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.
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.
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.
The 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.
For the tour Michael smoked the oysters. His recipe for Smoked Oysters can be viewed on our blog also.
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…
Emmy Award winner Pat Welsh, will speak on how to “Grow Great Organic Vegetables Year-Round, on March 8, 2014 at 10:00 am in Laguna Beach. In her talk, Welsh will explain how to choose, plant, harvest, and grow popular vegetables, and to control pests and diseases without synthetic fertilizers or dangerous pesticides. She will provide you with tips, hints, garden timing, new techniques, and old-time secrets gathered from a lifetime of growing edible crops.
Welsh’s career highlights include being the first Garden Editor of San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles Magazine, from 1979 to 1983; host of the twice-weekly gardening segment, “The Resident Gardener,” on the local evening news of KNSD-TV, from 1981 to 1987; host of videos for Better Homes & Gardens, HGTV, and infomercials since 1990. She is currently a public speaker and lecturer on gardening.
Welsh’s books include: Pat Welsh’s Southern California Gardening: A Month-By-Month; All My Edens: A Gardener’s Memoir ; The American Horticultural Society Southwest Smart Garden, Regional Guide ; and Pat Welsh’s Southern California Organic Gardening. All these books can be found on Amazon.com.
For a taste of her gardening advice you can view this video by Pat Welsh on Growing Tomatoes
This summer on June 27th, The Bungalow Restaurant, in Newport Beach, held a Summer Muddled Cocktail Contest. We are proud to share the news that our mixologist, Benjamin Webb, who is teaching our upcoming class on Craft Cocktails on August 4th, won the contest with his amazing concoction called The Mifflin.
Since this was a muddling contest a little more about what muddling means: muddling is combining ingredients in the bottom of a glass or shaker then gently pound them with the handle of a long wooden spoon, or a similar implement known as a muddler. Usually this involves herbs, such as the mint and the muddling releases the aromatic oils in the herb, letting them infuse into the drink as you add the other ingredients.
So with Ben’s permission here is his first place, award winning cocktail recipe. Over the summer you can also enjoy a Mifflin at the Bungalow as it is the featured drink for the summer on their menu. The Mifflin
Recipe by Benjamin Webb, Corona del Mar
Purple basil leaves
1/2 ounce FRUITLAB Orange Liqueur (or other orange liqueur)
1 1/2 ounce IXA Tequila (or another silver, 100 percent agave tequila) 1/2 ounce Yellow Chartreuse
1/2 ounce grapefruit juice
3/4 ounce lime juice
1 dash BarKeep Fennel Bitters
Club Soda – to taste, generally about an ounce
Garnish: Purple Basil Leaf
Glassware: Either a Collins glass with ice cubes or a coupe glass, drink served neat.
In a shaker, lightly muddle basil with orange liqueur. Add tequila, Yellow Chartreuse, grapefruit and lime juices and bitters. Shake with ice. Double strain into desired glassware, top with club soda. Stir, garnish and serve.
If you would like to learn how to make more excellent cocktails featuring Gin and Whiskey check out the Slow Food Craft Cocktail class Ben is teaching on August 4th in Corona Del Mar.