City Barn, Country Barn
Red Barn's offerings: From lemon cucumbers to peppers.
My parents live up in Glen Ellen, so I’m up in Sonoma on weekends quite often, thanking my lucky stars I have a respite from the fog and my usual city grind. One of my regular stops up there is Oak Hill Farm, just a few minutes from my family’s house. Oak Hill Farm has a shop called The Red Barn Store. Located off of Sonoma Highway, you take a turn down a little dirt road, past fields of vegetables reaching to the sky, to a 100-year-old, authentic, made-for-the-movies old dairy barn where inside they have the most beautiful produce and flower bouquets for sale. When I was there last weekend, I picked up some a fragrant melon, thick carrots, Early Girl tomatoes and some monstrous leeks. (I braised the leeks and the carrots in stock and cream for a nice summery-but-fally dish and served them with a thick steak. Not so shabby, if I say so myself.)
Their bouquets are so beautiful!
It wasn’t until recently though that I put two and two together and realized that The Red Barn is connected to Blue Barn Gourmet here in SF, which is owned by chef Sam Josi, whose step-grandmother, Anne Teller, owns Oak Hill Farm (which also used to have an outlet in the Ferry Building Marketplace). Josi’s tiny lunch spot provides the salad-(add chicken)-happy Marina with well-made fare, and much of includes produce from his family’s 700 acre ranch (45 acres of it farmed). As to the name, there's also a White Barn on the Sonoma property, so Josi thought Blue Barn was a natural—rather patriotic—progression.
Although Josi is the co-owner and chef of Mamacita, Umami and an upcoming pub-like restaurant on Chestnut Street, Blue Barn is all his and he plans to open more soon. Stay tuned and before the fall hits us too hard, I recommend getting out of town for a drive up to Sonoma to see where Josi's coming from.