Tartine Afterhours menu from The Perennial Plate dinner. Photo: The Perennial Plate
Daniel Klein, creator of The Perennial Plate, an online weekly documentary series dedicated to socially responsible and adventurous eating, shares some thoughts about his new Bay Area episode. Under the guidance of Chef Samin Nostrat they visited three local farms, gathered stories, harvested food and then created a Tartine Afterhours dinner at the Tartine Bakery in San Francisco. Watch the episode about the farm visits and event.
From your experience traveling across country what qualities are unique to the Bay Area with regard to food awareness and food community?
The first part of our trip was in the South where local food appears to be more along the lines of “the way things are” — unless, of course, there is nothing — food deserts are also often the case down south. But in the Bay Area it is a way of life in the sense that people are passionate about it — where food comes from is important. And beyond that, California is where so much food is grown. In other parts of the country we say “oh that’s from California” — but here, well, it’s all from California.
When you were putting this episode together what were the key points you wanted to communicate to your audience:
…about sustainable eating in the Bay Area?
I didn’t really want to convey a message about sustainable eating, I wanted to share the story of our dinner at Tartine and the farmers that let us visit and harvest their crops. There isn’t an intended message, more a hope that people will enjoy the spirit of the dinner and days proceeding.
…about the Bay Area farms you visited?
Riverdog Farm — What an incredible farm. It seems they have held on to their ideals while expanding into a large and very professional operation. In my limited experience it seems to be a great example of what a slightly larger organic farm can be. Diverse and with incredibly pristine product. Really refreshing — so many farms we visit are small, so it was cool to have the perspective of Riverdog (by industrial ag standards, its still tiny of course). We wanted to convey that it was larger, but also the spirit of its founder Tim Mueller.
Sunny Slope Orchard — Bill is passionate about his stone fruit. He farms for the joy of it. But more than the farm, I wanted to share how delicious his fruit was. That plum and those apricots were like nothing I’ve ever had before. Truly eye opening/mouth opening? experiences.
Pluck and Feather Farm — We were rushed at Pluck and Feather, the dinner was approaching and we needed herbs. Esperanza was there for us. We wanted to get something from an urban garden, and this place was perfect, especially with the giant McDonalds sign looming overhead.
…about the process of creating a pop-up dinner experience?
I wanted to convey that we didn’t know the menu until the day of, that it was collaborative and just really fun. We chose some over the top music to drive home the culmination of two serious days of traveling, harvesting and cooking.
Preparing the Perennial Plate dinner in the Tartine Bakery kitchen. Photo: The Perennial Plate
How did you decide on the menu for the Tartine dinner?
We decided the day of based on what we had. Samin and I just shot ideas at each other and came up with simple but delicious food. Samin had made pasta a few days earlier, so we knew that was going to happen, other than that, it was just trying things out.
Cherry Tomatoes with Pluck and Feather Farm Oregano. Photo: The Perennial Plate
I know you worked together with Tartine Afterhours chef Samin Nosrat on this dinner. How did you connect with her to make this all happen?
We connected through our mutual friend Alex of 4SP Films, he suggested Samin as a story and then through a phone conversation we decided that doing a dinner together would be awesome. I could tell it would work as Samin is so lighthearted and fun.
What went into making this event a reality?
I had come out to SF for a meeting and I met with Samin. We hit it off, although I think she hits it off with everyone she meets. It was really just a matter of arranging a date. Samin in turn decided on which farms to visit. I think these were places that she really wanted to check out, so it was win win.
Trio of Daniel’s Salads: New Potato, Roasted Beets and Shaved Summer Squash. Photo: The Perennial Plate
Were you able to make money from the event to help fund your project?
No, we look at the event as an opportunity to share our food and stories, not to make money. A lot of the work was on the staff, Samin and Tartine, so we were just happy to be a part of it.
I know you enjoyed a meal at Gather in Berkeley. What else did you and Mirra experience in the Bay Area that was memorable?
We went to Ubuntu in Napa which is similar to Gather in that it makes use of vegetables in unique ways. I don’t know if Manresa is considered the Bay Area, but we ate there as well. All three of these restaurants represent a new wave of cooking that loves the vegetable as much as the protein, I think it’s the future of cooking, so it was fun to try these three restaurants — each has a very different take but I think a similar spirit in their dishes.
Sunny Slope Orchard’s apricots al cartoccio. Photo: The Perennial Plate