Monday, May 31, 2010

In the Field! Outstanding!

I have always wanted to attend a dinner hosted by the organization, Outstanding in the Field. They began in 1999 and David Kinch was one of the first chefs to participate in the event. They combine farmers with chefs and winemakers to create an amazing dining experience. We chose their event in Ojai at Rio Gozo Farm. I love Ojai and it was a great chance to combine this with a quick trip home to Ventura.
We brought our own dishes....a way for the guests to bring something to the table.
And walked through the dirt to where the gathering would begin.
Jim Denevan, the man in the hat, is the founder. What a visionary! His organizer is in the middle and the farmer, John Fonteyn is on the right. They all spoke about their ideas of the slow food movement and what the harvest represents for us all. It was quite inspiring and John the farmer, was the most eloquent farmer I have ever heard speak (besides Alain, of course!).
The plates began to arrive along with the guests and the Rio Gozo pixie tangerines were sweet!
As we walked and toured the farm to arrive at the surprise location of the table, this was the first glimpse we had of it!
The table was set for 170 guests!
Yes, 170 people on the farm....dirt under our feet, bugs flying in the air, the Ojai mountain tops as the backdrop and food and wine as local and purely organic as you can dream of!

Our first course, Rio Gozo roasted beets and mint. Petty Ranch blood oranges and avocado. Healthy Family Farms goat cheese and Ojai olive oil! We had a wonderful Santa Ynez Valley Rose (2009 Vogelzang Rose) along with it.
The 2nd course was Rio Gozo grilled squash, fennel confit, wilted romaine leaves, fennel frond bagna cauda, and grilled Meyer lemon. For the wine, we enjoyed a 2007 Nebbiolo from Stolpman Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley.
Oh, the Niman Ranch braised short ribs melted in our mouths! Served with green garlic creamed swiss chard and Nantes carrots, we were in heaven. The wine, and my favorite of the evening, was a 2007 Petite Sirah, Branham/Obsidian Vineyard.
Dessert was grilled brioche "French toast" , Ventura Limoncello sabayone (who knew Ventura had a Limoncello maker!) and Rio Gozo mulberries picked just that morning. They were the first mulberries I had ever experienced! So sweet and so beautiful!
Toward the end of the evening, the winemaker looked pretty relaxed. We all were. What an experience to sit down to dinner with so many people who are interested in food; from farm to table. It was an honor to sit across from farmer John and hear the passion in his voice when he talked about his crops. How wonderful to know that Chef Tim Kilcoyne (The Sidecar Restaurant, Ventura) treats John like a visionary and not like a guy peddling his crops. Everywhere you looked there was fabulous food, beautiful color, and fine wines all made more special by the respect that the guests brought to the table. Outstanding! Outstanding in the Field! (
As we strolled back off the farm and into our car, we headed to the Ojai Valley Inn for a good night's sleep. With such a great moment behind us, we felt the joy of a most nurturing and inspiring evening. Only sweet dreams could follow!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Straight Shooter!

The time has passed quickly and slowly in moments. Camille, it seems, left just a moment ago for her four year college experience in Saint Andrews, Scotland. And now, as the week ticks by, the time is up and the next phase is in the works. How can that be?

All I know is that when Camille was warm and cozy inside of me, I promised her that I would do my best to help her be a balanced, generous and respectful human being. I promised myself that I wouldn't hold on too tightly so that she could grow and become a confident, self-reliant young lady. I think I kept my promises to both of us and now as she graduates, I know that she will take aim and fire in the direction of her dreams and that with luck and support, she will hit her target! Camille is a straight shooter and I am her lucky mother.

Somewhere Over The Rainbow

We can hope for many things in life and heaven knows I like to dream big! I am here to say that there are days when the gifts we can only imagine, appear right before our very eyes. The rain turns to mist, the sun sneeks out and nature dances across the sky.

Today was a day like that. The sky opened up and my world was filled with people whose generous hearts pumped life back into mine. Sometimes I feel depeleted, in need of a deep breath and a good friend. I found my breath in the kind, written words of a friend who understood my heart and shared his. And then, I found another breath in two other friends who took the time out of their day to visit my parents and to pay hommage to the home where I grew up. They described the experience as a completion of the bond of our friendship. I was moved and honored.
Somewhere over the rainbow, is right here in my heart.

Dressed to Kill!

Once in a great while, I am invited to a party where it is imperative to "dress to kill"! This party in San Francisco was that invitation. So dressed, masked and pouffed just right, I headed out into the night to attend this masked ball!
Doormen the likes I had not seen before greeted us...
Liquid mini pools of vodka, everpresent!
The master of ceremony, Ken Fulk!
Mask back on until 11:30!
Multi-levels of eye candy, detail, vibe, and music.
Ms. Hale, the honoree.
Ambience like no other.
Imagery that lasted well into the night.
Who is that masked man? Anyone you want him to be! Crazy, crazy, fabulous party!