Food From Farm To Restaurant
The movement towards buying locally-produced fresh food is inspiring the menus of many San Diego restaurants. On this month's Food Hour, we'll hear how San Diego growers and restaurant chefs are teaming up to create great new recipes.
Caron Golden, food writer of the column "Local Bounty" for San Diego Magazine and author of the blog San Diego Foodstuff.
Jeff Rossman, chef/owner of Terra Restaurant in Hillcrest and author of the new book FROM TERRA'S TABLE.
Jeff Jackson, chef for AR Valentien.
This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The movement toward locally grown food continues to expand in San Diego as more farmers markets pop up and more people get a taste of flesh local ingredients. But at the same time, the foodie movement is also growing by heaps and bounds of will people are anxious to break away from the ordinary, to explore new flavors and combinations. The two food movements are meeting up at a number of San Diego restaurants of these establishments are dedicated to bringing diners exciting menus based on the bounty of ingredients found here in San Diego. I'd like to introduce my guests for this food hour, Karen Golden is food writer for the column Local Bounty for San Diego magazine. Karen, welcome.
KAREN GOLDEN: Good morning. Always good to be here.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Jeff Rossman is owner of Terra restaurant in Hillcrest. And Jeff, good morning, thanks for coming in.
JEFF ROSSMAN: Good morning.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, we would like to invite our listeners to join the conversation, as always, during our food hour. Have you found a great new restaurant in San Diego lately? Give us a call with your questions and your comments about San Diego restaurants, 1-888-895-5727. You know, it does seem like in recent years there's been a big change in the number, the quality, the enthusiasm about local restaurants. Karen, why do you think there's been that change?
KAREN GOLDEN: Excuse me, I think that's the proliferation of farmers markets in town. And the fact that -- there are a few things going on. There's food television, so people are seeing this at a level in which they hadn't experienced it before. So if you're watching the food network or top chef, any of these things, you're seeing that talked about a lot. You combine that with the fact that we now have a proliferation of farmers markets, I think we have close to 50, maybe more, farmers markets in San Diego County. So people are being able to access local produce you and really high quality that may be organic, may be not, we have 134 producers who are not organic for various reasons. So I think their expectations really have changed when they go to a restaurant. They want to have that same kind of mentality. We also have two thriving slow food chapters in town. It was a slow food up, which is mostly North County, and we have slow food urban San Diego. And so while that isn't maybe a mass movement, it is little by little piercing the minds of people, and we have edible San Diego, which is a magazine that I write for that also talks a lot about the bounty, the local bounty for lack of a word. And the fact that I even have a column, you know, is amazing. Then we have chefs like Jeff who have been working like this for several years now. And with cook's confab, we have a lot of different dynamics going on that are touching a lot of different people, and I think all of that is impacting what's happening on the restaurant screen.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And I'm wondering, Jeff Ross man, have you seen a change in what people expect when they come into a restaurant as diners?
JEFF ROSSMAN: Oh, yeah, like Karen said there was a lot of farmers markets issue a lot of TV, a lot of food TV, a lot of different types of shows out there. So people are way more educated now. And they come into the restaurants and they're asking for sourcing, they're asking where you get your pork from. They ask if your chicken's free range, they ask where the beef comes from, is it grass fed or corn fed, are your produce or vegetables from organic farmers. What about salmon? Mercury in salmon, is it farm raised, is it from the ocean, is it sustainable? So a lot of that I talk about in the cook book.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Absolutely. And it's so interesting, too, because I distinctly remember hearing a program oh, approximately ten years ago about how San Diego, local restaurants were sort of dying out, chains were coming in, and it was destroying the local flavor so to speak of San Diego's dining experience. And yet here we are on the crest, it seems, of a completely different curve.
