Edible Monterey Bay

Tidepool Films and Edible Monterey Bay announce The Farmers’ Market Series

Film No. 1: Tom and Laurie Coke, T&L Coke Farm


Edible Monterey Bay Farmer’s Market Video Series: TL Coke Farms from Ristau+Liimatta on Vimeo.

Geneva Liimatta and Eric Ristau were wandering the farmers’ market at Monterey Peninsula College when they met Tom and Laurie Coke, who have grown certified organic vegetables on their Aromas farm for decades. Married 62 years, the Cokes still haul their harvest to the farmers’ market each week where they serve loyal customers exquisite lettuces and other produce.

Geneva_Tidepool-150x150Intrigued by the Cokes, their produce and their conversation, Liimatta and Ristau paid a visit to T&L Coke Farm with camera in tow, to hear their story, and document it for others. Their goal was to reveal who the Cokes are as a family and as organic farmers, and take a look at the lives behind what they bring to market each week.

Edible Monterey Bay is pleased to announce that this video is the first in a quarterly series videos called The Farmers Market Series that Liimatta and Ristau will produce for Edible Monterey Bay and that you may find on the magazine’s website. Installment No. 1 may be found here: http://vimeo.com/42180346.

Liimatta and Ristau, who have been together five years, established Tidepool Films as the newest incarnation of their production company when they moved to Pacific Grove a couple of years ago. The name came from the tide pools near their new home, and their sense of the exploration and creativity in their work, coupled with their infatuation with the beauty and cinematic stories awaiting them throughout the Peninsula.

“Whenever we make a film on any subject,” says Ristau, “we learn a lot more about the idiosyncratic elements of where we live and what is important here, and it helps us not take it for granted. When we go to a farmers market, it’s easy to look at what they have for sale, and miss the people standing there ‒ who they are and what they value. We’re always ready to get our boots dirty to tell the stories of the land and the people who work it.”

These organic farmers are choosing to do something that certainly isn’t easy, says Ristau, and is not usually high profit. “These people have to be in love with what they do. I love that we, as filmmakers, get to explore these topics, and not take these people and their work for granted. It is worth having conversations with them; to dig a little bit deeper, get to know these individuals, and bring their stories to the surface. I find that really rewarding.” 

Ristau’s penchant for filmmaking grew out of a boyhood hobby, playing with an uncle’s video camera. He went on to radio as teen, followed by careers in television and advertising, which led him into journalism. 


“Documentary filmmaking creates a nice intersection between movie making and journalism,” says Ristau, “both of which I love. I don’t want to work in Hollywood, and I don’t want to be a daily journalist, but combining image making and storytelling is magic. And we feel very fortunate to do this for Edible Monterey Bay magazine.” 

Liimatta, a writer, photographer and filmmaker, also developed a passion for her work early in life. During middle and high school, she studied photography under Cornelia Hasenfuss, whom she found “endlessly encouraging and patient with me. I learned everything I know about light and framing from her.” Using a Pentax 500, Liimatta carted out her camera and shot whatever caught her attention. She pursued photography primarily as a hobby until she met Ristau, and fell in love with the man and with his modern camera. 

“Today’s cameras are so small, so compact, super efficient and so versatile,” she says. “I feel my photography has allowed us a lot more freedom in our work. We do a fair amount of overseas photography and filmmaking, and we don’t stand out from the crowd. With our cameras, we look like tourists, which is so liberating.”

Liimatta’s photography style, says Ristau, contrasts with others in that she has a very naturalistic approach. “She uses vintage lenses,” he says, “which are extremely light sensitive. The traditional studio shot is the antithesis of what she does, and only recently has that become possible.”

Tidepool Films, which offers video production and post-production services for commercial, nonprofit and corporate clientele, has taken the pair around the world to create projects ranging from national campaigns to humanitarian films in Africa. 

“The work,” Liimatta says, “never gets old for us. We are dedicated to storytelling with a purpose. When we look around the Monterey Peninsula, we sense something magical about this place. We are committed to celebrating local people and businesses that are doing things we believe in; we feel strongly this is not only a special place, but also a place of special people with rich stories to tell.”

For more information about Tidepool  Films, visit tidepoolfilms.com.

