LITHA

This June 2017 is brimming with talent.

Chef Tom Cloutman of Musa Musa is joining us solo for the first time, BrightSide Blue has never performed at Polly’s Paladar as a duo before, my daughter (Amani Mudd) will be hanging original art for the first time at a Paladar, and I have been wanting to raise money for Sierra Harvest for years and it finally worked out.  I am thrilled to have the opportunity to raise awareness and funds for this incredible local organization that brings so much value to our community, locally and ultimately globally…  because it’s all one, right?

It’s also a “first” for something else that, honestly, brings me to tears every time I write or talk about it and it is that my grandmother, the one and only POLLY will be joining us for the first time. Yes, that’s right, folks.  She is flying in all the way from Kansas City to experience Polly’s Paladar (obvious namesake).  I literally don’t think I could be more excited.

I know that I say that I’m excited about each month’s Paladar, but this takes the cake, ya’ll. The whole damn pie.

More about Sierra Harvest coming soon.

AMERICANA with SDG

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am absolutely HONORED to announce that our dear Stag Dining Group is coming back! Take a moment to sign up for the newsletter on our member ship page so that you can get the FULL description of what the weekend will hold.  Can’t wait!

 

OFF THE HOOK

Polly’s Paladar Presents:

OFF THE HOOK

A multi-course and multi-chef dinner as tribute to our tributaries.

 

It is a month shy of 5 years that Polly’s Paladar has been furnishing the foothills with supper club nights. That totals 51 Paladars. As Director, I have poured my very heart and soul into each dinner I have curated. Building relationships within my community and forming friendships has been such a happy accident. I am inspired by the generosity and talents we have here. I try to live by a goal where each side of the equation walking away feels as though they got the better deal. My guests are a part of that equation. The farmers I purchase product from are a part of that equation. My staff is part of the equation. The truth is, that I often forget that I should be a part of that equation too. I open my very home up to my community, I iron my Grandmother’s linen napkins to share, the china I serve dishes on are not from any thrift store (they are my parent’s wedding china), and I go way beyond the call of duty to find specific ingredients for my chefs to use as a garnish. It can take me up to a week to recover from a Paladar and it is NOT a moneymaker for me in the slightest. I mention all of this because I know that I am not the only one who makes these kinds of leaps into what any financial advisor would run far away from. I know that I have had staff members who have worked twice as many hours as I can pay, but who would rather do it for the love of the Paladar than not at all. What about that goal, you ask? Well, I believe, with all my heart, that we all still walk away feeling as though we got the better deal. We might be poorer, more haggard than before, and we certainly might lose a vintage piece of china or two, but it’s all for a reason. And a good one at that. We got to be a piece of a story only happening here and now in our beloved Nevada City with our beloved community. So to all of you who come and experience the Paladar as a guest, thank you for showing us what we can do when we are determined and adventurous enough to try.

 

If you have been following the story of Polly’s Paladar even slightly, you will have noticed how often January’s chefs are featured. Honestly, I don’t believe that I could possibly feature them too often.   They literally never fail the Paladar and they never fail the guests. It’s a dream come true to have them ALL decide to tag team one Paladar together. You see, I often wonder if they, as city dwellers and “culinary outfitters”, really just use ME to get to the Yuba. They are obsessed with our river! They will do literally anything to be able to visit the Yuba as often as possible. These lunatics come up to feed over 120 people at Paladars and then they wake up before dawn on the morning of the event to go fly-fishing! That kind of endurance only comes from folks in the food industry, people, I’ll tell you that much! It is with that reverence that they are joining us again. They are donating their time and they have even rounded up product from other Bay Area businesses that want to keep the Yuba pristine so that we may donate as much as possible to the efforts of SYRCL.   If the heart and soul of Polly’s Paladar is what you love, than you must join us. It could be said that this Paladar has five times as much pulse as any other before. Together with Sommelier Ted Wilson of San Francisco (Fine & Rare, Metal & Match), we have rounded up a few darlings from the Bay for one medley of a meal, all in support of the mighty YUBA. This Paladar will be coupled with the Wild and Scenic Film Festival organized by SYRCL. Five different lords of flavor will be joining forces to create an ode to those crystal rapids, those glistening granites, and those tenacious gill-bearing aquatic wonders.

 

OFF THE HOOK

In collaboration with WSFF and SRYCL

January 13th and 14th, 2017

 

Fine and Rare

Pink Zebra

Metal and Match

Stag Dining Group

Bon Vivants

 

 

Fine & Rare:

 

In July of 2014, Chef Scott Peterson made a solid 50 Paladar guests cry with his surprise course of the most velveteen salmon dish humans have ever eaten. Since then he & Sommelier Ted Wilson spearheaded the most incredible gourmet food venue the Bay Area has ever sunk its teeth into. The Hall not only provided SF foodies with approachable, well-made food, but it completely transformed Market Street for the better. Then in May of 2015, we brought them back for a double nighter in honor of the treasures hidden in the Deep Blue, as a toast to springtime, and in observance of doers everywhere! That delicate dose of omegas: artfully plated, intricately designed, and delectably flavored solidified the Fine and Rare fan club here in the foothills. Their dinner reacquainted us with PERFECTLY prepared seafood and reminded us of the precious necessity to a balanced world our oceans remain. Fierce and nurturing. Bountiful and unforgiving. Scott & Ted brought the maritime to the mountains. Since then, they opened up a brick and mortar in the city and have been winning hearts and bellies ever since. It certainly doesn’t hurt having an amazing sommelier on hand to round out every bite! Ted Wilson has spent his entire professional life in the wine business. His career path began in vineyards and cellars in the Finger Lakes of Upstate NY, which then careened him up the ladder to working as a Sales Rep for a NYC- based distributor and later becoming the Senior VP and Director of Operations for that distributor. During his time as the Operations Director, Ted oversaw the production of an “in-house” brand that he helped grow to over 2,000 cases annually and increased distribution across multiple states. His varied wine industry background, from the winemaking process to executive positions, was driven by his ultimate goal: to launch a brand and apply all of his skills and past experiences into a label he could call his own. Which he has done with Wilson and Wilson Wine…. full disclosure, it’s delicious.

