Friday, August 12, 2005

Eating Out whilst Eating In Your Local Foodshed, San Francisco and The Bay Area # 2

Featured Restaurant: Tabla, Larkspur
Tabla, 1167 Magnolia Avenue, Larkspur CA 94939 415 461 6787

photograph picture of smoked wild salmon salad from Tabla (Tava) Larkspur Marinphotograph picture of Lettuce & Point Reyes Blue Cheese from Tabla (Tava) Larkspur Marin
These two salads are regulars on the menu. The Smoked Wild Salmon Salad ($9) pictured here was from the Spring menu when Asparagus was still in season. Currently they have a similar salad with green beans instead. On the right are the Mixed Lettuces with Point Reyes Farmstead Blue Cheese Vinagrette ($6.50). I can't get enough of that zingy cheese.

My favourite place to eat lunch in Marin, bar none, is Tabla in Larkspur. Before now, I've seen the owner, Suzanne McGoldrick, pouring over a copy of Slow Food magazine with customers. It's quite clear her heart is absolutely in the right place. Every Thursday and Sunday they go to the Marin Farmers' Market and and hand pick the best produce with which to make the specials for the week. Suzanne is passionate about using local, sustainable and seasonal goods. She told me she despairs when people think that simply supporting the word 'organic' is enough.

photograph picture of house made hummous with papadam from Tabla (Tava) Larkspur Marinphotograph picture of house made babaganoush with papadam  from Tabla (Tava) Larkspur Marin
Every time I visit Tabla (once a week) there is something new to tempt me on the specials chalk board. Sometimes I find a dip, like a housemade hummous or baba ganoush on the menu. These are served with huge piles of crispy cumin papadams.

photograph picture of caesar salad from Tabla (Tava) Larkspur Marinphotograph picture of house made french onion soup  from Tabla (Tava) Larkspur Marin
The emphasis at Tabla is on healthful, fresh food with ingredients that speak for themselves. If you'd imagined a rich creamy dressing on your caesar salad, or if you expect your French Onion soup to be based on a salty beef stock and oozing with cheese, you might be disappointed.

photograph picture of corn fritter from Tabla (Tava) Larkspur Marinphotograph picture of roated peaches with ricotta  from Tabla (Tava) Larkspur Marin
But that's not to say things here don't taste sinfully good sometimes. If you are a fan of corn fritters, be sure to cross your fingers that they'll be serving them on the day of your visit. I think I could eat the wonderful, recent special of roasted peaches with ricotta every day of the week and never tire of it.

Tabla's speciality are dosai. Fred's firm favourite, I wasn't so keen on them in the past because of the sourdough (which I am not crazy about) starter they use. The other day, I retried the Scrambled Farm Eggs with curry spiced potatoes and spinach dosa ($7.95) and I absolutely loved it. Suzanne told me they have a different guy making the dosa mixture and it tastes less sour than it did in the past. So filling, so good, especially with the peach chutney on the side.

In the interests of transparency, I have to tell you that Tabla is the only place I know of where I have been rumbled. They found out about my blog. I wrote so many posts about them, that eventually they worked out which of their regulars was the blogger in question. I was very embarassed, the first time they asked if it was me. In fact, I was blushing furiously and I couldn't speak. I didn't want my cover blown, at all. Too late. Oh well.

Well, to cut a long story short, Suzanne told me she's had quite a few visitors because of my blog. Since then she has comped me a couple of things. I have strict morals and I absolutely don't accept bribes on this blog, but I also have manners and it would be rude to have refused the first gift of an Ultradense Scharffen Berger Brownie ($2). We don't eat dessert at lunch. Or should I say, we didn't use to eat dessert. It was so good, and a smart move by Suzanne because now I can't stop buying them. Once a month or so, I purchase a batch of these to take back for my office mates. I am pretty popular on those occasions, I tell you. Each one of them insists its the best Brownie they have ever tasted.

The second thing Suzanne gave me was a cup of the Sweet Dream Peach Sorbet ($4.00). I am not a big ice cream fan but, again, I didn't want to appear rude. Can you imagine the world's most perfect peach. Completely ripe on the outside, then hardening just the slightest smidgen as the flesh meets the stone. Imagine the taste of ripe peach with a tinge of yellow at the centre. That is exactly what this sorbet tastes like. It is pure peach captured in ice. Nothing more, nothing less. (Insert orgasm here.) Wow! Forget the softserve just down the street at Picco - if you want a seriously cold yet HOT dessert, Tabla is just the place for it.

So, well, if you hadn't guessed already. I am very fond of Tabla. Check it out, especially during Eat Local Month.

