Chef Katherine Stern shows chickens some tender loving care and picks up an egg too. Photo by Chip Scheuer.
Spring Blossoms at La Posta The chickens are happy and squawking in their backyard territory. The kitchen herb garden is loaded with fragrance. And chef Katherine Stern's seasonal menu sprouts beautiful plates of agnolotti with fava leaves and sugar snap peas, shaved asparagus salad with green garlic, and my new favorite—tender potato gnocchi laced with fava beans, green shallots and wild nettles. Shavings of pecorino ignite all of these sparkling spring flavors. We paired this sweet deal ($16) with an antipasto of mixed house-cured meats, including a celestial duck prosciutto. These two dishes, with some sturdy sangiovese, made a delightful meal.
Late-Breaking Cigare For those of you whose only remaining complaint with Le Cigare Volant is that you are “confined” to drinking Bonny Doon Vineyards wines, I have news that will quell your kvetching. Randall Grahm showed me a new Vins de Terroir wine list this week—soon to be available at the store and restaurant—showcasing wines of distinctive terroir and minerality from France, Italy, Germany, Spain and Australia, hand-selected by Grahm himself for inclusion on his previously all-Doon wine list. Prepare to expand your palates!
“Outstanding” Outgrowing While still tinkering around in the kitchen at Gabriella Cafe, chef/artist Jim Denevan was planning his ambitious program of bringing diners out into the fields where their food was grown. Teaming up with organic growers, purveyors, winemakers and food entrepreneurs, Denevan and his support team set up these “Outstanding in the Field” dinners from coast to coast. And in 2011, the program expanded to include Hawaii, South America and Europe. Denevan, as some of us know, is also an eco-artist whose giant sand paintings enjoy a transitory existence and are inevitably swept out with the tide. Putting these two visual ideas together—dining in scenic al fresco locations, and beach artwork—Brand USA's multi-million dollar ad campaign supporting US tourism currently uses footage of both of Denevan's pet projects. And if you're hungry for the firsthand dining encounter itself, I'm told that there are still a few spots at the “Outstanding ” table on June 11 at Tomatero Farm in Watsonville, and the Sea Cove events on June 13 and 14.
Wine of the Week Ghostwriter 2009 from Aptos Creek Vineyard. A luscious yet elegant Santa Cruz Mountain pinot noir, laced with enough tannins to support notes of sassafras, licorice, plums and minerals. 14 percent alcohol, $44, made by wunderkind Kenny Likitprakong. Celebrate being alive.
Hot Plate: Dessert of Meyer lemon semifreddo—topped with a fluff of soft meringue—accompanied by poached rhubarb and pistachio cookies. At La Posta. TDF.