vinegar

What’s Cooking in St. Helena

by Marc Golick on June 2, 2012

The new manager of our St. Helena store, Marc, has extensive experience working in restaurant kitchens, and he’s bringing that background to our tasting bar. If you’ve been in the shop recently, you’ve likely seen one of his delicious experiments — sometimes it’s a dressing or marinade made with our olive oils, maybe even a dish of strawberries macerated in honey and our popular aged balsamic vinegar. These are quick, easy recipes that showcase not only our favorite products, but also the best seasonal ingredients.

Last week, our customers were treated to this “salad topper,” a refreshing mix of segmented oranges, our Napa Valley Sparkling Wine Vinegar and orange olive oil, and some fresh herbs.

Perfect tossed with a fresh green salad, a little goat cheese and candied walnuts. It’s also sweet enough to be spooned over lemon sorbet.

Over the weekend, Marc went with this salad, combining the sweet root vegetable jicama with strawberries, our Napa Valley Sparkling Wine Vinegar (you can tell it’s one of our favorites), a little lime olive oil and some fresh mint.

This one is best served with a glass of rosé or Riesling on a warm afternoon. You can dress the salad up a bit by serving it in butter lettuce cups.

For recipes, read on. And be sure to stop by and see us soon in St. Helena for more culinary inspiration.

Sparkling-Orange Salad Topper

Yield: 1 cup

¾  cup orange segments with juice
1 Tbs. Sparkling Wine Vinegar
1 tsp. Citrus Blossom Honey
1 tsp. Orange Olive Oil
2 tsps. fresh organic cilantro, torn into small pieces
2 tsps. fresh organic mint leaves, torn into small pieces
Pinch Organic Grey Sea Salt
Pinch fresh-cracked Black Peppercorns

Cut the bottom and top off of an orange. Slice down the sides following the contour of the orange removing all skin and pith. Holding the orange in one hand slice in between the membranes in a “V” shape over a bowl to remove the orange segment only. Repeat the process until all orange segments are removed then squeeze the remaining juice over the segments. Combine all of the other ingredients with the orange segments and let sit in the refrigerator for at least ten minutes before serving.

Strawberry & Jicama Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

Yield: 1 ½  cup

½ cup organic strawberries
½ cup organic jicama
¼ cup Sparking Wine Vinegar
¼ cup Lime Olive Oil
Pinch Pink Himalayan Salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 Tbs. fresh organic mint leaves, torn into small pieces

Remove the tops and cut the strawberries into quarters lengthwise. Peel the jicama and cut into ½ cubes. Combine all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

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An Ingredient Gold Mine

by admin on February 5, 2009

This week marked the first full month in Florence!  When I look back I can’t help but smile….I remember the days that held excitement and jubilation and those that were marred with frustration….home sickness….and culture shock.  Moving to another country is not for the faint hearted….as romantic as it might sound, there is a transitional period that can get a bit painful…especially when you throw two teenagers into the mix….and a business….and our economy……one of my girlfriends informed me that she got an IOU from the State of CA for her taxes….now that is crazy!  Anyway, I’m happy to report that we made it….we dug deep…..we persevered….and we broke through…..I believe we have made it through the biggest adjustment period…have made some nice friends and feel part of the community…this week it seems as if we have begun to live our lives….as if we’ve been here all along.

I’m reading SLOW FOOD NATION, written by the Founder of Slow Food, Carlo Petrini…an Italian of course!  If you have any interest in food at all…..you have to read this….it will give you an awareness that is critical for all of us to have if we want to begin to preserve what we have left….it will make you a bit sad as you will really understand the poor choices we have made in regards to our planet…but it will give you hope…that if we can all just begin….within ourselves…to change….then we can turn it around and begin to truly change our planet…one ingredient at a time.

If you don’t have any interest in food then just know this….it is going to take every one of us to turn around what every one of us has done….just be aware of what you eat…..if we demand “good, clean and fair” food, we will encourage the production of food that is in the best interest of mankind…

Okay…so much to say….I have landed an amazing little grocer…..about 4 blocks away on the corner of two alleys….I was taking a short cut home and immediately noticed fresh flowers and produce in boxes outside a window…..it looked as if it was staged for an organic photo shoot….I was immediately drawn in…..as I opened the door….the room was filled with loud banter of several people….italian words flying everywhere….to my left were stacks of different pastas…all in packaging that I had never seen before….and to my right…rows of different sauces…and olive oils….and vinegar….and  pickled veggies….eggs…..you name it….with prices that were written on old kraft paper…torn off to size and taped on a product….the smell was of produce….as if you had walked into a garden that was ready to pick….I took a few steps and to the left…behind the pillar…..there is was……baskets of fresh produce…oranges and apples of all different kinds…..lettuce, carrots, zucchini still with blossoms, potatoes, tomatoes, leeks, artichokes…you name it…… in season that is……and tucked behind was a cheese case..filled with a mixture of cheeses…now take a right into the other room…it is filled wtih 100s of wines and chocolate….there are boxes around…things to step over…..and enough room to walk single file…..people I have a FIND!

