Olympia Oysters from Carlsbad Aquafarm prepared by Michael Millar at the Ark of Taste Tasting

April 5th, 2014 by Stacey Blaschke


Our Ark of Taste Tasting is a living and growing catalog of delicious and distinctive foods facing extinction. The idea behind the this Ark of Taste catalog is continued education, identification and championing of these foods to make sure they continue to be produced and will be available for us to enjoy and eat.

Join us at the event, tickets are still available for our Saturday April 12th event and can be purchased at http://slowfoodoc-seeds-tasteofarkoftaste.eventbrite.com

The Ark of Taste catalog is also a tool for farmers, ranchers, fishers, chefs, grocers, educators and consumers to celebrate and preserve our country’s diverse biological, cultural and culinary heritage.

At our upcoming tasting event we will be serving what is now the West Coast’s only indigenous rare oyster, the Olympia Oyster, which used to be plentiful along the West Coast but because of its popularity was overfished and almost completely disappeared.


Photo by VIUDeepBay from Flickr

A century and a half ago Mark Twain exclaimed, “T’was a brave person indeed, who first ate an oyster”. Yet like many San Franciscans in the 1860’s, he fell in love with the west coast’s native Olympia oyster. After abandoning the Mississippi riverboats for fear of being drafted into the army, Twain traveled to California and took lodgings at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco, a hotel he soon titled “Heaven on the half shell”. There he wrote about gorging on the petite, coppery-flavored bivalves and indulgences until midnight on “oysters done-up in all kinds of seductive styles”. The Oly, as it was called, was the classic gold rush oyster, a staple of celebrations and everyday meals in San Francisco restaurants and oyster saloons.

It didn’t take long before the boom-town’s residents had mostly wiped out the native oyster population of San Francisco Bay and were getting oysters from whoever could ship them in especially Washington and Oregon who also sacked their native oyster beds to feed a growing California population. San Francisco’s appetites nearly wiped out the Olympia oysters.

Also contributing to the decline in cultured Olympia oyster production have been civil engineering projects in estuary areas along with urbanization and domestic and industrial pollution. Yet despite all this delicious oyster is slowly making a comeback.

carlsbadaquafarmThe oysters we will be serving are locally sourced and sustainably farmed in Carlsbad and have been donated for the event from Carlsbad Aquafarm, www.carlsbadaquafarm.com.

The oysters will be prepared by Slow Food OC member Michael Millar who also prepared oysters for all our guests last year at our Slow Food OC tour of the Carlsbad Aquafarm.

For the tour Michael smoked the oysters. His recipe for Smoked Oysters can be viewed on our blog also.

Michael’s Bio:

Michael’s cooking experience began in childhood, learning from his mother who prepared healthy meals for a family of nine on a daily basis. His first job in the food industry was assistant cook at a Girl Scout camp near San Luis Obispo, California, which he says was probably  the strangest job a 15 year-old could possibly have. But the sirens’ call of the theatre drew him to a career in stage production. He is currently the Production Manager for Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Theatre, a program that uses live storytelling to teach children and their families healthy choices such as nutritious eating and active living.

He discovered Slow Food while flying to Portugal, reading the cover article of the New York Times magazine that would become Michael Pollan’s book “The Omnivores’ Dilemma” and he continues to search for Slow Food in far flung and closer to home places.

Michael cooks daily for his wife and friends, using seasonable items from the garden and the local farmer’s markets, getting to know his food purveyors as friends. He is the proud papa to a cat and three chickens who provide him with the best eggs ever. The chickens, not the cat…

Join us at the event, tickets are still available for our Saturday, April 12th event and can be purchased at http://slowfoodoc-seeds-tasteofarkoftaste.eventbrite.com

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Free Public Showing of the Movie Fresh – Creating a Sustainable Food System

March 12th, 2014 by Stacey Blaschke

The Orange Public Library Foundation is hosting a free screening of the film documentary FRESH, which will be followed by a panel discussion on sustainable food and is inviting all interested in sustainability to attend.