 

PINK ZEBRA:
Jesse Koide is the chef/founder of Pink Zebra, a San Francisco based pop-up restaurant. His vast level of skill and experience in restaurants has taken him from pot wash, to sushi counter, and on to becoming head chef. His cuisine can be described as ‘Mediterrasian’, drawing from his love of Italian flavors and his disciplined roots in Japanese kitchens. This has resulted in a deep, umami rich, and technique-driven style that is genuine, curious, playful, and a bit rough around the edges, much like him. Pink Zebra was named one of the “Top 25 New Restaurants” by Bon Appetit and “Best New Pop Up Dinner” by the SF Weekly, both in 2015. As former head chef of Mission Chinese SF, Jesse has a massive fan base. He currently hosts Pink Zebra dinners at Namu Gaji, as well as events at various other locations in San Francisco. Jesse’s dinner at Polly’s Paladar this spring was our second into our 5th year. He had our guests totally amazed at what he was able to pull off in each dish. As an observer to it all, I can honestly say that it was one of the most entertaining Paladars I have ever been privileged enough to witness!

 

Metal & Match:

 

Sommelier Ted Wilson and founding chef Christine Wells are Metal & Match. They have been painted as a breath of fresh air in the catering world, a fusion of innovation plus years of restaurant experience, and a joy to work with. They come to Polly’s Paladar for the second time as this culinary tandem. We have felt the savoir-faire of Sir Wilson several times as half of Fine & Rare and half of this recently released culinary dream team. Both remarkable seasoned paladar darlings. Chef Christine Wells has been described as a magician who transforms traditional into radical. She has been a food photographer, attended the French Culinary Institute in NYC, worked at City Grit, was head chef at Brooklyn Winery, and then was head chef at Foxtail Catering. So, yeah…. she has been around the block. We are thrilled to have both of them with us. The Metal and Match Paladar (the 47th) was inspired by smoke, fire, and ash. They brought food back to its birthplace. Primitive techniques, our ancestors knew intimately, were their guides. Tender memories forged fireside and rooted in nature were translated onto the dinner plates with total grace. And who can forget those mason jars of smoke we sent out to the tables to play with? Crazy fun had by all.

 

STAG DINING GROUP:

 

Five years ago, I had the opportunity to dine inside of the publication headquarters of San Francisco’s “The Bold Italic” with The Stag Dining Group. Ever since then, I knew I would one day lure their chefs Jordan Grosser and Ted Fluery to Polly’s Paladar. Well, friends, the rest is history. It DID take a long time to nail down those SDG boys, but now they are all dear ole friends just itching for more Nevada County at any chance they get! And the food is simply BEYOND, people… So they came (April of 2013-The Stag of Spring) and wooed us all and then they came back again (May of 2014-Aloha Cerf Club) and made us all faint with flavor. They deserve a little introduction for sure:

 

Jordan Grosser and Ted Fluery have many years of experience and expertise in the culinary industry. Jordan’s passion and prowess in the kitchen was evident early in his career, assuming the role of sous-chef with Ted at La Soliel of Tucson. His career pursuits brought him to San Francisco in 2004 where he worked at Azie. After a stint at Campton Place and Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio where Jordan quickly propelled to the esteemed role of Chef De Cuisine at this San Francisco fine-dining institution, he re-joined Ted Fluery as co-executive chefs at Alembic (Where they worked with Ethan Terry of Bon Vivants as well). Jordan and Ted have a warm presence lighting up any room and their excellent cuisine has been known to invoke ‘slow clap’ ovations. As longtime friends and colleagues, Jordan Grosser and Ted Fleury first launched Stag Dining Group in December of 2010. In their mission statement, Grosser and Fleury define the heart and soul of their work not by the question of “why”, but “why not?” Their clandestine suppers are nationally known, lusted after, and delicious. They have been given accolades by: 7X7 Magazine, The Silentist, Refinery 29, San Fransisco Magazine, Behance, Thrillest, Clean Pates, The Bold Italic, Ewallstreeter, SF Weekly, Champagne and Heels, Umami Mart, SF Chronicle, The Styley, Sf Bay Guardian, and Urbandaddy… to name a few. Stag holds dinner parties on battleships, inside Heath Ceramics, the Bold Italic Headquarters, legendary hotels with legendary people like Jacques Pepin, they have them at shooting ranges and in vineyards…. and they have them at Polly’s Paladar.

 

Bon Vivants:

 

Ethan has this infectious smile that made me wonder, at first, if it was actually an act (one that becomes ingrained in any individual living for a certain amount of time in the service industry) or an endlessly sweet desire to not only give excellent service from behind a bar, but also make anyone feel important even from across a picnic blanket or at a casual party. What I eventually found out is that it’s both. Ethan is the most polite person I have literally ever met. And it’s not an act. He is ALWAYS polite.   He is the best bar tender on the planet and the sweetest guy who wants to make you an amazing drink even when he’s not technically working. It’s as though he literally lives to please you and I believe it’s true. He is a part of The Bon Vivants, a nationally recognized cocktail, hospitality, marketing, and design firm started by Josh Harris and Scott Baird in 2009. As Attaché of BV, Sir Ethan Terry will be mixing drinks for our guests with every penny going to SYRCL, so drink up! Obvi, only 21 and over at this dining event! Some of you locals may have seen him guest bar tend at the Golden Era some time ago and now we have him all to ourselves!

 

Allowable dietary preferences:

Vegetarian

Gluten Free

Email megan@pollyspaladar.com if you require either or both of these kinds of meals.

 

Babysitting upstairs available!

$8/hour/kid.

Email megan@pollyspaladar.com if you would like to sign up for this separate service!

