From the Earth to the Restaurant at County Line
Aug 07, 2008
Squash blossoms ready to be picked.
The food issue is out and for it, I interviewed four first-generation farmers. As magazines go, I did a lot of legwork (pages of notes, lots of talking, lots of driving), had many revelations and in the end, only got to write about 200 words about each person. (But, hey, the pictures are pretty! I have to thank our excellent photographer, John Lee, for that. If you don't have a hard copy of the issue, go to the homepage to view our new digital magazine. The article is called "The New Crop.")
Me and County Line farmer David Retsky.
Retsky in a steamy tented area where he grows
things like Piccolo Fino basil year-round.
That’s what blogs are for, right? I have the room to tell you that as much as I write about our city’s chefs and their pursuit of excellent ingredients, it's rare that I get a chance to get to see the earth to restaurant table transaction. The most beautiful farm I visited was County Line Harvest (it had the beautiful white farmhouse, the decrepit red barns, the fog sitting on the hills in the distance). After getting lost along the windy road, like good city slickers, we finally arrived. Farmer David Retsky was there, instructing his Oaxacan crew in Spanish to be delicate with the squash blossoms they were packing up in boxes to send back to the city's best restaurants. (One of these includes Coi, which just got Bauer's big four stars.) Shortly after, the Greenleaf Produce truck turned up the dirt road to pick up its delivery of everything from Little Gem lettuce to Piccolo Fino basil. Of course, I knew that Greenleaf trucks do this kind of door-to-door, but actually seeing the ingredients exchange hands made an impact. The thought that soon enough, the truck would be rumbling back to the city and unloading ingredients, that had literally just been harvested, for chefs to put on the table—maybe even that night—was pretty cool. It's the kind of thing Alice Waters gets choked up over. And I get it.
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