Monthly Archives: July 2009

Cheese of the Week: Mossfield Farm Organic Gouda

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One look and you can’t fail to notice the protein crystals on this amazing cheese. It’s got them all right, and from the first bite on, the Mossfield Farm 12-month Organic Gouda has everything else one could want in a gouda-type cheese. It’s a flat-out fantastic cheese.

First, this Irish cheese has a superb, rich taste. There’s not a lot of added culture, and you can taste that, too. It’s bursting with a complex flavor that contains hints of caramel, cherry, nuts, and earth. It is tangy, with a hint of sweetness. The mouth feel is very smooth and a little buttery. And the taste just goes on and on.

Mossfield Farm engages in small production, from a single cow herd. The County Offaly farm, run by the Haslam family, has been organic for 10 years. They’ve already won a bushel of awards. They just do what they do exceedingly well.

This is a cheese to savor. I wouldn’t pair it with another cheese, or much else. It doesn’t even need a cracker. You may want to visit a grape, cherry, almond, or dried apricot between delicious bites, but you’ll be back. The strong taste and caramel overtones do beg for a big red wine, such as an oaky Zinfandel or a Cabernet. If you are a port drinker like me (or even if you’re new to port), try the Mossfield with a rich, tasty, special bottle like Dow’s 20-year Tawny.

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Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Funding Sought for Independent Film about Pug’s Leap Farm

Just last week, I breathlessly reviewed Pug’s Leap’s Farms’ outstanding goat cheeses, the Pavé and the Petit Marcel. Pug’s Leap, founded by ex-San Franciscans Eric Smith and Pascal Destandau, is notably dedicated to slow food and sustainable practices. And did I mention that their cheese is out of this world? You really can taste the careful hand-crafting.

Wonderfully, filmmaker Alexandra Austin has also discovered Pug’s Leap, and she is in the process of creating a documentary about Eric and Pascal’s move from corporate San Francisco to their rural Sonoma goat farm. The film is called “Leap of Faith”. Woven throughout the mens’ personal story are the issues of slow food, small farms, and sustainable businesses. John Raymond (Raymond & Co. Cheesemongers) and others are interviewed in the film.

“Leap of Faith” is, at heart, the story of finding meaning in one’s life, something that seems to drive many to the land and to living locally.

Filming is completed, as is some of post-production but, as we know, filmmaking is an expensive endeavor, and more funding is needed to get the job done. There have been many in-kind donations and deferrals from musicians and editors because so many people believe in this project. Alexandra is hoping to finish production in time for a pre-set premier on September 19.

You can see a clip of this wonderful film-in-progress and learn more about it here.

Contributions to the film are tax-deductible and no donation is too small. In addition to creating “Leap of Faith”, the filmmakers are working with the Farm to Consumer Foundation and plan to use the film to raise awareness of Congress’ over-regulation of small farms like Pug’s Leap.

I wish Alexandra all success in funding, completing and distributing “Leap of Faith”. I want to see it at film festivals!

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Photo: Susan Sachs Lipman

Pavé is topmost, and the Petit Marcel is at the bottom.

Fallen Fruit? Make Jam. Public Fruit Jam in L.A. August 2nd

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I just got this great invitation from an L.A. group called Fallen Fruit:

“Join Fallen Fruit and the citizens of Los Angeles in a communal jam session. Bring along any of your home-grown or public fruit and any clean, empty glass jars you have. At the end everyone will leave with a jar of communal jam. If enough people bring surplus, even the empty handed will leave with jam. Vats of fun for all! The kinds of jam we make will improvise on the fruit that people provide. The fruit can be fresh or frozen. Fallen fruit will bring public fruit. We are looking for radical and experimental jams as well, like basil gauva or lemon fir with lavender. We’ll discuss the basics of jam and jelly making, pectin and bindings, as well as the communal power of shared fruit and the liberation of public fruit. Jam with us and share the fruit of our labor! ALSO: closing party starting at 3pm for our show at another year in LA.”

Here is their invitation on Facebook.

What’s Fallen Fruit, anyway? Fallen Fruit is an activist art project that started by mapping all the public fruit — that which overhangs public spaces like sidewalks and parking lots — in its L.A. vicinity, and has moved on to planting public fruit parks in under-utilized neighborhoods. They are inviting people from all over the U.S. to send in maps of their local, public fruit.

This manifesto is on their web site. It says it all:

A specter is haunting our cities: barren landscapes with foliage and flowers, but nothing to eat. Fruit can be grown almost anywhere, and can be harvested by everyone. Our cities are planted with frivolous and ugly landscaping, sad shrubs and neglected trees, whereas they should burst with ripe produce ..

The infectiously optimistic web site, Thriving Too, offers more great quotes from Fallen Fruit.

Many more examples of local fruit foraging, from Oakland to Brooklyn, Alaska to Michigan, are in this New York Times article. In some places, people have even begun fruit exchanges with the fruit they’ve found, many of which would have gone to waste.

Photo: Fallen Fruit

Make this Easy Tie Dye Project

Before Anna left for camp, she wanted to dye some solid shirts for “color wars” and she wanted to do some tie dying. What to dye? A plain laundry bag, from San Rafael, CA’s Dharma Trading Company — a great resource for all things fabric, dye and yarn that also does mail order — was just the thing. The all-natural bag was inexpensive and fun to dye and, as a bonus, we knew it wouldn’t get confused with others in the camp cabin.

