So, you may be wondering why Happy Girl Kitchen Co. switched coffee roasters anyway….It was a midsummer nights dream (or was it a nightmare?). Blue Bottle sent out an email one day that said, "It is bittersweet that I bring you news of a change in direction for Blue Bottle Coffee. After careful consideration, Blue Bottle Coffee’s leadership have made the difficult decision to close the wholesale division". I was so upset when I received that email. We have known James Freeman, the founder of Blue Bottle, since his farmers market days, and as soon as we opened our cafe it was obvious to us that we were going to go with Blue Bottle Coffee. I have loved it since the day I tried it and I was not even a coffee drinker. As a business owner, I am used to being the one to call the shots and since this major change did not come from me, I was taken aback.
We were given a 3-month notice and so the mandatory search for a new roaster began. Some asked "why not go with a truly local roaster close to home?" I really respect our ultra local roasters and appreciate what they do, but here at Happy Girl we want to provide this area with a unique experience. We also spend a lot of time in the Bay Area and our delivery driver, Randy, drives through the city every week on deliveries and pick ups and so a roaster up there is just as local for us. And so our search naturally took us beyond our ultra local roasters to the city.
There are A LOT of third-wave coffee roasters in the Bay Area and we were really impressed. One of the problems about us finding a new roaster is that, as I mentioned before, I have always loved Blue Bottle Coffee, but I really did not know quite why. I wasn't sure what I liked about it, but now I have to figure out what it was and there is a lot that goes into the relationship with your roaster. There are so many factors that make a difference. The careful sourcing is a huge part of it as coffee beans have a lot of drama and abuse surrounding them. It is important for roasters to have a personal relationship with all of it’s farmers, just as Happy Girl does with all of her farmers. The flavor of the coffee and its consistency is another huge factor. The quality of a roasters training program for our baristas is very important to me. It is a chance for them to impart their lives passion on our baristas and get them fired up about the quality and the product after all, the baristas are the last in the long chain of a good cup of coffee! This is a complicated partnership to develop.
Wikipedia defines third wave coffee roasters as "The third wave of coffee refers to a current movement to produce high-quality coffee, and consider coffee as an artisanal foodstuff, like wine, rather than a commodity. This involves improvements at all stages of production, from improving coffee plant growing, harvesting, and processing, to stronger relationships between coffee growers, traders, and roasters, to higher quality and fresh roasting, at times called "microroasting" (by analogy with microbrew beer), to skilled brewing."
Having so many options within the Bay Area was a good problem to have. I had my initial prejudices and I even made grand proclamations that "I would NEVER choose this or that roaster." I am known to enjoy using the words "never" and "always" even though I know they should be used with extreme caution. I think we should all just admit that we have prejudices and it is really all about how we act or do not act upon them. I kept an opened mind. The last roaster that we visited in our journey of 8 different roasters was the one that I said we would NEVER choose. I just thought they were way too Portland for me. Too hip. Too specialty. Too obvious. Of course, within the one hour tour of their facility I was 90% sure that this was going to be our roaster. Our kids were in tow that day and my daughter immediately fell asleep at the bar sitting on a high stool with her head nestled into her folded arms (no, I did not take a photo!). She slept there for our entire visit. Our son tasted their coffee and immediately approved of the roast.
We continued to ask them the same questions we asked the other roasters and really appreciated the answers they gave. You know when you meet someone and feel like long lost friends, well that is how it was over at this final roaster visit. For me the clinch moment was when my preconceived notion of how they got their name was shattered. I pictured 4 whiskey barrels lined up in a cellar somewhere, which were tapped into on occasions reminiscent of the prohibition. We were led up 5 narrow stairs to their little micro-roasting tower for testing coffees. When I say micro roaster I mean it as the little roasters up there hold about 1/4 pound of coffee beans. He explained that this tiny micro roaster with four barrels is where their name comes from as it is used to test all of their coffees before purchase.
Our tour continued like this with my every preconceived notion being shattered one after another. Nothing excites me more than being wrong as I am a very opinionated woman. And so we brought the samples back to our staff and we all unanimously agreed, the votes were in and Four Barrel became our new roaster at Happy Girl. We have all since went up for trainings and introductions and we all love the company. The training is superior to anything we have ever experienced anywhere and their passion for quality really shines. It dawned on me early on that Happy Girl and Four Barrel share some very important values and that we are both very serious about quality, but not about life. I am excited for this new journey with this partnership and realize that what I initially saw as a huge negative turned out being the best thing that could happen to Happy Girl. We know you will agree!