 

 

OFF THE HOOK MENU*

 

Pink Zebra – First: purple yam dashi purple yam chip, mushroom cream, uni, maitake

 

Stag Dining Group – Second: charred winter vegetables, sea urchin bagna cauda, trout roe

Stag Dining Group – Third: porchetta di testa, black trumpet naan, sunchoke mayo, sottocieniere, red frills

 

Metal & Match – Fourth: coho salmon, winter squash, smoked butter, frisee, Fresno chili, kale-pepita crisps

 

Metal & Match – Fifth: cowgirl creamery red hawk, togorashi seeded brittle, pickled banana puree, pear, house black pepper crackers

 

Pink Zebra – Sixth: purple yam, persimmon, konbo

 

Sponsoring businesses:

 

Calicraft

Banshee Wines

Wilson and Wilson

Deer Blood Rosé

Water 2 Table

Monterey Fish Co.

 

*Accompanied drink pairings to be listed ASAP and menu is subject to ch

 

snookies-cookies

Hen of the Woods

OUR 50TH PALADAR:

In collaboration with the Yuba Watershed Institutes 19th annual Fungus Foray. A {mostly} wild foraged Paladar from the local forests and glistening woods of the Sierra Nevadas.

Chef Aaron Thompson

Live Music with Mariee Sioux

Forest paintings with Jennifer Rain Crosby.

 

gift-voucher

Bread + Bones

To say that I am excited about this Paladar would be an understatement.  I am on the edge of my friggin chair, people.  I CANNOT wait.

 

There are only SIX seats left (as of 12:13pm, Sunday, October 23rd)

 

Get yours HERE and TODAY!

bread-bones

AL PASTOR

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Here we are, heading into autumn already. I can hardly believe it. Autumn is my favorite season, however. I am always ready for it. The Paladar has been quietly working away throughout the summer. What we have in store for you might very well exceed your wildest dreams. I want to expand it, to include multifaceted aspects of the incredible foothill based community and reach as far as we can to make a difference in the global sense as well. We know that we can provide an incredible night of delicious to you members. What we haven’t explored yet is how we can incorporate visual art, activism, music, dance, and the local food economy all in one place and time. You might think that we have, in essence been doing that all along and you would be correct, but the way we have touched upon this has been relatively quiet. kind of like as an aside. I want to, pretty much, shove it in your face! With each bite, I want you to experience the flavors, of course, but I always want you to fully integrate all of the other aspects of our event with each taste. Afterall, there is more than one way to taste a paladar!

Ill admit that I was discouraged when we had to cancel Chef Tom Bevitoris August Paladar inspired by the work of our dearly departed Prince. I, nevertheless, embraced the time it gave me to roll with summer, tend my garden, care for my beehives, and work to make this September event even more incredible. I am toying with the idea of holding Paladars every 2 months, based on how much I have been able to do in that time. The outreach has been deeper and the heart given to this Paladar has come from a place that only More Time can give! I am proud of this line up and I hope that it shows. In fact, I think that it’ll show so much, that you simply wont be able to NOT join us. So please take some time and read all the details incorporated. There is a lot to read here! Al Pastor will be an incredibly heart warming way to dance into the changing season with Pollys Paladar.

ABOUT THE FOOD THEME:
Al Pastor means in the style of the shepherd and this Paladar is an evening of food inspired by pastoral cuisine. Let your imagination ruminate over roasted lamb short ribs and fragrant quince fruit stewing on the fire. Think colorful spiced meats, cheeses and summer vegetables smoked on skewers harvested from aromatic shrubs, served alongside small pies stuffed with chevre, honey and saffron. This menu melds sister cuisines from herd-tending cultures of Spains Basque region, Iran, Greece, Chile and Northern Mexico. Courses offer a trek through grasslands, wild orchards, and ancient canyons, charting a deliciously unexplored aspect of food history. Although the title may lead to mouth watering expectations of tacos al pastor, let me assure you than none such thing will be served. Instead, let your palate yearn for these possibly uncharted territories across a time and place that few of us have had the pleasure to explore.

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JT & EMILY:
Raised around tide pools and campfires, sister/brother duo Emily Beggs-Kortman and JT Beggs bring a hunger for adventure to the kitchen. Heirs to culinary traditions of mother and grandmother cooks and connoisseurs skilled at sharing love through food, they specialize in old world cuisine for modern appetites. Techniques and recipes gleaned from their travels, most recently through Morocco, Crete and the Yucatan Peninsula, are paired with ingredients that evoke the bounty and splendor of their home: Californias Central Coast. A fascination with culinary and natural history is woven into the feasts and workshops they put on together, offering guests a sense of community and connection to the natural world.

JT is a naturalist and educator who spends his winters shepherding within the Navajo Nation Black Mesa, Dine Bikeyah. He is a private chef, caterer, outdoor educator and forager. When not running outdoor skills classes through Headwaters Outdoor School or catering and cooking with his sister at their shared business, he is traveling the world learning about food and cooking. His food and his foraging classes have been featured at numerous nature based educational centers such as the Riekes Center for Human Enhancement, the Oak Granary and Quail Springs Permaculture and they have been featured in Edible Santa Barbara magazine.

Emily has graduate training in ecological anthropology and studies food and nutrition in kitchens and gardens throughout Latin America. She is a collector of scents, stories, poems, and sojourns. She keeps her spice kit full of wildflowers and her pantry stocked for unexpected dinner guests. She is a cook, anthropologist, and teacher who is curious about the ecology and evolution of human diets, and the ways in which cuisine brings people together and connects us to nature. She has studied horticulture, culinary arts and healing traditions with chefs, farmers, herbalists and grandmothers in kitchens and gardens from the Sierra Nevada to the Andes. Emily takes her style cues in the kitchen and on the water from brother and surf buddy JT Beggs. Emily is a PhD Candidate specializing in food systems and anthropology at Stanford and is fluent in Spanish.
MUSIC:
Live music is back! Mathew Harmon and Tucker McGee are MAVROMATA. They will be joining the Al Pastor Paladar with the kinship of music inspired by the shepherds lifestyle. Spanish Flamenco, Greek Rembetiko, Sephardic Jewish songs and more will reflect the ambience of the Cantinas and Tavernas where much of this type of food has been served. They play the music of the Mediterranean region, from the islands of Greece to the Southern beaches of Spain. They reach far into the past for traditional songs as well as into their own Mediterranean region of central California for inspiration to create new songs and melodies. They play a mix of instruments between them including the oud, bouzouki, saz, flamenco guitar and frame drum. Come feel the blue waters and coast mountains as they serenade you.

