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Cheese of the Week: Bellwether San Andreas

Cheese of the Week: Bellwether San Andreas

One of the finest American sheep’s milk cheeses out there

This Pecorino-style cheese is produced in Sonoma County, Calif.

Cheese of The Week is a weekly feature on The Daily Meal, drawing on the expertise of internationally renowned cheese expert and consultant Raymond Hook. What follows is based on an interview with Hook.

Want more? Click here for the Cheese of the Week Slideshow.

Bellwether Farms, run since 1992 by the Callahan family in Sonoma County, Calif., produces some of the highest-quality sheep’s milk cheese you’re likely to find. Their San Andreas is similar to a Tuscan Pecorino but a bit smoother and deeper. While all the cheese they produce is aged a minimum of 60 days, the San Andreas is ages for three-and-a-half to five months.

The 3-pound wheels are semi-firm, and the flavor of the cheese is smooth, creamy, and complex. It’s not too sharp, but a bit gamy (as the best sheep cheeses are), and tastes like sweet, clean milk.

"Liam Callahan is focused, there every day ensuring quality, and is an unheralded great American cheesemaker," said Raymond. "The cheese is aged on wooden planks, and it’s not hard but not fudgy, and the animal flavor is aged out of it. It’s not a huge sheep cheese, but it’s incredibly delicious. All the sheep are also right on the property, so they’re not trucking milk in."

Raymond recommends pairing the cheese with apples pears, and grapes, but suggests eating it on its own. He likes drinking it with Lagunitas Hop Stoopid, which is brewed within 20 miles of Bellwether and has a big, bold character that pairs well with the cheese.


Suds and Curds: Beer and Cheese Pairing

This is a live tasting seminar held online via Zoom. The Instructor will be assisted by a remote 18 Reasons staffer who will facilitate conversation during class and ensure all students are attended to.

Registered students should take

30 min before class begins to do the following: download and set up Zoom, test audio and video, gather ingredients per the list below. 18 Reasons staff will e-mail registrants one message containing a Zoom meeting link and any class materials check your junk/spam/event folder in case you do not see the e-mail. Search for any email from 18 Reasons, looking for a subject line containing the full title of the class. We also strongly suggest eating a meal or heavy snack before tasting.

Though wine and cheese are heralded as the world's best duo, with a few guidelines, beer and cheese are actually easier to pair! Why? Carbonation, salt, hops, and butterfat are actually soul mates (awww). In this class, It's Not You, It's Brie author and cheesemaking teacher, Kirstin Jackson, will talk beer and cheese basics and guide you through a tasting of five of her readily available favorite combos. Bonus? Beer and cheese not only happen to be two of the most delicious things in the world together, they also happen to be pretty easy to consume in a manageable time after opening! The cheese shopping list with lost easy-to-find options follows, and after you sign up for the class we'll email you the 4 beer-style suggestions.

1) Chèvre: any fresh goat cheese!
A few ideas: Laura Chenel, Redwood Hill, or Tomales Farmstead chèvre

2) Aged Sheep’s Milk Cheese from Spain, Italy, or the US.
A few ideas: Manchego, Pecorino Toscano/Filano/Crosta Nera/Marzonlini.
American options: Garden Variety aged sheep milk cheeses, Bellwether San Andreas

3) Triple Creme Cheese.
A few ideas: Mt Tam, Nancy’s Camembert, Kunik, Brillat Savarin, Pierre Robert, Crémeux de Citeaux

4) Alpine-Style Cheese.
A few ideas: Comté, Gruyere-Emmi, Challerhocker, Tarentaise, Alpha Toman Roth Grand Cru

5) Blue Chees – Slightly sweet.
A few ideas: Stichelton, Colston-Basset Stilton, Cashel Blue, Chiraboga Blue, Baley Hazen Blue, Grazin Girl, Bay Blue

How much should you buy? It depends on how hungry you’ll be! I generally plan on 1-2 ounces of each cheese per person.


Cheese of the Week: Bellwether San Andreas - Recipes


Grains Made Locally in Northern California, Recipes Included
By FBWorld Team

Sam Bilbro mills small batches of hard red wheat into sample bags for restaurants at Front Porch Farm in Healdsburg. (ALVIN JORNADA/ PD)
North Bay chefs and growers have long been at the forefront of the movement to eat local, championing the return to the table of heirloom tomatoes and grass-fed beef.

Nowadays, the farmers are starting to grow grains like rye, farro and wheat as well, providing chefs with whole-grain, freshly milled flours for their breads and pasta.

"Grains are the logical next step," said Debra Walton of Canvas Ranch in Two Rock. "We're really moving totally local, from vegetables and meat to grain and breads and beer."

Cindy Daniel checks the consistency of the flour she is milling at Shed in Healdsburg on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013. (ALVIN JORNADA/PD)
Walton fell in love with farro - an ancient grain believed to be one of the original strains of cultivated wheat - while attending Slow Food's 2009 Terra Madre conference in Italy.

Back at home, Walton did research and discovered that the grain had been commonly grown in the Two Rock region back in the 1800s.
"Mostly they were growing it for livestock, but also for the San Francisco market," she said. "As the railroads came West, cheaper grains from places like Nebraska made it so it didn't make much sense to grow it here."

