Generously meaty slices of shiitake mushrooms pickled with tamari, vinegar and seaweed have been given a salty tang by Shed, a restaurant and food purveyor in Healdsburg, Calif. A bowl of them with toothpicks for stabbing can go on that antipasto platter, they add zest to grilled-cheese sandwiches or panini, and you could dice them to scatter on seared fish, just as you would capers.
Restaurant, café, bakery, and market all in one, this creative Healdsburg locale has quickly become one of the best places to eat in the area. Sip a cappuccino or homemade kombucha as you peruse displays of cookbooks and watch chefs in action in the open kitchen. I crave their huge bowls of salads, but there’s also wood-fired pizzas and stellar salmon tartar topped with dollops of lemon cream. Every meal is a work of art; prepare to turn heads when you order SHED’s succulent roast chicken, served whole on a bed of sauteed spinach and surrounded by clusters of edible flowers, turnips, and carrots.
Designers are tasked with many things when dreaming up the look and feel of new restaurants, from lighting to acoustics, glasses to chairs, music to serveware. That process must go one step further when there’s the hope that someone will walk away from the meal not just happy, but with a few plates to remember the whole experience by.
Cindy Daniel, the owner and interior design lead behind Shed in Healdsburg, California, wanted to build a pathway — quite literally — from growing food to making it to finally serving it. To that end, she created, with Jensen Architects, a whole ecosystem within the 5,000-square-foot building, which includes a restaurant, an upstairs classroom and event space, a market with prepared foods and cookware, a coffee bar, and a fermentation bar. There’s everything from garden tools to charcuterie. The airy design took home a James Beard Award in 2014.
Events and classes are another way Daniel integrates commerce, where experiences and knowledge are the product for sale. These offerings, and the tools and objects customers can see both on the shelves and in the kitchen, set visitors up to make a purchase at the market.
“All around the store we might have crocks of things fermenting,” Daniels says. “It might not be what people are eating off of, but people can see [the crocks] in the cafe, and those crocks are also available for them to buy. And then there’s also a class for them to attend and learn about fermentation.”
Shed offers everything from handcrafted housewares like $12 honey sticks to responsibly farmed produce. One highlight is Shed Café, which draws crowds for cuisine by award-winning chef Perry Hoffman. Try seasonal light bites like the pickled quince with chestnuts, rosemary, and chicory; and the lamb shoulder with pipicha, mole, charred radishes, and sunflower sprouts. Savor your snack on the street-facing patio, and then meander through the shop, browsing for stoneware, steel crepe pans, and gardening trowels.
A look at Sonoma County’s 2018 Good Food Award winners, a high-profile award for producers of conscientiously-made artisan foods. For many small producers, this award boosts their products into a national spotlight.
Now in its eighth year, the Good Food Awards announced their newest batch of winners on Friday evening.
Alice Waters and Nell Newman were once again on-hand at the San Francisco War Memorial Herbst Theater to hand out medals to this year’s top picks, which were selected from 2,057 entries from nearly 300 craft food makers around the country. Cookbook author Madhur Jaffrey served as the keynote speaker.
Bay Area brewers Almanac Beer Co. and Drakes Brewing Co. were among the locals represented among the class of 2018. Other local winners include: fishmonger TwoXSea, cheese maker Bellwether Farms, salumi maker Fra’ Mani Handcrafted Foods, and Yume Boshi, which specializes in Japanese preserved plum products. Healdsburg’s modern grange, SHED, took awards in three categories for its pickled shiitake mushrooms, smoked trout and smoked black cod, and plum shiso shrub.
Most restaurant reviews, whether on Yelp, the Michelin Guide or the Chronicle, focus on food quality, ambiance and service. But what about a metric for adherence to the “farm-to-table” ethos? A new rating system in Sonoma County aims to achieve just that.
On March 11, produce lovers seeking enlightenment beyond bagged salad mix will slowly canvass a streambank on a private five-acre farm in the Dry Creek Valley looking for wild lunch provisions. Lemon balm, cow parsnips, spice bush, Douglas fir shoots, bay laurel, plantain and wild chervil are among the wild edibles that sprout there each spring.
Their guide: Perry Hoffman, the culinary director at Shed, Northern California’s acclaimed locavore utopia. Hoffman, a scion of a deep-rooted Wine Country family (his grandparents founded the French Laundry) and the youngest chef to receive a Michelin star, owes his proclivity for wild foods to his florist mother and gardener father, for whom nature is a way of life. He has led these tours each spring for the last few years — his personal effort to better connect diners to their food.
