Oliveto and Community Grains Pizza Party – Sunday, August 18th, 6-9 pm

Oliveto and Community Grains Pizza Party—

Sunday, August 18th, 6-9 pm

Justin Smillie, Upland Restaurant, NYC

Community Grains has been coming up with some terrific flour, and chefs and bakers on both coasts have been making exciting food with it.  For example, our guest chef, Justin Smillie’s whole-grain pizza at Upland in New York is extraordinary.  So as part of his visit with us, he suggested a pizza party.

It’ll be in the café.
There will be live music

by Trio Sin Lio
It’ll be big fun.

We’ll serve Justin’s pizza and some of our own.  Plus lots of other food.

For the past decade, Community Grains has been working to develop a better complete grain system.  Based on the values of nutrient-rich soil, advanced whole milling, and radical transparency in our supply chain, we’ve developed whole grain wheat flours that are different from anything else that’s commercially available.  By testing and improving over several years, we’ve arrived at the point where our Patwin variety x-fine wheat flour can compete head on with white flour for texture and mouth-feel, with enormous upsides in nutrition and taste, while at the some time growing a better, soil-based local grain economy.

Tickets are $35, with a no-host full bar.
Buy tickets here

2019-08-13T17:59:18+00:00August 13th, 2019|Coming up...|0 Comments

A Meaningful Piece of Toast

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Even with the rising interest in slowly fermented artisanal breads, it is yet still hard to find a skillfully made loaf of bread that’s made exclusively with organic, freshly milled whole grains. It’s one of the reasons why we’re immensely proud to introduce to you our new Toast Service in the cafe.

Much of it comes down to the wheat, which is supplied solely by our sister company Community Grains. It has an inner beauty that comes from the principles by which it’s grown and produced:

  • The locally grown, organic wheat is grown by incredible farmers like Full Belly and Fritz Durst.
  • It’s Identity-Preserved grain, meaning it’s traceable from seed to table (Community Grains shares information about each grain and how it was grown on its website).
  • It’s whole milled, so all parts of the wheat kernel are contained in a richly aromatic, fresh flour – reflecting the true flavor of the wheat and brimming with all the nutrients that historically have made it a foundation of nourishment for many cultures.

With this wonderful 100% whole grain flour, our new baker and Pastry Chef Andrew Chaney makes slowly fermented loaves of bread, using natural yeast from our air, salt, and water. Long-fermented breads break down the large gluten molecules, so many people who have trouble with gluten can easily digest it.

Andrew’s making two kinds of loaves right now- a plain, naturally sweet loaf, and another with golden currants and pepitas. Crisp on the outside and dense and moist on the inside, it is every bit what Michael Pollan described in his book Cooked as the healthiest bread – one that’s naturally, slowly fermented and made with whole grains.

To go along with it, we’re offering a selection of toppings, all made in-house: freshly ground almond butter, small-batch seasonal jams, housemade ricotta dressed with lemon oil and black pepper, and right now, smoked locally-caught swordfish whipped light into cream cheese and chives. It’s hard to pick a favorite – each toast suits a different mood.

We hope you will come and try it – for our part, we’re grateful to be able to offer you something so simple, yet so exceptionally pleasurable to eat. Our toast menu is available everyday, 8am – 11am. Our weekend breakfast menu goes unchanged.

MENU

toasts:

Hard red winter wheat/hard white winter

wheat, with sweet butter 4.

Hard red winter wheat/hard white winter

wheat, pepitas, sesame seeds, and golden

raisins, with sweet butter 4.

**

home-made toppings:

ricotta spread: ricotta, honey, lemon oil, and black

pepper 3.

almond butter: toasted almonds ground

in house 2.50

marmalade: oranges, lemons, and sugar 1.25

egg salad 4.

ciccioli: house-made spreadable salame 3.

creamy smoked fish spread with cream cheese and

chives 4.50

organic strawberry jam 1.25

compound butter with maple syrup 1.50

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Our loaves are made with Hard Red Winter Wheat and Hard White Winter Wheat.

2014 Community Grains Conference [audio recording]

For those of you that couldn’t make it to the 2014 Community Grains Conference on March 9th it was truly a whirlwind! So many great speakers, and a good deal of groundbreaking information – it was all very exciting. At the same time we were sad we had to turn so many people away, but ticket sold out faster than we expected. Here’s a recording of the day’s discussion if you were unable to attend.

2017-09-12T15:47:24+00:00March 20th, 2014|2014, Events, Oliveto Grain Project|0 Comments

Wheat Tasting: A First Step Towards Creating A Vocabulary

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On January 10, we hosted a wheat tasting in the Oliveto dining room. Our plan wast to begin establishing some basic vocabulary for how to talk about the flavor components of wheat and flour as well as discern how those components vary between different varieties.

In attendance were some of the most highly-tuned palates we know including: Randall Grahm (Bonny Doon Vineyard), Oliveto co-owner Maggie Klein, Manresa sous chef Jessica Largey, author Harold McGee (Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen), journalist Michael Pollan (The Botany of Desire), Master Baker Craig Ponsford, Oliveto Restaurant Executive Chef Rhodehamel, food historian and author William Rubel (Bread: A Global History), Manresa pastry chef Avery Ruzicka, and distiller Lance Winters (St. George Spirits/Hangar One).

Also in attendance was farmer Matt Taylor who grew the wheat we were tasting for Front Porch Farms, a small organic (soon to be biodynamic) farm, in Healdsburg, CA. As well as Community Grains founder, Bob Klein.

