Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tour de Farm #4, Secret Orchids

I have yet to meet someone who does not appreciate a beautiful orchid plant.  It’s the plant I bring to my seamstress each time some wonderful work flows from her hands, and she tells me that she thinks of me each time she looks at those flowers, for many many weeks.  It can grace a sunny window with its arching beauty without taking up a lot of space.  It says Beauty and Simplicity and Zen to me…how about you?


Today Raquel and I had the honor of visiting one of San Diego’s premier orchid growers.  There are other specialty orchid farms in San Diego and near Santa Barbara that I’d like to visit, but this farm happens to sell at two farmers markets we know, so we were welcomed warmly by the owner and her cousin. And were we ever in for a treat!  There were some conditions which we were asked to respect; no photos of faces, no technicals, no details…


The farm specializes in the phalaenopsis, versus the cymbidium or other orchid varieties.  The base plants come from Taiwan, without flowers, due to a special agricultural trade agreement.  I knew that, as I have been told that the Trader Joe’s Orchids come from Taiwan.  “Seconds,” I am now told, for their relatively low bloom count.  Today we saw the plants at all stages of their growth, including these, newly arrived and sitting in relatively shaded light to let them acclimate~


Orchids have become a highly technical product.  They are cloned in Taiwan and the baby plants developed in the lab.  Huge business.  The plant takes six months to develop its blooms, and here we see a set of plants with the blooms far enough along to stake them up~


I was amazed at the sea of orchids, all so similar….cloning is part of that, though the plants are fed organically, mostly fish emulsion~


The property was a long series of adjoined greenhouses; acres of orchids, more than 100,000 orchids at all stages and in all colors~


Temperature and humidity are carefully controlled; here you see the fine automated mist that falls if the humidity drops; so fine it does not spot the leaves~


While some orchid growers favor bark chips, the best medium is now peat moss.  Check the top and the bottom of the pot; if both are dry then you should water the plant~


Ventilation is also important; notice the fans above and in the sides of the greenhouse, which open up automatically when the temperature is too hot~


Room after room of orchids, which turn their faces to the light like a sunflower; you can see the huge fan in back which is in the wall; obviously ideal conditions~


This flower is the standard, it is called White.  White petals with yellow lips~




And more Wow….room after room stuffed with perfection ready to ship~


We saw so many colored varieties today I can’t begin~


Velvety, vibrant;


this one is called cherry blossom~


these many varieties are destined for the LA Flower Mart and high-end florists in SoCal, potted and cut~


as well as grocery stores, for the seconds, not these, but the plants with few blooms~


Not to mention these minis, in bridal bouquets +++~


They were all SO pretty~


Bright filtered light and some humidity are ideal conditions for these orchids;


This plant has four stalks of blooms on a single plant!  One stalk is OK, two is better.  Ten or more blooms per stalk is top quality.  This plant is phenomenal, and will be placed by the farm owner with a special client. 


At the end of the tour, my new friend the owner gave me a big hug and two enormous plants to take home.  I left her with two pink baskets for her and her cousin.  I love to see these farms, and can’t wait to special order some amazing orchids for me and my friends….email me if you are local….

Monday, March 26, 2012

Sprouted Easter Eggs

I love Easter Sunday and the Season for so many reasons, but one of the joys is the preparation for our Sunday meal.  This year we will have brunch-into-lunch following early Mass.  Last year I cheated a little with blown-eggs I bought, which saved me the effort and literally the headache of doing it myself.  This year I am going for a modified version, semi-cracked eggs, which you can make at home, and adapt for so many decorations and are a wonderful reflection of Easter.

I didn’t take pics of the how-to for the eggs, which I should...  Take an egg and gently crack it lightly on the smaller peaked side, and peel away the shell slightly, by hand. You will end up with a whole bunch of little egg shells which you can toss in your compost… Drain the egg white and yolk into a bowl for your breakfast omlette or other and rinse out the shell that is left…you will be left with a  bunch of these~


I used $1.99 white porcelain holders from my hardware store, but you can also use egg cartons or other holders e.g. toilet paper rolls….Fill each egg shell with a little bit of soil; I was thinking of using grass seed but then thought to do something more practical….so I decided to try a $3 pack of Kitty grasses, so my sis can come for Easter and have some treats for her cats….


