I try to never miss a book signing at the 50 acre Rancho Santa Fe farm known by its signage as The Vegetable Shop and among the foodies of the world as Chino Farm. Started in 1952 by Hatsuyo and Junzo Chino, the farm is today run by the four siblings Tom (with his wife Nina), Kay, Fred and Frank. I notice just a little more abundance on the days of book signings, so Sunday’s the offering of edible nasturtiums was just a little larger than usual, and picture perfect~
It’s a regular stop for me on Sundays, and week after week, the salad greens, root vegetables, citrus, beans and squash are perfect, and perfectly arranged. It’s no wonder Chino Farm has developed such a loyal following…the quality is the best you will find anywhere in the world, with a focus on the most tender, baby vegetables and exotic varieties. There is no category for this Farm, it’s in a class all by itself.
On Sunday we went to a signing for the cookbook Japanese Farm Food by Nancy Singleton Hachisu. Behind the farm stand there were a few Japanese-indigo covered tables offering a few samples of side dishes~
all simply labeled and accented by perfectly fresh citrus from the farm~
The morning was rather cold and with a slight drizzle of rain, uncharacteristic for Southern California. It’s funny to look back on my pics….this one says it all: a long long line of foodies waiting in the rain for their books to be signed, with an occasional flash of impatience, but when you got to the table and could talk to the author herself, you couldn’t help but break a great big smile~
One of the wonderful aspects of Chino Farm events is the elegant and organic simplicity…just what I love….here a Japanese indigo covers the table, along with a rice bucket of fresh citrus. It’s all that is needed…
Oh wait, a revision…I added a glass of the locally-brewed, coffee-infused stout that we drank along with Nancy’s samples~
And on another table, more citrus in a perfect Japanese lacquer bowl; it was a wonderful nod to the Chino family as well as the book~
At last, after the wait in line and a bit of food and drink, we had our book signed with a wonderfully personal message from Nancy~
The book itself is gorgeous; I love the indigo cloth binding on the book~
But inside, the book is as full as stories and anecdotes of Nancy’s life in Northern Japan as it is full of recipes and photos. I spent a summer in the Tokyo area at the same time that Nancy came to Japan, and while it may be a bit of a stretch, I am impressed with the similarities between France and Japan: while the cultures are leagues apart, they both appreciate fine, fresh ingredients, communing over a meal, reverence for traditions, family life, the love of appropriate formality, textiles and basketry~
I find the combination of the Chino Family background with the French nuances (are those from Alice Waters?) to be fascinating; you can find many French varieties of vegetables and squash, not to mention strawberries, at Chino Farm. There are also many wonderful Japanese yams at the Farm…..many which can be adapted using Nancy’s recipes~
I love this book and can’t wait to start to try some of the recipes, that is, after I read Nancy’s stories of life on a Japanese farm….
I am inspired by Nancy and her book….look for some recipes from me soon, and if you are in the area, be sure to stop by for the next event at Chino Farm~