To watch for future installments of the series, follow Edible Monterey Bay’s RSS, Facebook and Twitter feeds.






Read moreTidepool Films and Edible Monterey Bay announce The Farmers’ Market Series

The Independent Marketplace Celebrates “Summertime Santa Cruz”

Indy_Manager_Todd_ChampagneThe wildly popular Independent Marketplace reconvenes Thursday August 2 in Sand City, celebrating all things Summer and Santa Cruz. Indy manger Todd Champagne has once again planned a feast for the eyes, ears and of course, taste buds.

Champagne once worked in Watsonville with certified organic Happy Boy Farms and is, as usual, brimming over with enthusiasm for the monthly event.


Along with regulars like decadent Ashby Chocolates and Penny Ice Creamery (Haagen who?), Champagne is bringing in some special guests to represent neighboring Santa Cruz’ vibe.  Uncle Ro’s Wood Fired Pizza Truck will be in the food court, with a real wood-fired pizza oven, hauled in on a trailer. “They’ll be spinning pies with ingredients from the Indy,” says Champagne. “You can’t pretend to make wood-fired pizza!”

“The Indy,” as the farmers’ market and artisanal food and craft fair is rapidly becoming known, will also welcome Cruz N Gourmet food truck for an encore appearance; they’ll be making their island fare with local ingredients.  Local market regular Fogline Farms will make its inaugural appearance in the food court.  They’re bringing a grill and serving up their pork and chicken, direct from farm to table. Low N Slow Food Truck will make its first appearance as well.  As the name implies, this barbecue truck will be cranking out treats like pulled pork sliders and lamb lollipops.


Nothing says “summer” like ripe berries and they’re well-represented here.  Live Earth Farm is bringing what Champagne called “the berry avalanche” —strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and golden raspberries.  Windmill Farms will have strawberries Champagne calls “legendary.”

Musical performers Birdhouse and North Pacific String Band will be on hand to liven up the evening. Birdhouse’s website says that the band “filters an articulated jazz vocabulary through country, rock n’ roll, and California.” North Pacific String Band, which shares some members with Birdhouse, will be representing what they call “a conglomeration of the Santa Cruz music scene.”


California Star Seafood’s new contribution to the Indy is an oyster and shrimp cocktail bar, conveniently located right next to the beer bar.  Speaking of beer, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery will be there—we hope they’ll be pouring their Devout Stout and Amber Ale, which are both organic and delicious.

And let’s not forget that the Indy does well by doing good: The featured non-profit partner, Monterey County’s Community Partnership for Youth, will be raising money and awareness throughout the evening to help fulfill its mission of providing, “safe, positive alternatives to gangs, drugs, and violence.”


Champagne wants to remind his guests of the best ways to have fun:  First, bring cash to shop. Next, use the “veggie valet”—it’s not just for vegetables, it’s a grocery bag drop that will take whatever you’ve purchased. Even if you stock up on seafood, don’t fear—they’ll keep it chilled while you chill to the music and fun atmosphere.  Also, bring a little patience. Indy organizers are still working out parking issues.  Most of all, bring yourself and get down to 600 Ortiz Avenue in Sand City from 4-9 p.m. this Thursday night!

Read moreThe Independent Marketplace Celebrates “Summertime Santa Cruz”

Sipping Wine Among the Vines: Touring Holman Vineyards


Wine tasting is always enjoyable. Gaining access to a winery’s cave is a treat. But to receive an invitation into the vineyards is an oenophile’s dream come true. At least it’s this wine‐lover’s dream. And, this week, for the first time Holman Vineyards opened up their gates and invited their wine club members and guests to take a stroll through the vines. Rocky soil beneath your feet, fresh summer air, and sun‐baked hills that stretch as far as the eye can see, and—of course—a glass of wine in hand made for a truly charming vineyard tour.

Nick Elliott, Guest Services Manager at Holman Ranch, met us at the Holman Vineyards’ tasting room in the Carmel Valley village and four of us loaded up into his vehicle. On the way Nick gave us a history of Holman Ranch and talked to us about the vineyards that are planted on 19 of the 400 acres that make up the Ranch. We wound through the property, up a dirt road, and headed to the lower vineyard of Pinot Noir grapes that were planted in 2007 and sits at approximately 1100 feet elevation.


