Edible Monterey Bay



Two of our talented contributors catch the spotlight

By Sarah Wood

Layout 1Moving to Santa Cruz wasn’t originally part of Ted Holladay’s plan, and the founder of the thriving Santa Cruz design firm, Studio Holladay, admits that when he first moved to the city 15 years ago, he had something of a love-hate relationship with it. But that’s all changed for him.

“There was this tipping point four to five years ago. Some positive influences and new businesses started to transform Santa Cruz,” says Holladay, who now deeply loves his city, and works remarkably hard through community organizations and his own design work to help continue that transformation into a more beautiful, prosperous and creative Santa Cruz.

One of his projects has been “Impact 831.com,” a series of gorgeous, light-filled photo essays with which he has documented over the last three years some of the local businesses he views as exciting agents of this transformation. (Soon, he’ll be turning it into a tightly curated guide to places he thinks are worth the trip.)

We’re proud to share that in March, Edible Monterey Bay won a national EDDY Excellence in Publishing award for an advertising campaign that Holladay designed for publication in EMB, based on his Impact831.com series. One of EMB’s most talented photographers and ad designers, he’s been with us since our launch in September 2011.

The EDDYs are bestowed every year by a panel of industry judges on behalf of Edible Communities (ECI), the family of magazines of which EMB is a member. The competition is open only to Edible magazines. But with more than 80 beautiful and inspiring Edibles now publishing, it’s no wonder that ECI received some 2,768 submissions overall for the 23 EDDY awards that were handed out in March.

We’re also extremely proud of Deborah Luhrman, a contributing editor with the magazine from the start and now our e-newsletter editor, for writing the piece, “Reimagining San Benito County: A Foodie Frontier Seeks its Seat at the Table,” for which EMB received recognition as one of six finalists for the EDDY award for Best Political or Social Issue Coverage (Edible Portland was the winner).

“I was just stunned by the beautiful landscapes,” says Luhrman, who made about five trips from her home in Soquel to San Juan Bautista, Hollister and the farmers’ fields and vineyards that surround it, interviewing several people on each visit for the story.

The article describes the county’s intention to preserve its exceptional agricultural, artisanal food and winemaking activity and its unspoiled scenery to develop itself as a food and wine destination akin to Napa.

Luhrman, a lifelong journalist who first worked in broadcast and has spent the last 20 years in magazines, much of that time in Spain, also discovered that San Benito County has an exceptionally high percentage of acreage dedicated to organic agriculture—35% as compared to 30% in Santa Cruz County, 6% in Monterey County and just 1% of U.S. cropland overall.

“The most impressive thing is the variety of food that is grown there and then prepared by the food artisans,” into things like chocolate, cheese, charcuterie and olive oil, she says. “I don’t think there are many places in the country where you would find such a diversity of things growing.” 

Fountain of Health

Creative Cultures taps into the healing power of fermentation—and bottles the delicious results

By Elizabeth Limbach 

Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 3.15.21 PMWhen Kelly Dearie’s husband, Charlie, was told that he had the hips of a 130-year-old man at the age of 32, a wall of despair hit the fam- ily. In addition to concluding that he would inevitably end up in a wheelchair and need a hip replacement, doctors said that Charlie, who suffered from an autoimmune disorder, needed his spleen removed, which would mean risking death in surgery.

The couple decided to ignore this grim diagnosis and seek answers outside of the Western medical establishment. “It felt so wrong that we knew there had to be something besides what they were saying,” Kelly says. They found what they were looking for in the form of guidance from certified nutritionist Craig Lane, who set Charlie on a therapeutic path consisting of foods to eat and foods not to eat.

Five years later, Charlie is healed—without having to undergo surgery—and Kelly has channeled the natural chef knowledge she picked up during her husband’s illness into a buzz-worthy Santa Cruz-based company, Creative Cultures. Its flagship product is Beet Kvass, a traditional Ukrainian “cure all” made from fermented beets that Charlie drank daily in his treatment. In addition to beets being clinically proven to relieve hypertension, folk wisdom purports that Beet Kvass cleanses the liver, builds blood, helps fat metabolism, and is a powerful digestive assistant.

“The root of health is in digestion,” says Kelly, who serves as Creative Cultures’ CEO. “You can’t heal any organ in the body if your digestion isn’t strong and healed.” The fact that their tonic undergoes a full-body, long ferment (a three-day initial fermentation followed by a two-week secondary round) enhances these benefits, and also adds a slew of probiotics—around 14 billion per bottle.

