Archive | Fall/Winter 2010

Letter to the Editor

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dear Editor,

I really like Edible East Bay, and I look forward to reading about upcoming events, as well as local eateries and food trends. In the Harvest 2010 issue, I was very sad to see the phrase “organic, biodynamic, or sustainable farming” in Mr. Middlebrook’s wine article. Inserting “biodynamic” in between organic and sustainable only perpetuates the public’s misperception of what biodynamic actually is.

While many biodynamic practices are sustainable and organic, Rudolph Steiner’s anthroposophy, including its occult and rather dogmatic approaches, is also critical.  Planting by the phases of the moon may be harmless enough, but some of the prescriptions by Steiner still in use today are unscientific and, in a word, disgusting. For example, many of the “preparations” are bizarre, such as the stuffing of a cow peritoneum with certain items, burying it and then digging it back up again, or the use of liters of cow blood sloshed over the fields.  Confusing biodynamic with organic can lead to the perception that “biodynamic” wine is vegetarian and vegan-friendly, because hey, it’s wine, right?  Biodynamic farming methods have also not received the same peer-reviewed scientific accolades that organic and sustainable farming methods have, and should not be treated as equivalent.… Read More

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eeb goes tête-à-tête with the Foodoodler


Those who claim they can see back through the smoke into memories of Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto in the 1970s recall that there was quite a bit more going on than the currentlytold popular history tends to cover, like for instance, that there were other players besides Alice Waters, Jeremiah Tower, and Alfred Peet.

Also, they recall that as the 1970s food revolution was dawning, it was not just about heirloom tomatoes; it was also about garlic. And so it is fitting that the notorious Mr. Garlic, author of the Book of Garlic (1974), L. John Harris, has come up with a little book of cartoons and commentary to set the record straight.

In Foodoodles: From the Museum of Culinary History—Collected Cartoons & Commentaries (El Leon Literary Arts), just published this fall, Harris is at his finest, as an exuberant historical commentator wielding a devilish pencil.

Harris’s perspective on the Gourmet Ghetto’s formative years comes directly from the trenches, where in the 1970s he did stints waiting tables at Chez Panisse, cooking at the Swallow cafe, mongering cheese at the Cheese Board (before it became a collective), and hawking sausage at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire, all the while steadfastly dedicating himself to the promulgation of mirth.… Read More

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Heritage Wheat


What would it take to revive a local grain economy?
Part I
By Elizabet h Linhart Money
Photos by Teal Dudziak

We Bay Area diners can be a discriminating bunch. We like knowing where our food comes from and we want to taste the landscape in every bite. We get a kick out of curing our own olives, chatting with the tattooed kid who makes our favorite salumi, and debating over the best way to brew locally roasted coffee.  For us, perfection can be found at a table brimming with farm-fresh produce, local artisan cheese and chocolate, and meat that was raised on pasture at a small ranch not too far away. Some of us daydream that one day the bread we break might also be a truly local product, made from heirloom wheat grown here in our foodshed.

In fact, local heritage wheat is already available. At some of the East Bay farmers markets, you can find wheat berries and freshly milled flour from Full Belly Farm or Massa Organics. At the Morrell’s Bread market stand, you’ll find a dense, chewy loaf that Eduardo Morrell makes using the Full Belly heritage wheat, baking it in a brick oven at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Marin.… Read More

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On the Cusp of Greatness?


California’s Intensive Olive Oil Industry
By Tim Kingston

If ever there was a market sector ready to take off, California olive oil is it, and Dino Cortopassi, founder of Stockton’s family-owned Corto Olive Oil, is doing all he can to give wings to his product. Cortopassi looks every inch the canny farmer and family patriarch. Under a battered baseball cap that shades a deeply lined, farm-tanned face are eyes that twinkle and glitter with the intelligence of a raven.  His frame displays a familiarity with the best of Italian home cooking.

Cortopassi possesses the energy of a man far younger than his 72 years. A farmer/businessman in his prime, he is ever ready to work the next angle. The Cortopassi family’s three farms make up a mosaic of roughly 7,000 acres in the Central Valley, and their patriarch has a long history of innovation and marketing acumen: Dino started Stanislaus Food Products, known for “fresh-packed” canned tomatoes popular with pizzerias nationwide, as well as Muir Glen Organic Tomatoes, which pioneered large-scale organic farming. Cortopassi also built up the world’s largest kidney bean production facility and is using intensive apple orchard farming techniques recently imported from Australia.

“Dino is an entrepreneur, a business-minded creative thinker,” explains Brady Whitlow, president of Corto Olive Oil.… Read More

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Jessica Prentice, Maggie Gosselin, and Sarah Klein created the Local Foods Wheel to help us all enjoy the freshest, tastiest, and most ecologically sound food choices month by month. Here are Jessica’s seven best bets for the fall and winter season. You can learn more about the Local Foods Wheel and the group’s other ventures at

Cured Meats: On many traditional family farms, one of the last tasks of the harvest season was to slaughter a fattened hog and cure the meat to add to the family’s winter larder. Hams, bacon, trotters (feet), hocks, and a wide variety of sausages would be salted, smoked, and sometimes fermented before being stored for the winter. They would be brought into the kitchen judiciously as needed, to be added to other dishes or enjoyed on their own. Even if it’s hard to keep this tradition in the city, we are lucky to be able to enjoy many varieties of cured meats from such local, artisanal producers as Fatted Calf and Boccalone.

