Archive for the ‘Our Food’ Category

Seasonality and Sustainability

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

An essential part of sustainability is to be true to seasonal foods. If a food is in season then you can be pretty sure that it has its best nutritional value, its best price points and most important of all its best flavor. Organic production is much easier to do when a product is in season, so the price difference between organic and non organic diminishes. This means it is financially more sustainable as well.
It is now Citrus season! Blood oranges, grapefruits and tangerines are flavorful and cheap. Asparagus is also coming on strong, though it came in a bit later than last year. To find our seasonal weekly and daily specials, check out our Facebook Page.

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Happy Hour and Menu Updates

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

Happy Hour has started up! Every day from 4:30pm-6:00pm draft beers are $3.50 a pint, and our house wine is $3.00/glass, $6.25/half carafe.

The following appetizers are available:

Tostadas – Two corn tostadas topped with tomatillo sauce, vegetarian or buffalo chili, monterey jack cheese, salsa fresca, julienned lettuce and crème fraîche. [Can be served vegan.] $4.25

Grilled Rosemary Polenta – Organic polenta made with fresh rosemary and asiago cheese, served with roasted bell and poblano peppers. $4.25

Bruschetta – Three grilled slices of our organic Zapaton bread brushed with extra virgin olive oil, topped with organic tomatoes, garlic, basil and provolone cheese. [Can be served vegan.] $4.75

Roasted Aleppo Potatoes – Organic potatoes coated with Syrian aleppo pepper, garlic and olive oil, roasted and then served with crème fraîche. [Can be served vegan.] $4.25

Baguette with Green Onion Cream Cheese Spread – Sliced baguette with green onion cream cheese spread made with Sierra Nevada cream cheese. $3.00

Buffalo Burger Sliders – Three mini burgers made from Big Sky Ranch Buffalo, served with house organic pickles and our organic ketchup. $6.50

Jicama Sticks – Sticks of fresh jicama (a South American Tuber) tossed in a light dressing of lime and salt. $2.95

The newest versions of our Lunch and Dinner menus are now available online, as well as our current menu for Weekend Brunch.

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The Benefits of Grass-fed Beef

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

A mural in a museum of natural history might show ancient hunters tracking vast herds through even vaster grasslands. Throughout history, herbivores have been a mainstay in our diets. Our bodies know how to use the dense calories of fats and proteins, rich in omega3 and omega6 fatty acids. As our hunter-gatherer society evolved into an agricultural one, we began to breed quickly maturing, grass-fed cattle to fulfil that need.

When producers discovered the rapid weight gain in cattle fed with corn directly before slaughter, that began to change. Gradually, the amount of time cattle were fed corn instead of grass became longer and longer. To avoid health problems, calves must be raised on grass; energy-rich corn is much too difficult for them to digest. As the cow matures, it is better able to handle starchy kernels.

However, to maintain health on this limited diet, the corn must contain additives such as nitrates and antibiotics. Otherwise, only a third of the herd would make it to slaughter.

In changing the diet of the animals we eat, we change what we eat, our environment, ourselves.

Environmental concerns:

1. Corn-fed cows produce higher levels of methane gas (a greenhouse gas) than grass-fed. Fred Thompson, a conservative candidate for President remarked on the detrimental effect that cattle methane has on the environment.

2. Additives required to maintain the health of the herd often renders manure unusable as fertilizer, so it remains in ponds and pastures, cultivating bacteria which are increasingly immune to the same antibiotics used to keep the next generation healthy.

3. Feed corn in America is often grown in fields that can only produce the needed amounts by adding synthesized nitrates to the soil. Eventually, the land won’t be sufficient even with these additives.

4. Often, feed corn is genetically modified.

5. Fossil fuels are consumed at every step in growing the corn and shipping it to the herd, increasing the carbon footprint along with the energy intensive nitrate production.

Health concerns:

1. The fat in cattle fed by corn is rife with low-density cholesterol, whereas grass-fed beef is high in levels of omega3 and omega6 fatty acids. These are the same fatty acids in fish, which have been linked to reduced cancer rates, better circulation and reduced hardening of the arteries, and have been shown to lower incidents of coronary problems as well as produce lower trygliceride levels.

2. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria bred in unused waste from corn-fed cattle can spread to humans.

3. Omega3 and omega6 fatty acids obtained from fish are often accompanied with heavy metals from ocean pollution. This issue doesn’t exist in grass-fed cattle, and their beef contains a good balance between both fatty acids.

For these reasons and more, the Bread Workshop has decided to serve grass-fed beef from Strawberry Mountain, a co-op of ranchers in Oregon. A unique characteristic of Strawberry Mountain beef is that it is dry-aged to develop rich, tender flavour. We believe this product represents a great example of quality grass-fed cattle.

William Briscoe

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Buying Beef: It’s more than what’s for dinner

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

A purchasing prospective on choosing beef

When I first began using Niman beef, it was a small ranch owned by Bill Niman and Orville Schell on the mesa north of Bolinas. At the time, Bill’s efforts were still focused on moving hamburger meat (a continual issue for producers new to the venture) and with a quick call, would personally deliver 5lbs to my restaurant door.

More than 20 years later, Niman beef has grown into a national brand sold by mail in the Williams Sonoma catalogue. I saw it move from using the cutting facility at Golden Gate Meat in San Francisco to utilising its own cutting plant on East 14th in Oakland. In that time, its distribution and sales have been taken over by Del Monte meats.

As a purchaser, I always try to balance the many considerations in choosing a product: Loyalty to a long-time purveyor, the food philosophies of the restaurant, environmental factors, taste, availability, price, and order cycles, though not necessarily in that order. Planning a cross-country roadtrip on horseback would perhaps take less effort.

Recently, a new supplier approached us with offers of sustainable, local and humanely raised meats. We had had dealings before when he worked for Bassian Farms, the company that supplies us with Rocky Jr’s and Eden Heritage pork, and was well aware of our buying needs and priorities.

One item he brought to our attention was grass-fed beef from Oregon. In many ways, it was a hard switch for me. I grew up during the zenith of corn-fed beef in America, and that is the flavour I had always associated with the best possible beef. I believe this is an ingrained habit on my part, not a fact written in stone, and my desire to be a part of the change to a healthier, more natural and sustainable product weighed heavily on my choice. I’m happy to say the taste spurred me right along.

While I still hold the greatest respect for everything Niman Ranch has done to expand people’s consciousness on meat production, I am looking forward to a new relationship with our conscientious supplier.

I hope you will, too. Try our new grass-fed beef and as always, let us know what you think.

Rober Mott
-sustainability coordinator and purchaser

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