A few years ago, Walton started growing farro, which she sells to local chefs like Austin Perkins of Nick's Cove in Marshall and Bruce Riezenman of Park 121 Cafe in Sonoma.
"The fun thing is to put it into a minestrone soup, and that's what I eat all winter," Walton said. "We grow heirloom beans as well, so between the grain and the legumes, it makes a complete diet."

Canvas Ranch also grows rye for bread baking and golden flax seed, which is high in nutrition and Omega-3 fatty acids.

"The golden flax sold out immediately," she said. "People are really into that."

Beyond the health benefits and the fresh flavor, farmers are attracted to the sheer beauty of the golden waves of grain.

"I have an emotional attachment to a field of grain," said Peter Buckley, who owns Front Porch Farm in Healdsburg with his wife, Mimi. "But it's also a very flexible crop. It can feed people or animals, and it keeps well."

With the goal of creating a diversified farm, Buckley bought the 110-acre ranch three years ago, pulling out 55 acres of vineyards on the valley floor.

While researching wheat, he came across a website created by Bob Klein, owner of Oliveto restaurant in Oakland. Klein founded Community Grains in 2007 with the goal of creating a local grain economy and producing flours with flavor.

With Klein's help, Buckley planted a couple of varieties of wheat for seed use only, including Senatore Cappelli, a heritage variety that was recently reintroduced.

In 2011, Front Porch Farm planted its first crop of wheat on 10 acres. Like other grain growers on the North Coast, Buckley enlisted the help of Doug Mosel of Ukiah to help harvest it.

"Bob had already started to revive wheat growing, so he had a harvester and a seed cleaner," Buckley said.

Mosel is one of three farmers growing grain at the Nelson Family Vineyard near Ukiah as part of the Mendocino Grain Project. He also organized The North Coast Grain Growers, a support group that now boasts about 100 members, from growers to bakers.

"It's really a remarkable story, when I think about what happened in just four years," Mosel said. "I can only image what we might see in five years hence."

Along with heritage varieties of wheat, Front Porch Farm also grows barley, rye, oats and flint corn for polenta.

The farm has a mill to grind its own grain, then delivers it to local chefs like Louis Maldonado of Spoonbar in Healdsburg and Dino Bugica of Diavolo in Geyserville.

Maldonado uses the Bolero flour to make Spoonbar's signature sourdough bread and the Desert King for gnocchi and pasta. At Diavolo, Bugica uses the Cristallo flour to make pasta and is serving the polenta with his seafood stew.

"The fresh polenta is nice because it's a little chunky, so it has texture," Bugica said. "And it's creamy and sweet."

Front Porch Farm also sells its wheat and rye grain to Shed in Healdsburg, where owner Cindy Daniel grinds it on a stone mill from Austria.

"We're milling them and using them in scones, bread and crackers," Daniel said. "We also sell the freshly milled flour."

Mateo Silverman of Chalk Hill Cookery in Windsor folds the Bolero flour into all of his baked goods. "It's an heirloom variety, so it's more digestible and nutritious," he said. "And the flavor is great."

The Canvas Ranch farro is available at the Fatted Calf in Napa's Oxbow Market and at the Santa Rosa Original Farmers Market at the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts on Saturday. Flour grown from Front Porch Farm grain is for sale at Shed in Healdsburg.
-
This recipe is from Austin Perkins, executive chef of Nick's Cove in Marshall. Perkins uses the Navarro Vineyards Verjus and McEvoy Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Heirloom Tomato and Canvas Ranch Farro Salad

For verjus vinaigrette:
1 shallot, minced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons verjus (or saba, if unavailable)
2 teaspoons champagne vinegar
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
For salad:
1 pound farro
4 to 5 medium heirloom tomatoes, stemmed and chopped
1/2 cup Bellwether San Andreas cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 pound fresh arugula leaves
1/8 cup chopped parsley

For vinaigrette: Combine the ingredients in a bowl and whisk thoroughly.

For salad: In a large pot, boil 8 cups water. Season generously with salt. When water is boiling, add the farro, reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes. Cover and over very low heat cook for 20 more minutes, until just slightly al dente. Strain and allow to cool completely.
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and toss thoroughly.
-
This recipe is from Bruce Riezenman of Park Avenue Catering, who serves it at his Park 121 cafe at Cornerstone Gardens in Sonoma.
"This can be served as a room temperature luncheon or as a warm dinner,"

Riezenman said. "It is delicious, rustic and very nutritious. The farro in this recipes makes enough for six, so you're assured of extra for a quick lunch the next day. "

You can substitute wild mushrooms for the crimini mushrooms and serve the dish family-style, if you like.