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TYSA TRUNK SHOW:
TYSA is a California brand with a global mindset. They use all natural, eco-friendly fabrics and dyes, plus all of their pieces are made in the USA. Conceived in 2004 in Los Angeles, TYSA is a collection of chic pieces meant to be dressed up or down. Beginning with one cotton skirt, TYSA has grown into a fully formed collection for women of all ages. Composed of lustrous linen, comfortable cotton voiles, silks, jerseys, and prints that take inspiration from travels throughout the world, TYSA transitions seamlessly from daytime kickback to evening fabulous. Tysa’s versatility is no surprise once you understand that one of her primary inspirations comes from the 24/7 lifestyle of rock and roll.

One of my style inspirations is Anita Pallenberg. I draw so much inspiration from music. I love everyone from Chrissy Hynde to Patti Smith to Billie Holiday to the Rolling Stones to Pharrell and John Lennon.” Along with music, travel is also an integral part of the TYSA story, “I get so much inspiration for color wherever I travel,” she says. Amazonian greens, the orange of an Indian sunset, the red of the East African soil, and a Caribbean turquoise all mix flawlessly with more urban shades of black, brown and khaki.

Tysa Wright wanted to share her fall collection with her Nevada City crew, so we cooked up this plan to incorporate textiles into a paladar. Our servers will be donning her flowing designs and there will be a rack of 20% off wares for you to peruse between courses at Al Pastor. We havent ever had a paladar quite like this one before.

FLOWERS:
Last year, Karouna Thompson, of Soil Sister Farm slayed at arrangements on tables, the front porch, and the piano alter. Here is a little bit about why we want her talent back and why we want to support local florists like SSF:

Soil Sisters Farm is a diversified farm in the Sierra Nevada Foothills of California, a stones throw from the South Fork of the Yuba River. They are a women-owned business, founded in 2010 with a commitment to valuing healthy relationships to oneself, one another, and the land as a way to bring health and beauty into our community. We raise flowers, vegetables, and a pretty happy population of bees on a one and half acre parcel of leased land just outside of Nevada City.

Their working manifesto is thus: To create an entity that can give us the strength, validation, and support we need. To pursue farming by our own standards of success and health. To value womens voices and womens wisdom. To celebrate the slowness of seasons, the patience of god, the beauty under our feet, between our hands, and in the river. To lift up song, dance, prayer, reflection, celebration, communication, growth. To let ourselves be overwhelmed with delight and joy, and overwhelmed with heartache and loss, and to hold space for both. To hold each other up, to hold each other accountable, and to honestly and gently express our needs. To daily affirm one another, and to appreciate the presence, heart, and skill each woman brings. To recognize our different paths and goals, and to revel in our ability to weave them together. To lead with confidence and flair. To do what feels right. To change our internalized doubts and pains into healing and positive action. To inspire and empower other women in all facets of their lives. To include men to participate and share in our vision. To take the time to enjoy the fruits of our labors cooking slow dinners, eating carrots in the field, and drawing, painting, and photographing what inspires us. To dig, cultivate, seed, transplant, sweat and move with intention and self-awareness. To value and love ourselves deeply. To practice self-care. To practice kindness and compassion. To commit to living fully and joyfully.

PLANS FOR PROCEEDS:
Pollys Paladar hopes to support the legal defense for warriors protecting land, water, and human rights of the Camp of the Sacred Stones, a spiritual and cultural camp on the Standing Rock Reservation resisting the Dakota Access oil pipeline thru non-violent direct action. Our ability to donate will be directly related to how many seats we can fill. Have dinner for a cause. This is how activism can happen!

The Camp of the Sacred Stones was established April 1, 2016 as a center of spiritual and cultural opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline, and is determined to stop construction through prayer and nonviolent direct action until adequate tribal consultation and environmental review are conducted. The spirit camp is located in between the pipelines proposed crossing of the Missouri River and the water intake valves for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, just over a mile downstream. The camp urgently needs legal defense funds to support the warriors resisting active construction. They have met their funding goals and are even heading over that number. We want to make sure that they have even more. If, by September 23rd and 24th, their defense fundraiser has ended, we will find another way to get it to them.

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AL PASTOR MENU

Pintxos:
Pickled Green Walnut
Moroccan Beef Kofte
Idiazabal

First:
Kashk-o Bademjan
Byzantine Fava, Wild Sweet Peas,
Honey, Fennel Pollen
Pumpkin Frybread

Second:
Kalitsounia
Shepherds Sabzi

Main:
Kleftikó
Braised Oxtail Turkish Dumpling
Wild Bitters and Garlic Potato Confit

Dessert:
Warm Capirotada Norteña
Dulce De Membrillo Ice Cream
Allowable Dietary Preferences:
VEGETARIAN & GLUTEN FREE
Please email megan@pollyspaladar.com if you require either or both kinds of meals.
NO REFUNDS
GRATUITY NOT INCLUDED

 

Chef Profile: VICTORIA LAFONT

Star Date: July 31st, 2016

Coordinates: Polly’s Paladar, Nevada City, California, USA, Earth

Subject Profile: Victoria LaFont, Health and Wellness Specialist, Nutritional Therapy Expert, Certified GAPS Practitioner, Functional Medicine Professional, Graduate of the School of Badassery (henceforth deemed thus by me).

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Earlier this week, I had the extreme privilege to spend time with the ever “up the hill or down the hill” woman of the century (also deemed thus by me) and I had the wherewithal to record our conversation. You see, I am working on a project and it’s all too good to keep to myself for that long. I’m not sure how I’ll survive keeping it all to myself until its finish date, yet to be determined….