KAREN GOLDEN: And not only that, but a lot of these chains are having to change the way they operate on a local level. For instance, we have this wonderful organization here called tender greens, a restaurant over in Point Loma and liberty station. Well, there's a couple other tender greens, I think they're in LA, I believe it's a franchise operation. When I first heard about them, I pooh-poohed the whole thing, because who needs another health food restaurant and this is a chain restaurant? Then I went and I saw what the owners are doing, and you know how local they are? They buy produce literally from a guy across the street named Paul Rosecranz who has a tiny one-acre farm in his mom and dad's house, and he grows producer for them that they seven. So he literally take its across the street and that's what you get. In other restaurants now, people are actually growing a lot -- you're seeing a lot of roof top gardens and little herb gardens on the premises so that people can cut their own produce, and grow their own produce. I think Rick Bayless was a leader of that in chick economic and here we are in San Diego of with some of that going on too. But we do have chain restaurants, who, if they are here, many of them have to address what Jeff's talking to, by having a local component there that people will appreciate.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We are taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727, if you'd like to share a great restaurant that you know, a great menu that you've enjoyed. Patrick is on line from the college area. Good morning Patrick and welcome to These Days.
NEW SPEAKER: Thanks for taking my call. I just -- I live in the college area, and I travel a lot to work, and while I'm mostly not 2340 San Diego, one of my favorite things to do when I come back here, there's a restaurant in Northpark called spread, and it's an organic vegetarian restaurant. I'm not a vegetarian, I don't normally like vegetarian food. But I guess they get most of their stuff holily and they say whatever came out of the ground today, they prepare. And I've brought all my friends there and family, and it's just fantastic. And I wanted to share that with you all.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Well, thank you for that. And let me take another call new. Kathy is calling from Leucadia. Good morning Kathy and welcome to These Days.
NEW SPEAKER: Good morning. The reason I'm calling, I found a great little Indian restaurant that's in a strip, it's in a food court strip, in the middle of an office corner. And it's crazy, it's called sitar, it's all flesh ingredients issue even though it's in a food court, the food court closes down at about 3:00 in the afternoon, they stay open till nine. And they even have a tandoor oven and they make everything right there. That's -- and I just wanted to put a shout out to them because they're incredible.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Kathy, thank you so much for the call. I appreciate it. 1-888-895-5727. Jeff, as I said, you're the owner and chef at Terra restaurant in Hillcrest. You've just come out with A new book, and the text is really a poem to San Diego and the bounty it holds in terms of fresh local ingredients and vineyards and combining all of this great stuff we have here into these exciting menus. Why did you want to write this book?
JEFF ROSSMAN: Well, how long do you have? It all goes back it about six years ago, and I credit this to a principal, and her name is Stacy Mondrian, she was the principal in at Central Elementary, and one day she came in the restaurant, and I do my table touches and I walk around, and she stood up and -- which I have this garden, I'm the principal at this school, I have this garden, I don't know what to do with it. And I said, well, I'm not a gardener, but I know what to do with the food. So over the years, we did some projects fun projects with the school garden. And we had -- UCSD, most gardeners, everybody that wanted to see this happen with kids and taking gardens and teaching kids about gardening and about good, healthy, organic food. And so it just so happened that I kept working with them, and then the principal left. And she -- and the whole project kind of fell apart. But at the time, I was buying -- I was going up to chino farms 2, 3 times a week to get my produce. So I was really into local produce, I was going to the Hillcrest farmers markets. I was trying to do what I could do. And at the time, all of these local farms, they really didn't have distribution. Nobody really know about all the farms in San Diego. And at the same time, I was working with the California avocado commission. And they put me in touch with some local farms, avocados, and those guys that grow avocados also grow citrus. So I started learning more and more about what our bounty was in San Diego. Then about September of last year, I had met the photographer of the book, Paul body. He was in the restaurant, we had won an award at Terra for publication, and he was at the restaurant. And there was another gentleman with him, and he had said, hey, you know, here's a copy of my wife's new cook book. And I said oh, she's a chef somewhere? And he said no, she's a publisher am we're just starting out our company, we're in San Diego. I said ordinary care great, I've got this great idea for a cook book. It's all about local farms and school gardens and this was a big thing. They had that $2,000 grant for California to ark my for a couple years ago for school gardens of so this was a big thing in San Diego. So I talked to his wife, the publisher, and we started the book last October.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And the book is fresh from the table. And Jeff, I'm interested -- you became a chef in an unusual way. It wasn't like going to sort of a lot of form education for this.
