All Reviews by rgraham33
339 W El Roblar St, Ojai, USA
Farmer and Cook
29 May 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.
300 E Matilija St, Ojai, USA
Ojai Certified Farmers Market
29 May 2009
We've been attending the Ojai Certified Farmers Market for the last 4 years although we lived in northern California until just recently. The Market is a magical experience for us.
Each time Robin and I drove down to Ojai to visit with our friends, Lol and Linda, we would spend some time at the Farmers Market. It was a great way to relax before before making the 7-hour drive back to Placer County. Just before leaving the Market, we would buy some of Vicki's hand-made soaps to take home with us. Their wonderful fragrance filled our home and reminded us of Ojai and the Farmers Market. Now that we live here, we continue to enjoy Vicki's soaps. Thank goodness we don't have to drive 400 miles one way to be able to buy them!
The Market Manager, Cynthia Korman, is busy from the time the vendors set up Sunday morning until they take down in the early afternoon. If the market were compared to a restaurant, Cynthia would literally be the hostess, the waiter, the server and the chef all rolled into one. It was difficult to catch up with her but I was finally successful.
Cynthia told me she has been with the Market since its conception in 1991. They average 50 vendors on any given Sunday and see hundreds of people flow through the Market buying fresh organic produce, baked good, cheese, local honey, pies, tamales and other prepared foods/goods.
What vendors are vegetarian friendly? Almost all! Some of my favorites are The Farmer and The Cook, Earthtrine Farm, McGrath Family Farm, Friend's Ranch, Churchill Orchard, Ojai Olive Oil and the Knead Baking Company. I must also mention the tamale vendor, Gourmet Tamales - Me Gusta, who offers vegetarian tamales. Can't get better than that!
Go to the Market. The people are friendly and the food is good! Cynthia does an excellent job making sure it is a pleasurable experience for everyone. It is open every Sunday (rain or shine) from 9:00AM to 1:00PM at 300 E. Matilija St. (behind the Arcade).
211 E Matilija St, Ojai, USA
Rainbow Bridge Natural Foods & Deli
29 Nov 2009
Rainbow Bridge is a full service market providing natural foods and an amazing deli. But they are more than that. As their home web page says they are "A community gathering place". The sidewalk tables filled with folks enjoying their coffee, tea and deli menu items are testament to that.
The market and deli gets its name from a local legend. According to the Chumash, Earth Goddess, Hutash, made a bridge over the water out of a very long rainbow so her people could get from from the tallest peak on Santa Cruz Island to the tall mountains near Carpinteria.
The store Co-Owner and General Manager, Ernest Niglio, describes the Rainbow Bridge market as follows: "Rainbow Bridge provides a wide range of healthy and natural products. In the general store, we carry a vast selection of specialty foods, many of which are made from organic ingredients and formulated for special diets. All of our produce is fresh, most of it is organic and some from local farms. The cosmetics aisles have chemical-free personal care items from deodorants and lotions to bath salts and aromatherapy oils. In the vitamin department, there is a vast selection of vitamin and mineral supplements, homeopathics, herbal remedies, and protein powders. For a snack on the go or a savory sit down dinner, our deli offers salads, sandwiches, juices, smoothies, and hot foods."
Ernest's market and deli, therefore, is similar to the rainbow bridge of Chumash legend: it provides a link between the people of the Ojai Valley and the wholesome, natural foods found at the market.
469 E Ojai Ave, Ojai, USA
Knead Baking Company
07 Feb 2010
If you search the Internet for an Ojai company using the terms "artisan", "savory", "local", "fresh baked" and "just plain good" your search would return Knead Baking Company in Ojai, California.
Knead provides individualized artisan pastries baked to order. Their rustic, Italian-influenced baked goods feature a variety of flours, grains and local farm-fresh fruits and vegetables. My mouth is watering as I type. Their food is that fresh, that good.
If you have an anniversary, a birthday or need someone to provide creative food for a special party, they will bake, deliver and set up for individual plate or buffet orders. Your choice! They have an extensive offering including mini pastries, bars, cookies, cakes, coffee cakes, scones, cinnamon buns, pies, galettes and breads.
One of my favorite items continues to be their flat bread. The neat thing about Knead flatbreads is their seasonality. The savory rosemary flatbread has a combination of potatoes, cheese and fresh herbs. Perfect for fall weather. If you walk into their bakery today, don't be surprised to see a colorful pizza flatbread with sun dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, goat cheese and baby green chard. A flatbread for all seasons.
Knead Baking Company products are delicious and they are good for the environment. They pride themselves on using local organic ingredients and their packaging is made of 100% recycled paper.
802 E Ojai Ave, Ojai, USA
Westridge Market, Ojai
25 Jun 2009
Westridge is definitely vegetarian friendly under local resident David West's ownership and David Austin's capable management. The guys you want to know, however, are Josh, Ricardo and Dave. They are the team that keeps the produce section fresh and affordable. I was specifically impressed with Josh's knowledge of fruits and vegetables. He can literally name and describe every item they put on the shelf. For us vegetarians, that's important!
When asked what Josh likes best about his job, Josh replied: "I like that I'm allowed to try new products for our customers". When asked to elaborate, he asked a question of me: "Have you ever eaten an Ice Cream Bean?" I replied, "Huh?" An Ice Cream Bean, Josh explained, is a fruit in the shape of a long pod, sometimes a foot in length, containing a bright white pulp surrounding several large seeds and is indigenous to Central and South America. "You eat the pulp", he says. "It tastes like vanilla ice cream, especially if you freeze it first".
Josh, Ricardo and Dave put a lot of effort into the day-to-day restocking and manicuring of the produce section. As Josh says "it is important to keep it fresh". About one-third of his produce is organic although this team strives to increase that percentage at every opportunity. Organic produce includes but is not limited to apples, baby carrots and berries. Westridge supports local farmers as a priority when prices are competitive.
They stock a variety of fresh mushrooms including portobello, shiitake, crimini and white mushrooms. One of the most unique parts of the produce section is the variety of fresh herbs including lavender, chocolate mint, rosemary, oregano and thyme.
My recommendation is to visit the deli area and take out picnic items to enjoy on a lazy-hazy-crazy-day this summer. All items are reasonably priced for what you get. I like the vegetarian quiche and fresh fruit salad. The deli section also has deviled eggs and fresh Pico de Gallo. It offers a variety of salads including garden, yellow beet, mozzarella balls with basil pesto, bow-tie pasta and the obligatory macaroni and potato salads. Purchase a drink, a baguette, a slice of cake or another fresh dessert and you're ready to picnic.
For us vegetarians Westridge Market and Fine Foods is a veritable picnic waiting to happen. If you haven't already visited them, do so. You won't be disappointed.