Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Paella Party Wrap Up


We wanted to thank everyone for coming out to sunny Bernal and helping us make the tapas class and paella party a success. Here are some photos from the day, and thanks Ryan for the great pictures:

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Wondering Why Beer and Baguettes are rising in price??

In January I went in to my corner store to buy some beers for a taco party I was having to be shocked that their 6packs had gone up to $10+. I asked the owner, Sam, what was going on and he began to tell me about the price of flour had jumped significantly. He also owns a restaurant in the airport and was explaining how a bag of flour doubled in price from the month before. I was fed no details at the time because he was super-busy, so paid for my $12 6 pack, with tax, and went on my merry way.

It took a while to start to see this happen all over. At first I thought this was his way of making more money to keep up with the rent on Noe street until I went to Tartine for a slice of quiche to see they, too, had upped all of their baked goods prices. Bread, the staple food that was so affordable it was called peasant food, is now breaking my piggy bank.

So what is going on?? After doing some research, I sure feel like an ass for selfishly worrying about the well-being of my beer and baked goods. There’s a lot more world out there really suffering from this current problem of the wheat disease that started in Central Africa and is posing a threat to the whole world’s wheat production.

A fungus called Ug99 is the culprit for causing this wheat disease. It has already spread from Africa to Iran and is heading inward toward Pakistan. All of South Asia’s plains rely on Pakistan’s wheat production to feed their dense population. Of course there is current intense research being done to find a cure for Ug99, but right now scientist's main focus is on creating a wheat crop that is resistant to Ug99. MS Money Blog says “The disease, which is said to be a super-strong strain of black stem rust, first came to light in Uganda in 1999 and has since ruined crops in Kenya, Ethiopia and Yemen. Now winds are expected to take the spores to Egypt, Turkey, Syria and Iran. Chinese scientists are said to be on a crash program to develop Ug99-resistant wheat strains before the disease ravages its already weakened croplands.”

Wheat prices have doubled in the past two years but some say it's not because of this current problem, but the problem of energy. The amount of wheat that is found in your brewsky is minimal. A bushel of wheat is $10.50 which makes it $.175 per pound- meaning if beer was pure wheat, there is .13125 dollars worth of wheat in a can of beer.

Regardless, my business partner, Andrew, and I stand firmly behind using our local, organic, and sustainable agriculture. I'm left questioning my ethics in this particular case because scientists are arguing the only way they've currently found to solve/stop this problem of a wheat disease that is posing threat to the whole world's wheat production is to genetically modify wheat. Have you ever tried a gluten-free diet? ;) There are wheat-free beers made from rice available in places like Rainbow and they're not half bad! But let's be real here and take a look at the rest of the world and the absence of Rainbow Groceries. Only we here in the great US, can opt to leave wheat out of our diets and/or to pay the price for the "pure" wheat whereas the rest of the world has no choice.

Something to ponder over as you're scanning over the new price tags, especially being an avid supporter for organic. Are there certain cases that will push our morals aside, allowing us to purchase a genetically altered ingredient or will we die holding on to the last true brew standing behind our organic promise?

Friday, March 21, 2008

How'bout a Friday Night with Some Cheese and Wine?

It's time for California Table's monthly extravaganza! We're thinking of a night that's casual, fun, interactive, and free-flowing. And, of course, learning about cheese and wine from the pros. Our friend, Jeff Cohlman, who happens to work at Cowgirl Creamery, will be there talking about the 5 artisanal cheeses we're offering along with our Sommelier and wine maker, Aaron Luna, who will be talking wine talk (this guy is a wine genius!).

The first hour will be time for all of us to move about from cheese station to cheese station while accompanied by our wine glasses. Delicious, seasonal food (that just happens to have wonderful cheese in it, as well) will also be available to practice our new pairing techniques. Now you can pair Braised Shortribs Sugo and pasta with the appropriate wine.

To end the night, everyone will be making and stretching their own mozzarella! Samples from the class, as well as your mozz, will be available to take home with you so you can continue your cheese and wine tour well after you've left.

