Tag Archives: gardening

i8tonite: How to Put a Million Dollar Hollywood Landscape in a Bottle with Moraga Vineyards Winemaker Scott Rich & Recipe for Tuna Wasabi Canapes

i8tonite: How to Put a Million Dollar Hollywood Landscape in a Bottle with Moraga Wines Winemaker Scott Rich & Recipe for Tuna Wasabi CanapesA cursory internet search on Los Angeles wineries pulls up lists such as 10 Best Places to Go Within 50 Miles or 18 Spots to Go Wine Tasting. Although we are sure the wines are good, they don’t have the star power of, say, Napa’s Opus One or Santa Barbara’s Au Bon Climat. But, as they say, times are a changin’, and last year Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch purchased Moraga Vineyards in the tony neighborhood of Bel-Air.  Celebrities who have resided in the area include actress Meg Ryan and rocker Avril Lavigne; Star Wars creator George Lucas recently purchased his only Los Angeles home in the wealthy community, according to Variety, at nearly $34 million. Other residents over the years have included Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson, and Candy and Aaron Spelling. Therefore, Mr. Murdoch’s winery, once owned by Tom Jones, CEO at Northrup, and the former home of Gone With The Wind and Wizard of Oz director Victor Fleming, is probably one of the most expensive pieces of land in the United States…and possibly wine world.

i8tonite: How to Put a Million Dollar Hollywood Landscape in a Bottle with Moraga Wines Winemaker Scott Rich & Recipe for Tuna Wasabi CanapesEmbedded in the Santa Monica Mountains, winemaker Scott Rich, who started the making the wines under the Jones ownership, spoke to us from his home in Sonoma, where he lives part-time, tending to his vineyards and grapes at Talisman Vineyards. He travels down to the City of Angels once a week, staying three to four nights, crafting Moraga Wines under the new owner. He says, “It’s a unique grape growing area. It’s like a refrigerator at times, as we get cold Pacific Ocean air, which is only 9 miles away. We consider it hot if it reaches more than 85 degrees.”

i8tonite: How to Put a Million Dollar Hollywood Landscape in a Bottle with Moraga Wines Winemaker Scott Rich & Recipe for Tuna Wasabi Canapes

He continues, “Because of that, our wines are soft and elegant, not big and overpowering, as most associate with California.”
Rich also says that the wines they produce are from soils much like that of Bordeaux. However, true to California form, the vines sit on a fault line. “We are bisected by the Benedict Canyon fault. On one side, we have ground that was churned up two plates millions of years ago. On the south side, we have primarily uplifted sea bed. At one time, this was the Santa Monica Bay.”

i8tonite: How to Put a Million Dollar Hollywood Landscape in a Bottle with Moraga Wines Winemaker Scott Rich & Recipe for Tuna Wasabi CanapesBut at the end of the day, it’s not about the growing region so much as how they taste on the palate. Rich says, “We don’t do lots and lots of things to the fruit. We have perfect grapes, and we try not to mess them up while we craft our delicious wines.”

At the winery, the winemaking team only makes an Estate Red and an Estate Sauvignon Blanc. The white’s aromas are of peaches and nectarines, while the red is soft with currants and tobacco, which is indicative of the limestone soil. Only 10,000 bottles are produced annually, and are generally over a $100 per bottle. Not inexpensive, but it’s definitely more economical to taste the terroir in the bottle than it is to plant your mansion in the multi-million-dollar neighborhood.

i8tonite: How to Put a Million Dollar Hollywood Landscape in a Bottle with Moraga Wines Winemaker Scott Rich & Recipe for Tuna Wasabi Canapes

Food Questions with Winemaker Scott Rich (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
Meyer Lemon and Ricotta Puffed Pancake with Macerated Strawberries. It’s this beautiful lemony doughy-bottomed, airy-topped steroidal (pan)cake with slightly sweet clouds of ricotta, topped with strawberries from the garden that have been soaked in Meyer lemon and Grand Marnier

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Tortillas. Coffee. Milk (plain and chocolate). Veggies. Fruit. Leftovers.

i8tonite: How to Put a Million Dollar Hollywood Landscape in a Bottle with Moraga Wines Winemaker Scott Rich & Recipe for Tuna Wasabi CanapesWhat marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
A love of food and flavors. The sharing part is important. Curiosity.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Lack of the above.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Do you have to make a choice? There’s a lot of territory to explore in everything.