JEFF ROSSMAN: I was kind of thrown into it. I think unusual in the fact of where I got to and where I'm at, and writing the cook book, but I think a lot of self taught chefs kind of work on the job. Unfortunately for me, I was working with my dad starting when I was 12. And he'd pull me in on the weekend. I remember the 50-day when I was 12, he'd come wake me up at 530 in the morning. Hey, the dish washer called in sick, you're coming with me. Are you kidding? So I started working with him on the weekends. And I never really had the opportunity to work with other chefs, in other kitchens, things like that. I did work for two weeks in Boston with Michael Schlau who's a fantastic chef up there, but working under other chefs, I really didn't have that opportunity. So because I was in the family business. I just kind of learned and I read. And one thing I wanted to touch on that Karen had mentioned before, the food network was never in San Diego until about maybe eight years ago, 6 or 8 years ago. I can't remember exactly. And I remember going back east to Detroit to visit family every year, and I'd be up, when everyone went to bed, I'd be up at 2 o'clock in the morning watching the food network, taking notes, and learning techniques and things. That's how I really learned how to do things that I do. And when the food network hit San Diego, that's really when people started their journey on education. And I think the food network did a lot.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I want to ask you both a question, you as a chef and you as a diner, if I may, Karen, and that is you say in the book that one of the things that you learned to do as a chef is trust your senses, use your senses. How do you learn how to do that?
JEFF ROSSMAN: Well, you know, it's strange, because I think -- and I tell people a lot, when I do cooking classes. I didn't really mention the book. But you have to have a mental palette, first of all, to be a good chef, to be a good food writer, to be -- you really have to know what's supposed to go with what. And then start thinking outside of the box. You know, on certain things of like chocolate covered bacon, that salt and sweet go together, and bitter, and things like that. So I really believe that to be a good eater and a good chef or a home cook, you really need to trust your senses, your smell, you smell things, you certainly don't want to have a cinnamon candle burning when you're eating something with truffle oil. And you smell that wafting -- in the book, I have the -- I use Carl Strauss amber lager, it's a braised short rib, I sell tons of it at the restaurant, and we finish it off with a little truffle oil, and when the truffle oil hits the hot sauce that's on the short rib, you can smell the truffle oil in the kitchen. So that's part of it. That's part of the sense, when you take it to the take issue you're smelling, you smell the rosemary, you smell a little bit of garlic in the risotto. So if you have something else there, that's gonna kill the senses.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Yeah. And Karen, let me ask you, it sounds like a good way to evaluate a dish at a restaurant, too, is to use all your senses.
KAREN GOLDEN: I think you naturally use all your senses, and I think one of the problems, I know that there are sometimes issues, poor chefs who maybe loose for whatever reason a sense of smell, that can really impact your sense of taste. It's really amazing how everything kind of, you know, cooperates together and visually too. Although there are many dishes that are absolutely marvelous and look horrible, those are rare. Usually you're trying to make something look really delicious of hence we have all this food photography now.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And the food network.
KAREN GOLDEN: Yeah. But I think for -- to have a good dining experience, I think you need to be a little adventurous, and willing to try things that are a little bit outside your comfort level. And I think too, you don't have to be a home cook. But I don't want see why people who even aren't home cooks can't go to farmers markets and taste different things. Go to a stall, right now we've got beautiful cabbages and brussel sprouts can things like that. But have you ever seen a Romanesco cabbage, which is beautiful, and green with little spikes and it's absolutely gorgeous, and it tastes a lot bit different from the regular kinds of cabbage. Try different flavors and find out what you like. And if you have take a lot bit of time, you'll have a better time with the menu.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We're talking about San Diego restaurants with my guests, Jeff Rossman and Karen golden, and taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh and You're listening to These Days on KPBS. We're talking about how the movement of locally grown fed has met up with the foodie movement in San Diego to produce some exciting new restaurants, exciting menus in our city. My guests are Karen golden, she is food writer of the column local bounty for San Diego magazine. Author of the blog San Diego food stuff. And Jeff Rossman who's chef and owner of Terra restaurant in Hillcrest, and author of the brand-new book, from Terra's table. We're taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. Let's go right to the phones of Anthony is calling us from San Diego. Good morning, Anthony, welcome to These Days.