Here are the kitty grasses on the soil,before a little topper~


A day later, I decided to paint the shells; any kind of paint will do; though I found the acrylic paint didn’t like much rain.  Set the shell on your two fingers to paint; easy….


I used some old acrylics on hand; any colors will work~


Two days later I got a sprout of Kitty Grass~


As well as a sprout of radishes after three days~


And here after five days~


And after seven, ready for a sprinkle of jelly beans; follow the germination directions on whatever seeds you use, but I would count on seven days advance to make these for your Easter table.


Today I started a few seeds in a minute bird shell….stay tuned….


And I have been collecting every egg for weeks for use at next weeks’ farmers market in Rancho Santa Fe for the kids to plant and then take home, them put in the garden, shell and all….including Araucana eggs from Paradise Valley….sometimes Nature’s Color is the best of all…


I have more ideas for these egg shells, stay tuned….

Friday, March 23, 2012

The “It Bag” 2012

Ever wonder what the totally stylish will carry for a market tote?  Not just the Chic, but the Impossibly Chic??  Victoria Beckham would never be seen in Ugg boots or yoga pants, even though everyone else in Los Angeles wears them for running out and about.  Several years ago someone caught her in sweats but she covered her head in a XL jacket to hide her face.  What does Posh carry to the market, why an Hermes Birkin, of course, here a few weeks ago in Hollywood~

beckham shopping farmers market

Nice persimmon sheath; I don’t recognize this flower; looks like lavender but we are early in that season now~

hollywood farmers market

I would have thought she would carry something like this, Hermes 2011…nice…I Want It~

Overhours-Hermes-Kellybag (1)

The more natural celebs carry an authentic French tote, here Jennifer Garner with my Moroccan “Bandol” tote in Palisades~


The Bandol basket has sold really well since this photo came out.  It is in stock in limited supply now, but I have been thinking, how to make it better?  Could that be possible, for a classic classic?  The answer is yes; here is my favorite bag for 2012, I am calling it the Beaune~


This morning a group of us went to the Venice farmers market and filled the basket full of all kinds of goodness: mint, fresh or “green” garlic, broccolini and pea shoots to name just a few of our purchases. The fat strap (just over an inch wide) closes off the palm bag; all trim is in very soft lambskin~


Raquel made the call for our lunch spot; Gjelina on Abbot Kinney.  Inspired by local and fresh produce; the food is really amazing, and the atmosphere is really cool; I’ll be back here soon for dinner; this image is going on my Pinterest boards, in case I find a space for a hanging lamp or floor lamp in Beaune~


We brought along Raquel’s daughter J to model a little for us, and also enjoy the food of course.  The basket filled with fresh produce also sat on the table, kind of like another person in this pic; it looks huge next to her but that’s because J is so thin~  It is about 13 1/2” tall to the top of the basket body and 22” wide at rest; there are 9” between the top of the basket body and the bottom of the handles~


I had a salad with beets and burrata, one of my favs (a mozzarella pouch filled with fresh crème), and a little arugula, citrus and walnuts; outstanding!


And a latte, make it a pretty one, please~


I didn’t take a lot of photos of the interior of the restaurant, but I will be back; loved the simple citrus on the bar, in front of the communal tables~


Next door is Gjelina to Go, equally delicious.  We were able to get a plate of mixed salads and bring it back to the restaurant; here you can see how well the basket sits on the shoulder~


As well as in your hand; the soft lambskin is better than anything sisal or plastique, a mon avis and holds well in your hand~


I love this basket; I have ordered it in quantity, though the balance of the shipment has yet to arrive, this one will sell out fast and I will surely carry it in the future~


The Beaune basket will be available at the Corona del Mar and Rancho Santa Fe and Pacific Palisades markets as well as online and in select retailers nationwide.


email info@frenchbasketeer.com to be notified when the new shipment arrives, soon~


See you at the markets!~