“Beets alone are nutritious, but when you ferment anything you are maximizing the nutrition and making it more bioavailable to the body,” she explains. “The compounds in the beet become more bioactive, meaning they are more easily assimilated and able to get to the places they need to go.”

The savory red brew is joined by two other players in the Creative Cultures roster: Pollen Up, which is a blend of spring water, raw local honey, raw local bee pollen and organic lemon juice, and Green Dream, a simple-yet-addictive refresher made from chlorophyll, peppermint extract, a touch of stevia and spring water. The latter is the company’s bestseller at yoga studios, which account for a handful of its 19 retail locations because of its hydrating and detoxifying abilities. (Other locations include Carmel’s Cornucopia, Pacific Grove’s Happy Girl Kitchen and New Leaf Markets throughout the region.)

Kelly is now seeking a partner-investor to help her company expand, and in the meantime, she’s pursuing a multi-front marketing plan. She sells her drinks in attractive single-serving bottles and refillable quart, gallon and keg containers. Her latest venture is a CSA- style service that provides subscribers with a weekly box of the company’s signature drinks as well as some homemade, dehydrated raw treats that would make believers out of even the staunchest health food skeptics.

“You get these beautiful drinks and unique snacks you can’t get anywhere else,” says Kelly, “and you are supporting a business that has a mission to educate people on local, organic, sustainable ingredients and health and wellness.”

Despite how challenging running an up-and-coming small bev- erage company can be—let alone one that peddles drinks that are an altogether new taste for consumers accustomed to sugary sodas— Kelly, a mother of two small children, says she has surrendered to the Creative Cultures mission and has no plans to slow down.

“It’s worth it when I see someone try [the drinks], see the look on their face, and see how appreciative they are, how their eyes open up, and how, in a way, it opens up their spirit to a new possibility,” she says. “It’s the healing power of the drink. It’s connecting to the local ingre- dients. There is the whole intention behind it. You can empower your- self to heal your body and heal the environment one culture at a time. There is hope in each sip. That’s what keeps me going.”

Creative Cultures • 831.706.2333 www.creativeculturesfoods.com 

A Taste of Paradise

A local caterer takes cooking from scratch to an inspired level

By Ray Patterson 

Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 3.16.23 PMWhen Jon Kasky and Nancy Rohan travel abroad, they always make it a point to seek out exotic heirlooms, smuggling the goods home in their luggage.

But this is no clandestine tale about illegal contraband. The couple could care less about expensive antiquities. Instead, the owners of Paradise Catering in Carmel Valley focus their attention on rare seeds forgotten by a homogeneous world with a commercial appetite.

For example, during a trip to Umbria, Italy, in 2009, they uncovered seeds for Cicoria (orchidea), an orchid-colored radicchio that dates back generations in that region. The seeds have since sprouted, and share ground on the couple’s 1-acre farm in the hills above the village with heirloom lettuces, tomatoes, squash, beans and the infamous pink apples recovered from nearby Earthbound Farm.

For 26 years, this husband-and-wife team has grown its own or- ganic fruits and vegetables for use on the job. It’s part of a business philosophy that sets a high standard in the local catering world.

“We aren’t organic because of a trend. It really is our nature,” Rohan says. “When we can’t use our own produce, we support local farmers in the Carmel area, always selecting based on season and using vegetables when they are at their best, most tasty selves.”

Conventional farming “creates maximum volume and poundage because it’s heavily sprayed,” Kasky adds. It’s less expensive than organic, and every tomato (or every apple) looks the same.

“The look of organic produce isn’t always as pretty,” he says. “So a bug nibbled on something. The new thinking is, ‘Wow, look at that—it must not have been sprayed with poison.’”

The majority of Paradise Catering’s business comes from weddings—an expensive day by anyone’s measure—so adding the cost of pricier organic and sustainable produce and meats can be difficult.

“Many of our brides want to do the right thing, but it can be a tough call,” Rohan says. “They often want fish that is line-caught and beef that is grassfed. They are already spending a ton of money on the wedding, but it’s becoming more and more important to them, and we see it changing slowly.”

Paradise can help with the decision by showing off its garden, stocked with seasonal produce (the summer showstopper is an heirloom tomato display of 600 vines), edible flowers and greenery for garnish— all of it organic. The menus are always in line with the seasons, and those unconvinced by local and seasonal can take a stroll through to taste for themselves. (The company motto is “From Farm to Flavor”).

Some couples don’t need to be led by the hand. Some even dig in and help produce the meal themselves.

Recently, a Paradise bride and groom raised their own lamb and pig during their engagement. They cleaned and dressed the meat, and Chef Kasky cooked the whole animals on a spit in front of their guests as a showpiece. Around the table were framed photos, chronicling the entire yearlong process.