Coffee Rubbed Beef with Farro and Mushrooms

1 pound beef tri-tip or New York Steak, trimmed, no fat
1 teaspoon ground coffee
Sea salt, medium coarse, to taste
Fresh-ground black pepper, 8 grinds
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 whole garlic cloves, peeled, cloves left whole
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Fresh-ground black pepper, 8 grinds
1/2 cup carrot, peeled and diced (about 1 medium carrot)
1/4 pound crimini mushrooms (about 10), halved and sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
1 cup semi-pearled farro
1 1/2 quarts salted water for cooking the farro
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1/4 cup dried cherries, roughly chopped
4 sprigs of fresh thyme or oregano
2 ounces aged white cheddar cheese, medium-sharp, diced 3/8 inch
1 quart arugula, cleaned

For the beef: If you prefer the beef to be served warm, start the farro first, then cook the beef while the farro is cooking. You can easily reheat the farro in the oven before serving.

Ask your butcher to trim the beef and remove all the outside fat, and to cut it into pieces, with the grain, that are 1-inch thick. At home, place the beef on a cutting board between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and pound with the smooth side of a mallet until it is 3/4-inch thick. This will help tenderize the meat.

Remove the top layer of plastic, and season the top side of the meat evenly with 1/2 teaspoon of ground coffee, 4 grinds of a peppermill and sea salt (medium coarse from a grinder). Turn the meat and do the same to the other side.

Place a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Place the canola oil in the pan, then place the seasoned beef into the cold sauté pan. Put a grill press on top of the beef and cook uncovered for 5 minutes or until the bottom of the beef is nicely seared. Remove the press, turn the beef, replace the press and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until the beef is medium-rare, approximately 4-5 minutes more.

Remove the press and place the beef on a platter to rest.

For the farro: Place a small sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the whole garlic cloves. Cook slowly for 5-7 minutes, turning the garlic a few times during the cooking so they are golden brown on all sides.

Add the onions, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 8 grinds of black pepper. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.
Add the carrots and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Then, add the mushrooms, thyme and oregano. Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes, until the mushrooms and carrots are cooked.

Meanwhile, place the salted water in a medium sauce pan and bring to a rolling boil. Add the farro and reduce the heat to medium. Simmer for approximately 20-25 minutes, until the farro is cooked. It is ready when it has a consistent dense texture throughout without tasting hard or raw in the center.

Drain the farro into a colander and then place in a mixing bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and mix gently. Add the vegetable mixture, dried cherries and chopped parsley to the farro and mix. Add additional coarse sea salt and ground pepper to taste.

To serve: Place a handful of arugula on each of 4 plates and top with a cup of the farro blend. Cut the beef into 20 nice slices and place 5 slices on each plate. Sprinkle with the diced white cheddar, and drizzle the beef, farro and arugula with the remaining olive oil. Garnish with fresh herb sprigs.

Serve with a small bowl of coarse sea salt for your guests to sprinkle as needed.


Golden Beet Risotto with Walnuts

This scrumptious fall risotto&mdashperfect in October, just after the walnuts are harvested&mdashresembles the gorgeous hunter’s moon, which rises huge and orange over the Valley of the Moon. If you cannot find golden beets (be sure to check your local farmers’ market), you can use red beets, but be careful: their juices will stain everything from your fingertips to your cutting board.

Wine recommendations: Clos du Bois Alexander Valley Reserve Chardonnay Peter Michael Mon Plaisir Chardonnay Schug Carneros Estate Pinot Noir.

  • 4 small or 3 medium golden beets
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium leeks, white and palest green parts only, trimmed, thoroughly cleaned, and cut into very thin rounds
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper in a mill
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
  • 5 cups chicken broth, hot
  • 2 ounces (1/2 cup) Laura Chenel's Tome, Bellwether San Andreas, or aged
  • Asiago, grated
  • 3/4 cup shelled walnuts, toasted and diced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley

First, prepare the beets. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Wash the beets, place them in a small ovenproof pan or baking dish, toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake until the beets are tender when pierced with a fork, about 40 to 60 minutes, depending on their size. Remove from the oven, cool to room temperature, cut into small dice, and set aside or refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the risotto, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the butter together in a large sauté pan over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add the leeks and sauté until they are completely wilted, about 10 minutes. Season with a generous pinch or two of salt and several turns of black pepper, add the rice, and stir with a wooden spoon until each grain begins to turn milky white, about 3 minutes. Keep the stock warm in a pot over low heat. Add the stock half a cup at a time, stirring after each addition until the liquid is nearly absorbed. Continue to add stock and stir until the rice is tender, about 18 to 20 minutes. Before the last addition of stock, stir in the beets and grated cheese, taste, correct the seasoning, and stir in the last of the liquid. Divide the risotto among individual soup plates, top each portion with some of the walnuts and some of the Italian parsley, grind black pepper over it all, and serve immediately.


Pairings: The New Cook’s Tour of Sonoma

More than grapes grow in Sonoma County, and the bounty of the land pairs beautifully with local wines.

Sonoma County is chaotic and geographically cumbersome, a region of tremendous diversity. There are many Sonomas, layered one upon the other, entwined, intermingled, and, in many cases, hidden. Wine grapes are currently the most important cash crop, but dozens of farm products contribute to the more than one-half billion dollars that agriculture supplies annually to the local economy. Sonoma County speaks with many voices, but has no single spokesperson.