“Foraging Is a great way to learn about seasonality from the earth,” says Hoffman.
First and foremost, foragers will learn how to properly identify plants. After all, wild chervil, with its lacy white flowers and ferny leaves, is commonly mistaken for hemlock, the poison that famously did in Socrates. Then they’ll sample them. Douglas fir shoots, for example, taste like tart citrus and pair well with a salad of tangerines, creamy avocado and a drizzle of fruity olive oil; calendula, with its pungent, eucalyptus-like essence, tames the funk of game meats.
A snip of a leafy cluster here, a slice of a tender stalk there, and approximately 90 minutes later, the foraging party will decamp to Shed for the big finale. They’ll spill their baskets onto a big marble table, where Hoffman will compose a breathtaking salad of the harvest — a one-of-a-kind communal lunch that could only taste of that particular afternoon in that particular area.
“Nature tells you when seeds are ready to germinate, not some farmer’s almanac or solstice calendar or gardening blog,” Hoffman says.
Miner’s lettuce — that spinachy broadleaf that grows well in cool, foggy climes — is Hoffman’s botanical barometer on the topic. Due to last October’s benevolent rains, the plant sprouted much earlier than its usual springtime debut and will likely succumb to a freeze or two before it has a chance to flower and seed — a circumstance that no farmer’s almanac could have predicted.
As a chef, Hoffman views the landscape as “a table that’s constantly spread.” However, he is gentle with his take, foraging only what he needs, leaving the rest to proliferate. Still, he feels for the picked plants and their fate. “The plants would love nothing more than for no bird, no rodent, no human being to ever touch them so they can sustain themselves,” says Hoffman. “But if we don’t cook and eat them, how will we ever know how special they are?”
Spring Foraging in Dry Creek Valley with Chef Perry Hoffman; March 11, 2018; 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; $125; www.healdsburgshed.com
As a restaurant/bar/fermentation lab/exhibition space, SHED is the heart of Healdsburg’s food and drink culture. It’s a bucolic space with no shortage of delicious options for a present or future meal. Wake up with a cortado and the formidable freshly baked double chocolate croissant, or enjoy superhero chef Perry Hoffman’s pristine produce-driven cooking with a slight global edge at lunch or dinner, paired with local wines or a kombucha on tap. All together, this is the California farm-to-table good life we see in magazines turned into reality.
Fans of delicious food who are also concerned about social and environmental responsibility now have help when selecting a place to dine in Sonoma County. Slow Food in Sonoma County launched a new program, the Snail of Approval.
Seven restaurants from across the county received the first Snail of Approval awards:
Backyard, Forestville; Diavola Pizzeria and Salumeria, Geyserville; Estero Café, Valley Ford; Naked Pig, Santa Rosa; SHED, Healdsburg; Zazu Kitchen + Farm, Sebastopol; The Black Piglet (food truck), Healdsburg.
“We’re delighted to recognize this initial group of restaurants that don’t settle for ordinary in the way they source their food, prepare their menus or run their businesses,” said Brad Whitworth, a member of the Slow Food Russian River board and of the Snail of Approval Committee, who presented the awards.
After a brief ceremony, the Snail-approved restaurant chefs served bites of their restaurant specialties to the crowd of more than 60, who attended the Nov. 1 launch at Healdsburg SHED. To accompany the bites, Ethic Ciders, Jardesca California Aperitiva, Lagunitas Brewing Company, Thumbprint Cellars and Tilted Shed poured tastes of artisanal beverages.
The program is a collaboration between two Slow Food chapters, Slow Food Russian River and Slow Food Sonoma County North. A joint committee evaluates establishments based on the Slow Food principles of good, clean and fair food. Some of the criteria include: seasonal ingredients and menus; sustainable ingredients sourced from local producers; humane treatment of people and animals; investment in fair labor practices; and green business practices like composting and recycling.
Each restaurant went through an approval process that included a detailed questionnaire, followed by a rigorous interview and on-site review conducted by a team of three Slow Food volunteers. Each evaluator independently rated the restaurant, before arriving at a collective score.
Carol Diaz, the program committee lead, said the organization plans to add other restaurants and expand to include artisan producers and farms. “We’re looking forward to educating eaters about the benefits of Good, Clean and Fair food by engaging the entire Sonoma County foodshed in a comprehensive program.”
Slow Food is a global grassroots organization with more than 100,000 members in more than 160 countries that stands for local foods, traditional gastronomy and time-honored food production. To learn more about the Slow Food in Sonoma County Snail of Approval visit www.snailofapprovalsonomacounty.org.
