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Welcome to Gardens to Tables
The Gardens of the Huntington Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   
Saturday, 21 April 2012 15:56

Huntington Japanese GardenIt somehow doesn't feel right using the word "tucked" when describing the location of the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California. The fact that the Huntington spans 207 acres would seem to make it difficult to tuck it anywhere. But that is exactly the feeling one gets after leaving the Los Angeles freeways that take you into Pasadena, past CalTech and then into the residential community where the Huntington is located. Originally a ranch, Henry Huntington bought the land in 1903. His superintendent William Hertrich then helped develop the plant collections for the botanical gardens, which now feature more than 14,000 different varieties of plants in more than a dozen garden areas.

Huntington Rose GardenThe Huntington's Japanese Garden (above), originally built in 1912 and a favorite since the Huntington opened to the public in 1928, recently reopened after a year-long $6.8 million renovation. New elements include an authentic ceremonial tea house, a restoration of the original Japanese House, repairs to the water infrastructure and pathways, and the addition of a waterfall. Additional gardens on the expansive grounds include the Australian Garden, Camellia Garden, Children's Garden, Chinese Garden, Desert Garden, Herb Garden, Jungle Garden and the Rose Garden (right). Upcoming events of interest to gardeners include the Huntington's annual plant sale, going on Sunday, April 29 (with a members' preview on April 28). For those who can't make the bigger event, there's a free garden tour and plant sale on the second Thursday of every month. Or there's the popular Tea & Tour, which includes a morning docent-led tour of the gardens followed by English tea in the Rose Garden Tea Room.

For those that want to further their "Huntington" experience, nearby The Langham Huntington, Pasadena, also offers beautifully landscaped gardens (including a Japanese garden) as part of its 23 acres. The hotel is featuring a "Gastronomy in the Garden" dinner on August 23, where Royce Chef David Feau will create a tasting menu featuring seasonal produce from the hotel's organic garden. For more information, call 626-585-6218 or visit pasadena.langhamhotels.com.

 
Farm-to-Table Street Tacos from the San Diego Convention Center Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   
Wednesday, 04 April 2012 14:24

San Diego Convention CenterIt's one thing to provide farm-to-table fare in the home or a small restaurant. It's quite another when you're doing it for really large groups, but that's just what Executive Chef Jeff Leidy does in his position at the San Diego Convention Center. At a recent gathering of, oh, a few thousand people, Leidy provided a reception-style Mexican fiesta with ingredients sourced from within 100 miles (which includes the northern Baja region of Mexico) of the center. Even better, Leidy is now offering some of his signature recipes sized down for home cooks. Below (click "read more") is his recipe for Carne Asada or Chicken Street Tacos, filled with all sorts of great spring and summer produce like tomatoes, jalapenos, onions, limes and cilantro. Additional recipes can be found on the San Diego Convention Center's site. Enjoy!

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A Spring Cocktail Menu That Honors Farmers from Locanda del Lago Print E-mail
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Written by Ann Shepphird   
Thursday, 22 March 2012 14:14

Lago caprese martiniIn honor of spring, Locanda del Lago restaurant in Santa Monica has launched a spring cocktail menu that celebrates the farmers who grow the produce used in the cocktails -- all regulars at the Santa Monica Farmers Market, located right outside the restaurant's door. For those of us for whom spring brings thoughts of TOMATOES (and Tomatomania, which has started its annual seedling sale -- click here for locations and dates), there is The Wong Farm, a Caprese-style martini made with cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, a dash of balsamic vinegar, and cubed mozzarella as a garnish. For those who like their cocktails a bit more sweet, Maggie's Farm features fresh sage, cucumber and prosecco. Recipes for both are below. Hello Spring!!!

The Wong Farm (Caprese Martini)
4 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 sprigs fresh basil
A dash of balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar
2 1/2 oz. Crop Organic Tomato Vodka
Fresh mozzarella

Muddle tomatoes, sugar and basil together, add vodka and vinegar and shake vigorously. Pour into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a skewer of alternating cherry tomato halves and cubed fresh mozzarella

The Maggie's Farm (Sage Mist)
4 sprigs fresh sage
4 slices cucumber
2 oz Crop Organic Cucumber Vodka
1 tsp sugar
1 oz. prosecco

Muddle cucumber and sugar, add vodka, then shake vigorously. Note: Do not muddle sage; it bruises the leaves and leaves a bitter taste. Serve in chilled martini glass, then top off with a prosecco floater. Garnish with a floating cucumber slice.

 
Parmesan Risotto with Parsnips, Kale and Watercress from Laguna's Three Seventy Common Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   
Sunday, 18 March 2012 14:47

Chef Ryan AdamsIt's no secret that Laguna Beach, California, is a bit of a farm-to-table foodie paradise -- something I covered recently in a story for FarewellTravels.com. What's even better is the number of young chefs who've opened their own restaurants in the city's downtown with an emphasis on farm-to-table. These include Chef Ryan Adams (left), who opened Three Seventy Common last year. A Laguna native, Chef Ryan grew up working with the fresh fruit and vegetables from his mom's extensive garden. He still does: When we were there she had recently come in with bushels of Meyer Lemons and Blood Red Oranges, which he turned into new menu items and fresh cocktails.

During our visit, Chef Ryan told us that due to the end of mushroom season, he was about to switch out his very popular wild mushroom risotto with one that featured parsnips, kale and watercress. Even better for those of us who are more likely to grow parsnips, kale and watercress than to forage for wild mushrooms, he was kind enough to share the recipe. Enjoy!

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Discovering Kozlik's Canadian Mustard at Toronto's St. Lawrence Market Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   
Saturday, 03 March 2012 16:13

Kozlik's at St. Lawrence MarketOne of my favorite things to do when traveling is to find the local fresh market as it's where you really learn what it's like to live -- and eat -- as a local. In Toronto, this was the St. Lawrence Market, an easy walk from almost anywhere in the downtown area and open Tuesday-Saturday, with a special farmers' market added on Saturdays. Highlights of the 120 vendors at the market include the Carousel Bakery and their "world-famous peameal bacon sandwich," and the Market Kitchen, which offers cooking classes.

But for a truly local experience, Anton Kozlik's Canadian Mustard -- a staple at the market since 1948 -- is the place to go. Made in a variety of spicy, savory and sweet flavors using local ingredients, it can be hard to choose. I went with a Dijon by Anton and a Lime & Honey that's been great in salad dressings. Even better, they offer recipes for each of the mustards. With tomato season on the horizon, here's their recipe for Green Peppercorn Tomatoes with Goat Cheese. Enjoy!

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