These beauties are the Violetta artichokes found at the Route One Farms stand at the Saturday morning farmers market in Aptos.
After my great birthday dinner on a farm, I longed to lie about and pretend it happened in the month of May, so I could boast about all the local ingredients on my blog. But that would be pathetic and cheesy.
Alas, the week since has been challenging in small ways. Cinqo de Mayo, for example, was a complete bust, because we were invited out for Mexican food with my ex (who is a Mexican). But at least we ate organically, at least somewhat: Tortilla Flats in my village of Soquel uses organic ingredients when possible.
Tuesday I happened to be downtown, and thought, "I'll finally get around to trying Cafe La Vie." I'd met the owner, the beautiful Yeyen, at Collette Cassidy's birthday party back in September. She wants to buy some farm photographs, so you think I would have hustled my butt down there sooner, but no. Cafe La Vie is making quite a buzz, serving up raw and organic food that has hardcore omnivores and vegetarians alike saying, "Man, that was good!"
Cafe La Vie is an all-organic cafe & bar located in downtown Santa Cruz. Using only organic produce from local farms, La Vie features raw and mostly-raw vegan cuisine but has a wide variety of cooked foods as well.
La Vie has brought what was once known of as a Hollywood phenomenon to Santa Cruz in an earthier, more accessible fashion. It's a warm and welcoming place for deliciously nutritious food that exceeds expectations of what vegan cuisine can be. And La Vie is contributing more to the community - including serving as an educational facility promoting wellness and healthy lifestyles.
I wish I had a photo of Yeyen to show you. She gleams. She has a beautiful voice. She is warm, and she is very professional.
I ordered sweet and spicy avocado soup with basil and chili, green onion (leave mine off, please), cayenne, and agave (the sweetener). Also Teriyaki Tempeh Roll with avocado, pea shoots, teriyaki tempeh, and "forbidden rice." And because I thought it was the virtuous thing to do, and to honor the new chef I've acquainted, Justin Severino, who recently mentioned having a "sweet tooth for beer." I laughed: beer is just something I never think of.
So, my Eat Local Challenge there was a little bit compromised by the
presence of Himalayan salt, "forbidden rice" (from China: the black
rice in the sushi, above, and it was fantastic), and probably the tempeh and nori, too. But I know where the pea shoots came from!
Tuesday's dinner was better, though. Lundberg risotto with asparagus (local), mushrooms (Monterey), and tomatoes (not local, but already in the fridge). Local butter, local wine, not-local chicken broth.
I know we ate local for dinner on Wednesday, but I honestly can't remember what we had. Or Thursday. Bad, bad, bad. Friday was Cinqo de Mayo. Hold the Mayo.
Saturday was black cod from my local bay, with a blood orange-garlic-butter sauce (all local, except the tamari), with steamed cauliflower and lemon. Last night: heaven. Pea shoot and fava bean salad with Balzana (local) olive oil and Fiscalini San Joaquin Gold cheddar, which is an award-winning cheese from over near Modesto.
And here we are on Wednesday, so I'm skipping to the chase. Or better yet, skipping the chase itself.
I wasted three farm-fresh eggs yesterday, trying to make my own mayonnaise. If only I'd known: the recipe and technique can be found in the Ruhlman Charcuterie cookbook: two pages' worth! My mistake was adding the oil too quickly, before emulsification had been achieved. Foodies at MouthfulsFood.com saved the day: counseling patience, patience. The first batch I tried in the food processor, and I used the time-honored whisk and bowl method for the batch that actually worked. Now I just need to work on balancing the ingredients.
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Have you seen the Eat Well Guide? I don't recommend it over LocalHarvest, but it's GREAT for finding sustainably grown meats and dairy products. I got an e-mail from Rachael Ryan there:
I’ve just been looking over your website, via linking from the Eat Local Challenge. I think it’s great that you’re helping to build awareness about eating locally and supporting small, family farmers. I work with an organization called the Eat Well Guide, which is affiliated with Sustainable Table. Our web address is www.eatwellguide.com. Basically, we are a search engine to help people eat sustainably and locally. Our guide of farms, stores, restaurants and organizations is meat and dairy based, as opposed to Local Harvest, which seems to be most comprehensive for produce-only farmers. We are trying to inspire consumers to avoid factory farms and instead purchase meat, poultry, eggs and dairy from healthy, naturally raised animals.
You may have heard of our organization previously via the Meatrix and the Meatrix II, both short animated online movies, produced by our organization to highlight the ills of factory farming. Our Eat Well Guide is a work in progress, but I hope that you can take a minute to look through the directory (notice that you can even adjust your search radius for 100 miles – the perfect aid for the Eat Local Challenge!), since we are trying to spread the word about it’s existence. You are, of course, free to link to us in any way.
Thanks, and good luck with the challenge!
Good to know, and good to use! Like Local Harvest, you can plug in a zip code and find people within a certain radius, including the 100-mile Eat Local Challenge parameters.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "I have had the good fortune to see how my articles
have directly benefited some farmers and helped build markets for their
products in a way that preserves land from development. That makes me a
— Michael Pollan
That's all for now. Thanks for visiting.