Your favorite cookbook author?
Christopher Kimball and the whole gang at Cook’s Illustrated. They do a remarkably rigorous job of testing and tweaking recipes to arrive at the best result.

Your favorite kitchen or bar tool?
A sharp knife and a corkscrew.

i8tonite: How to Put a Million Dollar Hollywood Landscape in a Bottle with Moraga Wines Winemaker Scott Rich & Recipe for Tuna Wasabi Canapes

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Italian and California/Mediterranean. It’s all about the best, freshest ingredients, rather than the process. I have a pretty decent garden and lots of fresh produce most of the year. My go-to dish during tomato season is caprese – simple preparation, rather than cooking.

Beef, chicken, pork, seafood, or tofu?
Yes.

Favorite vegetable?
Bok choy.

Chef or culinary person you most admire?
Daniel Patterson of Coi (and a few other ventures). Daniel is curious, creative, discerning, demanding, humble, and very thoughtful in his pursuits. His interests run the gamut from creating the finest, fussiest, artistic food in San Francisco to providing delicious, wholesome, inexpensive fare in one of L.A.’s poorest communities. Then there are his projects in the East Bay.

i8tonite: How to Put a Million Dollar Hollywood Landscape in a Bottle with Moraga Wines Winemaker Scott Rich & Recipe for Tuna Wasabi Canapes

Food you like the most to eat?
I’m a sucker for really good French fries. Crunchy outside, soft pillowy innards.

Food you dislike the most?
Mayonnaise.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Play.

Whom do you most admire in food?
See the question four above this one.

Where is your favorite place to eat/drink?
At home with a bunch of friends.

What is your favorite restaurant?
Coi in San Francisco for something mind-blowingly fancy and beautiful.
Pizza Azzurro in Napa for their margarita pizza and an Anchor Steam beer.
Any number of taco trucks in Sonoma.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food/wine?
No.

i8tonite: How to Put a Million Dollar Hollywood Landscape in a Bottle with Moraga Wines Winemaker Scott Rich & Recipe for Tuna Wasabi Canapes

No-Recipe Tuna Wasabi Canapes

• Pound of Ahi Tuna
• Package of won ton wrappers (found in the Asian section of your grocery store, by the tofu)
• ¼ cup of grated fresh wasabi (Japanese markets)
• Vegetable Oil
• Wok or deep skillet
• Alfalfa sprouts
• Freshly made aioli or grated garlic, mayo, and a dash of lemon juice to thin.
• Salt and Pepper

In the center of each wonton wrapper, smear some grated wasabi and alfalfa sprouts. Fold the wontons like a miniature taco and quickly fry them in about a quarter inch of oil. Drain on a paper towel. Salt and pepper the tuna and then sear in a hot pan about two minutes on each side. Cut the tuna into bite size pieces and place on a wonton. Add a dash or two of mayo for a little fat and the perfect appetizer to accompany our Moraga wines.

 

– The End. Go Eat. – 

i8tonite with St. Louis Culinary Tours’ Beth Heidrich & Charred Tomato Salsa Recipe

i8tonite with St. Louis Culinary Tours' Beth Heidrich & Charred Tomato Salsa RecipeCulinary public relations is Beth Heidrich‘s forte, and she has represented such chefs as Dean Fearing, Kent Rathbun, Daniel Boulud, Charlie Trotter, Norman VanAken, Jacques Pepin, Larry Forgione, Julian Serrano, and Julia Child. Beth began her interest in food and wine while studying abroad in Italy during college, and began her career at Mobil Five Star acclaimed The Mansion on Turtle Creek, where she managed culinary events and celebrity fundraisers. She has managed public relations campaigns for such celebrity chefs as Dean Fearing, including collaborations with ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, BBC, Food Network, The Travel Channel, MTV, Conde Nast Publications, as well as many other online, radio and print media.

