Posted in Blogging Marin on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 by MCVB Staff
By Whitney Butler
With 167,000 acres, or 50 percent of the total land, dedicated to farms and ranches in Marin County, early spring is an important harvest period for some of the area’s most delicious offerings: juicy apricots, oranges and lemons, and flavorful artichokes, asparagus, beets, peas, almonds and even olives. The land and sunshine offer a bounty of the freshest ingredients, ripe for the picking, and perfect for farm-to-table feasts.
Spring is in the air, and right now is an excellent time to visit Marin County and experience the early stages of harvest, for everything from quick bites to formal occasions.
The Freshest Fruit
Citrus is wonderful this time of year, and several Marin restaurants are serving it up in a variety of ways.
Fairfax’s Taste Kitchen and Table takes a raw approach to seasonal ingredients, mixing orange, carrot, orange pepper, cucumber, apple and ginger into a house-squeezed juice called Rise and Shine. With a casual cafe setting and full-service bakery, Taste Kitchen and Table offers delicious and nutritious bites made with farm-fresh ingredients.
Did you know olives are actually seasonal fruits? The Mediterranean climate in Marin is ideal for growing olive trees, and several commercial olive farms are now growing in Marin.
Vin Antico brings focus to small, artisan producers by spotlighting organic, local ingredients like its trio of house marinated olives: Taggiasche, Cerignola and Castelvetrano. The winter citrus salad is a seasonal smash with fresh oranges, local goat cheese, mixed greens, dried cranberries, toasted pistachios and ginger/cinnamon vinaigrette.
With its rock-legend owner Phil Lesh, Terrapin Crossroads is the only place in Marin where you can score farm-to-table food and enjoy regular live performances by Phil & the Terrapin Family Band and other local talent. For something sweet (and a little crazy), don’t miss the orange sugar dusted doughnuts, served for brunch Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Brunch at Terrapin is a great way to explore fresh and local fruit: they serve it in just about everything, from fresh-squeezed juices to granola and parfait bowls to, well, donuts!
Early-spring vegetables like artichokes are especially popular this time of year. You don’t have to look far in Marin to find these popular veggies in many farm-to-table restaurants.
Farmshop in Larkspur serves its artichokes extra crisp. Try the crispy artichokes with burrata cheese, blistered grapes, almonds and molasses.
For a more traditional approach, get ’em grilled at the Farm House restaurant at The Lodge in Olema. Their grilled artichokes are served with lemon and garlic mayo—a classic preparation—and dipping sauce.
From artichokes to beets, nobody does fresh veggies like Blue Barn in Corte Madera Town Center. Their arugula salad with sundried tomatoes, marinated artichokes, balsamic onion, crispy chickpeas and manchego cheese is to die for. But the best part about Blue Barn is the build-your-own-salad approach. Their winter UPick Salad menu is packed with local, seasonal veggies—everything from snow peas to roasted beets, asparagus, winter squash and radish, plus about 40 other fresh salad ingredients to make each bite your own.
Uncompromising in Livestock
Livestock is a big part of the farm-to-table conversation. In Marin, animal husbandry is taken to new heights; farmers exercise strict, ethical guidelines to ensure the quality of Marin’s famous cheeses and meats is never compromised.
At Belcampo Meat Company in Larkspur, you’ll find all kinds of cuts raised on nearby ranches. Buy meat raw to cook at home, or sit and stay for a perfectly prepared (and sustainable!) brunch, lunch or dinner. Their Salumi Board has an incredible assortment of house-cured meats, local cheeses, seasonal jams and pickled veggies—the best of all worlds.
Head over to El Paseo, a beautiful restaurant in Mill Valley, for a pinkies-up version of farm-to-table dining. Meats from Marin Sun Farms star in dishes like pork chops with spiced apple and radish glacé. El Paseo gives an elevated approach to local cuisine for special occasions and more.
Marin’s natural resources have had a huge impact on the success of Marin’s dairy industry; ample farmland has made ethical animal husbandry more accessible for Marin restaurants and beyond.
The Marin French Cheese Company has fresh milk delivered each morning from farms less than 15 miles away. They combine milk from Jersey, Guernsey and Holstein cows to create flavors you won’t find anywhere else; and that’s only the tip of the iceberg! Creameries abound in Marin, from the ever-popular Cowgirl Creamery to the generations-old Nicasio Valley Cheese Company.