(Kylie up at a training and LOVING IT - you can see the love in her latte art!)
Join us on Thursday evening at the Happy Girl Kitchen Cafe for an amazing dinner spotlighting local farms and everything that is wonderfully in season the day of the feast. We bring in top chefs from the Bay Area to spotlight some of our favorite Central Coast farmers, setting the stage for a magical evening of community, new friends and great food. We are very fortunate that the chef of the evening will be Chef extraordinare Matt Millea.
Chef Matt Millea has the skills to delight your pallete and satisfy your cravings for great food. We feature a different local, organic farm each time and Matt is a master of turning the local harvest into a meal to treasure. We also will highlight a local artist to informally show their work to the community and we raffle off a piece of original artwork. FUN! Live Music and lots of engaging conversation too. Our dinners are always a night to remember!
This event will be BYOB - feel free to bring a bottle of wine for your party... or two to share with new friends!
(this menu is only meant to whet your appetite. The menu for August 13th will be a little different and will depend entirely on what is available on the day of harvest)
- House made pickles + Toma Cheese + crackers
- Houes made Sourdough bread and butter
- Heirloom tomato + Avocado + Basil + Mozzarella
- Ricotta stuffed squash blossoms
- Cannellini Beans + dry farmed tomatoes + garden herbs
- pan-seared Guindilla Peppers
- Corn Risotto + brocollini
- fresh heirloom lettuces with herbs
- blue bottle coffee
- Roasted Peaches + yogurt + Lavender Shortbread + lime drizzle
Dinner starts at 7pm at our cafe and space in Pacific Grove:
You may have heard that Blue Bottle is discontinuing their wholesale program. Nothing like this has ever happened in the coffee industry. When we opened our cafe, we knew we wanted to serve Blue Bottle. We met James over 10 years ago working the same farmer's markets together. I was not much of a coffee person then, but I always knew that I loved Blue Bottle even if I didn't know why. Now that Happy Girl Kitchen Co. has to find a new roaster, I need to figure out what it is I have loved about Blue Bottle all of these years. There are many dynamics that go into a good cup of coffee. Transparent sourcing, passionate training, tech support and a lot of love. So, we are visiting roasters and feel so lucky that there are so many amazing roasters in the Bay Area.
Jordan and Ninny in Norway 1999!
I was a staunch vegan until I met Ninny. Taking a half an hour hike to call out for her in her open pasture as the endless sunset of the northern climate was taking place is just the beginning. Sitting in the barn and nuzzling into her side as I milked her and listening to the rumblings and grumblings of her stomachs completely won me over. Cows are such tranquil creatures and their milk is so SWEET!!! I did not remain a vegan for very long. I caved to the pressures of fresh cream and hand picked raspberries - one of the most exquisite desserts on the planet.
With 6 gallons of milk a day, there is a lot of experimenting in the kitchen that can happen. When you hang out with a family cow you really understand why humans discovered so many different ways of preserving the milk....there is so much of it! Can you think of a more diverse single ingredient? Through my travels far and wide, I have been keenly interested in the different ways of preserving food and milk is a true standout. Even amongst the fresh cheeses, yogurts and kefir there is such variety! I can hardly contain my enthusiasm in my cheese workshops and the one last night proved no different. They become a hybrid of preservation workshop and cooking workshop where we make such things as paneer and srikand (a traditional Indian dessert). The possibilities are as endless as the milk supply! Below see some photos from my travels and fun with cows.
Oxen in the winter in Sweden pulling a sleigh!
Oxen in India working the field.
Sunrise on the pasture grounds.
Friends at Live Earth Farm visiting their ahimsa cow "surabhi". She is who I am currently getting my milk supply from. For inquiries in getting her milk email me at email@example.com
Happy Girl Kitchen Co. Culinary Camp
June 15th - 19th 9-5pm for kids 8-12 years old and 12-15 years old.
173 Central Ave. Pacific Grove
$350 per child, sibling discounts available and internships available. REGISTER HERE!!!
Your child will learn:
How to prepare healthy, local, seasonal meals
Cooking and baking techniques
How to preserve the bounty of the region
To make healthy food choices
In addition we will:
Visit the local farmer's market
Take field trips to the tidepools
Have picnics at the beach
Do arts and crafts projects
Have special guest speakers
We will adventure in the happy girl kitchen and around Pacific Grove to learn about food and community! You do not have to pack any food as the children will be making and eating breakfast, lunch and snacks and even taking home a quart jar of soup to contribute to dinner! There is also an option for early drop off and late pick up for an extra fee. By the end of the week your child will be ready to help out in the kitchen and may have more skills than you do!