i8tonite with St. Louis Culinary Tours' Beth Heidrich & Charred Tomato Salsa Recipe

 

A native St. Louisan, Beth returned home in 2003, delighted to find such a flourishing culinary industry, and she began consulting for such clients as James Beard awarded Larry Forgione (An American Place) and such hotel properties as the Ritz-Carlton and Renaissance Grand & Suites. Beth went on to work with celebrity chefs in her position at L’Ecole Culinaire as Director of Public Relations at L’Ecole and then for all of Vatterott Colleges, and she directed all marketing and public relations for Overlook Farm, including the hiring of award-winning Chef Timothy Grandinetti.

i8tonite with St. Louis Culinary Tours' Beth Heidrich & Charred Tomato Salsa Recipe
Beth and Anne Croy on FOX2

Beth co-founded the St. Louis chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier with an invitational brunch featuring Cat Cora, Iron Chef. She co-chaired the Les Dames d’Escoffier International conference in St. Louis, in October, 2012 at the Ritz Carlton and co-chaired the Farmer’s Fete event as well. Beth is currently the Member Liaison on the Executive Board with the St. Louis Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier.

i8tonite with St. Louis Culinary Tours' Beth Heidrich & Charred Tomato Salsa RecipeBeth’s business is StL Culinary Tours, an intimate experience with St. Louis’ top culinary talent, which has already garnered the title of “The top gourmet walking tour in the US” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine and “Best of the Midwest” by Midwest Living Magazine. St. Louis Culinary Tours intimately connects food enthusiasts to St. Louis’s progressive and outstanding culinary world by offering an array of kitchen tours, culinary field trips, and visits to local wineries and breweries. Through both public and private tours, they provide an exclusive look into St. Louis’ culinary scene while introducing you to the owners and chefs that make it all happen – and half of all proceeds of public tours dedicated to benefit Operation Food Search. These entertaining and informative tours provide the ultimate St Louis foodie experience. Let’s go!

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
Spaetzle – I love the process of making the dough and pushing it through the holes into the water, then sauteeing it in butter.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Homemade hot sauce

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
A sense of humor and appreciation for quality ingredients and preparation.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
A person who does not treat service staff with respect.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Cocktail

Your favorite cookbook author?
Julia Child and Jacques Pepin

Your favorite kitchen tool?
My clean hands and then knives. I love knives.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
I learned a lot of Southwest techniques from Chef Dean Fearing. My favorite thing to cook is seafood on vacation, of course near the docks.

i8tonite with St. Louis Culinary Tours' Beth Heidrich & Charred Tomato Salsa Recipe

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Pork is so exquisite in the Midwest. We have so many farmers with heritage breeds like Newman Farm, Rain Crow Ranch, and many others.

Favorite vegetable?
Spring asparagus

i8tonite with St. Louis Culinary Tours' Beth Heidrich & Charred Tomato Salsa Recipe
St Louis Culinary Tours Chef for a Day Michael with Chef Rex Hale making creme brûlée. — with Rex Hale at Boundary at the Cheshire.

Chef you most admire?
In my own city, Chef Rex Hale, hands down. Otherwise Jacques Pepin and the late Charlie Trotter.

Food you like the most to eat?
Ozark Forest Mushrooms, Baetje Farm’s World Cheese Awards winning Fleur de Valle washed-rind cheese, Eckert’s Farm’s peaches and so many fresh vegetables from our home garden in the summer.

Food you dislike the most?
Raw onions and green peppers, along with most processed food.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Karaoke

Who do you most admire in food?
Jacques Pepin

Where is your favorite place to eat?
Boundary at The Cheshire in St.Louis

What is your favorite restaurant?
Boundary at The Cheshire in St.Louis

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
No tattoos, sorry.

