Farmer and Cook
Posted on 05 / 29 / 2009
Before moving to the valley, we would visited Ojai staying with our friends, Lol & Linda. One of our first impressions of the valley was formed over lunch at The Farmer & The Cook restaurant and store. I fell in love with the place. I wanted to move to the valley immediately. It was a good first impression.
Unless you're a local, The Farmer & The Cook may seem to be off the beaten path on W. El Roblar Street. The jog to get there, however, is worth the effort. Don't expect a fancy, new restaurant. Part of its charm is the free flow of energy among the staff, the kitchen and the store. A headline in the online "VC Reporter" declares that "This Farmer's Wife Can Cook". I quote this review because I can't think of words any better than that. It is clear that the proprietor, Olivia Chase, has a passion for cooking. You can see it in her eyes and taste it in her food. Olivia Chase is the Alice Waters of Ojai.
Since my first visit a few years ago, I have been back many times. I am impressed by the number of food choices on their current "Mexican Cafe" menu. The menu is diverse with 4 appetizers and 8 full meals. Almost everything they use is organic. Prices are reasonable especially considering the freshness and quality of the food. When I ate there for a late lunch last week, I ordered the huarache if for no other reason than I liked the name. I remember, as a kid, buying and wearing huarache sandals made from old tire tread. In Mexican cuisine, the huarache is a pizza (sort of) served on a handmade tortilla.
When I went to order the huarache I found it had been replaced on the menu by a taco salad. So I ordered the grilled squash quesadilla. The quesadilla is made with two hand made corn tortillas and came hot to my table with goat cheese, mozzarella cheese, shiitake mushrooms, jalapenos and roasted red pepper. And if that isn't enough to make you salivate, it came with a side of beans, red rice and fresh slaw. I was pleased to learn that many of the ingredients (including herbs and spices) used in preparing The Farmer & The Cook meals are grown by her husband, Steve, at Rio Gozo Farm here in the valley. Maybe, if I'm lucky, I can visit the farm one day and post a blog on my experiences there.
Go to The Farmer and The Cook. Experience the goodness there.