That Sonoma County is the birthplace of modern winemaking in America is probably the best known aspect of our story. By now the names and places are so familiar. There’s Padre José Altimi, founder of the last of the California missions, planting those first grapevines in 1823. (Although the padre is generally credited with planting our first vines, the Russians apparently beat him to it, in 1817 in the Russian River Valley, but their efforts don’t seem to have influenced viticulture. The door of history won’t open any wider on these early vineyards we can see the vines through a small crack, but we don’t know a thing about the wine, or even if any was made.) There’s the entrepreneurial genius of the nobleman General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, reigning over the land and in a moment of stunning largess, deeding away what became Napa County. And there’s Count Agoston Haraszthy, that flamboyant Hungarian rogue who gave Vallejo a run for his money by importing grapevines from Europe. Even though that prescient maneuver resulted in Haraszthy’s being known today as the father of modern California viticulture, the rivalry between the two men remained friendly as they competed against each other in statewide and international wine competitions. Marriage—two of Vallejo’s daughters to two of Haraszthy’s sons—made them even closer, though Haraszthy wasn’t one to settle down and play with grandchildren. Off the count went to meet his fate in a Nicaraguan river, where an alligator is reputed to have had the final say.

If it’s our history that intrigues you, you’ll find it all over Sonoma Valley (one of the eleven approved viticultural areas in Sonoma County), easy to explore in a single day. If it’s our wine you’re looking for, take your time.

Driving from winery to farm to nursery and on to another winery was not so long ago a leisurely way to spend a day in Sonoma County. It was something I did frequently. Sometimes my two young daughters and I would dress in pretty skirts, lacy tops, and big floppy hats, I’d pack a lavish lunch, and we’d pretend we were living in another time and place, Zola’s France, say, or Hardy’s England. The illusion was easy to sustain ours was often one of the only cars on the road.

Such an adventure is still a delight, but it is no longer so leisurely. So many layers have been superimposed upon this landscape that it is no longer simple to zip about the county, covering dozens of miles in an afternoon. In good conscience I cannot invite you here without offering a few cautionary words, and encouraging you to plan ahead. It is enormously helpful to study a map and identify alternative routes in case the main roads are jammed. You should not try to see the entire county in a day this has always been impossible because Sonoma County is a big place, covering 1,560 square miles. These days it is best to concentrate on a single geographic area. You should be prepared for unpredictable traffic, and plan a few adventures that don’t require a car. Some of the most enchanting views can be seen from a canoe, a hot-air balloon, a hiking trail, or on horseback. There is an increasing number of good bike trails, too. And who knows? You might stumble upon a treasure I’ve yet to find.

And what of our food and cooking, the so-called wine country cuisine? Is there truly such a thing as a definitive Sonoma County style?

The original cooking of this place is, of course, that of the native tribes who first lived here, the Miwoks, Pomos, Kashayas, and Wappos, whose cuisines remained discrete and separate as wave after wave of immigrants displaced them from their land. The new cooking in Sonoma County became a microcosm of what it was in California, a patchwork quilt of influences shaped by the classic dishes, tastes, prejudices, and traditions of European settlers, especially Spanish, Italian, German, French, Portuguese, and Basque. (Although Asians were among the early residents here, the cuisines of Asia would have little general influence until the late 20th century.) The unifying thread and the golden needle, as it were, that stitched these influences together was the fertile land itself the long growing season and remarkable bounty of California are reflected in miniature in Sonoma County.

During those early years, people raised much of what they ate and drank. Chickens provided eggs a cow, milk that was churned into butter and made into cheese, which lasted longer than the perishable liquid. The whey and leftover milk were fed to hogs that were slaughtered in the fall, their blood made into sausage, their legs cured for prosciutto. Farmers grew grapes to make wine for their own tables women baked bread and made fresh pasta not because it was trendy but be-cause it was all there was. Polenta—frequent-ly topped with robins caught near creek beds and stewed in tomato sauce—was a staple.

Styles of eating and cooking changed here, as they did throughout the United States, with the rise of the automobile and the advent of the supermarket. Sonoma County did not escape the bland cooking of the 1950s and 1960s, yet as we awoke from that period, remarkable things happened that did not occur elsewhere. As the gourmet revolution of the 1970s progressed, restaurateurs—inspired by the success and innovation of Chez Panisse in Berkeley—turned to our small farmers, cheesemakers and winemakers in search of the handcrafted ingredients that were to shape a new California culinary style, born in the restaurant rather than the home. This in turn inspired more small farmers, who now had a market for their harvest.

Sonoma County has played a pivotal role in the development of contemporary California cooking, and as our small farmers and winemakers have responded to the demand for artisan products, a style of sorts has emerged. You can call Sonoma County cooking—or wine country cuisine, if you prefer—a cuisine of possibility, a style shaped by the seasons, by the land, and by the chefs who have been inspired by what the land can yield. There are few rules, and no classic mother recipes to which these chefs by tradition must adhere. In a very real sense, anything goes.

A cuisine based as ours currently is on heirloom fruits and vegetables, handcrafted cheeses, delicate olive oils, and other foods that grow almost literally outside our front doors is fragile, vulnerable to the whims and fashions of an increasingly global marketplace. Before we can declare Sonoma County cuisine a lasting tradition, it must take root and blossom in the home as well as in the restaurant and it must survive for a generation or two. The final word will be written by others.

