Tastes Like California Wheat

When we first got involved with locally grown grains over four years ago, one of our long term goals was the pursuit of identity preserved wheat. By this we mean a particular variety grown by a farmer we know and trust, and milled into flour without being blended with other varieties or wheats from other farms.

That goal became a reality last spring when we were approached by Front Porch Farms, a 112 acre organic/biodynamic farm in Healdsburg, CA. Owner Peter Buckley and farmer Matt Taylor were eager to start growing grain but wanted to do some smaller trials of different varieties to figure out what would perform best in their area.  We (under the auspices of Community Grains) helped them select three varieties we were curious about and provided seed for a fourth. And lo & behold, just last week we received very small quantities of our first four identity preserved wheat flours: Bolero, Espresso, and Cristallo – all soft winter wheats, and Desert King, an amber durum variety.

The next step, which we are just now beginning, is to define each variety’s individual flavor components and create a language to talk about those components. We had an initial tasting with some of our best palates: Executive Chef Jonah Rhodehamel, Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyards, and Lance and Ellie Winters of St. George Spirits. We intend to do a more in-depth assessment of characteristics over the next few weeks. And of course, we’d love to hear what our diners think.

So starting next week, we will be offering these unique pastas on our dinner menu.
We are excited about the potential of this first small harvest as it helps to bring us closer to the idea of a small-scale regional grain economy, which we believe is the best option for the health of our communities, our farmers, our food, and our selves. This is a rare and celebratory opportunity to taste identity preserved organic wheat grown and milled right here in northern California. Please join us.

4 Responses to “Tastes Like California Wheat”

  1. Don B.

    The Bolero wheat bigoli e fagioli was one of the single best pasta dishes I have had in all my time at Oliveto and brought me back in for a second helping within the same week. I am looking forward to the other varieties and am looking forward to when these types of Community Grains flours are available to the home pasta maker.

  2. Don B.

    Update: This last weekend I picked up a bags of hard red winter wheat and yellow durum Community Grains flours from Whole Foods for home pasta making. The hard red winter was paired with a spicy pork ragu and came out great! I’ll be experimenting with the durum in the middle of the week.

  3. Catherine Meng

    Nice! Love the updates, Don. Keep ‘um coming.

  4. Don B.

    Both my mother and my grandmother use regular bleached white AP flour to thicken the Thanksgiving gravy rather than corn starch. In the past I have also done this with Bechamel and Mornay sauces, but a pet peeve I have is when someone does this and doesn’t cook out the flour enough leaving a bitter and pasty flavor. This year when I used the hard red winter wheat according to the Community Grains guideline that it can be used as an all-purpose what I found is that the natural nutty flavor of the wheat caused very little “cook out” time and my gravy was more flavorful than in past years.