NEW SPEAKER: Oh, yes, good morning. I just wanted to add to the discussion here. I was doing a study about healthy food, and someone did mention about the tea heights program for school gardens. I'd like to see -- it's great to see these farmers markets proliferating, but some of them have limited hours and they're only one day a week. And I think San Diego's kind of missing this kind of permanent marketplace like some cities have. I know if you go to Seattle, there's pike's peek market mace, that's a couple up in LA like Fairfax. We really haven't had anything like that. If they had that in an area like City Heights where more people could have access for a more long-term bases, is there any thought on that coming down the pike here?
JEFF ROSSMAN: Thanks for pointing that out. In my work, and in part of my book, the last chapter talks about changing school food. And what's happened, and I don't know if the general public knows this right now, but there was a grant, a stimulus grant that was allotted to a lot of towns, a lot of cities across the country, and San Diego received $16 million from the CDC. In receiving that grant, part of what I'm working on is farm to school. There's a tierra Miguel foundation which is one of the farms that's featured in my cook book also is working with the county of San Diego trying to get farm fresh produce into the schools and also into other institutions. And in so doing that, they're trying to put together a centralized food hub. Something that you're talking about that is kind of like a Santa Monica farmers market. They're looking at a building right now as we speak down in San Diego that's basically gonna be a place where all the farmers can aggregate their product. And people like chefs, hospitals, people like yourselves, home cooks, can go and get produce. That's one thing that's happening of there's also another thing that's happening. I was just asked, and we have a meeting tomorrow to sit on the advisory counsel council for the childhood obesity initiative. And the other part of the grant, and I'm sorry, there's multiple parts that have to do with gardening, it has to do with physical activity. It's all about obesity and trying to get the farm fresh produce into the institutions. But the other component is community based gardens.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I see.
JEFF ROSSMAN: And they're trying to work with a couple, I think there's eight, I'll find out more tomorrow. But I think there's eight different schools and gardens. I think City Heights is one of them, where they're trying to allow community members to come in. It's a little tricky when it's on a school campus because you have security issues. But they're trying to figure out ways to do this where people can go buy from these school gardens or from these community gardens and put that money back into the community gardens and keep facilitating that, so people who don't have access to the farms or that can't go to the farmers markets for whatever reason because of wealth issues or what have you, that's what's going on in San Diego. So I hope that kind of gives you a little bit of --
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It does.
JEFF ROSSMAN: Forethought into what's happening.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It's very exciting the idea of having a one stop shop is basically a farmers market that's open every day of the week.
KAREN GOLDEN: Yeah, we do need -- this has been talked about by people for at least ten years to have a permanent public market the way Philadelphia does, the way Seattle does. There are a number of them. And there was a wonderful documentary on PBS about a year or so ago called to market to market. And it featured about 8 to 10 permanent markets across the country. And I just would watch that and think, why don't we have this? Why don't want we have something that is along with the other neighborhood farmers markets, why do not we have some place maybe on the bay that would be both a tourist destination so it would support -- financially support a lot of this, but also a place for locals to go where they could get all of their local produce that they wanted as well as interesting prepared foods that a lot of vendors make with products from the farmers markets -- from the farmers.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That's a fabulous idea.
KAREN GOLDEN: The problem is real estate. Of and that's the issue.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We have to take another call. 1-888-895-5727. Rachel is second calling from Chula Vista. Good morning Rachel and welcome to These Days.
NEW SPEAKER: Hi. Hello?
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Yes. I'm here.
NEW SPEAKER: Hi, this is kind of related to the accessibility issue. But it's more along the lines of even if I do have the resources or the desire to buy local and buy natural in my neighborhood, if I don't have the time to go to the farmers market, is there any kind of a mail order or an e-mail list where I can preselect foods and either have them delivered or go pick them up from a central location.