Victoria LaFont has been an integral part of Polly’s Paladar since its inception on that hot summer night with guitars, friends, a porch, and beer. All the while, life has changed and she no longer resides in Nevada County, but we get tastes of her here and there when she comes down the hill for fun/work. Here is our conversation. Enjoy:

Megan McCollam:
What was your first major influence with food in your life? What restaurant stands out, or what meal that your parents or somebody in your family or even just like a neighbor cooked you that made an impression on you? How did food first become something that was important to you in your life, as a kid? It could be a PB&J that rocked your world, you know?

Victoria LaFont:
I grew up in Kentucky, and food is a little different there than it is in California. The things that I remember eating when I was a kid were … It was a combination of Southern food, but also my grandmother is Italian, like off-the-boat Italian, so it was this weird combination of Kentucky, Missouri … Southeast Missouri where they lived … Southern, Italian cooking. I mean, that’s what it was. She would make these weird amalgamation meals, because that’s just where she lived, paired with what she knew. I remember she would make scrambled eggs that were the best scrambled eggs, but she’d also cook a lot with the food that her husband … My grandfather … and my dad would hunt. She would make duck a lot, she would make venison a lot, and my mom would also. If we had spaghetti, it would be venison instead of ground beef in the spaghetti sauce.

My family cooked, so my grandmother was an old school Italian lady, a short, fat little Italian woman who was gorgeous. She cooked, so those were family meals. She always had her spread. She would make this dish… Instead of meatloaf, it was made of pork. It was like a pork meatloaf. I can’t remember what she used to call it, but she would make it with this mustard sauce and twice-baked potatoes. That was like a huge meal that she would make. That was one of the main ones. She’d make this stuff called “duck stew fie” (spelling?), and she would make ravioli, so that was a huge tradition for her. Actually, when she died, the only thing that my family got a little inflamed over, as far as inheritance, was the ravioli.

Megan McCollam:
Her recipe?

Victoria LaFont:
No, no, no, the leftovers, because she had a few bags left in the freezer.

Megan McCollam:
In the freezer!?

Victoria LaFont:
Yeah, and she was very particular about it, it was this certain way that she did it and recipe that she followed and like that. Then my mom cooked. She was a stay-at-home mom mainly for the first ten years that I was growing up, and she just made Southern food: biscuits, spaghetti, fried chicken, meatloaf, collard greens, the basic mom with a good Southern influence, so it was around and I liked to eat! I’ve been a fat kid my whole life, so food has never been a foreign thing. Definitely had to reevaluate my relationship with food and find a healthy balance, but I was influenced by those women the most, and then the meat that the guys would bring in.

Megan McCollam:
That’s interesting, because you’re definitely not fat now, and you’re a nutritionist, so all of those things influenced you into doing your life’s work, and it was based around food.

Victoria LaFont:
Yeah, it was totally based around food.

Megan McCollam:
That’s cool. My next question was about people in your house cooking, so obviously they did.

Victoria LaFont:
Yeah, my mom cooked. It was always my mom and grandmother. The men didn’t cook in my family. Yeah, that wasn’t part of it, but for sure, I wonder percentage-wise, I don’t know what the rates are, but for women that have some spectrum of eating disorder, coming up in this culture, I would imagine is pretty great. I mean, I had that same, like the mental over-thinking and like that about food. It is, for me, true that as I went into health, I entered in through food as like a sacred wound, going in to fix that part of the experience with food, but I’m definitely balanced out now.

Megan McCollam:
Here’s a question: Your family came from these Italian roots into a Southern place, so you ate a lot of very culturally specific food when you were growing up. Now living in California, where there’s this amazing amalgamation of all these different cultures of foods, do you think that there is a place for specific cultures of food outside of that culture? Do you think that the only place to really get good Italian food is in Italy, or do you feel like there’s a certain amount of cultural appropriation that happens when people try to recreate those things? Is it sacrilege or do you feel like we can, in this day and age, take from different places and recreate them and have them be just as good?

Victoria LaFont:
Yeah, that’s a really good question. I definitely don’t think its sacrilege. I’m a more “sacred in the profane” type person, so I don’t think it’s sacrilege. I would think of it this way: Recognition seems like it’s important. You know, I’m not a chef, right? I’m a health practitioner, but when I think about that art of chefing or whatever art we decide to go into, then it’s educating ourselves about the roots of that is important, so do whatever you’d like to do. Mix whatever you’d like to mix, but know what you’re mixing.

It seems important to me, like I’m using many different paradigms of diagnostics or treatment in my practice, and I try to really get to the bottom of where that tradition came from, what the roots are of that so when I use it, I can use it the most effectively. I would guess it’s the same. It’s like if you’re going to make a fusion of something, knowing what you’re taking from … Like Picasso, right? He was an incredible renderer. He could render perfectly, but then he took it and … I think it’s a cliché example now, that we know Picasso, but it’s a good example because he studied the classic way of doing it so he could break the rules.

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Megan McCollam:
Yeah, yeah. That makes me think of nutrition and the healing arts, especially because we can … At this point, there’s so much information coming at us from all the different places that we can pick and choose what works for us. Cool, I like that. Okay, so … Pausing for a second here. I’m going to pick a good one. If you weren’t working in the food world or the nutrition world, because you are based out of … Your work is food related, right? What would you be doing otherwise? What’s your second, runner-up dream or passion?

Victoria LaFont:
Gosh, that’s a good question. It makes me think like, “Ooo, I wonder if I should quit grad school and go into something else?” I would farm. I would farm, and I did that for years. I lived in Hawaii, and here in California for eight years of my life, that’s what I was up to, and studying permaculture and having that. I’m really in a job that is not perfect for me, because I’m not a sitter. I don’t like to sit very much, and I really like using my mind to problem solve through functional health and like that, what I’m doing, but it’s not optimal for me as a human to be so heady. It’s better if I get out and move rocks and dig and sweat and work all day, so that’s probably what I would be doing, is studying that.