Recipe: Charred Tomato Salsa

My husband and I make this every summer with almost every ingredient from our own garden. We eat it all year long. We also share it with family and friends.

i8tonite with St. Louis Culinary Tours' Beth Heidrich & Charred Tomato Salsa Recipe

6 large ripe Cherokee Purple tomatoes, core removed

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, thinly sliced

6 cloves garlic

2 jalapeno chilies, stem removed

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Salt to taste

Lime juice to taste

Preheat broiler to 500 degrees.

Place tomatoes on a baking sheet and brush the tops with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place pan under broiler and char until skin is blackened, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place onion, garlic, and jalapenos on a baking sheet and drizzle with remaining olive oil. Toss to coat. Place pan in oven and roast for 12 – 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Remove pan from oven and set aside.

In a meat grinder, with a medium die, grind tomatoes, onion, garlic, and jalapenos with cilantro. To mixture add a generous amount of salt and lime juice to taste.
The End. Go Eat.

Pantry Preferences: Plainly Preferred

As a home cook, I choose my recipes very carefully. I want them to be simple. I don’t need to have toasted fennel seeds, combined with homemade harissa, needing to stir the pot every 30 minutes to make sure the reduction is only reduced by a quarter. I’m sure most of us look at recipes that are easy to make without being unhealthy.

Therefore, on a weekday night, after my Sunday farmers market grocery sprees when I get my herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil), garlic and lemons, lettuces, I start thinking about my menus. Planning the proteins, the vegetables, and preparations. I hate wasting food so I try…. it doesn’t always work…. but I try to plan around my work and social calendar. Often, I eat out at least 3 times a week. For me, that’s a lot. If I eat out more than that, I start to not feel so well. Too much rich food and not enough control over my diet. However, food is like medicine for me. I eat more vegetables, simply prepared, feeling great the next day. If I overindulge in sugar, alcohol or fats throughout the week, I start to feel less than stellar. But that’s I me. I’m approaching the mid-century mark….and like a 1950’s well oiled car, my body needs love and care. (Trust me, I danced in-and-on NYC dive bars after imbibing on my share of alcohol for decades…I need love and care! LOL.) I’m getting off topic but I do feel that it’s important to cook at home.  We have complete control over what we eat when we make it ourselves.No one can get it wrong if you do it yourself.

For me, I need to have this following pantry items at all times to make anything taste yummy and for ease throughout my week.

1. Salt and pepper (Gizmodo.com writes a brilliant essay on the pairing and noted use.) Kosher salt is the best for cooking and flavoring.

2. Extra virgin olive oil.

3. Lemons (and sometimes limes, oranges or grapefruit are good to have)….lemons though are at the always in my house.

4. Garlic

5. Fresh herbs

Optional

1. Hard italian cheeses (Parmesan, Reggiano or Asiago)

2. Flour

3. Onions

Clearly, this is based on a Mediterranean diet and I just find it simple. As long as I have the first 5 ingredients, I can make beef, poultry, seafood and vegetables taste amazing. And for me, I’m trying to keep it simple.

Let’s Make Something:

Salad Dressing: Two parts olive oil, 1 part lemon. Twist of Salt, twist of pepper. Boom!

Roasted Fish: Take one lemon and slice into several rounds. Take the fish  (salmon,cod, halibut) and place on bed of the citrus rounds.Take your chosen herbs, rough chop. Stir with some olive oil and garlic, making a think paste. Coat the fish and roast at 350 degrees for about 20 to 25 minutes Boom! Pretty too!

Chicken: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put slivers of garlic under chicken skin (breasts, thighs, legs), Heat up a pan that can go directly into oven. With the garlic stuffed chicken, place skin down and sautee until brown. Turn over and do the same. While chicken is browning, create herb paste, like above. Once chicken is browned, place face up squeeze juice of one lemon, and herb mixture onto onto poultry. Season with salt and pepper, and take lemon rind and place in skillet. Depending on the amount of chicken, cook for 30 to 45 minutes. Boom!