KAREN GOLDEN: They're called CSAs or community supported agriculture. And we have a wealth of different programs here, be wise is probably the largest one. But many farms, Suzie's farm has a CSA that you can sign up for. They aren't delivered to the house. But they do have pick up spots, and you pay for a box, and you get pretty much what they decide to put in the box for a weekly fee. I know that the UTC farmers market has a CSA now. There are a lot of are them. And they come at different price points. So yes, absolutely, are you could get all of that, and you could have one weekly stop. And it's usually a convenient place. Sometimes it's at the farmer it is market that they sell at. But sometimes that's just a designated spot, a store or something where they will make the delivery and you go get it.
JEFF ROSSMAN: Here's another interesting thing. I don't know if we can push a company or not, but the CSAs, they work and they give you what they grow. There's a company that I use called specialty produce. CSA is community supported agriculture. I forget exactly what it's called the farmer's basket maybe?
KAREN GOLDEN: Yeah.
JEFF ROSSMAN: It's the same idea as a CS A, they pull from different farms. This is it talked about in the book as well. What is local?
KAREN GOLDEN: They like to go to the Santa Monica farmers market.
JEFF ROSSMAN: Right. So it's kind of a conglomerate of sorts.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What is the name again?
JEFF ROSSMAN: Special produce.
KAREN GOLDEN: And you can go to thirds requirement website, and they have all the information about their CSA program on their website which Speicialtyproduce.com.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Jeff I have two Jeffs now, so I'm gonna call you chef Jackson if that's all right.
JEFF JACKSON: Oh, that's fine.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay. Great. I know that you recently wrapped up what's become an annual event for local chefs and growers called celebrate the craft.
JEFF JACKSON: Celebrate the craft was started eight years ago. And it started as a way to connect the local chefs with local farmers, as well as some farmers from as far up north as Santa Barbara, Carpenteria, I moved down here from Santa Monica and went to the Santa Monica farmers market for years and years and had relationships with these farmers. When I moved to San Diego, there were just a handful of farmers at the time and a handful of chefs that actually used local farms. And since then, it's grown exponentially, and the whole culture is changing here in San Diego, which is really cool. So to answer your original question, it was a way to connect to people. And that's what celebrate the craft is all about, is connecting local farmers, local chefs as well as the community to the source of this.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Chef Jeff Jackson, it sounds as if you're very deeply involved in the kitchen right now. I want to ask you at least one more question though. How does this idea that we've been talking about, of using fresh and local ingredients, sourced seasonally to the locality in which they're made, how does that differ from how you started out cooking in a more traditional style.
JEFF JACKSON: Well, the original restaurants I started working on, had a menu that either went for a season or half a year. Sometimes it was a fall, winter. And we were held to that menu, then it was up to the chef to try to find that food. Chanterelles, they're around for a couple of months out of the year, then all of a sudden, you're having to find them from another location. A lot of times that meant trying them from south America or things like that. And that was pretty much the traditional way that menus went. When I first started out. Then when I moved to the west coast, obviously things are completely different up here. There's more of a European attitude to it.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Right, right. It's more like a California cuisine kind of thing that you were talking about, Jeff Rossman, right? The idea of using locally sourced ingredients really kind of started here in the United States?
KAREN GOLDEN: It did start here. But you have to remember too that before that, and I don't know Jeff Jackson would agree with me, but a lot of those things, when I lived in no, that was a market of sophistication that you could bring in food from Europe or other places. So what we have had here is a complete shift in attitude because we've taken a concept that reflected one kind of level of sophistication and replaced it with another attitude that now the more local you are, the more sophisticated you are. So I think there's also been a consumer shift too in this.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Right. Exactly. Because I do remember seeing ads advertising, you know, such and such --
KAREN GOLDEN: Maine lobster thrown in fresh kale.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: From here and from there, and that used to be a haul mark of a really topnotch restaurant.
JEFF ROSSMAN: Yeah, and nowadays, well, in San Diego, and I know Jeff, how's it going Jeff?
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I think we're working on his phone line right now.
JEFF ROSSMAN: Oh, it's back?
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: When it comes to protein that we're talking about, the quality of the food itself.