Tickets are $74. Join us at 6pm and stay until you're ready to go.

Email us at info@californiatable.net for reservations.

Monday, March 10, 2008

It’s Asparagus Time! Try this Shaved Asparagus Salad!

I love this time of year. These sweet, succulent asparagus spears bring joy to me every spring. Did you know Asparagus is a member of the Lily family? They grow as spears and under ideal conditions can grow 10" in a 24-hour period. Each crown will send spears up for about 6-7 weeks during the spring and early summer. Asparagus is also one of the most nutritionally well-balanced vegetables in existence. Low calories, low sodium, high in vitamins. If you want to see more info about asparagus, check out this.

I can remember back to the days when my grandmother would open a can, plop an unattractive army-green color substance onto a plate and pop it in the microwave. She would serve it up with mayonnaise and a squeeze of lemon. Not exactly gourmet, but poor Nana also didn’t live in Northern California where our produce is far beyond excellence. Try substituting her version with fresh spears steamed or sautéed and accompanied with Meyer lemons and/or a spicy garlic aioli. Now that’s Californian! But I can't help but block the memory from my mind when my mother served asparagus to me when I was not even 3 years old of age. I chewed and chewed and chewed, but no matter what I did, I couldn't get my molars to tear the asparagus into two swallows. I ended up swallowing the first half while the second half was still in my mouth, but attached to the half sliding down my throat by the fibers. Well, this caused a gagging and eye-watering experience, but still I have managed to forgive the brutality once given to asparagus in my upbringing and give it rebirth in the west coast.

There are innumerable ways to prepare asparagus. Steam, poach, fry, sauté, raw, . . . what? Raw?! Yes. In the right season, asparagus can also be enjoyed raw with its natural sweetness and crispy texture. I’m not talking about taking a spear and munching on it like a carrot. That would be odd, and fibrous. Try peeling the asparagus and making shavings for a salad. Check out this simple recipe that follows for a raw asparagus salad:

First you must snap off the butt of the spear to get rid of the inedible woody end. Simply hold the asparagus toward the bottom like you’re going to break a chicken wishbone. Snap the bottom part of the spear off. It will break where is naturally wants to. Discard the ends or you can save them for soup.

Next, grab your trusty peeler and take a hold of the asparagus spear from where you just made your break. Peel, starting from the bottom, up to and through the top. You will have a beautiful pale green and slightly translucent ribbon of asparagus. Peel/shave the whole spear. Each piece will yield 5-6 shavings, of course depending on the size of the asparagus. (I wouldn’t recommend using “pencil” size asparagus for this application.) Once you’ve shaved 3-4 spears you will be left with a big nest of curly asparagus peelings. Toss the shavings into a bowl along with a squeeze of lemon, a pinch of salt, a crack of black pepper, and a swirl of extra virgin olive oil. Coat all the peelings in this “vinaigrette”, taking the whole pile out of the bowl and onto a salad plate. Shave some Parmesan on top and there you have a wonderful, fresh, and crisp asparagus salad! For a more composed salad, throw some toasted almonds or hazlenuts in with orange segments.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

And what's next...

Hi everyone!

It's been a few weeks since I've last published a post. We were all pretty busy with this past Valentine's Day wine and chocolate pairing. It was a great turn out and we can't wait to hold our next event in March. Stay tuned to what crazy and/or exotic theme we have coming!

Here are a few pictures from Valentine's Day.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Valentine's Day Chocolate Soiree!

A Valentine's Day not to miss!! And what else screams Valentine's Day like chocolate?...

Join California Table in our chocolate soiree & wine pairing class with local Chocolatier, Michael Recchiuti!!

The evening will begin in our studio space with good music, small bites, and champagne-sipping until we are ready to sit down and begin "Chocolate 101". Michael Recchiuti will be informing our palates with 7-10 different types and tastes of chocolate confections paired by our wine expert with 5 distinctive varietals and fortified wines trimming down to the perfect match.