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A Doctor in Florence

by admin on January 23, 2009

Hello!

It’s been a crazy week since I last wrote….the good news is as I write today…..do I dare say…..again…..we are settled!

The biggest issue was Emily’s adjustment…her first few days atschool were overwhelming….even for Emmy!  She would come home in adaze and just collapse into bed…..and then she got sick…..real bad cold and really weak….so….I was immediately thrown into the class on finding a doctor in Italy….I was dreading the process for obvious reasons and much to my surprise it ended up being quite pleasant….as pleasant as going to the doctor can be…

I found a Dr. who studied in London so we didn’t have to deal with the language barrier.  And…they make it very easy…..most doctors still make housecalls….and they have open office hours every day…..so….we simply walked about 5 minutes from our house and went to the open office hours and were seen very quickly.  It remindedmy of how my parents have always said it “used to be”……we walked up four levels of a winding stone staircase….through massive wooden doors…into a small reception area.  We were immediately seen and invited to sit on the other side of the Doctor’s beautiful wooden desk……he talked to Emily about her symptoms….discussed various things with us……and then said heneeded to examine her….so she got up…..I turned my chair around the other way….and we were in the examination room.  He checked all the usual things and then he walked back to his desk…..I turned my chair around and he went through what it could be and what it wasn’t.  At the conclusion….he ordered labwork….every blood test that you could imagine….Emmy hasn’t been very healthy since her bout with Mono last summer…..he assured us that he thought she would be fine….but wanted to take the precaution.

He also explained that the lab was very efficient…..for Italy.  He explained in detail how we should get there….told us where to line up and how it would all work….and then said we would have to go back
to pick up the labwork…..once we had the labwork….we would come to his open office hours again and he would let us know how it looks….it was comforting to be part of such an old fashion
process….no waiting for your doctor to call when your lab results come in…because at home they never seem to call…..and then you call them….and you wait on the phone…and you get passed
around…..and you get frustrated and hang up…..and then you do it all again…and finally you get through….and they tell you your fine….and you hang up the phone….and you don’t feel that great.

The Doctor then reached for his tablet…..scribbled somethings down on it….ripped it off and handed it to me…..and these are a few things she will need from the pharmacy….go our my front door and it
is the first door on the left.    As I got up to leave….he ripped off another piece of paper….and said….. it will be 45 euro….cash only….I smiled…paid him cash and off we went.

Sure enough…the door left to his entrance was the pharmacy.  We were immediately helped my the pharmacist who took the perscription….filled the order….and rang us up…31 euro…..for eye drops and nose spray….not bad….and off we went…and they say we are more efficient in the U.S.? :)

The next day…..Emmy got up and we hurried to the lab…it was fasting blood work so I didn’t want her to realize that she wanted breakfast….on entering the lab, we were greeted by a “concierge”…an attractive older woman in a blue suite withe the name of the lab on it….good branding….she looked at our note from the doctor and told us in detail…..in Italian….where to go….luckily hand signals are universal so we walked to the reception area and got in line…..reminded me of an older bank….the line in a zig zag….with receptionists at about six stations helping customers…..the line went quick and we handed over our paperwork…..she immediately started processing our work and then began to speak very beautiful Italian….from the look on our face she must have realized that we were Americans…because she immediately turned to her counterpart and asked for assistance…..in their broken English and my Very Broken Italian…we managed to finish the paperwork…..pay our 105euro….yes for all that blood work….that is total cost!….and head up stairs to have blood drawn.

We walked into a smaller reception area and were immediately greeted by the nurse.  Again….with simple words…we communicated…..she gave Emily the option of sitting in the chair in the waiting room or going into a room to lay down….Emmy chose the bed…..the nurse was very sweet and quickly took Emily’s blood without a sound…..she then asked Emily…..”cafe?….do you like cafe?”..Em said…”no”….I was wondering what she was talking about….why would she care if Emily liked coffee?…then she said….” cioccolata….you like?”…Emmy smiled and said yes….and the nurse left the room.  I thought that was sweet….she was going to bring her a chocolate….the next thing I know the door flies open and a woman….much like the concierge…walks in with a white porcelain tray and coffee cup filled with hot chocolate and some toast on the side…..I wish I would have had my camera….are these people amazing?  Do they take advantage of every moment to enjoy life…food….moments…..and how nice that felt…..wow…..and how great for Emily…still adjusting to this culture and the language….to be treated with such kindness….that picture will stay in my mind forever…and as simple as it may seem….it will serve as a reminder to me…..that life is much more than agendas….efficiencies….operations…..life is about respecting moments….and to error on the side of moments would truly be fatal….because at the end….it’s all we will have.

