late intermezzo of bracing citron sorbet with slivers of grapefruit and mandarin citrus.  Like a dip in a deep cold lake, it brought you to your senses, just in time for the final course.

6th Course: 6th Sense

Love is risk, we all should know that by now, so it’s a good thing that premonitions exist if only to remind us from time to time to trust our instincts.  Which brings us to our 6th course, Temptation, a triple threat… but definitely not one to be afraid of.  A Lady Gaga lunar hat of white chocolate balanced precariously on an orb of creamy passion fruit ice cream, which, in turn, sat melting on a couplet of moist dark chocolate ganache cakes.  Lovers were encouraged to end the meal as they started it, intimately gliding their fingers through a passion fruit syrup the color of a Mexican sunset.  We don’t know what they got up to after they left Barndiva but ‘our’ 6th sense tells us for most of them, the sweet notes continued.