By Mary Olsen
A Louisiana themed dinner at the new Gather space at Perry’s was a big success Saturday, January 24, thanks to Chef Ed Vigil’s familiarity with the lusty, flamboyant cuisine. Ed’s wife, Dee Wagner, from New Orleans, has apparently had a delicious influence on Ed.
The evening began promptly at 6 pm with a plate of tasty little bites, one of which was alligator with a cornmeal crust, which was why I had signed up for the dinner. Yes, it does taste like chicken, almost exactly. Same texture, too. It shared space with a little crab pancake and a crawfish beignet, both with spicy, interesting sauces.
The servers for the evening, Molli Milner and Lea Hickman, were gracious and adept at serving the thirty plus patrons. Despite the awkwardness of having to go outside the deli to get to the dining space, the food was served hot from the kitchen and people at each table were all served at the same time – great teamwork.
A Romaine salad came next. Thinly slice Tasso Ham, a southern specialty that resembles prosciutto, corn bread croutons, smoked cheddar cheese had just the right amount of vinaigrette. The salad and the tasty bites would have made a satisfying supper for me,
I wasn’t prepared for the enormous red snapper that suddenly swam onto my plate. The red fish on a pink little pond of crab and shrimp sauce looked lovely. t was perfectly cooked. My only whine was that my lemon was thinly sliced so it made squeezing it difficult and messy.
My dining companion, Mr. Olsen, chose the Devil’s Gulch pork chop. They must have really big hogs over there at Devil’s Gulch. I’ve never seen such a huge chop in all my life. It was served with dirty rice, which looked and tasted a lot like risotto to me. And it didn’t taste dirty at all. The collard greens were also lightly and cleanly cooked, not braised all day. They retained their shiny green brightness.
The third choice of the evening was gumbo with chicken and sausage. No one at my table ordered it, so unfortunately I didn’t get to taste it. I asked the diners at the next table how they liked it, but no one offered me a bite. I’ll be keeping an eagle eye out for it in case Ed puts it on his weekly menu in the future. It looked gorgeous. (Ed creates a complete and different dinner every night and sends out a weekly e-mail to those who’ve signed up in the store. The meals are between $17 and $21/person. Bring your own container and get a $1 off.)
Our tablemates, newlyweds Elizabeth Hill and Chris Eckert, who had just returned from their wedding in New Orleans, declared their meals authentic and as wonderful as anything they had had on their honeymoon. Perhaps is was their infectious happiness that made the evening such a glowing success?
Dessert was warm beignets with a coffee bourbon sauce. I was more than pleasantly full so I took mine home and had them for breakfast on Sunday morning. A few minutes in the toaster oven and I was sitting at the Cafe Du Monde, beside the Mississippi, watching the River Queen load her passengers.
By Mary Olsen
Elizabeth Hill received her crown last Saturday, acing out 12 other offerings, and will reign as Queen of Tarts, at least until the next Annual Edith Gondola Pie Baking Contest. Elizabeth won the hearts of the judges with her tantalizing huckleberry tart. The crust was buttery and flaky, not soggy or overly salty. The huckleberry filling, so appropriate for our region and time of year, was not too sweet nor too.tart. The adeptly applied indigo-blue glaze glistened.
One bite and the judges swooned. Missy Will, local caterer, and Oscar Gamez, manager of Toby’s Feed Barn, were equally impressed with Elizabeth’s creation, using one of the recipes handed down from her beloved grandmother, Norma Wells.
Queen Elizabeth recounts: “One of the fondest memories of a childhood spent in West Marin was of picking huckleberries and making my grandmother’s huckleberry tart, one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted. She was lucky she had so many grandchildren because huckleberries are tiny and picking the four cups necessary for the tart is quite an endeavor! My grandmother would rig baskets or buckets we could hang around our necks for hands free picking and off we’d go into the woods.”
Judging’s Not a piece of cake
In case you think it’s all fun and games tasting homemade pies, think again. Pie Judge Missy Will explained this stressful job. ” The role of the judge is a difficult one. Every pastry must be tasted several times and evaluated under the strict judging rules. We have to think about the taste of the fat used, the salt level, and the texture. If it is a fruit pie, the characteristics of the fruit must be evaluated. Is it at the peak of flavor and freshness? Is there too much or not enough sweetener. And very important – is it firm and easy to serve or does it run all over the plate? We are under a great deal of pressure. People are standing around salivating and wishing they could dig in with their forks. It’s difficult to concentrate and get the job done under these circumstances. However, someone’s got to do, it and I’ll be the first to sign up next year.”
Missy’s judging partner, Oscar, also took the job very seriously.
“People have put their hearts into their creations. We would like everyone to win, but of course that’s not possible. Every entry was delicious but there’s only one first place. It’s a very difficult decision. However, I’ll be back next year.”
Kerry McGrath, Mary Jo Maendle, Missy and Oscar made a formidable team. They quickly and efficiently labeled the pies and got the work done
SUBHEAD: A sweet history
Amy Whelan has been putting on food events at the market for seven years. She came up with this event as a way to honor a faithful friend of the market. Each Saturday morning Edith Gondola, a local born Olema gal, and her friend May Veloza would arrive early for good seats in the front row of the cooking demo arena. Edith Gondola died April 16, 2014. In a strange twist of fate, Edith’s dear friend, May Veloza, was not able to attend the judging. Sadly, it was the day of her husband’s funeral.