So…I will write more about the week because it was filled with great things….and Emmy’s return to happiness…but for now…my girls are home….and there are moments to be had….til tomorrow…..

Ciao.

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First Day Of International School In Italy

by admin on January 7, 2009

I am so tired that I wouldn’t do today justice if I explained it now…..but then again…I should give it a try.

Alarm went off at 6am….that was after Chris woke me up about 4 times during the night to check the time because he was worried the alarm wouldn’t go off…Kaelin got right into the shower in our freezing cold apt as the utilities are shut off from midnight to 6am…no choice…..I then got up to find Emily….my sleeper…bright and shiney at the computer…..when I asked what she was doing she said…talking to everyone…it’s only 9pm at home!!

I couldn’t bear to take a shower as I was cold and exhausted but I pulled myself together none the less….in a turtleneck I had worn three times before…… I did do my best knowing I could not embarrass K on her first day! It was raining and of course, we didn’t have any umbrellas but found tons of stylish ones outside our door…..Chris, K and I left Emmy at the computer at 7am, timing was Chris’ request…. as we did not want to be late……school starts at 8am. We walked up two blocks to the piazza to get the taxi and K and I convinced Chris that we would be WAY too early and look like idiots….so, we wandered into a cafe and went up to the bar and ordered espressos….the three of us drank our espressos with the locals and then wandered down the block to find a place where they sell food….I realized I had not packed her a lunch :) ….so K picked out a prosciutto and brie sandwich, some chips and water and off we went to find a taxi. We got to the school in no time….I think my Dad would have called it 7 minutes…and after the cabbie almost killed us with his premature left turn into the drive of the school….we got out….Chris stayed behind as k and I walked up the long drive. I was in my heels so it was not an easy walk in the rain….as we approached the gate that we had seen a note on previously that identified the school…we noticed it was open…..game on!….as I walked up the drive Kaelin stopped and insisted that this was not the right place…it was not open….I assured her that an open gate was a good sign…she crept behind….all the way claiming….mom..this doesn’t look like a school….this doesn’t look like the pictures….there is no one here….although I agreed with her secretly …I showed no signs of weakness…..even when we came to the crossroad to take the winding road or the straight path to the huge pink villa through the olive trees…..this is not it K exclaimed….that is NOT the school…..I knew too inside that it was not the school but I began the steps up the path….olive trees will not lead us astray! …she followed behind very cautiously……as my doubts became stronger…I continued up step by step….hoping for a sign at the top…..but none….NO signs…..I knew this had to be it and I knew I could not let her see me sweat so I continued as if I had gone there before myself…..and then, I turned a corner..and there it stood…on the TOP of the hill…..an amazing beautiful farmhouse with a huge tower…..here it is I exclaimed….not knowing really if that was it but as K bought into it then so did I ….and then we say a child being dropped off …aha…we made it……where is the office Mom…are the next panicked words I heard…..Mom….how do we know where to go…..I confidently went to the first door I saw and opened it…..this way K…..again not knowing where the hell I was….to my great relief there was a lovely English woman who must have seen the look on my face because she immediately exclaimed….ah…a new student perhaps?…..we smiled and introduced ourselves…she knew of K and was very welcoming….she said the Dean would be down in a bit but the heater was broken and they were trying desperately to fix it…..although I had never read nor seen any Harry Potter novels…..at that point…I felt as if I were in one….I wanted to stay and meet the Dean but I knew this was Kaelin’s deal…..she needed to handle it…..so SHE gave me a big hug and off we went…..our separate ways…..

Side note….as we were walking up the path I asked her if she was nervous…..she said….no…not nervous…just weird….I pointed out that ya….you are going to your first day….at a new school…in a foreign country….espresso at a bar before school….prosciutto and brie sandwich in your lunch….and your Mom walking you to high school…….all that combined….you should feel a bit weird…..as we continued to walk in a bit of silence…I said, K…and she said..ya…and I said ….soak it all in…soak it ALL in……she smiled and we continued in silence.

I will write more detail later but so you don’t worry we got a GREAT deal on a studio in the same building we are in until Jan. 31…..it is small but very european and nice…and as I told the girls…..we can either live in one room together and take advantage of the sales this weekend….or get a bigger place and stay home…….they chose the studio! :)

No school for EM yet but closer….meeting the nuns tomorrow….the school is right down the street from K…..you go through a gate and wind up a path to again….a villa on the hill…..not bad! Talked to an Italian tutor today for both girls…she said Emmy will be speaking great Italian within a few months if she is in an Italian school….we will have her tutored 2 days a week at first but the lady thought she wouldn’t need anymore within a few months….hard to believe!

I’ll fill you in on more tomorrow.

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