In the meantime, it is possible—and, from my perspective, crucial—to support this nascent cuisine. When you discover the shopkeeper who will remember not only your name but also your favorite cheese, when you find the farmer who offers a wholesome harvest grown without a toxic soup of chemicals, as you uncover the unique tastes of a specific place, you are discovering culture itself, and helping preserve its future. That’s what my Sonoma is all about, and I truly believe that in nurturing it, we will preserve it.

Wine recommendations: Gary Farrell Russian River Pinot Noir, J. Rochioli Pinot Noir, Davis Bynum Le Pinot, Limerick Lane Zinfandel.

  • 6 quail, bone-in
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper in a mill
  • 1/2 pound pancetta, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken or duck stock
  • 2 tablespoons Glace de Poulet Gold
  • 1/2 cup Zinfandel or other medium- bodied dry red wine
  • 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, preferably Muir Glen brand
  • 1 1/2 cups coarse-ground polenta
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 ounces Sonoma Cheese Factory Teleme, cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley

Rinse the quail under cool running water and dry them on a tea towel. Season them inside and out with salt and pepper. Wrap each quail in a strip of pancetta, beginning with the quail’s legs, which you should push against the body and secure with the pancetta. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan set over medium-low heat, carefully set the quail in the pan, and sauté until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Turn the quail over and cook until browned on the other side, about 5 minutes more. Transfer the quail to a plate, add the onion to the pan, and sauté it until it is soft and fragrant, about 15 minutes. Dice the remaining pancetta, add it to the cooked onion, increase the heat to medium, cook for 7 minutes, add the garlic, and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the chicken stock, Glace de Poulet, and red wine, increase the heat to high, and boil until reduced by one-third, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, reduce the heat to low, return the quail to the pan, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring 4 cups of water and the 2 teaspoons of salt to a boil in a large, heavy pot. Pour another 4 cups of water into a second, smaller pot and bring that to a boil, too. Stir the water in the larger pot rapidly with a whisk, moving it in one circular direction to create a vortex. Pour the polenta into the vortex in a thin, steady stream, stirring continuously all the while to prevent the formation of lumps. Continue to stir after all the polenta has been added, and lower the heat so that the mixture simmers slowly rather than boils. When the polenta begins to thicken, replace the whisk with a long-handled wooden spoon. Add 1 cup of the remaining water and continue to stir. Should you find lumps, use the back of the spoon to press them against the sides of the pot until they break up. At this point, you can let the polenta cook on its own just be sure to keep a close eye on it, stir it frequently so that it does not scorch, and add more water if it becomes too thick.

After 25 minutes, taste the polenta to be sure the grains are tender if they are not, cook it a little longer. Stir in the butter, season with salt and pepper, add the Teleme, and stir until it is nearly but not entirely melted you should see little pools of white cheese. Remove the polenta from the heat, let it rest for 4 or 5 minutes, and ladle into individual serving bowls. Set 1 or 2 quail on top of each serving of polenta, taste the sauce, correct the seasoning, and spoon a generous amount of sauce over each quail. Sprinkle each serving with parsley and serve immediately. Serves 3 to 6.

Wine recommendations: Preston Vin Gris Quivira Dry Creek Cuvée Nalle Zinfandel.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, ground in a mortar with a pestle
  • 6 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  • 4 to 5 medium-sized, dense-fleshed heirloom tomatoes, such as
    Northern Lights or Brandywine
  • 4 strips bacon or pancetta
  • 3 ounces Italian fontina, thinly sliced
  • Black pepper in a mill
  • 2 tablespoons fresh snipped chives or fresh minced Italian parsley
  • 1 egg white, mixed with 1 tablespoon of water to make a wash
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt or Hawaiian alaea salt

First, make the galette dough. Combine the flour, kosher salt, and ground black peppercorns in a small work bowl, and use your fingers or a pastry cutter to work in the butter so that the mixture resembles coarse-ground cornmeal. Add the ice water, gently press the dough together, and gather it up into a ball. Chill for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, remove the stem cores of each tomato and slice off each end. Cut each tomato into 3/8-inch-thick round slices, season with salt, cover the slices with a tea towel, and set them aside. Fry the pancetta or bacon until it is just barely crisp transfer to absorbent paper and set aside. Drain the juices that have collected around the tomatoes, using your fingers to press out any large pockets of seeds and gel.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside. Set the chilled dough on a floured work surface and use the palm of your hand to pat it flat. Roll it into a 14-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick and carefully transfer it to the parchment-lined baking sheet.

Arrange the cheese over the surface of the tart, leaving a 2-inch margin around the edges. If more juices have accumulated around the tomatoes, drain them again and place the tomatoes on top of the cheese in concentric circles that overlap slightly. Season the tomatoes lightly with kosher salt and generously with black pepper from the mill. Scatter the chives over the top of the tomatoes, arrange the bacon strips on top, and then gently fold the edges of the tart up and over the tomatoes, pleating the edges as you fold them. Using a pastry brush, brush the edge of the tart lightly with the egg wash and sprinkle it with the coarse or Hawaiian salt. Bake until the pastry is golden brown and the tomatoes soft and fragrant, about 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool, cut into wedges, and serve warm. Serves 4

Wine recommendations: Clos du Bois Alexander Valley Reserve Chardonnay Peter Michael Mon Plaisir Chardonnay Schug Carneros Estate Pinot Noir.