FRESH celebrates the farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system. Each has witnessed the rapid transformation of our agriculture into an industrial model, and confronted the consequences: food contamination, environmental pollution, depletion of natural resources, and morbid obesity. Forging healthier, sustainable alternatives, they offer a practical vision for a future of our food and our planet.

Among several main characters, FRESH features urban farmer and activist, Will Allen, the recipient of MacArthur’s 2008 Genius Award; sustainable farmer and entrepreneur, Joel Salatin, made famous by Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma; and supermarket owner, David Ball, challenging our Wal-Mart dominated economy.

“FRESH began as a grassroots effort for a grassroots movement, and it’s been tremendously exciting to see the movie spread like wildfire. Within a month of our launch in April 2009, we received over 20,000 visitors and hundreds of screenings were organized. Today, FRESH is a community of over 100,000 advocates for healthier, more sustainable food, a film that’s used all over the world as a platform to raise awareness and connect people to solutions in their community. But that’s not good enough.We want to make fresh food on every plate the norm, not the exception. We want to reach 1 million people: gardeners, doctors, politicians, teachers, eaters. Not just because that would be a nice boost to our ego, but because we believe that FRESH can truly help get us to a tipping point, when sustainable food will no longer be just a niche market.”

Screening Details:

FRESH the movie
Cost: Free
When: Saturday March 15th at 3:00pm
Where: Orange Public Library & History Center
407 E Chapman Ave
Orange, CA 92866

This screening is free to the public, and sponsored through the generous support of The Joe MacPherson Foundation.

More information about the movie can be found at http://www.freshthemovie.com/


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Orange County’s Wheat and Sons Recipient of Good Food Award 2014

January 22nd, 2014 by Stacey Blaschke

Ashly Amador and Nate Overstreet, are two chefs who this March will open Wheat and Sons Butcher/Rotisserie https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wheat-and-Sons-ButcherRotisserie/549790311761028.

Slow Food Orange County sponsored the entry fee for  their  charcuterie and on January 16th they were among the recipients of a coveted and well earned Good Food award. Their winning entry was Pickled Beef Tongue under the Charcuterie category.  A list of of all the winners can be found at http://www.goodfoodawards.org/winners/.

Congratulations Nate and Ashly!

photo-62014-01-19_09.56.56From the press release:

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (January 16, 2014) – Nearly 700 people assembled tonight to fete the 2014 Good Food Awards winners at the fourth annual Good Food Awards Ceremony at San Francisco’s historic Palace of Fine Arts. The evening honored this year’s 130 winning food and drink producers from 32 states with a shared a passion for delicious, mindfully produced food. Culinary luminaries Alice Waters, Ruth Reichl and Nell Newman honored the 2014 winners onstage. The Ceremony commenced with opening remarks from M.C.Dr. Zeke Emanuel, co-founder of the Farmers Market at the White House andadvisor to President Obama on health care, who noted the integral link between health and the growth of sustainable food communities across the country.

Sarah Weiner, Director of Seedling Projects in her closing remarks, summed up the potential impact for small producers as she congratulated winners for their integrity and likened them to the cultural revolutionaries of the 60’s:

“We are living in a time of great shifts and uncertainty. People are tiring of the accumulation of things, faster, more information, more productivity, and seeking a different way to live. But they need someone to show them the way. A way to cut through the surface and reach human generosity, a thoughtful way, a connected way, a joyful way to live. Food is the way, and you are the poet-revolutionaries to lead us there.”

This year’s winners were selected from 1,450 entries from all 50 states in a Blind Tasting held in September. The 225 judges, experts in their various industries, flew to San Francisco for a full day of blind tasting. Those that rose to the top were subject to a rigorous vetting process to verify they met the sustainability and social responsibility criteria to win a Good Food Award. This year’s Good Food Award winners exemplify excellence in both taste and responsible production.

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