Before we even set foot through the final gate, Nick broke out his corkscrew, distributed glasses, and poured us each a generous portion of their 2010 Pinot Gris. The slightly fruity aroma swirled with notes of mango and honey, but the whisper of citrus created a crisp finish. It made me wish that we had some ceviche—tender chunks of fish marinated in lime juice and spiced with fresh peppers—to go with it.

As we sipped the wine, we walked through the olive grove which Holman harvests to produce its extra-virgin olive oil. We paused and Nick pointed out the different kinds of olives. The Italian trees on the right were taller and the leaves had a dusty sage hue to them while the French olive trees on the left were stouter with brighter green leaves. Holman hand‐harvests and cold presses the olives, bottling the oil onsite and offering them for sale at the tasting room and through the company’s website.


Reaching a slight plateau, we stopped, tasted more of our wine, and soaked up the evening sun, reveling in the 360‐degree view from that vantage point. All around us were Pinot Noir Dijon clones 667 and 777, acres of them.

grapesTo me, Pinot Noir means ‘love’; it’s definitely my wine of choice and Holman Vineyard’s 2010 ranks high on my list. Aged in French oak for a year, it’s a full‐bodied red with robust cherry on the nose and a slight earthy layer of tobacco. It’s luscious.

In French, Pinot Noir literally means “black pine” and refers to the pinecone shape of the grape bunch on the vine. These bunches were still green, but will ripen and be prime for picking in less than a month.

Nick noted slight differences in bunches from one end of the row to the other and discussed how the terrain affected the grapes. We were standing on sedimentary soil where the larger chunks of rocks and slope of the vineyard aided drainage for the vines. The grape bunches on the steeper end of the row were slightly larger and contained plumper fruit than those on the more level ground.

Moving from the rows of clone 667 to clone 777, Nick showed us the difference in the leaves. The leaves of the 667 were smaller and had five lobes while the 777 leaves had only three lobes and were significantly larger. Nick asked, “Can you imagine rolling these leaves into dolmas?” I definitely can.

VineyardsNick discussed future plans for the Ranch, including small sites for intimate gatherings beneath the craggy oaks that dot the vineyards.

And though this news hasn’t been officially released yet, for Pinot Noir lovers, this is something of which to take note: Holman Vineyards is looking at creating a six‐pack of single Dijon clone pinots in limited release. Right now they have the 2010 Hunter’s Cuvée Pinot Noir which is created from clone 115. I tried it recently, in my wine club selection, and loved the sweet vanilla and berry notes. It paired well with grilled lamb lollipops and a sour cherry chutney. So, when they do offer the six‐pack with wines made from six different Dijon clones, I’ll be one of the first to say, “Sign me up!”

Also coming up, Holman Ranch is
partnering with Edible Monterey Bay for
its August installment in the Pop‐Up
Supper Club series. At this farm‐to‐table
dinner, guests will feast on a meal
prepared by Chef Terry Teplitzky, of
Marina’s Wild Thyme Deli and Michael’s
 Catering. The menu, based on fresh, seasonal offerings from Serendipity Farms, will pair with Holman Vineyard’s 2010 Pinot Gris, 2010 Rosé of Pinot Noir, 2010 Chardonnay and the 2010 Hunter’s Cuvee Pinot Noir. A portion of the event’s proceeds will benefit the Food Bank for Monterey County, which delivers more than 6 million pounds of food to 90,000 area residents every year. The event affords you an opportunity to dine among the vines, feast on seasonal foods, sip local wines, and enjoy the company of fellow philanthropic foodies. It’s not to be missed.

This vineyard tour was the first of many that Holman Vineyards will offer in the coming months. I can’t wait to sip wines among the vines again soon. Join us next time!

Read moreSipping Wine Among the Vines: Touring Holman Vineyards

Monterey Bay Reggaefest 2012

DSC_1975There are good vibes to be had at the 17th annual Monterey Bay Reggaefest this weekend. There is also a lot of food. While a lot of it is typical fairgrounds fare, we found a very special Jamaican cook named Leonie McDonald whose food is strictly vegan and very delicious. She also has music cred, as her husband, Lloyd “Bread” McDonald was a friend of Bob Marley growing up together in Jamaica, and he is in the band Wailing Souls. DSC_1978We got a combo plate with fried plantains, rice, mango, avocado, tofu, and other good things. My favorite were the black beans. I can’t remember having any this good in a long time, and I asked Leonie how she made them. She said: “They are not from the can! They are black beans that we soak, wash, and cook with garlic, onions, ginger, thyme, coconut milk, and a little bit of ginger. They’re good for you.” Look for the stand that says Strictly Vegan.