KAREN GOLDEN: It can be about the quality of the food itself. Because if you're talking about traditional processing or raising and processing of livestock, say, in -- and I don't want to pick on the midwest because I'm sure there are a lot of good, smaller produces there. But cattle is treated much differently when you're talking about processing a million head of cattle as opposed to doing 2 or 3 at a small farm that may be, up, Phil noble of sage mountain farms owns near Hemet. His cattle are going to be fed differently, they're going to be treated differently, they'll be processed differently. And having done a story on this for edible San Diego and talked to people about this, you know that cattle, for instance, when they are stressed just like human beings, all that blood flows to the muscle. All of that stuff happens, the nave is different. So you're getting cattle that's fed differently, you're getting cattle that is being treated different ly. You're dealing with disease issues and hormone injections and all sorts of things that people who are raising cattle on their own and trying to do it in a more humane way are not gonna be doing at all. And you get the difference is in the flavor.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We have to take a short break when we return, we're gonna be talking about some actual menu items, some actual ways in which all of this comes together on the plate for diners in restaurants here in San Diego. My guests are gonna remain, and we're gonna continue to take your calls at 1-888-895-5727.
I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, You're listening to These Days on KPBS. My guests are Karen golden, Jeff Rossman, and Jeff Jackson. The two last Jeffs are chefs, Jeff Rossman is chef owner of Terra restaurant in Hillcrest, author of the new book from Terra's table. And Jeff Jackson is from A. R. Valentine. We're talking your calls about how the idea of local sustainable food has changed menus and the excitement about restaurants around town. 1-888-895-5727 is the number to call. And Jeff Rossman, in your book, you talk about doing old fashioned American cooking with contemporary twist`s. Give us an idea from one of your recipes what you mean by that.
JEFF ROSSMAN: Oh, there's -- I mean there's a whole slew of things in here based on ingredients, avocados, for example, is the first chapter.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Yeah, I know. Everything avocado. It's sort of amazing.
JEFF ROSSMAN: Well, I've done a lot of work with the California avocado commission over the years, and I just got back from Orlando actually with them. But there's one right here. I just opened this up, a shrimp mojito cocktail with an avocado wasabi sorbet. So it's a little bit of a twist on a regular shrimp cocktail.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Exactly. That everyone would remember from when their parents would order them in a restaurant. But here You have it with updated ingredients.
JEFF ROSSMAN: There's heirloom tomatoes, there's avocados, and I buy all of my avocados directly from the farm. Oddly enough, when I was put in contact with Staley organics, they're up in Valley Center, great guys, when I was mentioning about the farm to school, these guys are the only local farm that's servicing up to -- I think they're up to ten school districts now with their citrus, not avocados, but citrus, so they're getting whole oranges into the school systems right now. Not only are they being supported but the kids are getting locally grown, fresh, just picked citrus. So they -- those guys sell -- they have their own packing plant up there, they have thousands of acres in Valley Center, and they not only sell to Jim bow's, they sell to whole foods and I'm locally enough to be in Hillcrest and there's a whole foods right this. So I talked to knoll, one of the brothers he said just second call me and let me know, and we'll drop off a case of avocados, a case of oranges, whatever you need.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Jeff Jackson, you told us how things used to operate when you had a fixed menu on the a restaurant and you had to go looking for menu items no matter what. How have things changed the AR. Valentine now? How do you continue to offer certain items to the public yet couldn't of morph them in relationship to what's available in a farmers factor or what's available seasonally?
JEFF JACKSON: Well, when we did when we opened the restaurant and bill Evans was kind enough and gracious enough to kind of tell myself and my crew, you guys do what you feel needs to be done. And we made the decision from the very beginning that we were going to let whatever was available at the time dictate what we prepared on the menu. So our menu changes daily. It doesn't change a hundred percent, but as things come into season and go out of season, we change those items on the menu, and we print the menus daily. So in essence, what is available dictates to me what I'm going to cook. And I grew up in a very classical cooking background. So the one thing that I stress with my staff is that they do know the classics, they know how to roast, they know how to braise, they know how to saute, make stocks, make soups. That's the foundation. And then you let the food tell you what to do. Probably, you upon, I grew up in French kitchens, but I would say that the style that we kind of follow now is more Italian and northern Italian. I think they figured it out hundreds of years ago that you take what you have and you extract the most flavor out of it and don't mess with it. You know? Let the integrity of the ingredients shine and it's an amazing thing.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And I'm gonna do sort of a round table here. Let me start with you, Karen, what are the flavors of San Diego? We've heard about avocados. What are the flavor it is of San Diego and what's in season now?