Locavores August Eat Local Challenge 2005

PS. Yesterday's eating local challenge went ok. Breakfast - a no brainer. Lunch - no comment. Dinner - I made Fred his first ever Toad in the Hole using Fatted Calf Merguez and a Marin Sun Farm egg. (Flour not local, unfortunately.) I made a gravy using some left over veggies and garlic. He loved the Toad, and the hole, but there ain't no way you are ever going to be able to get a Frenchman to eat gravy, believe me...
Other reviews of Tabla:Protosheigh - Gayot - Yummy Chow - LA Times

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Eating Out whilst Eating In Your Local Foodshed, San Francisco and The Bay Area # 2


  • At 12/8/05 09:40, Blogger cookiecrumb said…

    Well, don't call it gravy! Tell him it's "sauce."
    (How do you make Toad in a Hole? I usually just go to the Rennaisance Faire for my annual taste of it. Flaky pastry, right? And a sausage?)
    ALSO: We already communicated about this yesterday on my blog, but for your other readers, Lark Creek Inn in Larkspur does an admirable job at locally sourcing food (as much as possible; obviously not 100%).

  • At 12/8/05 10:00, Blogger cookiecrumb said…

    Oh, duh: Click on toad in a hole link. Smart-aleck computers!

  • At 12/8/05 10:02, Blogger Sam said…

    CC - of course I was smart enough to tell him it was sauce. But then he was smart enough not to believe me.

  • At 12/8/05 15:09, Blogger Tana Butler said…

    Hello, dahlink.

    In San Francisco, a great supporter of local/sustainable produce is Chef Robert Cubberly at Le Petit Robert on Polk and Green.

    And of course, the brilliant Michael Tusk at Quince in Pacific Heights.

    There are some others, let me check with some of the farmers I know to see who buys from whom.

    In my neck of the woods (Santa Cruz), there are several restaurants and chefs that pride themselves on supporting local farms (not all have websites)
    Gabriella Cafe, downtown Santa Cruz: they've been doing it since 1991.
    • Ristorante Avanti (19 years now) on the west side of Santa Cruz
    • Oswald, downtown Santa Cruz
    Theo's Restaurant in Soquel
    Sestri on Seventh Avenue and Capitola Road
    Manresa, Los Gatos (one of "The World's 50 Best")
    • River Street Cafe and Cheese Shop: this is a WONDERFUL little place, only a couple of blocks off Highway One at the Highway 9/River Street light. They buy as much as possible from local farms, and have international cheeses, too.

    More as I think of them. I'm sure I'll have quite a list for you, after photographing all those farm dinners for so many years.

    Disclaimer: Gabriella Cafe and Manresa are clients (web work and photography), but that shouldn't have any effect on the fact that I know how supportive they are of local producers. In fact, I couldn't take a client whose work I don't believe in, and that certainly includes chefs who know their farmers.

  • At 12/8/05 17:54, Blogger Farmgirl Susan said…

    What a great post. My very favorite part? The little bug holes on the arugula leaves that were on the plate with the corn fritters. PERFECT! Three cheers to Tabla for proudly serving that!

    P.S. There is simply no rationalization for ever, ever refusing a free brownie. : )

  • At 13/8/05 12:41, Blogger Charlotte said…

    That peach and ricotta dessert looks just wonderful.

  • At 13/8/05 13:52, Blogger cookiecrumb said…

    Another Marin restaurant with dedicatedly local sourcing: Marin Sun Farms Butcher Shop and Cafe, 10905 Shoreline Highway One
    (just outside of downtown Point Reyes Station). Also, 10% discount on their regular (farmers' market) meat prices if you buy it there. Kinda off the beaten path, but a great field trip.

  • At 14/8/05 07:38, Blogger Sam said…

    Tana - thanks for all the info!
    I have eaten at Le Petit Robert many times in the past, but not so much these days since I no longer live in that 'hood.

    Farmgirl - I love that the bug holes are there too. I wondered if anyone would notice.

    Charolotte - it did taste wonderful.

    CC - thanks again - I will add that oone to my list.

  • At 15/8/05 10:41, Blogger Tana Butler said…

    Hi again...

    Do you know about Chef's Collaborative? "Chefs Collaborative is a national network of more than 1,000 members of the food community who promote sustainable cuisine by celebrating the joys of local, seasonal, and artisanal cooking."

    In your neck of the woods:
    Cafe Rouge (Berkeley)
    Chez Panisse (duh)
    Magnolia Pub & Brewery

    I still need to poll my farmer friends to see who else buys from them. Oh, Eric Tucker at Millennium definitely does. He even had a farmer appreciation dinner that Rancho Gordo and Mariquita attended not too long ago.


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