Choosing a Summer Camp on the farm -

April 22, 2014 – camp 1 smallThree months of summer seems so luxuriously long when you’re a kid. The days stretch out ahead in a vast calendar of sunny days, fun activities and no classrooms.

For parents, summertime speeds by as we continue to march along to the daily grind, but all of a sudden many of us need to add childcare to the list of things to take care of for the next few months. Thank goodness we live in a place where an array of high quality summer camps exists, and we can pick and choose from programs that span many interests and ages.

It is hard to imagine a more lovely setting for our kids than spending their summer in the garden, combined with lessons that connect them to their natural surroundings and food systems. I am happy to report on the bounty of farm and garden-based camps available here on the Monterey Peninsula.


The Hilton Bialek Habitat in Carmel Valley is a stunning project dedicated to environmental awareness and responsibility. What started as an effort in 1995 to preserve a bird habitat on Carmel Unified School District (CUSD) property has since grown into a space complete with

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James Beard Chefs Head for Costanoa -

restaurant-detail-frontApril 22, 2014 – The James Beard Foundation’s 4th Annual Chefs Boot Camp descends on Costanoa Lodge near Pescadero this weekend for three days of classes on cooking local and creating change in the community. “It’s a little intimidating,” admits Costanoa executive chef Mo L’Esperance, who will supervise meals,  as well as attend sessions. She already has a dinner of halibut with asparagus sauce, frisee, manchego, prosciutto and bread crumb planned for the first night.

Fifteen chefs from around the United States were selected for the program based on their desire to “drive change in the food system.” Costanoa was selected to host the boot camp because of its close proximity to high quality local ingredients and because of its commitment to sustainability. The lodge has it’s own certified organic garden, which will provide produce like snap peas, arugula, kale and fresh herbs for the meals.

“It also really exciting to be able to cook for the chefs during their stay,” adds L’Esperance. “It can sometimes feel a little isolated out here and I’m looking forward to getting their feedback and grounding.”

The boot camp—run by Wholesome Wave founder Michel Nischan and JBF trustee Eric Kessler—includes sessions on

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Butterfly Barricade aims to save our pollinators -

Screen_Shot_2014_04_22_at_8.30.05_AMb7825fApril 22, 2014 – Photographer and activist Michelle Magdalena has neonicotinoid insecticides in her crosshairs.

“One of the most magical, beautiful, and ethereal experience of my childhood was when I was six-years-old and living in San Diego. Butterflies were migrating up our road in a swarm. And I was completely engulfed in butterflies,” she recalls. “Butterflies can be a gateway for people to care about the environment.”

Her latest project, Save Our Pollinators, is a natural marriage of her intense opposition to pesticides and GMOs, and the desire to mobilize public opinion in her local community towards influencing legislation. Specifically, the Pacific Grove-based artist is asking: How do we help, sustain, and protect monarchs, bees, and other pollinators?

“When I heard that Monarch butterfly migration was coming to an end. I was devastated. We can make a difference,” Magdalena believes.

A few weeks ago she started an indiegogo campaign to distribute Pollinator Action Kits, created in collaboration with poet and designer Meredith Stricker. The kits contain native seeds that create habitats for pollinators on California’s central coast; a list of ten easy steps you can do; and a postcard addressed to the Congressional sub-committee seeking to pass HR 2692 “Protect

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“Beer people” get a new place in downtown SC -

L_pulo337b40aApril 15, 2014 – The long-awaited Lúpulo Craft Beer House finally has an opening date. Beginning April 22nd, downtown Santa Cruz will have a new place for beer lovers to convene.

“The idea has been brewing for about a decade now. We just kept thinking that someone else would do it. But it never happened,” confesses Stuyvie Bearns Esteva, who owns Lúpulo Craft Beer House with his wife Noëlle Marie Antolin. “So we’re doing it. We want to provide a place where beer people love to go.”

Stuyvie has gained a lot of knowledge about beer over the years and wants to share that with the community. “I’m a little beer-obsessed,” he admits. “And I’m drawing inspiration from different places I’ve been. I’m not reinventing the wheel.” 

Lúpulo Craft Beer House will have a carefully curated list of beers with a limited tap selection. “We’re focused on showcasing the talent of the brewers and will offer up some boutique brews alongside more affordable, but still small production craft beers.” And he’ll be tapping 5-gallon kegs to ensure that his beers are as fresh as possible. Some of their beers will sell out in a day; he doesn’t

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Ace of Cakes Duff Goldman tells EMB what sets PBF&W apart -

April 14, 2014 – duff-cakes-chin-lgDuff Goldman is many things—a pastry genius, graffiti artist, and bass player, among others. After his demo at Pebble Beach Food & Wine 2014, he stuck around to talk about what was different about being here, about being a celebrity chef, and what constitutes “selling out.”

First, the demo: “Everybody’s a 10-year-old,” Goldman said. “If you cook for 10-year-olds, everyone will love what you make.” So, he made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a glass of milk. The “bread” was a store-bought pound cake, buttered and toasted golden brown in a non-stick pan. “I know, I’m the cake guy and the only thing we bought (ready-made) was cake,” joked Goldman. The peanut butter layer was a thin layer of refrigerator peanut butter fudge, while the jelly was a square of raspberry and prosecco gelée. For the milk, he added fresh vanilla beans, a dash of sugar and a pinch of salt, then warmed it on the stove and chilled it in an ice-water bath.