The Gondola Family was deeply appreciative of the Pie Contest and this unique way of honoring their mother and grandmother. Her daughter, Doreen Cox of Sonoma said, “Edith was my mother and I know how much she enjoyed attending the cooking demonstrations at the Farmers’ Market.
SUBHEAD: Pickle contest coming October 18
Amy Whelan said she was lucky to find Mary Jo Maendle an experienced cooking contest judge, to head up the event. Mary Jo has served as a contest judge for the Marin County Fair for years and is familiar with the standards of
Mary Jo’s contagious enthusiasm and expertise has led to a whole series of food contests. The next event will be a Pickle Contest to be held October 18. In the future look for jam and jelly and chutney contests, or whatever Mary Jo’s imagination may conjure.
Addendum: Farmers’ Market dilemma
The Marin County Environmental Health Department’s requires that all food served at the market must be produced in either a commercial kitchen or a certified “Cottage Kitchen” – a home kitchen that has been inspected and licensed. Therefore, tastes of the pies by market goers at last week’s contest could not be allowed. Alternatives are being explored.
Norma’s Huckleberry Tart
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup chilled butter
1 tablespoon vinegar
Pulse ingredients briefly in a Cuisinart until dough just comes together.
Press dough into a 10″ tart pan lined with parchment paper.
4 cups huckleberries, divided, 2 Cups are baked and 2 cups are added to the tart immediately after the tart comes out of the oven.
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
pinch of salt
Mix thoroughly, pour into prepared pan. Bake 40 minutes at 400 degrees. Add the remaining fresh berries to the top. The taste and texture difference between the cooked and fresh berries is one of the greatest things about this tart.
One of the Point Reyes Farmers Market’s most loyal supporters, Edith Gondola, died this past April.
The Market will honor Edith Gondola, one of the Chef’s Booth most loyal supporters, with a pie baking contest to be held on August 9th. Edith came to the the Chef’s demos with her friend May. The duo would arrive early, rain or shine, and always sat in the front row, nodding encouragement and smiling.
Anyone can enter the contest and winners will receive cash prizes for first, second, third and fourth place. A form, available at Toby’s, must be submitted with a $4 entry fee.
The application spells out guidelines for the submission of pies and outlines judging criteria. The judges will possess superior tastebuds and be recruited locally.
Wine Review By Clare Apps
Zocker, 2012 Gruner Veltliner, Paragon Vineyard, Edna Valley – Bright and crisp, this wine shows aromas of fresh pear and crisp apple, with notes of melon and grapefruit. There is a trace of minerality, along with flavors of ripe stone fruits following on the bright and lively dry finish!
Plus, this particular wine also received 90 Points from Wine Enthusiast too! Zocker is part of the Niven portfolio of wines. Hence, this fabulous summer wine will be one of the featured wines we will featuring this Friday, along with the latest vintages of the following:
Tangent Sauvignon Blanc, Tangent Albarino, Tangent Pinot Gris, True Myth Chardonnay and Baileyana Pinot Noir. There will be special pricing as always plus a 10% 6 bottle mix and match discount.
Come join us tomorrow, June 13th for another fabulous wine tasting! Taste all of the new releases from Tangent and Niven Family Wines, including one of my favorite domestic Gruner Veltliners. The tasting is from 4pm to 6:30pm here at the Palace Market.
Missy Will’s key lime mini cupcakes, one heavenly bite of pure happiness, were the hit of Inverness Garden Club’s recent tea party. One minute the tiered carousel held dozens of the little beauties, and the next moment they were just a sweet and tangy memory. Perfect one-bite dainties are just one of Missy’s specialties.
Missy arrived In Point Reyes Station just a year ago, bringing good luck with her. She managed to find the house that was waiting for her, a charming cottage with the perfect kitchen. Artist that she is, she calls the kitchen her studio. The kitchen studio adjoins a large pantry where all the tools of her trade are neatly arranged on shiny shelves. The kitchen table seats six and the large bar can accommodate another six. It is here in this warm, inviting space
that Missy teaches cooking classes, holds wine tastings and special luncheons and dinners.
Beginning June 25, Missy will share her passion for connecting wine and people through a series of “Wine Wednesdays for Women”. Participants will bring a bottle of their favorite Spanish wine (theme changes each week) and Missy will pair it with appetizers. The event is by reservation only. For further details call
Call (415) 663-8795.
Missy is a graduate of Laguna Culinary Arts and WSETII Certified, Tasting Room Manager Sonoma State University Certified, and a member of Women and Wine and Wine Sense (Napa/ Sonoma Chapter. She specializes in local wine events/corporate team building and wine tastings.
HOBO 2013 Parts & Labor Red – Clare’s pick! The California version of a French Bistro wine! Fun and easy to drink, great with food, won’t make you cranky on a hot day! Light to medium bodied. It has flavors and nuances of violets, pink peppercorns, red berries, and is just absolutely delicious. This wine is great at picnics! The talk of a party, because its incredible quality totally over delivers, versus it tiny price point of just $13 a bottle! Look for a case stack.
Come taste with us tomorrow afternoon, Friday, May 23rd 4pm- 6:30pm, while we discover just how far along boxed wines and have come! We have ten wines in total.