Brussels Sprouts: Maligned by some, these little treasures are a locavore’s delight when they can be found at our winter farmers markets. Brussels sprouts are sweeter after a frost, so they make an ideal winter treat.… Read More

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Grilled Potimarron with Salsa Verde

This Italian style salsa verde can be made with any combination of herbs. “Don’t be afraid to experiment.” —AP

1 fully mature potimarron, cut into wedges
1 medium shallot, minced
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves only (about 2
cups), finely chopped
½ bunch mint, leaves only (about ½ cup), finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 anchovy fillets, minced
1 tablespoon capers, drained and minced
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt to taste

To make the salsa verde, combine the minced shallot and vinegar in a small bowl and let stand for 10 minutes. In a food processor, combine the parsley, mint, garlic, anchovies, and capers and process until combined. Add the shallot-and-vinegar mixture. With the machine on, slowly pour in the olive oil until incorporated. Season with salt.

Grill the squash until soft and serve topped with the salsa verde. Serves 4.

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Potimarron with Almonds, Garlic, and Aleppo Pepper

A good way to use semi-mature potimarron. Even at full maturity, potimarron has a tender skin that does not need to be pared away.

1 potimarron, cut into wedges
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups slivered almonds
1 tablespoon garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon canola or grapeseed oil
Pinch salt
Pinch Aleppo pepper
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 lemon, sliced

Preheat oven to 350°. Toss potimarron with olive oil, place on a baking sheet, and roast until the wedges have softened and started to brown (about 40 minutes). Toss almonds and garlic in
the canola or grapeseed oil, place over parchment on a baking sheet, and roast until lightly toasted.

Remove from oven and toss in a bowl with the salt and Aleppo pepper. When the squash is fully roasted, place on a serving dish and top with the toasted almond mix, a pinch of parsley, and a slice of lemon. Grate some Parmigiano over the top. Serves 4.

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Potimarron Jeune in Tomato Sauce

“The possibilities on this riff are endless. Try it with any summer squash variety.” —AP

Several potimarron jeune (or summer squash), cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large Italian eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
12 ounces of an oily type fish, such as yellowtail,
tuna, sardines, or mackerel
2 cups tomato sauce (arrabiata, puttanesca, or with herbes de Provence)
3 ounces oil-cured olives or a really garlicky aioli

Preheat oven to 350°. Toss the potimarron and eggplant cubes in olive oil, place on a baking sheet, and roast until the cubes have softened and started to brown (about 40 minutes). When they
are nearly done, start grilling the fish. Place the tomato sauce in a sauté pan and add the roasted squash and eggplant cubes, stewing them all “à la minute.” Divide the mixture onto 4 serving plates and top each with a piece of grilled fish. Garnish with the olives or aioli. Serves 4.

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Black Futsu in Green Curry Sauce

At Sea Salt, they love black futsu for the “fudge-like” texture of its golden flesh, which has a rich taste resembling hazelnuts, and for the edible skin that gets somewhat crisp when roasted.

1 large black futsu squash, cut into 1-inch-thick half moons
6 tablespoons butter
½ medium-sized onion, chopped
1 two-inch piece fresh ginger, minced
2 stalks lemongrass (Cut away and discard the green portions and then bruise the remaining portion with the back of a knife before slicing thinly.)
3 green apples, peeled and diced
Zest of 2 limes
2 tablespoons green curry paste
2 cans coconut milk
½ cup cream (optional)
1 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped
(Reserve a few whole sprigs for garnish.)

Preheat oven to 350°. Clarify 2 tablespoons butter and use it to coat the squash segments. Lay them on a baking sheet, salt lightly, and roast until the squash is soft and its skin is crisp. Meanwhile, melt the rest of the butter in a saucepan and sauté onion, ginger, lemongrass, and apple until soft. Allow to cool and then pureé in a blender or food processor along with the lime zest, curry paste, coconut milk, cream, and cilantro. Just before serving, gently heat the curry sauce while arranging the roasted squash slices onto plates.… Read More

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By Cheryl Angelina Koehler
Illustration by helen krayenhoff

Should you find yourself blessed with a specimen of this uniquely beautiful winter squash, you might do exactly as I did and place it on the kitchen table to admire for several weeks. Then you might give it to an artist friend to paint. And sometime later, when it has cured to a rich chestnut color, you might finally eat it.  My black futsu, as illustrated above by Helen Krayenhoff, was one of several mysterious heirloom Cucurbitaceae maxima brought back from a September visit to Baia Nicchia, a 9.-acre farm in the Sunol Agricultural Park. The head of this farm is Fred Hempel, a geneticist best known for his tomato-breeding program. Fred has something of the mad scientist about him, and he seems to have created a vortex into which an assortment of renegade growers, seed-savers, and chefs have fallen, captured by a shared fascination with the multifaceted aspects of nature.

Fred is also impatient. Throughout the long Sunolian summer, he was picking samples of immature winter squash and sending them off with his chef friends for culinary experimentation. They found that some work perfectly well as substitutes for summer squash, and even offer new and interesting flavors and textures.… Read More

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