The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2015

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 69 of 136

It's the rare restaurant these days that doesn't insist that its ingredients have come directly from a farm just down the street. Consider Mendocino Farms in Southern California—a fast food concept where you order at the door and wait for your name to be called. The crowds are serious—and while they wait, they can consider that the greens, heirloom tomatoes and herbs come from Farmer Jeff at Scarborough Farms, the strawberry-rhubarb jam served with Chef Judy's peanut butter is from Coldwater Canyon Provisions and the "happy and healthy" free-range chicken is from Petaluma Poultry. And this is not, of course, a trend from the lower end of the spectrum. And goodness knows, it's far from new. Nearly half a century ago, when Alice Waters first opened Chez Panisse in a wooden house in Berkeley, she made a point of letting diners know where her provender had come from—often, indeed, from a neighbor in the nearby hills, who had shown up at the back door with a basket of odds and ends pulled from the backyard. Eat at the highly respected Gramercy Tavern in New York City, and you find your Cremont Cheese is from Websterville, Vermont, while your Prairie Breeze is from Milton, Iowa. Go uptown to Michael's, and you'll find your prime New York steak is from DeBragga and Spitler. It's a trend with legs—and goodness knows, the wine lists at farm-to-table eateries are heavy with micro- locations, while the ingredients used in the cocktails virtually come with street addresses. In an age of trends that come with the rapidity of Taylor Swift's onstage outfits, how has this trend not just survived, but become the defining trend of 2015? Richard Drapkin, Consulting Partner at Manhattan House, a Manhattan Beach, CA restaurant that grows most of its own produce, explains that, "There's a sense that if you know where your food came from, it will be good for you, and good for the environment. It's an argument made in Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma—that we want to understand how what we eat came to be on the plate—and we want some involve- ment in its being there. It goes with the rise of the local farmer's market—we want to be involved." And at some of the most farm-to-table obsessed restaurants—and there are many—the symbiosis can be a powerful one. Chef David Kinch of Manresa in Los Gatos, California, is so committed to produce from the nearby Love Apple Farm, the owner actually filled her swimming pool with soil to keep up with need for fresh ingredients. And those ingredients can be many; one of his dishes is called "Into the Vegetable Garden," a plate of 30 vegetables, herbs, roots, flowers and leaves, served with "edible dirt" made from root vegetables. Not just farm-to-table, but a taste of the farm itself, as well. Editor's Note: For those of you who want to know more, read more and get the inside scoop on this topic, be sure to read our new sister publication, The Clever Root. Sign up today for your subscription: Crafted in small batches from an extract of fresh elderfl ower blossoms, St. Elder makes every drink irresistible. Try it with a variety of spirits, wines and beer. REFRESH YOUR SPIRIT. ©2015 Produced & Bottled By St. Elder, Ltd., Somerville, MA. 20% Alc/Vol (40 Proof). PLEASE ENJOY RESPONSIBLY. For more recipe inspirations, please visit "BEST OF SHOW" Crafted in small batches from an extract of fresh elderfl ower St. Elder GREYHOUND St. Elder, Vodka, Grapefruit, Mint garnish

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Tasting Panel magazine - November 2015