  • 4 small or 3 medium golden beets
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium leeks, white and palest green parts only, trimmed, thoroughly cleaned, and cut into very thin rounds
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper in a mill
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
  • 5 cups chicken broth, hot
  • 2 ounces (1/2 cup) Laura Chenel’s Tome, Bellwether San Andreas, or aged
    Asiago, grated
  • 3/4 cup shelled walnuts, toasted and diced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley

First, prepare the beets. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Wash the beets, place them in a small ovenproof pan or baking dish, toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake until the beets are tender when pierced with a fork, about 40 to 60 minutes, depending on their size. Remove from the oven, cool to room temperature, cut into small dice, and set aside or refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the risotto, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the butter together in a large sauté pan over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add the leeks and sauté until they are completely wilted, about 10 minutes. Season with a generous pinch or two of salt and several turns of black pepper, add the rice, and stir with a wooden spoon until each grain begins to turn milky white, about 3 minutes. Keep the stock warm in a pot over low heat. Add the stock half a cup at a time, stirring after each addition until the liquid is nearly absorbed. Continue to add stock and stir until the rice is tender, about 18 to 20 minutes. Before the last addition of stock, stir in the beets and grated cheese, taste, correct the seasoning, and stir in the last of the liquid. Divide the risotto among individual soup plates, top each portion with some of the walnuts and some of the Italian parsley, grind black pepper over it all, and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Wine recommendations: Geyser Peak Syrah, Cline Côtes d’Oakley Rouge, Gloria Ferrer Pinot Noir.

  • 1 pound bacon, diced
  • 1 pound Swiss chard
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more
    to taste
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 12 ounces penne (quill-shaped pasta)
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more
    to taste
  • Black pepper in a mill
  • 8 ounces Vella Dry Jack, grated (2 cups)
  • 1 cup shelled pecans, coarsely chopped and toasted

Cook the bacon in a large saucepan or sauté pan until it is just crisp, use a slotted spoon to transfer it to absorbent paper, and drain off and discard all but 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat. Set the pan aside. Wash the Swiss chard, dry it thoroughly, and remove the stems. Trim and discard the base of the stems, and cut the stems into thin slices. Cut the leaves into 1/2-inch-thick crosswise strips. Keep the leaves and stems separate and set both aside. In a small bowl, mix together the mustard and vinegar and set the mixture aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the 1 tablespoon kosher salt, and cook the pasta according to package directions until it is just tender. Drain thoroughly but do not rinse.

While the pasta cooks, heat the bacon fat and the olive oil over medium-low heat and, when it is hot, add the chard stems, garlic, and pepper flakes and sauté until the chard stems are tender. Add the chard leaves, cover the pan, cook until the leaves are wilted, about 4 or 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.

  • 1 cup strawberries, washed, stemmed, and halved
  • 1 cup Sonoma County Everberries or raspberries
  • 1 cup blackberries, rinsed and dried
  • 4 Santa Rosa plums, cut into thick slices
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 to 3 white peaches, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cups fruity red wine, such as Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel
  • 8 to 10 mint leaves, cut in thin julienne
  • Mint sprigs for garnish

Excerpted from The New Cook’s Tour of Sonoma: 200 Recipes and The Best Of The Region’s Food And Wine, by Michele Anna Jordan (Sasquatch Books, $21.95, 320 pages, paperback), which will be released in September 2000.


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Pelican Pub Beer Dinner

January 18th was the first of the Beer Chef’s beer dinners for 2008, and featured the beers of Pelican Pub & Brewery in Pacific City, Oregon. Brewmaster Darron Welch was on hand to talk about his beers. Three times Pelican Pub & Brewery has been named brewpub of the year at the Great American Beer Festival.

Darron Welch, who easily won the award for most prepared brewer at a beer dinner, regaled the crowd with stories of his beers creation, their ingredients, process and more. It was great fun to hear so much detail on each beer.

The first course, a wonderful ceviche of day boat scallop with a lobster emulsion, paired nicely with Saison du Pelican.

The main event, slow roasted duck breast with Bellwether San Andreas cheese grits, Satsuma mandarins and fig gastrique, which was paired with the second edition of Darron’s Grand Cru de Pelican. The first edition, which I tasted last year, was made with mostly white sugar with some brown sugar, hand-carmelized. This year, the entire batch was made with Turbinado sugar and I think it made quite a difference in the finished product. This year’s was quite excellent and its complex rich flavors complimented the diverse tastes of the third course.

After the dinner, Pelican Pub brewmaster Darron Welch with the beer chef Bruce Paton.

Please consider purchasing my latest book, California Breweries North, available from Amazon, or ask for it at your local bookstore.


Bar Tartine

Some of you long-time readers may feel like the intro to this review is a little familiar… Truth be told, it starts exactly the way I wrote it back in 2008, because I still feel the exact same way about the décor. As for the menu and tone set by the new chef, Chris Kronner, well, you can jump ahead to the fourth paragraph.