“They chose us because of our farm orientation, and we clicked on that level,” Kasky says. “A few of the guests were horrified, and that goes along with some Americans’ tidy, perfectionist, consumer attitude. But this is the original way of providing food for our tables in a loving, respectful manner. It was beautiful on so many levels.”

And what happens after the cooking is done? Paradise uses the copious amounts of vegetable and fruit peels and scraps it generates to make compost that will enhance the farm’s soil, making it ready to grow the next season’s crop, which in turn feeds the next season’s wedding guests. Such systems reduce a kitchen’s waste and a farm’s need to ship in soil amendments. And by diverting the scraps from the airless, methane-producing environment of a typical landfill, this also helps combat global warming.

“We believe this says a lot about our focus on serving fresh, unprocessed foods as well as our commitment to minimizing our footprint,” Kasky says.

Paradise Catering will prepare the meal at a Pop-up Supper Club that Edible Monterey Bay will host together with Holman Ranch on July 28. To purchase tickets, go to www.ediblemontereybay.com, and click on “Edible Events.” For more information about Paradise, go to www.paradisecater.com

Ground Up

A burger that’s about as good for you as it can be—and you can get it with kimchee, too!

Story and Photos by Camilla M. Mann 

Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 3.17.36 PMBy now most of the food- and health-obsessed among us know that eating your average fast- food burger is about the worst thing you could do for your body, what with the high fat, po- tential pathogens and mystery ingredients— and that’s not to mention supporting pollution-creating, inhumane and unsanitary feedlot conditions for the cows and often poor working conditions at the big meat processing plants and fast food restaurants.

But happily for those interested in a more healthful option, some local burger joints, old and new, have been working to change that. For example, there is Burger., the Santa Cruz and Aptos institution that uses grassfed beef from Humboldt County. Monterey County has 400°, which doesn’t serve grassfed beef, but at least uses local and, when possible, organic veggies on its burgers.

And as this issue of EMB was going to press, Morris Grassfed of Hollister was in talks with a new burger restaurant about offering its beef—which would make it Monterey County’s first grassfed burger spot.

And then there’s Santa Cruz chef and food system educator Kevin Koebel, who with his new restaurant, Ground Up, sets the gold standard for local sustainable burger restaurants, using grassfed beef raised in the region, including Leftcoast Grassfed and Markegard Family Grass-Fed for house-ground burgers.

He even uses flour made from wheat grown by such local farms as Pie Ranch to bake homemade buns daily and makes his own mustard, ketchup and mayonnaise from scratch. Oh, and he uses veggies from Central Coast organic farms.

The bad news for us in the Monterey Bay area is that Koebel opened Ground Up in Half Moon Bay, a somewhat high-carbon hike up the freeway when sustainability is part of the point. It’s also only open on weekends. But there’s a lot to recommend it on flavor and ed- ucational value alone, so we’ll tell you why it’s worth the trip—especially if you’re passing through town anyway.

The burgers are as delectable as they are innovative. There’s the Bullwinkle, a patty topped with caramelized onions, a dollop of mousse made with Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. blue cheese and a drizzle of balsamic syrup; the Green Thumb is brightened with avocado, lime butter and dandelion greens; and the Wilbur is layered with house- cured bacon and melted Cheddar cheese.

I loved the Zesty Goat, a chèvre-topped burger with candied Meyer lemon and wilted arugula, while my 10-year-old devoured more than one of the Gangnam Styles, a burger dressed up with housemade kimchee and smeared with spicy aioli.

Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 3.17.29 PM

And the burgers aren’t the only items on the menu. Starters include salads with greens from Route 1 Farms in Santa Cruz and chèvre from Harley Farms Goat Dairy in Pescadero. Piles of fries, some tossed with garlic and others with an Argentine-style chimichurri sauce, and Brussels sprout chips are offered as sides. Non-burger entrées in- clude el Salchichero hot dogs as well as veggie burgers, chicken and fish.

Ground Up is the latest project of Koebel’s Local FATT, a mission more than an organization that Koebel, a CAA-trained chef and son of a pig farmer, has run for several years out of the Half Moon Bay building where Ground Up is located. FATT stands for “food awareness through teaching,” and Koebel’s goal is to educate the public about where its food comes from, to support farmers and to promote more healthy local food systems.

Ground Up promises to be a delicious addition to the broader region’s culinary community, and being centered on the emi- nently approachable burger, it could be one of Koebel’s most successful food education projects to date.

Ground Up • 650.712.2100 www.facebook.com/groundupburgers