Megan McCollam:
Cool, I like that. I think that having you involved with the Paladar and having you be someone who is so open-minded was a really good introduction to me into what could be possible with the Paladar. I feel like everybody comes with a little bit of that, and maybe that’s actually what helps it evolve and keep growing. I don’t know the shelf life of it. I don’t know what’s the deal, but I know it’s fun and I know it at least pays my rent, so I got that covered. I can keep the roof, you know?

Victoria LaFont:
Yeah.

“There is some magic that’s happening there, and I’m consistently amazed that more people don’t get it, because it is so powerful. There’s a creation that’s happening there every month.”

Megan McCollam:
My next question is specifically about the Paladar and your experience with it, because you’ve been a dishwasher. You’ve been head co-chef twice with Southern Comfort and the Brothel, and you’ve been a server. What else have you been? I think that’s it.

Victoria LaFont:
An eater.

Megan McCollam:
Oh yeah, you’ve eaten. You’ve been a guest, so that’s a pretty unique perspective to have. Not many people have had all of those jobs, so what is your main takeaway with this whole weird supper club thing that happens in my living room?

Victoria LaFont:
That’s great. I’m amazed that more people aren’t engaging it. That’s something that comes up often for me, because I’m not living here anymore in Nevada County where it’s held. I’m a county over now. I’m in Placer County and it’s an hour drive. There’s people there that really appreciate food and culture and trying new things, but there’s some block somehow for them to get down here.

Megan McCollam:
It’s the same way going up, too.

Victoria LaFont:
Yeah, I never went to Tahoe until I moved there. The first time I was involved was as a dishwasher and it was wonderful. If my lower back could handle it, I would be a dishwasher every time, but I’ve got a slipped disc that doesn’t want to wash dishes. Even being a chef was hard. It’s really hard work. That’s something that comes over me, is like there’s this thing that’s happening that is not understood, because if it were, people would be knocking down your door. That would be my main perspective of it. There’s a lot of magic that happens in that kitchen and in that living room. For some reason, it’s not …

Megan McCollam:
It doesn’t translate?

Victoria LaFont:
Yeah, there’s some disconnect. I think maybe it’s unfamiliar to people; I’ve wondered about that. When you have to market and teach your offering, that’s a lot of work. Sometimes it’s harder to get people to come in, whatever your product or business is, if you have to teach them also. If there were another supper club, I think that more people would understand and know, if there were more, if it was more common. Do you know what I mean?

Megan McCollam:
Yeah.

Victoria LaFont:
But yeah, there’s a magic that’s there. I think all of it is the combination that … Really, Megan, you’ve created this thing that centers on your … I want to say almost like your psyche. We’re friends and I know you, but it’s this beautiful manifestation of creation for you. It’s not just like you go there and you eat really incredible food, even though that is the focal point, but you come into this space that is your home and you’ve created… not your home. You’ve designed this space that is different every time with incredible design. That’s one thing.
The marketing every time, incredible design, new, it’s never the same. The space, the dining room. You ripped out a kitchen in a rental. Do you know what I mean? What did you have, a crane or something, to bring that stove in? Nobody does that … Who does that!? But it’s you, you created this thing. Then you bring in these chefs that are fabulous. We went to the Hawaiian … I can’t remember the official name of it.

Megan McCollam:
Aloha Cerf Club.

Victoria LaFont:
Cerf Club, yeah, and it was Stag Dining Group. I lived in Hawaii for years. They cooked Hawaiian food, in Nevada City. These dudes from San Francisco, you know? That offering in this town … Let’s just say the whole county is 100,000 people, and Nevada City is what? 5,000, 6,000? That’s happening in this one little house. It’s if you were to do a Google Earth Map search of the house on that night, I’m sure the house energetically is just lit up. That’s the takeaway I would say from having all those perspectives, there is some magic that’s happening there, and I’m consistently amazed that more people don’t get it, because it is so powerful. There’s a creation that’s happening there every month.

“The philosophical implications of that can get beautifully deep, where you walk away and then you are what occurred, you are that event. It’s very sense-oriented and then it’s you. You ate it.”

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Megan McCollam:
It’s fleeting. I feel those things too, and I feel like that’s what makes it special. It’s a one-off each time. It’s not always there for everybody to partake in. You have to catch it. It’s like fishing.

Victoria LaFont:
That’s great.

Megan McCollam:
Then you have to release it, catch and release. Catch and release dining.

Victoria LaFont:
There’s something that’s really important about that it’s not permanent. It’s like really … I hate to wax too philosophical here, but this is the case. It’s like you bring that away with you. It becomes you, you’re eating this food. The philosophical implications of that can get beautifully deep, where you walk away and then you are what occurred, you are that event. It’s very sense-oriented and then it’s you. You ate it.

Overall, I’ll just say I feel honored to be interviewed because I’m not a cook. I’m actually not a very good cook, do you know what I mean? That’s the truth.

Megan McCollam:
But you did do it.

Victoria LaFont:
I did it, and it happened and people ate and nobody got food poisoning. That’s not my gift, but the food I love. I think that speaks to something too. It isn’t just the food, it’s the whole experience of it. The food was good. It wasn’t like the food was bad, and I’ve never had bad food there. It’s always been good, but it’s the whole experience of it. If I can convey that to people, or let them know at least that’s my experience. It’s not just one thing that happens there, it’s many different things.

Megan McCollam:
I know, I know what I want to ask you. After doing the Brothel and doing the Southern Comfort, is there one dish you remember from either of those that was your favorite? I have one in mind from the Brothel that was absolutely incredible.

Victoria LaFont:
Was it the custard?

Megan McCollam:
No, no, I was thinking the … I think it was radicchio with …

Victoria LaFont:
Oh, the pate in it.

Megan McCollam:
The pate. That pate was awesome.  It was made from the livers of chickens (or ducks… I can’t remember.  One of you set me straight) from our mutual dentist and his lovely wife (who is also a nutritionalist) Tiana and Sean Rockwell!

