Archive for April, 2011

(from L to R) Garlic herb fromage blanc, ricotta, dill goat cheese, plain goat cheese adorned with edible flowers: a pansy and nasturtium petals

Last weekend I was back in California for a friend’s wedding and had a chance to head up to sleepy Pescadero, situated between Santa Cruz and San Francisco about a mile inland off coastal Highway 1. Beyond the expected smatter of antique stores found in quaint Northern California oceanside towns and a cute general store-type place that has picnic tables in the back for the eating of sandwiches and sells its own ollalieberry jam (made of juicy, gem-like blackberry cousins that 1. exist and 2. are the hands down ur-berry), Harley Farms is Pescadero’s main attraction.

Baby goats greedily (and futilely) suckled at the fingers offered them and generally frisked about. Handpainted signs were placed at strategic spots of interest, sharing heart-melting eco-porn farm facts like that the sloped barn roof where the mama goats live helps collect rainwater such that all the goats enjoy cloud-fresh hydration at least 8 months of the year. There was an airy, high-ceiling dining room dominated by a long wooden table ringed by high-backed wooden chairs that looked like they’d been stretched into Medieval chess pieces by the Queen of Hearts. The room plays host to monthly dinner parties; they’re sold out until December. Below the rustic, grand dining room is a little store where all things goat milk-related are sold, from lotions and lip glosses to soft buttons of lavender honey goat cheese.

I tend to choose with the kind of excruciating care that can alienate companions when faced with many options that I’m near-equally entranced by. When it came time to choose cheese, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself taking, “Screw it, I’ll take ’em all” approach and carried a bounty of dairy back to NYC.

Of particular interest was the goat ricotta which, unlike the super-salty feta or the many herbed or otherwise flavored options, let the barnyard-iness of the goat cheese through in a plain way that was pleasantly – and surprisingly – subtle. I am overdevoted to aged cow’s milk cheese so was glad of an excuse to break out from my favorites a little.

Tonight, I intended to make something led by the fresh ricotta for dinner. Instead, I made a romesco sauce with whole wheat penne (first time, which made it feel like an achievement of sorts) and just grated the cheese on top. It was good and simple! Why, though, is so much of the food I eat pureed and red? Hopefully this doesn’t presage toothlessness.

Fun fact in closing: Harley Farms is soon to start selling paint made from their goats’ milk! Apparently paint with milk as a key component is one of the oldest “recipes” (initially used for cave paintings), and has been used for thousands of years asĀ  a sealant of sorts, too.

Dinner. Garnished at the expense of my failing basil plant who only regenerates leaves from the very top and so grows dangerously tall and floppy.

All hopped up on romesco. Excited about sauce. Excited about camera.

Ingredients: 6 pan-blistered garlic cloves + 1 jar roasted red peppers + handful roasted almonds + 1/2 cup Greek yogurt + 1/3 cup olive oil + juice of 1/2 lemon


Read Full Post »