Read moreMonterey Bay Reggaefest 2012

Eating Big Sur

New Post Ranch Chef Pioneers Environmental Cuisine

278_bChef John Cox saw piles of giant kelp as he was walking down the beach at Big Sur, not far from the Post Ranch Inn’s Sierra Mar restaurant where he was just hired as executive Chef. Most of us would have just ignored it and continued walking, but he started wondering how he could use kelp in the new dishes he is developing for the spectacular cliff-top dining spot.

The otherworldly and creative result: thin-sliced Monterey Bay red abalone wrapped in kelp and smoked over driftwood, accompanied by pickled kelp stems with wild fennel.

And that’s just one of the inventive creations on Chef Cox’s exciting new 8-course Big Sur Menu.

dandelion_root_elk“Adventurous, explorative fine dining,” is the way Cox describes the changes he is making at Big Sur’s most influential restaurant. “I want Sierra Mar’s cuisine to be about the Big Sur environment, something you can’t find anywhere else—to have a sense of place or as they say in winemaking, terroir.”

This is Cox’s second stint at the Post Ranch. He worked there as chef de cuisine from 2001-2003, then became corporate executive chef at the Hotel Hana Maui and others in the Passport Resorts family. He returned to our area three years ago and has been Executive Chef at Carmel’s acclaimed Casanova restaurant and La Bicyclette restaurants since 2009.

nasturtium_soup“Coming back to the Post Ranch Inn, I am seeing it with different eyes,” he says. “I am more mature and have a more established philosophy. Now I know exactly what I want to do.”

Since beginning his new job as executive chef at Sierra Mar earlier this month, Cox has been taking some time to explore the historic 100-acre Post Ranch property.

“Post Ranch is an amazing place. There’s so much more than just the beautiful chef’s garden. I walk around the property and see all sorts of inspiration, like wild sorrel growing under the redwood trees” says Cox, an avid and experienced forager.

There are also heirloom apple trees planted by the original homesteaders and a Spanish variety of quince that he will combine with rose hips and rose petals to make Rose-Quince Membrillo.

photov4Cox, who has written and photographed articles on seafood, foraged herbs and other topics for Edible Monterey Bay, admits to being something of a geek when it comes to exotic ingredients.

“You can see from my articles that I am gung ho about researching things. For instance, I was interested in the bay laurel trees on the property and found out that Spanish settlers used to grind up the leaves and use them like pepper to season their food,” he said, adding that tender baby bay leaves have a delicate flavor and may be appearing in some of his dishes.

In addition to its cuisine, the Post Ranch Inn is known for its extraordinary “organic” architecture. Sierra Mar’s glass-walled dining room seems to float in the air over the cliffs, providing views up and down the wild Big Sur coast. Guest rooms are built of natural materials, some on stilts, some curving around old growth trees.

“The architect Mickey Muennig tried to create buildings that would complement the cliffs, that have a symbiotic relation to the landscape,” said Cox. “Like him, I want the menu at Sierra Mar to reflect what you are looking at and have a connection with that view.”

“You can go to fine restaurants in Sydney or Paris and eat the same foie gras or truffles, but none of those restaurants are going to serve you baby bay leaves,” he laughs.

biscuitsCox is getting ready for the LA Food and Wine Festival in August. One of his appearances will be at the $500 a person “Delicacy Dinner” at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills. While other chefs will be preparing caviar and lobster, Cox revealed that he is planning a dish using sea grapes harvested from the Big Sur coast—a delicacy indeed.

For more on Cox’s discoveries and the new dishes that he’s introducing at Sierra Mar, see his blog, “The Post Ranch Kitchen,” at http://www.postranchkitchen.blogspot.com.

For a story on Chef Cox’s new plans for Sierra Mar, visit our article, “Passing the torch at Big Sur’s Post Ranch’s Sierra Mar Restaurant.

Read moreEating Big Sur