Goldman’s demo was easily one of the most entertaining I’ve seen. First, he announced he needed a written recipe because he had “the memory of a goldfish.”  Then there was

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New Whole Foods for Carmel Area -

commercial_wholefoods_mont_ext_lg1a569c8f8e43640254April 8, 2014 – Word has it that Whole Foods Market is looking for a new location on the Monterey Peninsula. The new store would be Whole Foods’ second store in Monterey County.

The Austin-based national retailer already operates a thriving outlet in Monterey’s Del Monte Shopping Center. And it has long offered two stores in Santa Cruz County—one on 41st Ave. in Capitola and another on Soquel Ave. in Santa Cruz.  

Among the new locations the retailer is said to be looking at is one at the mouth of Carmel Valley. 

This development comes as demand for healthful, organic and high-quality food is on the rise on the Peninsula, and at the same as rumors are circulating that Portland-based New Leaf Markets has stepped up efforts to secure a Monterey Peninsula location.  

Neither Whole Foods nor New Leaf are commenting, but a new store from either company arriving in Monterey County would be good news to many local shoppers because there are few stores here that provide the wide selection of organic and specialty foods that Whole Foods and New Leaf offer.

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Odonata buys River Road winery -

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April 8, 2014 – Denis Hoey, owner of Odonata Wines in Santa Cruz, has purchased Marilyn Remark Winery on River Rd. in Salinas and is moving his wine production and family south to the five-acre property in the Santa Lucia Highlands.

“This is the realization of a dream. It satisfies all the itches I have as a winemaker,” he said, emphasizing that Odonata’s Santa Cruz tasting room will remain open and that he’ll still make pinot noir from vineyards he manages in the Happy Valley district of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

“We’re not leaving Santa Cruz, we’re just growing. There will be Odonata north and Odonata south and I’ll still be in Santa Cruz two or three days a week, it’s not that far away,” said Hoey.

The popular winemaker had planned to move production to a warehouse in the Harvey West neighborhood of Santa Cruz, when he saw an ad for the Salinas property. It includes a 2,400 sq ft winery with tasting room, 2 to 3 flat acres where he plans to plant a vineyard and a home where Hoey and his wife Claire can raise their two young sons, ages 2½ and 9 months.

“This is the

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Hyatt Carmel Highlands hosts Schoch Cheese for “Meet the Farmer” luncheon -

1965614_841319555894630_1743146743_oApril 7, 2014 – John Schoch rises regularly before the first light to milk his cows, some 100 purebred Holsteins, at the Schoch Family Farmstead in Salinas. His son, Beau, works with the raw milk while still warm, separating the curds and whey to make artisan cheese. It is this cheese—East of Edam, Junipero, Jack—that Beau brought to the second in a series of four “Meet the Farmer” luncheons held April 5 at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands as part of “Forks, Corks, Action 2014.”

“This series of culinary events is a celebration of our local farms and local food,” said Dave Lambert, director of Sales and Marketing for the Hyatt Carmel Highlands. “Our vision is to create an interactive, educational, inspirational experience for our guests, which is in natural alignment with our beneficiary, MEarth. A portion of our proceeds benefits this nonprofit environment-based education program, located at Carmel Middle School.”

There’s something inspiring about spontaneity on a Saturday. When the opportunity arose at the last minute to attend the “Meet the Farmer” luncheon, I shut down the computer, skipped Zumba, slipped into something snazzy, and traded my Saturday routine for the rain-washed view of the ocean from Pacific’s Edge at

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TV’s Carla Hall heads our way, reflects on turning 50 -

carla-hallApril 7, 2014 – I first met Carla Hall during the 2013 Pebble Beach Food and Wine, when she told me I was rocking a dress I’d bought just for the occasion. Hall was schlepping her own luggage in front of Spanish Bay, sans entourage. Her demo was filled with humor and personal anecdotes. And she was generous with advice and kindness to a novice food reporter. In short, she was a genuinely nice human being, filled with southern warmth.

When I learned she was appearing at PBF&W and Cooking for Solutions again this year, I asked for an interview and she graciously consented, calling me between taping episodes of “The Chew,” the ABC show about all things foodie that she co-hosts with Mario Batali, Clinton Kelly, Daphne Oz, and Michael Symon. She started out by saying she was “grateful to be invited back.” She added, “One special thing about Cooking for Solutions is that you are reminded by being by the ocean why you are there, how important eating locally and supporting farmers is. The location brings it back to you it ten-fold.”

“It makes me think about differences in ingredients,” Hall said. “On the East Coast, I’m looking

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Meet Mutari: A New Bean-to-Bottle Hot Chocolate Company in Santa Cruz -

April 7, 2013 – 1898073_619705488099010_2118233354_nIn the indigenous Ngobe community of Panama, everything revolves around chocolate. Cacao trees fill the deep jungle landscape. Hot chocolate is served with every meal. It’s consumed by cacao farmers during the workday and handed to guests upon entering a home.

This integral relationship with cacao made a big impression on Adam Armstrong when he lived with the Ngobe as a Peace Corps volunteer from 2010 to 2012.

“They traditionally use it as a drink to help them get through the day,” he says. “I thought it was strange at first that they would use a hot drink that I associated with being a dessert to drink during some of the hottest temperatures I’ve ever been in, doing some of the most backbreaking work I’ve seen. Then I did a little studying and found that hot chocolate—the way that they consume it—has a lot of properties that actually give them energy and is pretty healthy.” 

Unlike the hot chocolate many of us are familiar with, the Ngobe recipe uses the whole cacao bean rather than cocoa powder. “It’s this minimally processed hot chocolate, containing high levels of something called flavanols, that helps the blood flow the

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