Archive for August, 2011

August 18, 2011

Andy’s Orchard and a Gorgeous Nectarine Tart

What a fun day this was! 
“Andy’s Orchard
award-winning, tree-ripened fruit is artisan fruit–grown, harvested, handled and shipped with special care– known for its flavor and delicacy; it has been featured in Gourmet and Sunset magazines”. Andy has one of the largest collections of stone fruit varieties on the west coast and is a noted fruit expert for the California Rare Fruit Growers organization. July-August are the peak harvest months for peaches, plums and nectarines – they were just perfect. I was invited as a guest to hang out at Andy’s with a fun group known as Bakers Dozen, they were having a special orchard tour and tasting this day. We must have sampled over 60 varieties, some common and some heirlooms that are very rare and not available anywhere other than Andy’s (ya, I know – don’t hate me). Each sample was sweeter and more complex than the next. With exhausted palettes, we staggered out to the orchards on an extended tour, our heads spinning in a heavenly sugar bliss. As we were guided through the orchard, we were free to hunt and gather our favorites from the tasting. It seemed like every other row was a different variety. Being tall, I definitely had the edge for getting to the untouched, perfectly ripe fruit on the upper branches!
What a jewel of a place, put this on your short list of places to stop by. Once you’ve tasted Andy’s fruit, no other will compare.

I knew before I got to the orchard that I wanted to make a tart, but didn’t realize there would be so many choices! The winner? Summer Fire Nectarines. Wow, these were perfectly sweet, slightly tart and firm but soft – so beautiful with their bright red center and brilliant orange flesh. I wouldn’t dare cook these, so I decided to make a Fresh Nectarine tart with hints of Meyer lemon and almonds. ~K.

August 13, 2011

A full belly at Full Belly Farm

Happy Chickens, or shall I say happy “Mobile” chickens, they’re moved from plot to plot enjoying leftover grains and seeds.

Red onions drying and sweetening in the California sun.

Apricots, Nectarines and Plums, these were the best dried fruits I’ve ever eaten.

Herb garden.

Flowers drying while hanging from the ceiling – I wish you could have smelled these!

First Course – Perfectly ripe figs with aged cheddar and balsamic.

Second Course – Fresh zucchini salad with shaved red onions and herbs. Great wine too!

Third Course – Fettuccine (made with happy eggs), farm-made bacon and ricotta, golden tomatoes and a touch of sweet cream.

Forth Course – Wheat Berry salad with heirloom tomatoes and speckled with goat cheese and herbs. Long cooked pork (below) with onions and preserved lemon. Simply Heaven.

Sorry, no pic of the wonderful Apricot Tart with fresh cinnamon ice cream – it went so fast that I didn’t have a chance to snap a shot…delish!

Full Belly Farm is a 300-acre certified organic farm in the Capay Valley, Northern California. That’s about 2 1/2 hours Northeast from us here in Santa Cruz. With over 80 different crops of vegetables, herbs, nuts, flowers, and fruits, the farm operates year round. They also have chickens, sheep, goats, several cows and a few adorable dogs.
Ursula (aka: Chef extraordinaire and long time friend) and I have been planning this trip since the spring and have been looking forward to this dinner for weeks. The day finally rolled around and we excitedly load up the car with our better halves and hit the road.  It took us all of about 30 minutes to tear into the “mobile picnic” that Ursula packed for us. It made the drive through the east bay traffic a lot more bearable. Actually… that lunch would have made driving through east Los Angeles, at night, in a convertible, more bearable. Ham and cheese sandwiches on sourdough bread, fresh berries, pretzels and shortbread cookies, “just a little something she threw together” – thanks Ursula!
We arrived at the farm a tad early which gave us the opportunity to unwind from our mini road trip and soak in some country living. We sat under the walnut trees watching the other dinner guests slowly trickle in, smiles on their faces and as full of anticipation as we were – is it time yet?

When everyone arrived, (25 total) we headed off on a walking tour of the farm. Judith Redmond passionately guided, educated and inspired us through the fruit and nut orchards, we met some friendly chickens and goats, ending up down at the river. Once cooled off we continued out past the herbs and vegetables, to the rows of onions and stone fruits basking in the sun (did I mention how wonderful these were?!). Then back around through the grape vines gradually making our way back to a beautifully set table where we chatted with one of the owners Paul Muller and other guests. Chef Amon Muller and Jenna Clemens (btw, congratulations on your wedding!) greeted us with wine, fresh-baked bread and our first dinner course. Everything we were offered, from the lemon verbena infused water to the wine, the fruits and veggies bursting with freshness to the “farm”made bacon, was grown and produced right there on the farm. I can’t put into words what it feels like to eat pasta lovingly made with the same hands that gathered the eggs (from the happy chickens) that we had met a short time earlier. Or to eat an apricot tart after just walking through the orchard from which they were grown and picked just before being sliced and placed in the oven. This is food that speaks to you without the use of words, with each bite. This is how food should taste, this is how the land is meant to be treated. This is a day and meal that I won’t forget.
To the wonderful people at Full Belly Farm – thank you for filling my soul (and my stomach).


How to contact Full Belly Farm
Main Office
Telephone: 530-796-2214
FAX: 530-796-2199
Mailing address: P.O. Box 251, Guinda, CA 95637

CSA Information
Telephone: 800-791-2110
FAX: 530-796-2199
Mailing address: P.O. Box 220, Guinda, CA 95637

Where to buy this farm’s products:
Full Belly Farm CSA
Berkley Farmers’ Market
Palo Alto Farmers’ Market
Marin Farmers Market at the Thursday Civic Center

Restaurants that serve products from this farm:
Adagia, Berkeley, CA
Boulette’s Larder, San Francisco, CA
Camino, Oakland, CA
Chez Panisse, Berkeley, CA
Flea Street Café, Menlo Park, CA
Lalimes, Berkeley, CA
NOPA, San Francisco, CA
Oliveto, Oakland, CA
Pizzaiolo, Oakland, CA
Quince, San Francisco, CA
The Fatted Calf, Napa, CA
The Waterboy, Sacramento, CA
Zuni Café, San Francisco, CA

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