Tag Archives: vegetable gardens

the French Laundry’s Culinary Garden

One score and seven minutes ago our partners brought forth on this town, a new restaurant, conceived in finesse, and dedicated to the proposition that all food is served soignĂ©.” —
Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry celebrating its 20th anniversary July 6, 2014.


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When my oldest son Mitch traveled to the Isle of Skye off of Northern Scotland just to eat at The Three Chimneys is probably when I first realized he was getting fairly serious about eating good food. For his photography services, he has been known to accept payment in the form of a meal at a favorite restaurant. That right there is a pretty good illustration of the kind of business sense that runs in my family.

Mitch visited The French Laundry over the weekend, about an hour north out of San Francisco in Napa Valley, in the town of Yountville. Mediterranean winter wet/summer dry, zone 9ish, a climate very much to a grape’s liking. I can’t even imagine the pressures involved in running a working kitchen garden that supports a world-class restaurant. You can read more about the process on their Facebook page. The French Laundry was inducted into The Culinary Hall of Fame in 2012. Jacket required.

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The menu for July 6, 2014.


summer camp for locavores

From the Wikipedia entry: “A locavore is a person interested in eating food that is locally produced, not moved long distances to market.”

I’ve been hinting without going into too many gory details that my new little community vegetable garden plot is languishing for uncertain reasons. While I’ve been mildly obsessing over soil and vegetable gardens, photographer MB Maher and friends were vacationing for a few days last week at the idyllic Mar Vista Cottages and Edible Gardens in Mendocino, California, a former fishing camp turned into a locavore’s paradise.

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All of which happened on the weekend of the eclipse. (Wes Anderson could’ve directed this vacation.)

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I’d never heard of Mar Vista Cottages before, nor any hotel like it for that matter, but for over ten years owners Renata and Tom have offered guests literally a taste of country life, centered around the 4,000 square foot organic vegetable garden they maintain from which guests select and then cook their own meals. The garden anchors and is the heart of the compound which holds 12 cottages. Whatever tools necessary to gather your dinner can be found hanging on pegs at the entrance to the screened-in garden. Screens keep the gardens secure from marauding raids by local wildlife.

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Dine indoors

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or outdoors in the grass-bottomed conservatory, kept warm by the adjacent greenhouses.

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Ceramic heaters also warm the Northern Californian nights.

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No TV. No rules — add your own ingredients too.

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Cut fresh flowers from the gardens.

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Or bring your own.

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A kaleidoscope of eggs delivered every morning to your door.

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Participate as much or as little as you like. Help feed the chickens if you’re so inclined.

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Or just generally goof off, summer camp style.

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And make new friends, summer camp style.

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Friends who can’t bear to part, like Lola (the goat). Gives a whole new meaning to the cliche of blurring the line between indoors and outdoors.

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And there’s always the beach at Anchor Bay beckoning.

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Sleep on line-dried sheets.

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A big part of Renata and Tom’s vision was saving this land from development, electing to retain and rehab the circa 1920 fishing cottages.

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But what incidental magic they’ve created as Mar Vista’s caretakers.
(Pygmy goat “Pygmalion”)

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For more on Mendocino, California, here’s my post on a vacation there last August.