Writing, cooking and gardening are often thought of as a mostly solitary pursuits, but we find that the opposite is true. Fresh fruit on the tree, new recipes and a well-earned drink seem to always supply a path to more time with family and friends and easy opportunities to engage with our community. In a time where so many voices express outright fear of food and drink, it is worth noting that few things unify us more than the simple act of breaking bread together. And if that bread happens to be tasty, then so much the better.
And this week we literally got to break bread and share with many family and friends. Carolyn’s Dad, Bill, was generous enough to bring us bread from Wild Flour Bread in Freestone, California, a few hours north of us. Wild Flour bread is a truly artisan baker that bakes all of their bread on-site in wood-fired brick ovens. They feature a few dozen varieties of bread and pastry each day. They do not sell anywhere but the bakery and when they are out of bread for the day, you are out of luck. Happily, Bill brought us four loaves; olive, super seed, garlic rose and a sweet cardamom bread. The bread was terrific, and the kids loved it (and since they have no “filter” their praise is noteworthy). We enjoyed the cardamom bread toasted with butter at breakfast and made simple, tasty grilled cheeses for the kids with the other loaves.
What makes the bread so special was not just the taste, but that Bill was so willing to go out of his way to share the bread with us. His simple logic was, “it’s really good bread and I thought you might want to write about it”. The same thing happened a few months back when Carolyn’s Aunt and Uncle, Ann & Russel, started trying our cocktails and sent us Bernard DeVoto’s marvelous book “The Hour: A Cocktail Manifesto“. My sister sends photos of an endless wall of bitters, and our buddy Chad sends us envy-inducing photos of fresh bay scallops. Our friend Scott has a recipe for a new variety of Manhattan and we just have to try it out….
Later in the week, our friend (and true gourmand) Phelps came by to pick up some beef. This spring, we bought 1/4 of a grass-fed cow from Stemple Creek Ranch and the steer was recently harvested. Phelps bought half of the beef and needed to pick it up (a 1/4 cow is a lot of beef, if you are curious, it fills two large coolers). We got to catch up with Phelps, walk through the garden, share (and show-off) some of our berries and even pluck a few more of the early cherries. We are just a few days away from a full cherry harvest. It was a brief visit, but a good one, and we look forward to cooking with Phelps this summer.
And finally, when we aren’t sharing with friends we resort to stealing their produce. Well, not quite stealing, but certainly being “opportunistic”. Recently our friends Roger and Greta rented a house in a nearby town. The house was built by an old Italian family years ago and they literally covered their property with citrus trees. Lemons, limes and oranges, and the trees are huge and very productive. Our friends haven’t really moved in yet, but Carolyn was in the neighborhood and stopped by the house to check it out. It’s late in the year for citrus but there were still limes and lemons on the trees and Carolyn decided to “help herself”. She did get permission after the fact, so the stealing became sharing (ex-post-facto). In any event, we did mix Roger a drink using his lime juice, so we hope they will forgive our transgressions and let us “liberate” more of their citrus in the future. It will certainly give us a good excuse to stop by. Continue reading