After getting our supplies together — buckets of water for each dye color, rubber gloves, rubber bands, trash bags to line our deck, dye packets and sticks to stir the dye — we began by folding the laundry bag accordion-style.

To do that: Make a narrow fold from the bottom of your item up. Turn the item completely over so the fold is now at the top, facing down. Make another narrow fold the other way. Continue until your item is completely folded.

Once we did that, we tied rubber bands in the places where we didn’t want the dye to come through.

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We began to create our dyes. We used the pure colors from Jacquard, called iDye. They’re wonderfully bright and extremely easy to use. We’ve dyed solid items in the washing machine, with great results. It was nice to find that it works equally well in buckets for tie-dying. You just drop the dye packet in the water (the hotter the better), add salt, and stir well.

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Anna started dipping the various segments of the laundry bag into the different dyes. She tried to hold each there a long time to get the richest possible colors.

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We were really pleased with the way the colors were coming out.

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This is the finished laundry bag. Anna really liked it. If you find that you want more color and less white space, experiment with the accordion folds on a small piece of fabric. Making the folds narrower and looser will allow more dye to get in.

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There are a lot more projects on the Jacquard site, so you can start having fun dyeing. As long as we had our buckets of color, we dyed some shirts and even underwear. We left the fabric in the dye a full day and got great, saturated colors. (Anna reported back from camp that her color war color was yellow, so she was all set.)

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

The Roses of Sonoma

A little while back, I visited Sonoma, CA, with my Beloved* and spent some time in the rose garden in the town’s central Plaza. (*Rose gardens bring out romantic nomenclature.) There’s an amazing variety of roses, and I had fun trying to capture the range of their beauty. Here are a few:

rosebrightpink

roseredwhite

rosered

rosewhite

rosepeach

rosesunset

roseyellowredopen

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rosepalepink

rosesmall

roseyellow

roseorangebuds

roseyellowred

roselilac

rosehedge

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Cheese of the Week: Pug’s Leap Pavé & Petit Marcel Goat Cheeses

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I recently had the privilege of visiting Raymond & Co. Cheesemongers in Glen Ellen, CA, and partaking in a little tasting. Yum! Everything they offered was tantalizing and top-of-the-cheese-game, including two farmstead goat cheeses, the Pavé and the Petit Marcel, from the relatively new Pug’s Leap Farm in Healdsburg.

(In the photo, the Pavé is topmost, and the Petit Marcel is at the bottom.)

Pug’s Leap, founded by ex-San Franciscans Eric Smith and Pascal Destandau, is notably dedicated to Slow Food and sustainable practices. They have stated that “buying locally brings health, economic, environmental, and social benefits to the community.” Their single goat herd of Saanens, Toggenbergs, Sables, and some cross-breeds, is fed organic feed. Their cheese production is relatively small-scale and done largely by hand. The farm is solar-powered.

The Pavé is unusually dry in texture, especially for a goat cheese. It’s extremely flavorful — tangy, with strong goat tones and smells, earthy, ashen and mushroomy. The complicated flavors linger nicely on the taste buds.

The wrinkled rind is wonderfully bloomy and the cheese nearest the rind has a great gooey texture. The processes used at Pug’s Leap greatly influence the Pavé’s taste. For one, the fresh curd is treated gently, to produce a rind with external mold, which in turn influences the taste of the ripening cheese. To create the especially dry texture, the whey is expelled.

The Petit Marcel is another winner. It also has a great goat flavor and an even more pungent goat nose (which I like). It’s also dry in texture, though less so than the Pavé . The younger Petit Marcel is sweeter and milkier than the Pavé. The taste, while great, is ultimately less complex, less special, than the Pavé.

As for pairing, both cheeses are wonderfully versatile. Grapes, peaches and cherries are some fruits that work with them. Almonds make a nice accompaniment. The stronger Pavé can take Cabernet and other red wines. I’d stick with a fruitier Syrah or Pinot, or a Chardonnay for the Petit Marcel.

Either way, get yourself a little goat round and enjoy!

Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman

Slow News Day: San Francisco Passes Ambitious Recycling & Sustainable Food Laws

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San Franciscans, you could be forgiven if you’ve been out playing in our unusually beautiful weather and missed a couple of developments that contribute to San Francisco being one of the greenest cities in the country.

Late last month, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom announced and signed the nation’s first mandatory composting law and what is probably its most comprehensive recycling law.

According to Mayor Newsom, San Francisco is already keeping 72 percent of recyclable material out of our landfill. The city has a Zero Waste goal.

The Huffington Post ran a very good piece on the program and the announcement.

The sfenvironment site is an excellent resource for information about the city’s green programs and ways you can be involved.

If that wasn’t enough, a few days ago, Mayor Newsom issued a multi-pronged Executive Directive that aims to get San Franciscans even closer to complete sustainability in the areas of producing and consuming local, nutritious food, and doing so in a way that limits the impact on the environment, while meeting the needs of the most vulnerable San Franciscans.

Mayor Newsom announced the Directive at Oakland’s non-profit City Slicker Farms, which itself was converted from a former junkyard. San Francisco’s plan calls for similar re-use of land.

The Civil Eats blog has this very thorough story.

Another piece on the Directive appears in the San Francisco Chronicle.

I’m sure lots of other cities are creating initiatives to promote greener, more sustainable practices. If you come across any Slow News in your city or town, please send it my way.