Victoria LaFont:
Yeah, the Brothel was wonderful, with Kristin Brudevold. We did a bone marrow custard and it was a total fluke. I had this maple syrup personally I had made … Spiced maple syrup, because I had packed this maple syrup with all these different herbs and spices, and it was just at my home, which was across the street. At the time, I lived right across the street. I remember we made this custard and we plated it and then we thought, “God, it just needs … ” I was like, “Oh my God, I have this maple syrup,” so I ran across the street and grabbed it during service. We filtered it and then we plated it with that dish. I love custard, and then the bone marrow was in the custard…. mmmmm…

Megan McCollam:
You made two different kinds, right? One didn’t have eggs and one did? Or one was dairy-free and one wasn’t, or something like that? Maybe that was in a class. You did a class at the Paladar.

Victoria LaFont:
Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Megan McCollam:
A couple.

Victoria LaFont:
I’ve done a few. I got interviewed for the paper in your kitchen. Actually, I was going to ask you today if I could use your kitchen for a video.

Megan McCollam:
Yes is the answer, always.

Victoria LaFont:
I don’t know what to convey other than you’ve got to just go. You’ve got to go, and it’s not the food, or it’s not just the food. It’s so much … And the music and it’s like there’s so much that happens in that night. Then sitting at the tables with people that you kind of know maybe, like friends of friends of friends. It’s excellent.

For more information on Victoria and the work she does, visit her website:

www.victorialafont.com

I, simply, cannot say enough about her knowledge, sense of humor, and general outlook on life. She has a wisdom beyond her years. Please contact her if you are ailing in any way whatsoever. She can help.

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THE WILD GAMBLE: Our Four Year Anniversary

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FEBRUARY 27TH & 27TH, 2016
FOOD OF THE FRONTIER
WITH CHEF SHANAN MANUEL
OF FEAST & GATHER
First a note of gratitude:

When I first began Polly’s Paladar, most of my friends and family thought that it was a great idea. It could be a catalyst to break out of the despair I felt being thrown into a situation in which I felt helpless and hopeless. Divorce can be tricky that way. I was lucky that my hair-brained idea took solid hold and blossomed into a revolutionary way to form a career and meet this new life and new people, even in a county where I had lived for 10 years. The idea of welcoming community into my home on a monthly basis was not without concern. I still have snippets of self doubt as I continue on this path, but mostly all has been well. The challenge of leading a different team each month with a model that not many have had the opportunity to work in was/is real. It is forever evolving too. I want to deeply thank each of you for giving me welcome feedback. It can be a crushing experience to receive criticism from your community, but it can also be an opportunity to grow into something that better serves the very people who serve me. We have a symbiotic relationship and I do not take it for granted. I am thankful everyday, but it is on occasions of anniversaries that I have the chance to reflect back on the path of the Paladar.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

*******************************************************

Please join us for
“A Real Shot in the Dark”

with Chef Shanan Manuel of Nevada County’s Feast & Gather preparing gourmet:

FOOD OF THE FRONTIER
at
THE WILD GAMBLE

and bringing back, by popular demand, dining in the dark with 8pm blindfolded seatings on each night.

But, for those of you who prefer to see your dinner, we have the 5pm seatings for you. No blindfolds will be administered during these equally special encounters on Chef Shanan’s take on gourmet frontier food.

About Shanan:

A fifth generation Californian, Shanan has been in high demand with her knack for creating stunning and delicious meals. From serving, cooking, and taking a seat as head chef at Polly’s Paladar in December of 2012 with her first “Dining in the Dark” experience, and catering large functions through her company FEAST & GATHER, she has done it all. Being deeply involved in the food industry for as long as she has doesn’t hurt either. Shanan has a huge following as she is committed to caring for the earth and it’s inhabitants by feeding us with ethically grown and sustainably harvested food. This is an ethos from which she does not stray. Understanding this concept and living it through and through guides the masses to her table in droves. We are glad to have caught her for this February’s Paladar before the summer takes hold and she fills her dance card to the hilt.

About “Dining in the Dark”:

Heightened sensory experiences tend to be the result of taking that one away for which many people rely heavily upon with the simple task of eating. The notion that a meal can be more enjoyable without sight is typically described that flavors are intensified when people can’t see what they’re eating. This intimacy with your meal and with your dining companions will surely create memories to last a lifetime.

We are offering this blindfolded dinner at both of the 8pm seatings for Friday the 26th and for Saturday the 27th. We will have brand new blindfolds for each of you and after you have aquainted yourselves with your surroundings, we will begin. Towards the end, you will have the option to unveil your sight and finish with a happy ending.

About the food:

Cooking was anything but easy for the early western frontier settler. With no refrigeration, frontier foods either had to have a long shelf life or be available when ever families stopped to eat. Of course there were no supermarkets, meat counters, or washed and shiny produce for these frontier folks. Although “new fangled” discoveries such as vacuum packed meats and Borden’s sweetened condensed milk, the settlers were often poor and without access to such frontier foods luxury. Most frontier foods were reminiscent of the “old World”, with English and European flavor.

In the early days, most frontier food storage relied on curing with salt, brine, picklin or dehydration. Around the ranch house, underground dugouts and coolers were also used to help preserve various foods. It depended on the resourcefulness of the cook to make do with what she had and make it apetizin. Besides generally having constant supply of beef, sometimes, she might add different meats fresh off the fat of the land; rabbit, venison, wild turkey, squirrel, duck, grouse, quail, etc. Seasonally, she would take advantage of various edible greens and wild fruits such as ‘muskidines’ and elderberries. Even though the chuck wagon cook carried his favorite seasonins and condiments, he also depended on gatherin a certain amount of his favorite herbs and baking ingredients, such as sage, acorns, nuts, buckwheat, etc., that is, if they were available. Cooking frontier foods was mostly done over open fires in Dutch ovens or skillets, griddles and ‘stewers’.

