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

Barndiva welcomes a very special Justice of the Peace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eat the View.

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

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

THE NEW 3 MINUTE VERSION ~ CHECK  IT OUT!

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

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

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

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

Eat the View!

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

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

Dish of the Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yael Bernier's 15 shades of garlic...

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

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

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

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

Eat the View.

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

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Recipes for Barndiva Oscar Cocktails........Preparing for the Red Carpet..............

This Week's 'Dish' comes courtesy of "Homage to Oscar," an article by Diane Peterson in today's Press Democrat...

While I am still off visiting loved ones in London and Paris, we are once again relying on the kindness of strangers to supply worthy contenders for Dish of the Week. Last week we lucked out to have the talented folks at Mix Gardens and their beautiful photographic rendition of Ryan's Lobster Risotto to piggy back off of ~ this week our cup runneth over with an Oscar friendly article from the Press Democrat's talented Diane Peterson.  It comes complete with recipes for Barndiva Oscar Night cocktails, The Clooney and Dragongirl, in addition to two inimitable Chef Fancher dishes that are part of our six course, big screen menu.

Whether you plan to watch the Oscar's at home barefoot or come to Barndiva in boots or a ballgown, we urge you to consider getting together with friends this Sunday night and turning up the sound a little. Living up to our New Year's Resolution of taking every opportunity that comes our way to eat, drink and party with friends this year is not only incredibly fun and seriously delicious, it's turning out to be a direction that's wise beyond measure.

Click here for article.

The One (and only) Barndiva Annual Oscar Party Menu

Click menu to view.

Grace (or rather Gracie) Notes

I’ve been doing some serious eating over here in Europe, from chefs hitting their stride (Medlar in London, Comptoir here in Paris) and a few just starting out (the rock n' roll boys at Vivant).  Walked through some impressive gardens (yes, even in winter) and taken the requisite tour of winding rooms in great museums that never fail to inject my flagging spirit with a sense of wonder. Cézanne's apples and a walk in the winter sunshine through the Luxumborg Gardens with Geoffrey and trust me, it's a good day.

But the best thing I’ve experienced by far has been looking into the eyes of baby Gracie ~ whom I’ve just met for the first time ~ as she attempted to form words last week as we sat with mother Elly in a bistro in West London. She had no idea what she wanted to say ~  but boy did she have a go. And there wasn't an ounce of frustration in the extraordinary joy she had in trying.

Ryan, K2 and I talk a lot about what the words and pictures we’ve been sending out into the blogosphere over the past year really mean. Truth be told, OUR attempts often come with a surfeit of frustration. But every now and then I get a glimmer that all this talk about food, farming, art and friendship is good. Even if we don't get it right, our attempts to plant seeds for things which can be truly nourishing keeps us going in the right direction. Maybe that's the connection between all of us when we try and communicate. Even imperfectly, there can be, should be,  joy in the effort.  We just need to keep digging.

If you missed this last week, click below for Mix Garden's blog, and don't overlook the slideshow of Chef Ryan's Creamy Celery Root & Lobster Risotto with Mix Garden Greens and Edible Flowers.

Diners' Choice Award 2012

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

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Two Great Reviews..... Xmas in the Gallery.......

 

Octavio's Pièce Montée

Octavio's gorgeous Croquembouche (aka pièces montée) garnered some of the biggest oohs and ahhs in a night filled with them  on Friday as Healdsburg celebrated its annual downtown Christmas party. Festooned with hand-blown glass birds, swirling ribbons of spun sugar and topped with a Tin Mali Angel, while we may not agree with the great Carême that pastry is the highest form of architecture, Octavio was definitely channeling Gaudi when he created this baby.

Pièces montées are architectural towers made of cream filled pastry, traditionally meant to be devoured piece by piece at the end of a special meal. Barndiva's was decorative only ~  hopefully we can keep it around for those of you who missed the party!  What we can't recreate was the mellow mood of the friends and families who stopped by on their walkabout through town. There were platters of delicious Barn Chapeau (cream filled choux you could eat), lovingly decorated Christmas cookies and pitchers of Cosmo Killer Cocktails. Can't wait to see what our talented pastry chef has in mind for Christmas Eve when the holiday party traditionally moves next door to Barndiva. Stay tuned.

Great Articles Starring Two of Barndiva's Favorite Go-To Guys

Reading The Sunday Papers was especially sweet this weekend as we woke up to find two wonderful articles in the Press Democrat about remarkable men we get to work alongside every day.  Chef Ryan Fancher's artful culinary prowess was the focus of the Jeff Cox restaurant review, accompanied by very cool photographs by Christa Jeremiason.  While we were hardly unbiased when it came to the denouement, which we hope you'll read, whether or not you always ~ or ever ~ agree with his critical assessments every week, there's no denying Cox is a wonderful writer whose reviews are keyed to nuance and unusual details, not just about food. (He's certainly the first to get the visual synchronicity in the way we choose the John Youngblood's photography in the dining room).

Click here for the Jeff Cox review

Over in the financial section the cover story was all about how Studio Barndiva's Gallery Manager Dawid Jaworski is "living his dream" in America since immigrating from Poland. Everyone who works at Barndiva has fallen in love with this man and the infectious passion he brings to everything he touches.

Dawid's Amazing Savers Contest

And Don't Forget...

Dining Out For Life ~ Thursday December 1- countywide, a wonderful once a year event to support Food For Thought, which in turn supports the Sonoma County AIDS Food Bank.

Strolling Dine Around ~ December 7, 8, 14, 15- a chance to enjoy a delicious multi-coursed meal served at various restaurants across town, benefiting the Healdsburg Shared Ministries Food Pantry.

Great Gifts in the Gallery

Yeah, well, it IS a great message for the times ~ Keep Calm and Carry On ~ but if there had been room on the ball we would have liked to add  "and for Christ's sake, be joyful," because we mean it, literally.  Joy is the spirit we hope the Gallery conveys this Holiday Season.  Studio Barndiva may not have loads of shelves stacked with merchandise in multiples, but everything we do have is beautiful and meaningful, made with respect by artists and craftspeople who are upholding traditions we hope will survive these crazy times.

Photography, ceramics, jewelery, lighting, furniture, textiles, paintings, sculpture, wine antiques, amphora, knives, books, CD's, glassware, vases, UK card collections, candles, puzzles, even hard to find bitters ~ The Studio has one hell of an eclectic collection of art and functional craft pieces we top up at Christmas time. With prices that range from the inexpensive ornament to a painting or sculpture you will treasure forever.

Support artists, artisans and local shops with a joyful, mindful, point of view this Christmas!

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

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Happy New Year

(originally posted January 5, 2011)

In case you missed Virginie Boone's wonderful article on Classic Cocktails in last week's Press Democrat, here is a link. Shot here at Barndiva, we were pleased to have them include 'Midnight Harvest,' sure to become a Barndiva classic, currently on our winter cocktail list.

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