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560 Miles, 14 Farms, and Three Days Living Off the Land

Yaron Milgrom, owner of Local: Mission Eatery and Local’s Corner, takes his staff on an in-depth tour of the farms that fuel their restaurants. 

"Celia, a line cook at both restaurants, picking blackberries at Toby’s Free Spirits Farms in Winters. The berries finished our lunch of Della Fatorria bread, Fatted Calf charcuterie (both from Oxbow market), Bohemian Cheese, and Paul Mathew Valdiguie."
(1 of 10)

"Our 27-foot RV takes-in the pristine water and breeze of Drakes Ostero, on what we hope is not our last visit."
(2 of 10)

"Lunch at Drakes Bay. Same-day oysters, Marin Sun Farm skirt steak, mixed cucumber salad with basil, Nicasio Valley Geronimo, levain, Yerena Farms berries."
(3 of 10)

"Lisa, a gifted cheesemaker and raconteur of Bohemian Creamery, took us through from milking the glue-white goat’s milk to aging the cheeses in modified shipping crates. Here, Lisa feeds milk to one of her kids. The day before, she slaughtered a male baby-goat (milk-fed to twenty pounds) for us. Jake butchered and grilled it that night for dinner."
(4 of 10)

"My kids, Cruv and Rimon, bushwhack through the goat pasture at Bohemian Creamery."
(5 of 10)

 

"Morning rise at Tres Sabores. Most slept in tents among the Zinfandel vines, on which the fruit just set. The tiny clusters show the promise of another vintage."
(6 of 10)

"The staff, Toby (facing us with the red and white hat) and twenty-thousand pounds of potatoes."
(7 of 10)

 

 

"At Mariquita Farms, Jake cooks Andy’s eggs over the embers of the previous night’s campfire. Last night, Andy roasted his potatoes in his mud oven to which we added Marin Sun Farms chicken and sausages, a radish salad, and watermelon."
(8 of 10)

 

"The dinner scene (half of us seated) at Julie and Rory’s vineyard and wineries in Rutherford (hers is Tres Sabores and his is Calder Wines). Set below 140-year-old olive trees and a full moon, we prepared the bounty of our day—Marin Roots Farms greens with Tres Sabores pomegranate and Zinfandel vinegar, roasted carrots, grilled summer squash, grilled spring onions, barbequed oysters, Paul Mathew Pinot Noir and several wines from Julie and Rory." (9 of 10)

"At Far West Fungi in Moss Landing, John and his sons cultivate mushroom, including the shiitake in this picture. That day, Kyle, who lives at the farm, toured us through the incredibly laborious and beautiful process of organic production of mushrooms."
(10 of 10)

Just days ago, Yaron Milgrom and chef Jake DesVoignes returned from an extended road trip with key staff from their Mission District restaurants: Local’s Corner and Local: Mission Eatery. They were on a mission to demystify the local farms that supply the restaurant: to meet the owners, smell the produce, experience the grit, and live off the land in the truest way they could. Here, Milgrom shares a brief essay reflecting on the experience, while sharing a behind-the-scenes look at their experience via the photo gallery above.

"There are many merits to culinary localism, and I endorse them all. Yet it is our relationships to the sources of our food that have been most fulfilling in our uncompromising commitment to providing locally made food. It is the deep, human connection with the farmers, winemakers, cheesemakers, and ranchers on whom we rely. Jake and I have been fortunate to forge friendships with these great artisans and to visit some of them. Our stories and pictures were not enough to compel a staff (nor you, the reader, I am sure) to dedicate their craft to local and Local. So, to share this experience, Jake and I organized a three-day, RV tour—to see from where our food comes, to connect to those who make it, to deepen our appreciation of the integrity of their product and the care in their labor.

On Sunday morning, we piled into a twenty-seven-foot RV without food or drink and headed north. On Tuesday afternoon, a 540-mile loop later, satiated by the tastes of cucumbers and new potatoes, briny oysters and ripe cheese, milk-fed goat and pastured chicken, sun-warmed berries and honest and lovely wine, by the scents of dew-soaked grape vines and smoky embers, sweet whey and rich manure, by the places and stories of Jessie, Barb, Lisa, Julie, Rory, Hardy, Toby, Andy, and Kyle we returned to the Mission, reinvested in our local mission."

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