KAREN GOLDEN: Well, depends on what's in season. The flavors of San Diego can be strawberries in the summer and fabulous tomatoes in the summer and fabulous citrus in the winter. We have -- Staley does great avocados. They do wonderful citrus. And we're going to be seeing a whole proliferation of citrus at the farmers markets. You go to Suzie's farm, and you'll find all sorts of really different kinds of flavors because they're an experimental process. They are getting seeds and seeing what happens upon so you'll see all sorts of different right now you'll see brussel sprouts, you'll see a lot of greens, Swiss chard and kale and it just really depends on the time of year. And also some of the locations. Because we've got some farmers up -- excuse me, in Valley Center and even going towards Temecula, and they get frost. So you're gonna get different kinds of produce that can deal with frost issues versus being a more coastal farm that can grow things that may be in a hot house year-round, you'll have Valdevia farms grow tomatoes.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Jeff Rossman, what are those flavors that you think are signature, and frankly, what's going on now in terms of produce?
JEFF ROSSMAN: It's really interesting, in writing the book, and to cap on what Karen was talking about, I feature ten local farms and all the farms, they vary in location, geographically, in San Diego as well as Riverside County. Sage Mountain, who I know Jeff buys from a lot. And what's interesting, and what I found out a lot was that not only do we have different climates to Suzie's farm, to blue heron farm which is on the cover of the book, which is right on the other side of camp Pendleton, all the way up to Phil noble's sage mount ape, there's microclimates within different farms so they grow different things in different places. For example a hundred yards over here, avocados like to grow on hills. Well, they also have citrus usually near avocado, then down on the valley floor, they might grow something different of so on the valley floor it might not get frost. So there's a lot of factors that are involved. And I can attest to Jeff's menu changes, a lot of places change their menus every day. Just for example, our weather is strange right now. It was a hundred degrees the other day, and now it's raining today. So it's very strange. So I have the cellphone numbers for all the farmers that I feature in the book and I call them on a regular bases, and we e-mail. And that's one thick that's changed over the years, and I know Jeff can attest to this too. The farmers never really had the distribution. Only the farmers markets of that's what's really happening right now, they're getting more distribution, more distribution. So people are being able to -- we're able to feature them. So as far as what's in season right now, you know, there's a lot of root vegetables that we're using. There's still a lot of things that are coming out of northern San Diego, the greens for example that I get, I get from blue heron farms which is up in Fallbrook, Suzie's farm, I get a lot of produce from Suzie's. They're still doing summer squash.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Because of our weather right?
JEFF ROSSMAN: Yeah. It's just amazing. And blue heron farm accident, because she's on -- she gets no freeze. And I think we went in the middle of the went, she had strawberries. Come on! And sweet 53s.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It's amazing to live here. And Jeff Jackson, give us an example of how you tweak a menu in relation to what's available at the moment.
JEFF JACKSON: Well, it's, you know, like Jeff was saying, it has to do with climate also. You know, we are in constant contact with our farmers and food sources as well. Basically, the way I set it up is that when these food stuffs come in, T. K, who's my chef de cuisine at AR. Valentine, my sous chef, we'll get together and discuss what we've got, and what we're going to do with it. Then we start to prepare things, taste things, then once we all kind of agree, it's kind of a committee thing, witness we you will agree that it warrants being on the menu, then it will go on the menu. So it's a process that takes place in the after of it's gotten to the point now, where some of the cooks that have been involved with us for years get involved in that process too.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It really can't be emphasized too much how different this is from the way restaurants used to work.