The evening will end with q's & a's answered by Michael Recchiuti and of course having the option to purchase your favorite chocolates, spirits, and Recchiuti's Chocolate book, Chocolate Obsession, Confections and Treats to Create and Savor, written with Fran Gage.

Check out part 1 and 2 of Michael's truffle class on youtube here.

Tickets: $85

Email to info@californiatable.net for reservations!


California Table Studio
3824 Mission Street

San Francisco, CA 94110

cross street: on Mission St. and Richland
district: Bernal Heights

Thursday Feb 14 (6:00pm-8:00pm)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Starting off the new year with new visions!

Hi my fellow urban dwellers and foodies alike,

The new year is bringing new promises for upcoming cooking classes and demonstrations. California Table now has a kitchen space available for larger groups. Here are just some of the classes available:

Cheese Class w/ Wine Option (Wine Expert Brian Havens)

While there are many ways to classify and categorize cheese, different cheeses are, at their core, intimately tied to their places of origin. One of the best ways to survey all of the different types of cheeses and learn about their similarities and differences is by looking to the great cheese making countries and regions of the world as a guidepost. These classes offer an opportunity to taste all the best in artisan cheese – from fresh to aged, cow to sheep to goat, light and grassy to pungent and earthy – covering Cheeses of California foremost, France, Italy, and Cheeses of Spain

Food/Ingredient of the Month

Northern California explodes with new flavors and super-star ingredients multiple times per season. Join us in these classes to celebrate the changing of the season and the foods that accompany it. We will be utilizing the main ingredietn in 3-4 dishes.

Sauces and Stocks Class

As any professional chef knows the key to an amazing sauce or dish is in the stock. You will learn how fast and easy it is to make pristine stocks and how to utilize them in almost any dish.

Sauces are the perfect finishers for any dish- vegetable or protein. Learn some of the classics in this class and how to create beautiful sauces from your homemade stocks.

Holiday Foods

Everyone needs a helping hand when it comes to entertaining family and loved ones during the holidays. You'll benefit from our tips and techniques for creating an unforgettable feast. Discover timeless recipes and a practical approach to cooking while you prepare and sample traditional holiday flavors and fresh contemporary twists on old favorites.

• For our corporate clients, we offer 'Corporate Team Building' cooking classes and competitions:

• Your group will be divided into teams in a heated and timed challenge.
• This interactive cooking event offers a fun spirited competition, complete with judging and an award ceremony.
• The winning team wins a prize based on presentation, teamwork, and of course taste.

Special diets:
We offer Gluten-free Cooking, Vegan/Vegetarian Cooking, Dairy-free cooking

Introduction to Wine

There are many misconceptions and myths surrounding the subject of wine. Ultimately, though, it is nothing but a beverage enjoyed and celebrated around the world and has been for thousands of years. It only takes a handful of purchases from the corner liquor store to come to some conclusions about which wines you like and which are better left on the shelf.

The easy part is deciding if you like a wine or not. The difficult part is understanding why. What do you like about it, and how do you communicate your feelings? Is it light or full bodied? Tannic or smooth and supple? What are tannins anyway? Is it fruity, sweet, dry... ? Do fruity and sweet mean the same thing? You will conquer all of these techniques and overcome wine intimidation in our 2-hour class in either your own home or one of our locations.

Wine is most definitely a subject that the more you learn, the more you want to continue discovering. With this class, an entire new world will be yours for the taking.

Catering: Along with personal cooking, California Table offers our same core promise in utilizing local, organic foods for catering, as well. Whether you have a business holiday party or are hosting an event in your home, we have expert staff that can carry out any task. Name your theme and we have your party.

Of course while this is all going on we are still continuing one-on-one and small group cooking classes in your kitchens practicing California Table's core values utilizing locally fresh and sustainable organic agriculture.

Here's a cute youtube video, "Store Wars", about our fight on organic in supermarkets.