Hey player. So, date one has gone really well (nice work), but now you want to step it up to the perfecto spot for date number two or three? Okay. Or maybe you have some cool out-of-town friends coming to visit, and you want to feed them some très San Francisco cuisine while impressing them with a place sporting some hip instead of hippie atmosphere. Or perhaps you’re a solo diner, looking for a friendly counter to perch at.

is a good answer to all three situations, and let’s not forget those seeking a sophisticated weekend brunch.

Bar Tartine really is the picture of gentrification (I gotta call it), located on a grubby stretch of Valencia next to Arinell Pizza and La Cumbre that is usually teeming with 20-somethings. You could blaze right by it, actually—there’s not much of a sign proclaiming its existence. It’s a chic space with an authentic artsy vibe, with wood floors that have letters scattered here and there in the planks, a nod to one of the space’s previous incarnations as a letterpress (as I was told). There’s also a long marble bar, and I especially enjoyed the gentle lighting, with the backlit bench seats along the wall casting a soft glow. It’s romantic, but not at all in a way that would give most straight guys the heebie-jeebies.

I’m a fan of sitting at the bar, but larger groups will like the cozy round table in the back, and there’s a slew of two-tops along the wall, full of couples on date night. It’s like date HQ, straight and gay—it’s a nicely mixed room, from gender to age. Quite a few ladies out on B.F.F. dinner dates as well. The space feels sexy, comfortable, and there are always fresh, fragrant white lilies in the bathroom—classy. There’s also modern and lively art on the walls, currently displayed in an eclectic salon style.

You want to know what else is pretty? The beautiful charcuterie board ($11/$18). A swirling piece of burl wood comes layered with chef Chris Kronner’s marvelous charcuterie, from the pinkest, smoothest, and très elegant chicken liver pâté (think: meat peanut butter), to a slice of rustic pork terrine made with Range Brothers’ Berkshire pigs from Prather Ranch, rich with smoked ham, kidney, liver, belly, a note of star anise, and garlic confit. The wood slab also included quickly formed quenelles of housemade nectarine jam and whole grain mustard, plus some pickled vegetables (like chard stem), and of course thick slices of crusty, toasted Tartine bread. I would happily come back just to sit at the bar, drink wine, and munch my way through this board again (with some Lipitor in my purse).

There is definitely something to be said for good salads. Sure, $12 for a plate of White Crane Springs Ranch greens in a Champagne vinaigrette may seem a bit too “fig on a plate” for some, so you might want to skip that salad (although I found them revelatory in their freshness, bright with mint, arugula, purslane). More satisfying was the salad of porcinis ($13), shaved summer squash, and minty nepitella, resting under a generous layering of Bellwether San Andreas cheese—a savory, springy combo. I also thought the caper vinaigrette dressing on a salad of baby mustard greens ($12)—with Pt. Reyes blue cheese, almonds, and wedges of nectarine—was made with a deft hand. There are five larger salads in all—I like a kitchen that gets fired up on salad options.

The menu broadcasts on a Chez frequency, offering that mash-up of Frenchie-California, hyper-seasonal, fresh, and local we know so well. But there’s also some clever innovation, like Bar Tartine’s personal submission into the city’s melee of burgers ($16). The juicy and beautifully cross-hatched patty comes on a lightly sweet and grilled brioche bun slathered with white cheddar mayo, plus pickles and lettuce. It’s mega-rich. Uh, yeah, and that’s not all. How about the option to add marrow for $4? Pure evil. And back that all up with a glass of the Château Ferrière Cabernet blend (Margaux, Bordeaux), and you are tight (so are your pants). I’ll be shocked if any of the perfectly executed, medium-weight frites remain, served hot and crisp with a classic dusting of fresh herbs.

Meanwhile, the braised hog jowls ($23) with wheatberries, tangles of watercress, cracked pickled cherries and shallot, plus a scattering of favas, came together flavor-wise, but the decadence of the jowls meant I wouldn’t want them as a main course—I was done after a few bites. (But as an appetizer? Rock.) Other choices include a couple seafood dishes like sea bass or rex sole ($23-$25), steak frites ($29), and some simpler dishes like semolina gnocchi or a rolled omelet for vegetarians (both at a very pocket-friendly $16). Oh, and those of you who were a fan of Kronner’s savory bread pudding while he was at Serpentine, you can order it as a side here for $6 (it was listed with nettles, onion, and oyster mushrooms).

While I was a big fan of former chef Jason Fox’s impeccable dishes, the restaurant feels a lot more easy and flexible now—a place where you can come in with a friend for an aperitif (like the new fashioned, $8, with Antica Carpano vermouth, cherry, and bitters) and a quick nosh, or dine at the bar by yourself (semi-affordably), or with friends for a birthday dinner, or have a really hot date (we love those).