JEFF JACKSON: Right, and you've gone from the kind of the classical standard of what a restaurant was, whether it was a one star, two star, three star, whatever, the different levels of restaurants. But I think it's important also to keep in mind that our bodies kind of tell us what to eat as well, you know, based on the climate, whether it's hot outside obviously you want lighter foods. When it's rainy outside, that's when stews and more hearty dishes are more appealing to you. So we keep that into consideration as well. And that's what's difficult in a sense about cooking in an area that has a 365-day growing year. When you've got strawberries growing in November, that's apple pie, punk kin pie time. And it's difficult to tell the farmer, you know, I don't feel strawberries anymore. Even though they may be great. So there is a little bit of a conundrum that goes on with that.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We have a caller on the line who wants to get us definitely seasonal, she wants to ask where she can get a Turkey locally. And I want to expand that conversation and also ask my two chefs, what's gonna be on the table this is at your restaurants. But where can people get Turkeys locally?
KAREN GOLDEN: If she had asked this question about two months ago, she could have gone to Curtis Walmark over in the Hillcrest farmers market. He raises chickens but he does sell Turkeys, and he's already sold out of all of his Turkeys. I wanted to write about it and he said don't bother. Because I don't have anymore to sell. However we have a new entrant in the farmers market called sunrise ranch. And they are at a variety of different farmers markets and they do have an e-mail news letter. So you can get on that news letter, and they tell you what's coming in. And in fact, one of the things that was on the news letter, was you can place an order for your Turkeys from them. And thigh can range from small ten pounders, if it's just a few of you, to 27, 28-pound Turkeys.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Wow.
KAREN GOLDEN: Yeah. So you should definitely check them out. They are -- local is a relative term. A lot of what they're bringing in is from Monterey and Carmel, Northern California. The owner himself is a local guy. But we do have challenges in San Diego with raising livestock and so he's getting a lot of that from Northern California. But it's still good quality food and not the, you know, butter ball variety that you would get at the super market.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let me ask you, Jeff Rossman, as I said, in your book, you say you offer American classics with I new twist. So in the minute or so we have remaining, and I'm gonna ask also chef Jackson this, what are you doing for Thanksgiving?
JEFF ROSSMAN: You know I've been open for Thanksgiving, this'll be the thirteenth year. And I haven't really changed a whole lot because Thanksgiving is --
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Tradition, tradition, tradition.
JEFF ROSSMAN: Yeah, it's like a Jewish holiday. Tradition! But I don't really change too much from year to year, you know, I look back in many development -- like Jeff was talking about, and I look at the menus and I go, you know, this stuff was great last year. We do at the restaurant, my small little restaurant, we'll do almost 400 dinners. We're open for four seatings on Thanksgiving, and it's just a crazy day. So A, I need to -- I don't have a huge line that can put out a lot of food like that. So we have to make it easy, so to speak. But also extremely flavorful. So I do -- and I brine my Turkeys, I do a really nice Bryan with some cinnamon stick, and some star annis. I've got a roasted fall vegetable entree, a little terrine, some traditional sides. Corn bread stuffing --
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You're making us hungry! Chef Jackson, what's going at A.R. Valentine for Thanksgiving?
JEFF JACKSON: Well, I think that one has to remember when they're a chef, on the holidays, it's about familiarity and the whole family's coming, and if you try to get fancy and try to mess with it, you're going to fail miserably. I think we've all made that mistake once in our lives when we considered ourselves geniuses, and we were all geniuses at one time. Don't forget that. But like chef, I stick very close to tradition and we try to prepare it the best we possibly can. And this is when you revert back to your childhood. I do corn bread pecan stuffing. So that's naturally what I revert back to.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Jeff Jackson, I'm gonna have you end it there because we are out of time. And you're gonna make us too hungry. I just know it. Jeff Jackson from AR Valentine, thank you so much.
JACKSON: You're welcome. 0
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Karen Golden, as always, thank you so much for being here.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Jeff Rossman, chef/owner of Terra restaurant in Hillcrest, author of the brand-new book, and it's a beautiful one, from Terra's table. Thank you for coming in.
JEFF ROSSMAN: Thank you very much. Will my pleasure.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: If you would like to comment on anything you've heard, KPBS.org/These Days. Thanks so much for listening. Join us tomorrow, you're listening to These Days on KPBS.