Schedule: Arrive, prepare and eat breakfast together and talk about plan for the day. Food prep for lunch and preserved food of the day. Go on walking outing around Pacific Grove to enrich our day. Return for lunch or eat a picnic lunch out. Make preserved goods and soup to take home. Art project. Depart.
Overview day! We will plan our menu for the week and learn about the big picture of food. We will walk to Nob Hill and learn how to shop well! Your children will learn how to read labels and explore the geography of the store and understanding the role of a modern grocery store in our food systems (think Michael Pollan). Seasonality, processed food, sustainability and health. I will have every child pick out their favorite food and we will read the label and see if we can create a more healthy version. We will then break for lunch at Happy Girl. In the afternoon we will walk to the Monday Farmers Market in Pacific Grove and counter what we learned in the grocery store with what we are experiencing in the market. We will also go to the library to pick out some botanical art books and cook books to inspire our week! We will return and learn the art of pickling that afternoon.
Our special outing this day will be adventuring in the tide pools and visiting Historic Cannery Row and discovering the area and that Happy Girl Kitchen is the last cannery in Monterey county! We will also be starting sprouts for the week and preparing some strawberry jam.
The special outing today will be to a local backyard garden and we will plant our own seedlings of lettuce mix to take home and learn about food miles. The kids will make their batch of strawberry jam.
The special outing today will be an adventure at Lover’s Point Beach. We will pack a picnic in the morning and enjoy a day at the beach and fly kites in the field. We will come back and bake gallettes and make cheese!
The grand finally day. On Friday we will focus on planning a big feast for our families to enjoy together on Friday night! It is going to be a great party! They will also make some sauerkraut to take home as their little pet for the summer.
Food preservationists! Order by Tuesday AM for delivery this FRIDAY!!! Only chance for Meyer Lemons!
all boxes of lemons will include recipes for Lemon Ginger marmalade, lemon beet shrub, lemon spritzer, candied citrus peels and Morrocan Lemons.
This week Terrence Welch, one of my all time favorite farmers called saying he has 2000 a ton more meyer lemons than I can use. Literally a ton. So, I told him that I would send the word out to my group of food preservationists to see if any of you could take some off of his hands. This will get us all rolling for apricots, strawberries and cherries......It is going to be a great year!
food preservationists offerings this week:
Order period closes at 2 pm Tuesday, April 14th. No exceptions--we must give our farmers' time to pick and prepare your orders.
Pick up 4-7 PM from the locations below.
The Food Preservationist offerings for pick up Friday, April 17th, 2015 are:
|Pickling Spice Proprietory Blend 1 Pint Jar for $15.99|
|Raw Local Wildflower Honey 1 quart jar for $24.99|
|Raw Local Sage Honey 1 Quart Jar for $24.99|
|30 LBS. Bucket of Organic Evaporated Cane Juice for $44.99|
|Pickling Spice Proprietory Blend 1 Quart Jar - tis the season for pickles. Stock up! for $27.99|
|Organic Meyer Lemon box - 25 lb box - with recipes for marmalade, shrubs, canidied citrus peels and syrups for $49.00|
Marmalade tends to be a mysterious cousin to jams and it is perfect time to fall in love with them!
March is the peak season of Marmalades and here at Happy Girl Kitchen we make 12 different varieties from locally sourced organic citrus! We want to have a party to celebrate marmalades and celebrate the end of winter! Join us for a grand tasting of marmalades all dressed up in many different ways. We will be serving many dishes featuring marmalades as an ingredient and marmalades on their own. It will be a social evening of tiny bites and big ideas!
On the menu:
Fresh Kale salad with Big Sur Marmalade
Rice pilaf with Lime Marmalade
Roasted cannelini beans with Orange Rosemary Marmalade
Crustini with goat cheese and Meyer Lemon Ginger Marmalade
For dessert? Marmalade thumbprints!
To drink? Citrus shrub cocktails!
It is going to be a fun social evening celebrating the star of the month! Marmalade.
The event will take place at our cafe in Pacific Grove at:
173 Central Ave. Pacific Grove, CA 93950!
Tickets are $15 ahead of time or $25 at the door!