The wine program has been going under some adjustments with the new GM, Alex Fox (a good friend of mine who is one of my favorite people to taste wine with). Since there are many available by the glass (about 15), have fun engaging the staff for some on-point pairings. There’s a good mix of some local wines, along with plenty of Eastern French wines, and some Northern Italian picks. There are a few local beers on draught, like Linden Street (plus wine from Scribe), and the bottled beer choices are very food-friendly: you gotta try the charcuterie with the Verhaeghe “Echte Kriekenbier” ($9) from Belgium—crikey is right.

And of course you saved room for dessert—there are options like the oh-so-creamy coconut rice pudding topped with rum raisins served in a little glass jar (I especially loved the accompanying gingersnaps, they crumbled just so), and a simple Shaker Meyer lemon pie that didn’t particularly wow me, but it was a pleasant finish nonetheless (all desserts $7.50).

The menu changes almost daily, so don’t get fussy if some of these dishes have said à bientôt. You can also come by for breakfast Wed-Fri from 8am-11am, and weekend brunch. Oh, and a tip: try not to fill up on bread, okay? Try.


Cheese of the Week: Bellwether San Andreas - Recipes

what a pleasant dinner experience. Food was excellent, in terms of taste and presentation -- Kale salad, grilled octopus, Grass fed burger, Humboldt fog cheese, bellwether san andreas cheese, and Valrhona chocolate cheesecake s/more. Wow, we were stuffed and satisfied. Our server - Joseph, is great, he knows what he is serving and friendly without bugging us too much or ignoring us at all. Highly recommend this place. Will be back

147 - 151 of 231 reviews

Amazing farm to table. Limited menu but exceptional ingredients. Knowledgeable staff. Great room and vibe. Will come back soon.

Our family stayed in the Courtyard Marriott in downtown Long Beach and the restaurant is in the hotel. We ate breakfast there and it was pretty good but food was brought out in waves. The server seemed to only be able to carry 2 plates at a time. the eggs are farm-grown and were fresh tasting. The scone was nice-not overly sugary. The waffles took awhile but were tasty and served with real maple syrup and whipped cream. The breakfast sandwich was really big. The prices are reasonable and the waitress was friendly and helpful. The restaurant was recommended by a local but we didn't try other meals there. Their menu is interesting for dinner-didn't particularly appeal to us-so check it out before deciding to eat there but breakfast was good.

If you're by the convention center, then this is one of the places to try. They have a pretty good happy hour, and the food is pretty tasty too. Good cocktails and a pretty decent wine list. We arrived early so grabbed a spot at the bar just in time for the happy hour specials. We had a cocktail and shared some cheese and meats, which were very reasonably priced. The dinner was good with some interesting dishes such as the oxtail mac n cheese. Wait staff were great when we were there.

I think my title says it all. My friends who were staying at the hotel ate at James Republic twice said both times the food was great and the service was extremely slow. When I went with them the second time the table was dirty when we sat down. I requested the server please wipe the dried red wine off the table. This was done but with no apology. If it's for lunch or dinner, Utopia, the restaurant across the street is much better.


Cheese of the Week: Bellwether San Andreas - Recipes

County line spring mix | asparagus, bellwether san andreas, pine nuts, currants

Chicory salad | endive, frisee, hobbs bacon, carrots, marcona almonds, sherry vinaigrette

Spring peas | favas, house smoked ham, poached egg, rye croutons, pea tendrils

Corn carmelle | morels, shallots, peas, thyme

Pork belly | corn pudding, pepper jelly, honey, cornbread crumble

Leek and onion soup| highway one cheese, sourdough crostini, herb salad

Grass fed filet | twice baked potatoes, asparagus, horseradish hollandaise

Berkshire pork chop | brown sugar brine, pork belly and rancho gordo pinquito bean cassoulet

Pacific halibut | lobster sausage, pea risotto, saffron pickled fennel

Wild salmon | chermoula, grilled eggplants rancho gordo lentils

Mary&rsquos chicken | farro verde risotto, citrus vin, broccoli di ciccio

Creme fraiche huckleberry mousse, graham cracker crumble, huckleberry compote

Gianduja chocolate tart, hazelnut crust, raspberry, chantilly cream

Matcha shortcake, strawberries, pistachio

Almond dacquoise, lemon curd, basil anglaise, brittle

Roasted squash bisque | coconut, pepitas

Diver scallops | carrot pudding, chorizo broth, brussel leaves

Roasted brussels | house cured bacon, apples, blue cheese, walnuts

Kabocha squash ravioli | brown butter, sage, pomegranate, hazelnuts

K&J pears | bellwether ricotta croquettes, baby kale, pecan

Octopus | potato, fennel, romesco, citrus, salmon roe

Sonoma grass fed Filet Tartare | smoked egg, crème fraîche, gaufrette potato

Sonoma grass fed filet | duck fat potatoes, broccoli di ciccio, heirloom carrot, maltaise

Superior lamb loin | spiced date, carrots, kale

Liberty duck | pomegranate, savory granola, brassicas, cherry jus

Pacific halibut | mushrooms, spinach dumplings, porcini cream

Salmon | white grits, crispy brussels, mushroom bacon, citrus

Farro verde | heirloom winter squash, carrot, sage

Manjari chocolate| Malted ice cream

Arroz con leche cake | forbidden rice ice cream, cinnamon spice cookie

Blood orange tart, mascarpone ice cream

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