Viewing entries tagged
In season


Go Big for Mama

The energy in Barndiva on Mother’s Day is electric. At Brunch we have two, three and sometimes four generations of moms being feted in a joyful commotion of laughter, family stories, dogs in the garden, babies passed around until they’ve had enough and let you know it. Dinner is a quieter, more elegant affair with love-you-mom bouquets leaning this way and that on the banquettes and candle lit tables, beautiful plates of food fueling reflective conversation.

 While we always expand the champagne list and offer Barndiva’s Seasonal List as well as The Gallery Bar’s Classic Collection, Special Cocktails have always been an integral part of Mother’s Day for us. A Mother’s Day cocktail should be celebratory, not too alcoholic, and deliver a few surprises with a soft punch. Don't worry,  Mom can take it.

Go Big For Mama is classic Sarah Cleveland. Here, our lead bartender has taken the idea for a sparkling cocktail composed around a soupcon of brandy, the spicy notes of ginger canton liqueur, fresh lemon juice and a favorite bitters of late...grapefruit hibiscus. The gorgeous nose comes from variegated apple/pineapple mint we grow here in the gardens.  I do believe the mama of this plant came from one of the wonderful Occidental Arts and Ecology plant sales. "Big” is a reference to the Magnums of Roederer that finish the cocktail, and to big love, of course. 

Our other  new cocktail is a first from bartender Chris Wright, who, when not studying opera for an advanced degree at SSU is the Barn’s go-to for devising incredible non-alcoholic libations for Dealer’s Choice. NAs are the vegetarians and vegans of bar world, and feared for as many silly reasons. Get over it.  Building a drink around a base spirit is not always your entry to the ideas you have for it. I've had (and we've created) a great many great drinks that work exceedingly well with, and without alcohol.

For Mother’s Day I asked Chris to update an NA classic handed down from his Mum, Patricia, and see if he could make it work with Vodka. He choose Organic 360 but the resulting dark ruby red cocktail, summer shimmery from the first sip, took its incredible flavor from the combination of thyme infused huckleberry jus and fresh grapefruit juice. A surprising delicacy you notice on the second or third sip rises from a hint of rosewater, and a lingering scent of the St George Absinthe Chris sprays inside the glass before building the drink, with or without the vodka. An exotic bouquet that has you at hello, with a curious familiarity.  While photographing him making the drink, I watched as he rubbed a thick slice of fresh lime peel against the inside of the martini glass. We’re calling the cocktail “Whatever It Takes.” 

Start out in that state of mind this Mother’s Day as you celebrate and you can’t go wrong. Go Big for Mama cause she does Whatever it Takes.

Take a peek at what we're serving up for Mom on Sunday.

And if you can't join us on the date, give us a ring to grab the perfect gift certificate for your perfectly wonderful mom. 

707 . 431 . 0100



Up Close and Personal to the Rapid Beating of their Wings

I am not now nor have ever been entomologically inclined. A confirmed and unrepentant killer of flies and mosquitos or any insect whose modus operandi is spreading s--t around on tiny pointed feet or plunging a needle into some unsuspecting part of my anatomy. But oh, the industry and grace of diaphanous winged things like dragonflies, butterflies and bees! These insectum, who live their relatively short lives in frenzied activity, are astounding life forms.

With the ability to move 360 degrees in any direction at 30 miles an hour calibrating the trajectory of a moving target with 95% accuracy, dragonflies are one of the most effective hunters on the planet. With a brain the size of a sesame seed, its wings stroking at 200 beats per second, the honeybee can differentiate and retain the location of hundreds of floral varieties in an instant - noting whether they carry pollen or nectar. Butterflies can taste with their feet to ascertain whether a leaf is good enough food (for the eventual caterpillar) to lay eggs on; they wear their skeletons on the outside (the better to keep the water on the inside) and have wings made of chitin, which work like solar panels to soak up sunlight without which they cannot fly.

Those are pretty astounding facts. But it’s the animate experience of them I’m reveling in this Summer. Stop moving and sit, just sit, directly inside the world of these beautiful fliers and your perception of them will change forever.

Gloriously colored, multi-legged, compound-eyed, these beautiful organisms are one of nature's most successful arguments to the theory that superior form is one that follows function.

Unlike humans, insects coexist - when they chance to kill one another it is not out of greed or prejudice but hunger or fear, even for those flying insects - like bees - that can kill in unison. Remarkably, huge though we are, they are not the least perturbed by us, more occupied with being industrious than suspicious. Sitting for hours one recent summer day amongst dragonflies, bees, butterflies and hummingbirds - not technically insects but fellow travelers in the communal hunting and gathering space - I was struck by the fact that they didn’t register me at all, as predator or prey. They couldn’t have cared less that I was there. Which, whether you carry a camera or not, can be a wonderfully liberating proposition.

For all their diminutive size the cacophony these little guys make in unison is nothing short of thunderous. We’ve all had a dragonfly moment when one whizzes by close enough to shave eyebrow off; we’ve all watched bees gathering honey across a meadow of flowers. But sitting low to the ground in the middle of a large plot of soil that is flowering for any length of time alters your perception not just of nature, but of sound, as opposed to noise.  Reminding ourselves of the difference is curiously therapeutic.

We have a lot of flying insects up here, to be sure. In Spring we have flowering chestnuts, filberts, and walnuts followed by blossoming orchards of apples, pears, peaches, plums, cherries and figs. All summer long well into late fall we have roses blooming everywhere, lavender lawns, flowering shrubs and vines. You can’t be up here through the year and not notice that insect activity never really ceases, only slowing around the time the bears disappear, starting up in again at end of January.

But while I’ve always “known” that this coterie of flying insects contributes in profound ways to our life here on the ridge, what comes from sustained listening and study of their aerial patterns - which seem random but are not - bumps right up against personal revelation.

I am incredibly grateful for the forty jars of honey Vidal collected this year, but beyond what we can eat or serve at the restaurant it’s the notion that we all share this ridge top together in a mutually beneficial dance that makes me incredibly happy. I plant the fruit trees and flowers, they keep them going.


I doubt I will stop murdering flies and mosquitos anytime soon, but with an expanding awareness of the connective tissue that contributes to making a working farm healthy as well as productive, I’m looking at every flowering thing out there now, across the clover lawn all the way to the edge of the redwoods that surround the ridge, with new found respect. Which is always a good start to turning over a new leaf. Whatever you hope to find there.

We will be serving Vidal's apple blossom honey with our award winning Jonathan Apples on Barndiva's cheese course for as long as the honey and the apples last.  Our apple crush is scheduled for next week, so if you enjoyed those incredible complimentary heirloom apple juice shooters last year, plan on coming by the barn after September 24th. We will have a little less juice this year, as we are finally producing an Apple Cider Vinegar, but serving shooters to Friends of the Barn and to all our diners at the start of lunch or dinner has become a treasured Fall tradition.  Let us share it with you.

barndiva reading of the week