That said, our chef and her team are already envisioning what will please your palette in a world were we do NOT have to rely so much on scarcity. What follows is a very preliminary menu and the dietary restrictions that she is willing to accommodate.
Menu subject to change:

1st Course
Crispy Baked Potato Skins with Nettle Pesto/ Pickled Radish

2nd Course
Smoked & Salted Trout with Parsley & Fennel Seed Butter/Winter Greens with Elderberry Dressing

3rd Course
Son of a Bitch Stew with Beef Heart/ Molasses/Bacon/ Mustard/ Cabbage and Early Colonial Bread Sourdough Rye

4th Course
Wild Mushroom & Rabbit Chestnut Ravioli Slow Churned Butter and Fried Sage

5th Course
Fried Apples with Oliekoek : balls of sweetened Acorn dough, fried in hog’s fat. Cinnamon, Nutmeg & Orange

6th Course
House-made Root Beer & Cowboy Coffee Floats

LIMITED 5PM AND 8PM SEATINGS
NO REFUNDS

Allowable Dietary Restrictions:

GLUTEN FREE

DAIRY FREE

Those of you with vegetarian diets will NOT find this meal appetizing.

New Years’ traditions in Winter Kitchen Southern Food Paladar

Amalia and Megan have been friends for a very long time.  It began in 1993 as the two girls realized that they were born on the same day in October and loved the same boy.  Tulsa, Oklahoma couldn’t keep either of them (and neither could the boy), but both still maintain a romantic nostalgia for the rolling hills, ever expanding skies, and rich history of Indian Territory.   The friendship continued through years of relocations and career changes, ultimately manifesting as a Paladar in August of 2013 called “al Asador”.  Amalia’s impressive resume and food theme immediately sold out two nights.  She roasted two entire lambs (on a spit over a fire) for seven hours each day starting at 6am and surrounded her main dish with courses dripping in the rich quintessence of Argentina and Columbia, a place where Amalia’s ancestors come from and current kin reside.

This time, she is turning back to another genre of food rooted deeply in her family history.  Low country and middle south cooking derives from a time when settlers in the South had to survive solely on what was available and from her Grandfather’s farm in Northeastern Oklahoma.  It comes from the industry, economy, and devotion to what the land produces that Amalia recognizes from her childhood.  It was in the kitchen of her grandmother who cooked around and between the traditions of Georgia and Texas–and always from the garden–that she first learned this sensibility for food.  The lean winter months and her family’s traditions for the new year where guideposts for writing this menu, as was Amalia’s time spent cooking in New York with some of North Carolina’s wildest, most inventive, and thoughtful cooks.  There are many depictions of what Southern cooking is, however much detail is lost in the distillation and there are many pleasures to be found in the simplest of dishes using heritage ingredients forgotten by the industry but not by the family garden.  This was a truth for any settler in any region, but for the folks in Indian Territory, what was at hand and what was passed onto those “Sooners” were directly influenced by the people who came before.

Southern Native American culture (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, Seminole) is the cornerstone of the south’s cuisine. From their cultures came one of the main staples of the Southern diet: corn (maize).  Corn was used to make all kinds of dishes, from the familiar cornbread and grits, to liquors such as whiskey and moonshine (the former of which is still important to the Southern economy).  To a far greater degree than anyone realizes, several of the most important food dishes that the Native Americans of the southeastern United States live on today is the “soul food” eaten by both Black and White Southerners. Hominy, for example, is still eaten. Sofkee lives on as grits.  Cornbread is used by Southern cooks.  Indian fritters, also known as “hoe cake” or “Johnny cake” are a familiar southern food staple.  Indian boiled cornbread is present in Southern cuisine as “corn meal dumplings” and “hush puppies”.   Southerners cook their beans and field peas by boiling them, as did the Native tribes and, like the Native Americans, Southerners cure their meats and smoke it over hickory coals…

Chef Amalia Mariño was born and raised in Oklahoma, but her training has been with some of the finest in all the land.  In 2002 she earned a BFA in Ceramics and Art History from the Kansas City Arts Institute.  Eventually she gave up her career in the arts and completed courses at the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York to begin cooking professionally.  Amalia mentored for several years under Ignacio Mattos at Il Bucco and R.L. King at Hundred Acres before leaving Manhattan in 2010 to accept  job at Chez Pannist in Berkeley.  After five years, Amalia left her full time position at Chez to be a mercenary cook working on projects in the Bay Area and, from time to time, back in New York.  She still fills in at Chez Pannise every so often, as the family is very dear.  These days she is lucky to operate in the broader Famille Panisse that has spread across the world.  As ever, the brilliant friends and teachers around her make every day a school day.

NO REFUNDS
Limited 5pm and 8pm seatings

Allowable dietary restrictions:
Vegan
Vegetarian
Gluten free

Please email megan@pollyspaladar.com to request any or all of these alternative meals for you and/or your guests.

WINTER KITCHEN MENU

snacks
pimento cheese and bird seed crackers
(smashed lima bean for vegans)
celery + radish
pickled shrimp and/or pickled butter beans
pickled vegetables

soup
celery with (or without) crab and meyer lemon

supper
buttermilk fried rabbit or chicken
(fried sweet potato for vegans)
lowcountry hoppin’ john
bean gravy
smokey braised greens
blue corn cornbread + honey butter

dessert
warm apple sorghum cobbler

***MENU SUBJECT TO CHANGE***

Here is the invitation link to “al Asador”:

http://eepurl.com/ZCNz1

Here is the Facebook photo album for “al Asador”:

Copyright Robert Totoonchie 2014

Posted by Polly's Paladar on Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Here is the Facebook Event page to “al Asador”:

https://www.facebook.com/events/504774462988241/

Please join us for chef Amalia Mariño’s second PaladarScreen Shot 2015-12-11 at 1.28.46 PM

Hunter’s Moon

 

 

Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 6.26.01 PMOk, boy are we ever lucky.  Hunter’s Moon has already completely sold out and now we are in the preparation phases.  Everything is coming together perfectly.  See you next month!