The group tasted three different varieties of wheat: Bolero, Christallo, and Desert King in five different forms/applications: straight seeds, whole-milled flour, porridge, pasta, and bread baked by Chad Robertson of Tartine Bakery in San Francisco.

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Panel members were gracious enough to let us collect their notes at night’s end and we are now in the process of compiling a first draft of a wheat/flour directory of terms which we will continue to add to and expand on as we become more fluent. There was definitely the consensus that this was a great first step, but that more tastings with additional variables and applications should follow. We’ll keep you posted…

2017-09-12T15:48:12+00:00January 19th, 2012|Oliveto Grain Project, This Just In|0 Comments

Tastes Like California Wheat

When we first got involved with locally grown grains over four years ago, one of our long term goals was the pursuit of identity preserved wheat. By this we mean a particular variety grown by a farmer we know and trust, and milled into flour without being blended with other varieties or wheats from other farms.

That goal became a reality last spring when we were approached by Front Porch Farms, a 112 acre organic/biodynamic farm in Healdsburg, CA. Owner Peter Buckley and farmer Matt Taylor were eager to start growing grain but wanted to do some smaller trials of different varieties to figure out what would perform best in their area. We (under the auspices of Community Grains) helped them select three varieties we were curious about and provided seed for a fourth. And, lo and behold, just last week we received very small quantities of our first four identity preserved wheat flours: Bolero, Espresso, and Cristallo — all soft winter wheats, and Desert King, an amber durum variety.

The next step, which we are just now beginning, is to define each variety’s individual flavor components and create a language to talk about those components. We had an initial tasting with some of our best palates: Executive Chef Jonah Rhodehamel, Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyards, and Lance and Ellie Winters of St. George Spirits. We intend to do a more in-depth assessment of characteristics over the next few weeks. And of course, we’d love to hear what our diners think.

So starting next week, we will be offering these unique pastas on our dinner menu.

We are excited about the potential of this first small harvest as it helps to bring us closer to the idea of a small-scale regional grain economy, which we believe is the best option for the health of our communities, our farmers, our food, and our selves. This is a rare and celebratory opportunity to taste identity preserved organic wheat grown and milled right here in northern California. Please join us.

2017-09-12T15:48:15+00:00October 13th, 2011|This Just In|0 Comments

From Fencerow To Fencerow

Red Flint 'Floriani' Corn - Lodi, CA

Red Flint ‘Floriani’ Corn – Lodi, CA

After a couple of years of dilly-dallying with our beloved Red Flint ‘Floriani’ corn (growing one acre in 2009, then five acres last year) we’re finally taking the plunge with a much larger crop for 2011. Eighteen acres were planted in Woodland, CA along with another ten acres in Lodi, CA.

Also in the mix are test rows for improved seed selection in Sunol, and test plots of Floriani, and a second Italian variety called Otto File in Healdsburg.

We expect to yield between 40,000 and 90,000 lbs. of corn in a few months. Planting all took place around June 1st, and reports are good so far. We love hearing from the farmers and we will be posting their pics and observations in the Crop Report feed on the Community Grains website when we receive them.

2017-09-12T15:48:18+00:00July 26th, 2011|Oliveto Grain Project|0 Comments

Red Flint Corn Seed Selection

From the Life Is an Adventure department, comes lessons in farming corn.

We love our Floriani Red Flint corn, we think it makes the very best polenta. So, when we started to ask farmers to grow it for us several years ago, we found that the Rominger Brothers were up for the adventure. Their first crop, about an acre and a half, yielded 2,300 lbs per acre, but we thought some modest adjustment could improve that yield. (Yellow dent ‘field corn’ can yield over 12,000 lbs per acre.)

But the next year, the yield dropped to 1,300 lbs per acre. This makes for some expensive, all-be-it delicious, corn polenta. But we’re in it for the long haul, so last September, a group of us from Oliveto went up to Winters, California, to our 5 acre crop of Italian red flint corn to hand pick some for seed selection before the harvester came in.

Fred Hemple, a PhD plant-biologist-turned-farmer has now joined us in the adventure. At his farm, Baia Nicchia Farm and Nursery, in Sunol, he’s taking on the job of cleaning up the genetic lines of our corn. Fred will be blogging periodically about his progress, and working with us to develop our crop in the coming years. We’ll be following along on our Journal as well. We’re expanding the Floriani polenta service in the café, from lunch to close. It’s frequently on the dinner menu upstairs also.

2017-09-12T15:48:25+00:00April 13th, 2011|Oliveto Grain Project|0 Comments

Ponsford’s Place

Craig Ponsford has been a great friend to Oliveto over the past year. As we have become increasing interested in locally grown wheat and the use of whole grain flour for our pizzas and pastas, Craig has been providing us with all the necessary instruction and guidance as only a master baker can do. As a direct result of this friendship and Craig’s contagious enthusiasm, the Oliveto Grain Project evolved into a full-blown obsession and eventually Community Grains was formed.

So we are thrilled to announce that Craig has started his own pop-up bakery in San Rafael, CA. Ponsford’s Place is doing some amzing things by way of delicious baked goods that use 100% whole grains. To find out when Craig will “pop-up” next you’ll want to follow Pondsford’s Place on Twitter or Facebook. Innovative is an understatement.

2017-09-12T15:48:27+00:00March 2nd, 2011|Oliveto Cafe, Oliveto Grain Project|0 Comments