Archive for August, 2011


This Sunday

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The Oliveto kitchen received three sides of grass-fed, grass-finished beef last week: one whole animal from our friend Mac Magruder, and an additional side from Bauer Ranch in Covelo, CA. Both of these animals are older, producing meat far more marbled than what we’ve seen in most grass-fed beef.

This is the first time we’ve received meat from Sparky Bauer. He runs a very small operation in Mendocino County that is producing some of the finest grass-fed beef in Northern California.

Chef Jonah will be long braising the shanks in the traditional Italian preparation. On the menu one night only.

Call 510-547-5356

or reserve online

Bauer Ranch – Profile

bauer logo

Location: Covelo, CA in Mendocino County

Owner: William “Sparky” Bauer

Sparky is a fifth generation, Native American/German cattle rancher.  He runs Angus and Hereford cattle, wintering them up in the mountains and summer pasture in Round Valley (where Covelo is located).  All of his herd is grass-fed and grass-finished.

Early-Season Tomato Dinners 2011 Menu


Tuesday through Friday, August 23rd – 26th

Smaller items, soup, salads . . .

Brodetto of tomato with poached white shrimp,
lemon verbena, and Sungold tomatoes

Burrata cheese with Early Girl tomato marmellata, arugula, and grilled crostino

Salad of marinated tomatoes

Crudo of tomato and watermelon with Green Zebra tomato gelatina

Carpaccio of Lemon Boy, Green Zebra, and Red Zebra tomatoes, with
Regina olive oil, sea salt, and basil

Shaved green tomatoes with abalone, crème fraîche, and smoked sea salt

Oysters with Cetriolo tomato mignonette

Garden lettuces vinaigrette

Sformatino of ricotta with marinated Julienne tomatoes

Black Prince tomato tart with chèvre and Parmesan cheeses Continue reading ‘Early-Season Tomato Dinners 2011 Menu’

Early-Season Tomatoes Are Getting Good


And just in the nick of time! With our Early-Season Tomato Dinners coming up next week, we were starting to get a bit nervous, but apparently the tomato fairy is looking out for us.  In recent days we’ve seen some fine examples of early ripening varieties such as:  Cherokee Purples, Pineapples, and San Marzanos from Brookside Farm in Brentwood; Lemon Boys, Green and Red Zebras, and Black Princes from Riverdog Farm in Guinda; and Early Girls and Green Zebras from Tairwa’-Knoll Farm also in Brentwood.

Chef Jonah is working on the menu & has already confirmed a few things:

Chilled brodetto of tomatoes with poached white shrimp, lemon verbena and Sun Gold tomatoes

Burrata cheese with Early Girl tomato marmellata, arugula, and grilled crostino

Sformatino of ricotta with marinated Julienne tomato and fino verde basil

Soup: vellutata of Principe Borghese tomatoes with Cabot cheddar panino

Toasted Durum wheat papardelle with tomato braised beef, hot pepper and oregano

Tortelli of sheep with tomato brodo


The complete menu will be emailed to our mailing list this weekend. If you’d like to receive such updates, sign up here.

This Just In: Brookside Farm’s Flavor King pluots

We’re reposting this late summer classic from Pastry Chef Jenny Raven because it’s that time of the year again:


Only once or twice a year does a fruit come along that I feel is featured best by serving on its own, without setting it in a composed dessert context.  That time has come with the wonderful Flavor King pluots from Brookside Farm in Brentwood, CA.

Upon their arrival, these pluots perfumed the kitchen, drawing Sous Chef Brian Murphy to the three cases I ordered from farmer Welling Tom.  Burying his face in the box, Brian came up for air and said “it’s like putting your face in a bag of mixed Jelly Beans!”  He and I also agreed the pluots tasted like bubblegum, vanilla, and Hello Kitty erasers.  If all of those things sound bad to you, consider Brian’s analogy: marvelous tropical flowers that seem to have been copied from overblown, tacky plastic flowers.   “It’s like Nature copying bad Art… except when Nature does it, it’s wonderful.”

Juicy, sweet, their golden flesh veined with fuchsia… these pluots are so delightful, I feel compelled only to peel off the tart skin and serve them sliced in a bowl to make for a sublime eating experience. Look for them on the menu this Thursday.

Jenny Raven Pastry Chef

Illustration by Jenny Raven

Illustration by Jenny Raven

First Look at 2011 Tomatoes from Baia Nicchia Farm

Chef Jonah Rhodehamel takes us on a tour of the first tomatoes we’ve received from our friend Fred Hempel at Baia Nicchia Farm in Sunol, CA.

Be sure to visit the Baia Nicchia blog to learn more about Fred’s unique Cetriolo tomato.

Some Loaf


There is perhaps no food we serve that has a more loyal following than our beloved Acme Levain. It is delivered to us half baked and we finish it here just before service, so it’s warm and crusty.

Steve Sullivan and Rick Kirby at Acme have been participants in the Oliveto Grain Project from the beginning (4 years ago).  So when we started to get serious about whole grains last year we asked Steve if he could develop a 100% whole grain bread that we could serve. As Steve and Rick tinkered with the recipe over the last few months we’ve only been receiving five loaves of whole grain bread five days a week. Some of you early diners may have been lucky enough to find a few slices in your basket at dinner. Acme’s whole grain levain is absolutely delicious.

So it’s time for the unveiling of this new offering to Bay Area bread lovers. Starting this Monday, August 8th, Acme is going into official production mode, meaning we will have whole grain bread in our bread basket during dinner service every night!  Initially, it will also be served at Chez Panisse, and in Acme’s retail stores with the intention is that it will become more widely available over time.

Our Pastry Chef, Jenny Raven, is also now serving some whole grain morning buns in the cafe: one fruit, one savory.

Market Report #8: Tomato Speculation With Bill Fujimoto

We hit up the Derby Street Market last Tuesday with our favorite produce guy, Bill Fujimoto.

We checked in with Full Belly, Lucero, and Riverdog and saw some BEAUTIFUL early eggplants, Black Eyed peas, first watermelons, and Seascape strawberries.  We also got the scoop on what everyone is wondering about…TOMATOES.  It was interesting to hear from our farmers about their predictions, especially for us, because we’re trying to “plan” as best we can for our upcoming Tomato Dinners.

Because the season this year has been so weird, and speculation about how the season may (or may not) unfold we’re trying something new: two sets of Tomato Dinners.  The first set of Early Tomato Season Dinners will run from August 23 – 26, and then after Labor Day a second set of Late Tomato Season Dinners will run from September 13 through September 16.

From a chef’s perspective, great cooking is about responding to ingredients, and this season will be loaded with challenges for Chef Jonah. We’ll keep you updated on how the season(s) progress and what it means for Jonah as the menu begins to take shape.

August or September, there will be stand-out tomatoes to make each menu terrific.  Book now.