Thursday, November 30, 2006

Grease Trap: Can't Trust Bagged Spinach? Collect Dinner Under the Freeway

By John Birdsall
Thu, Nov 30, 2006 at 3:24 PM

Some Bolinas eco-foodies are turning the clock back on human culinary evolution - way, way back, to the good old days before cultivated food crops. The CoCo Times offers more tasty evidence that the sustainable food movement is burrowing deeper into esoterica as it roots for meaning in a world gone mainstream organic.

"Wildcrafting" is the practice of turning weeds like distaff and bull thistle into treats of questionable tastiness. Leslie Harlib reports that at the recent Taste of Marin festival, there were few takers for wild weed bars made of curly dock seeds and stinging nettles. But "bite-size crackers covered with a paste made of ground-up bull thistle hearts topped with a tiny whole thistle heart no bigger than a child's pinkie nail disappeared in the first hour." You gonna let Bolinas throw down like that, Berkeley?

Weed Bars? How About Cooking with Nitrogen?

Catalan superchef Ferran Adria blew into Northern California earlier this month, giving a cooking-demo-slash-chemistry-experiment at Greystone in St. Helena. Exec chef at Spain's iconic molecular gastronomy restaurant El Bulli, Adria sprayed tomato juice and olive oil into minus-320-degree liquid nitrogen. "Fluffy kernel-like pieces emerge," reports the Merc's Carolyn Jung. "They are cold and weightless on the tongue, melt into a slick of buttery fat in the warm confines of the mouth, and taste wistfully of delicate gazpacho." Adria pooh-poohed the Bay Area's crunchy cuisine, based on impeccable ingredients and minimal artifice. "If very little cooking is going on in a restaurant," Jung reports the chef as saying, "why should I go to eat?"

And You Thought "Va de Vi" was Odd

Chef Kelly Degala of Walnut Creek's Va de Vi unveiled his new global menu at brand-new, ginormous Pres a Vi across the Bay in the Presidio. No surprises on the concept, an expanded version of Degala's gem in downtown WC (Mediterrasian small plates and impeccable wines). The only question is how to pronounce the unpronounceable name. Press-a-veye? Pray-za-vee?

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