Thursday, February 21, 2013

Salad heaven

  Santa Fe bistro Vinaigrette knocks it clear out of the park for locally-sourced, fantastically innovative salads. I was there for lunch yesterday and, by my host's suggestion, ordered the All Kale Caesar! salad. As promised, it was about the most flavorful salad I've ever had, with a combination of flavors I would never have expected in such a dish, nor that I think I've ever experienced in a green salad. Here's the description from the menu:
Shredded super-food kale with a zingy, zestry lemon-anchovy vinaigrette, fresh parmesan and chopped Marcona almonds.

The three of us in our lunch group all had this dish, and all added fresh, grilled Ruby trout. It was a delicious, filling meal (I took some home in a compostable carry-out box) and I am now hell-bent on recreating it for myself, since (sadly) I don't live in Santa Fe (yet).

These folks use locally-sourced, organic produce: "Much of the restaurant's organic produce is grown on owner Erin Wade's 10-acre Nambe farm, Los Portales." Great, locally-sourced food, lively, natural-light atmosphere, snappy service. What could be better? Well, me living nearby.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Kale in February

Say what you want about California and/or Californians, but the climate is great. I started these kale (and a couple of others) from seed in November. Though we've had some freezes, and I still have to cover them some nights, I've been harvesting fresh kale—if only a few leaves at a time for now.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Eat local!

Huevos Montulenos. $10, gluten-free.

Seems to me that one of the biggest boosts to re-localizing our economic activity will be the sheer delight of local foods. This morning I had a delicious breakfast at Roots Catering, a Chico business that, having success under its belt with its catering and banquet hall business is expanding into the restaurant arena. Owners David and Kelly Gomez put strong emphasis on fresh, locally sourced ingredients, high quality, and excellent service. In my single at-table encounter, I can say they have succeeded on all counts. I also happen to know two of their employees (one is my nephew, who served me this morning!), and all reports indicate that Roots is serious about delivering on its commitments. The restaurant uses their banquet hall space. It's a warm and sunny space of columns and arches, with bar/register in the middle, dividing the hall into two lobes. The lovely faux-finish floor complements the warm paint tones in the walls, and guests are surrounded by large photo prints of local Chico points of interest. I can imagine the space becoming very reverberant with a noisy party crowd, but acoustical fine points can be addressed later. They've been open for breakfast only a month, and have plans to add lunch soon.

My breakfast, pictured above, came recommended by my server, and was a delightful blend of flavors. Stacked atop two crispy-fresh corn tortillas were grilled ham, gouda cheese, black beans, and two eggs over medium, liberally topped with chipotle salsa, peas, green onions, and queso fresco from nearby Orland Creamery (20 miles west of Chico). Perfectly prepared plantains played king-of-the-hill on this filling and delicious breakfast stack. Everything tasted fresh and what could easily have become a soggy, chaotic sludge pile maintained the integrity of the individual components while blending together into a compatible whole. On the side, the chicken apple sausages were among the best I've had. I don't know their origin, but I presume they are house-made, or at least locally acquired. The tortillas appeared to be house-made, though I didn't verify that. With a glass of sadly not fresh-squeezed orange juice (something they could add in future, given the manpower), I was out the door for about $16 before tip (I tipped my nephew well; I want him to think fondly of his visiting uncle!). And I was full and very pleased. The best breakfast I've had out in a long time!

This is what it's about, folks. Fresh, local food, prepared (and served!) by people you know, or could easily come to know—members of your community, your circle of immediate financial influence, if you will. Toss in a few well-considered culinary ideas (the rest of the Roots breakfast menu was so tempting I was hard-pressed to make my selection), and you've got the makings of a community-building local destination that helps make the ties that bind. Us. Together. As we always are, and should recognize the fact.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

And we have the gall to laugh at the "quaint" or "bizarre" ways of our forebears.

365 days of makeup applied to a woman's face in one day.

Now is the time to stop laughing.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Chinese choke on "blue sky" irony

This WSJ article describes China's (specifically, Beijing's) air pollution woes, and sheds a hazy light on both the new, developed-world sort of problems the world's most populous nation faces and on its government's slowly evolving response to them.

How ironic it would be if they had continued to call high-pollution days "blue sky days," while the people all died off of respiratory-related illnesses. China's acceleration of development will require equal acceleration of environmental stewardship or they risk massive catastrophes, the air quality of Beijing being just a taste of what's to come.