Archive for March, 2009

Tomato Watch 2009 starts NOW!!!

trini judith

Watch the videos

The battle of the microclimates.  All around the Bay hundreds of thousands of tomato seedlings are going into the ground—Week One of Tomato Watch 2009.  Here at the Oliveto Community Journal we’ll be watching their progress, from the coast to the inland valleys, north to south.  Tomato cam?!?!?  Not exactly—we hope it will be better, richer.  We’ll track a wealth of tomato varieties as they bud, grow and ripen to perfection, following them to market and to our tables.
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From the Field – Spring Lamb

Just this morning Don Watson showed up with four, first of season spring lamb, about 90 days old.  We’re hanging them for a few days to help tenderize the meat & plan to have them on the menu starting Saturday night (remote possibility not until Sunday).  They’ll be on the menu through Tuesday or Wednesday.

And good news for chanterelle fans.  Last time we sent out a notice about Malcolm’s chanterelles we sold out early.  Malcolm stopped by last night with 20 pounds of absolute beauties & they will be on the menu in a conserva tonight & tomorrow.

From the Field – Churchill Orchard Spring Tangerine Tasting

Churchill Orchard is out in the East End of the Ojai Valley where the fruit gets ripe a little later — Jim and Lisa usually spend the month of March tasting and re-tasting their spring tangerine varieties.

Churchill Orchard proprietors Jim Churchill (tasting) and Lisa Brenneis (shooting video and tasting).

The Economy – The State of Our Food

“Cooking with foods grown by farmers you have met, in nearby places that you have driven past, will give you a sense that your world is one of interconnected parts. You will observe the vitality of the produce in the way it tastes, smells, and feels, and by how long it remains wholesome and appealing compared with produce you buy at the supermarket. Your choices will become broader than the few varieties and species chosen for you by industrial growers. You will know that your money goes directly to the people who grew your food, not to packagers, ad-writers, shipping moguls, or CEOs. Cooking with food that is vital and seasonal will provide great pleasure, akin, somehow, to having grown it yourself. You will have the added knowledge that you have encouraged the restoration of a safe and wholesome food system.”

-Maggie Blyth Klein from The State of Our Food, a treatise on the state of the food system in America, 2002.  Read the full document.

From the Field – Brookside Farm comes to dinner & confirms spring

The Toms, owners of Brookside Farm came in for dinner yesterday after the Montclair farmers market.  Ann Tom had taken pictures of their farm that she wanted to share but she didn’t know how to email them.  So she brought along her camera & we uploaded them here.

Chocolate Tasting

Pastry Chef Jenny Raven conducted a chocolate tasting last week with her pastry assistants.  Jenny’s five-month-old son Ofelio was on hand to offer his opinion and Chef Canales & Maggie Klein joined in as well.

Pastry Chef Raven & son Ofelio taste chocolate

Pastry Chef Raven & son Ofelio taste chocolate

From Pacific Gourmet we order Callebaut (belgium; one of the cheapest chocolates on their list) and Valrhona (France; one of their priciest.)  I wanted to do a chocolate tasting because I thought it would be cool to order some mid-range chocolates and play around with specific pairings or specific uses for unique chocolates.  I am also interested in the “single bean” trend because of how it relates to our emphasis on terroir.

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From the Field – Inaugural Post – Spring Has Sprung at the Oliveto Community

It all happened over the last few days, spring just suddenly appeared after some much needed rain.  We’ve been busy visiting our farmers & had a chance to survey what’s currently sprouting at Catalan Farm this past Monday.  David Byron, one of our kitchen interns got a tour from Maria Catalan herself.

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From the Field – Spring at Lucero Organic Farm

Chef Paul Canales visits the Luceros of Lucero Organic Farm in Lodi, CA.


Spring is a transitional time for many of our local farmers.  By transitional, I mean that for many of them this is the time they are putting a great deal of effort into preparing for the abundance of summer crops that comprise the majority of their growing season.  They are planting and germinating seeds in pots in their greenhouses and waiting for the perfect time to transplant them into the field.  Too soon, and they might get flooded with a late rain or burnt by frost, too late and they lose valuable opportunities to offer their fruits and vegetables at market.

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Paine Farm Pigeon – Profile

Established 1979


Phillip Paine

Almost 30 years ago Phillip was working at the Hyatt Hotel in San Francisco and commuting from Sonoma.  He enjoyed his surroundings in Sonoma so much that he decided to figure out a way to live there full time and not have to commute to a job in the city.  He started out not knowing much about raising squab other than thinking that it looked like something he could do.  He began by experimenting with just 20-30 birds from many sources and gradually learned by trial and error and copious note taking.   He brought some of his squab around to local restaurants and gradually got some accounts; Continue reading ‘Paine Farm Pigeon – Profile’

Update from Full Belly Farm – Spring 2009

We’ve heard back from Judith Redmond of Full Belly Farm in Guinda in response to the spring questionnaire we sent out last week.  Here’s what she told us:


1. What are you planting?

Judith Redmond: When the soil dries out we’ll start planting flowers and spring greens.  The tomatoes will go into the ground in mid-March!

2. What are you excited about that is new this year?

Judith Redmond: We hope to start construction on a new, beautiful and functional office.  The office is one of the major information hubs for the entire farm.  If we can pull off our plans, life will be much easier for our hard-working office staff.

3. What are you excited about that is not new?

Judith Redmond: All the crops feel new every year – spring asparagus and English peas that we grow every year are always exciting when they first arrive.

4. What are you concerned about?

Judith Redmond: There is not enough water in our local reservoirs to make releases into Cache Creek, one of our important sources of irrigation water.  We will have to cut back on our plantings in order to have enough water to keep our crops healthy.