Farmers Market Haul and Lulu’s Gardening Class

Let’s begin with lovely Lulu’s gardening class before we get to Farmers Market Haul.

Lulu's Gardening Class

Shelley, Lauren, one of Lulu’s co-workers and Lauren’s husband, Chris, along with me, were students in Lulu’s backyard for her first-ever gardening class. Lu has been gardening since she was a child back in her homestate of Pennsylvania. It was always one of her aspirations to create an edible garden where she could cook and share her plantings. Since she purchased her home over 8 years ago in the PicFair District of Los Angeles, she has fashioned a dozen raised beds where many varieties of home-grown edibles have ripened to seasonal perfection. Being an urban/surburban kid and thinking for many years that vegetables came hidden in a supermarket’s underbelly, I’m massively awestruck by her cultivation of cantalopes and watermelons…. along with being supplied gifts from her seasonal harvests which have included lettuces (romaine, red leaf, and green leaf), tomatoes (some which she has used for canning and I used for sauces), cucumbers, artichokes, eggplant, basil, spaghetti squash, raspberries, blueberries, lemons, limes….and on and on. In each one of the approximate 2 1/2 feet by 6 feet areas, the soil has been tilled, rested and loved to reap some of the most deliciously edible gems I’ve had. There is nothing like direct farm to table to do a body good.

In this class, Lu’s immense knowledge was demonstrated when she dug up her compost turning out a dark, rich and thoroughly alive concoction with do-gooding worms (pictured). The class was a fully active hour and a half experience. For this city slicker, it still shows the difficulties of being a 21st century farmer. Farming is an arduous task. It’s about the right amount of water, sun and nutrients but I can absolutely see it’s rewards for the grower as I was rewarded cuttings from Lulu’s hardwork such as baby kale, zucchini, squash blossoms, and fresh mint.

Lulu's Compost

All of this, on this Memorial Day weekend, brings me to Farmers Market Haul. Today, it was tiny Japanese bell peppers (Yakatori Farms), purple baby artichokes (SunCoast Farms), beautiful frisee, mizuna and baby chard (Windsor Farms), green Zebra Rita’s and baby spinach (McGrath Family Farms), small sweet Maui onions for grilling (Can’t remember the farm…), and rosemary (ABC Rhubarb).

Farmers Market Haul_5_26

(It was a small shopping excursion as I had the vegetables Lulu gave me from the class.)

I love the Hollywood Farmers Market. A weekly Sunday ritual like heading to church without the pie bake off at the end. It’s reminiscent of NYC’s Union Square Market. I prefer HFM before 11:00am, before my shins are black and blue from the strollers, wagons and pushcarts but still appreciate that families bring their kids to learn about food and its production. I love the urbanity of it: hipsters with their multiple canvas bags; the mid-thirty parents, who gave their nanny the day off, and are clutching too many children and too many vegetables; the single women holding onto lattes and the bottom of their maxi-dresses; the married gay men, leering over organic zucchini and the street musicians giving the market it’s soundtrack.
There’s no competition between farmers. One of the farmers didn’t have Bloomfield spinach, a fave lovely lettuce, and pointed me to another canvas stall ala “Miracle on 34th Street”/Macy’s vs. Gimble’s sort of way. I feel like this is the way life should be, simple, uncomplicated, free of CNN’s ticker tape, which is located around the corner.

One of the great things at HFM, I get to learn about my food and ask questions of the individual purveyors. I get to know them, they know me. They become a constant. I like that. It’s a small village atmosphere in a metropolitan city. The market is there to serve and keep me, in my mind, safe…that’s why I go. Its one of the few times in my week…when out of my car and out of my apartment… I feel sheltered and we are there to buy nourishment and feel nourished.

And…no matter what I think of war or our politicians, it’s people whom I’ve known such as the farmers who had many children go to war, who help feed the young men and women who have served our country….to both, I salute you.