Congratulations to the 2018 Good Food Awards Finalists and their food communities for leading the way towards a tasty, authentic and responsible food system. Chosen from 2,057 entrants, these 279 companies are creating vibrant, delicious, sustainable local food economies. Stay tuned for the announcement of the Winners on January 19, 2018.
SHED was named a Good Food Awards Finalist for five products:
Smoked Black Cod
Raspberry Rose Preserve
Plum Shiso Shrub
Pickled Shiitake Mushrooms
Contrary to local lore, not all good things start in Sonoma County. Indeed, the Slow Food movement didn’t arrive here until 1997, 11 years after Carlo Petrini founded it in Italy to protest the spread of fast-food restaurants and the opening of a McDonald’s in Rome.
Chapters soon sprang up all over the world like wild mushrooms after winter rains. Now Slow Food Sonoma County North and Slow Food Russian River have pooled resources to create their own version of a long-running international program known as the “Snail of Approval.”
Cloverdale resident Carol Diaz spearheaded a committee of seven who picked four restaurants that met their rigorous standards and those of Slow Food International, which boasts a thousand chapters in 160 countries.
Not every restaurant that receives the Snail of Approval meets the same standards. Each locality, from Boston and New York to Chicago, creates its own criteria, though they all rally behind the watchwords “clean, good and fair.”
Diaz said that she and her fellow committee members in Sonoma borrowed freely from Vermont Slow Food when they created their standards. Indeed, the food must be fresh, restaurant workers treated with dignity, business practices sustainable and produce sourced locally and organically. That’s a tough row to hoe, and not every restaurant in the running for a Snail of Approval can hope for a perfect score.
Four Sonoma County restaurants—Diavola in Geyserville, Shed in Healdsburg, the Naked Pig in Santa Rosa and Estero Café in Valley Ford—met the rigorous criteria.
They will be recognized at a launch for the Snail of Approval program, upstairs at Shed, which has served for years as a meeting place for activists and foodies. (Full disclosure: I’m a member of Slow Food Russian River.)
Cindy Daniel and her husband, Doug Lipton, have made Healdsburg’s Shed a destination and showcase for local farmers. “It meant a lot to me when I was in Italy to see the Snail of Approval in restaurant windows,” Daniel said.
Her goal now is to turn Shed into a carbon-neutral, zero-waste environment. “The Snail of Approval is one way to move the whole conversation forward,” Daniel said.
Indeed, the future of food and sustainability in Sonoma might belong to the likes of Shed’s Meg Rottinghaus, 33, who comes from an Iowa family that raises soybeans and feed corn on hundreds of acres. Organic is a harder sell there than here.
Now Rottinghaus manages Shed, trains its 100 employees and bicycles to and from work. When the Snail of Approval team members came to inspect the restaurant and market, she gave them a tour. She and executive chef Perry Hoffman also answered questions on subjects like sourcing, recycling and cooking.
“We’re transparent,” Rottinghaus said. “We’re also part of a giving and receiving community.”
Doug Lipton, his wife Cindy Daniel, and their two sons moved to Healdsburg in 1996, purchased 16 acres on West Dry Creek Road and started HomeFarm. Eight acres are under cultivation, the rest is wild. The land was a field of hay before planting an array of fruits, nuts, vegetables, herbs and flowers. The farm’s vineyards grow grape varieties for a dessert wine and a rosé bottled and sold under the HomeFarm SHED label. There’s also an 1,800-square-foot greenhouse for starting lettuce and many other plants before transplanting them to the fields.
“Since we already followed many biodynamic guidelines as longtime organic farmers who make our own compost, it made sense to get certified,” says Lipton. “We are currently completing the process and expect certification soon. The process involves undergoing certification for the organic methods we have been using on the farm since inception, and for the biodynamic methods we started using eight years ago.”
Wearing a wide-brimmed straw hat and in his farm attire, one might not suspect that Lipton is a scientist. He holds a doctorate in soil chemistry from UC Berkeley. “As a scientist I confess there are aspects of biodynamic principles I struggle with – but science can’t explain everything–particularly something as complex as growing food,” he explains. “Farming is affected by so many variables, most of which are unmeasurable, uncontrollable, and even unknowable: from the billions of creatures in the soil, to the climate, to gravity. So, I’ve always thought farming is as much art as science. I have noticed that biodynamic, especially spraying on the preparations, gets me on the land more to observe from a holistic perspective.”
The farm inspired Doug and Cindy to create SHED in downtown Healdsburg. “SHED is a culmination of our life together, from composting and gardening in the 1970s, to starting a food co-op in Boulder in 1980, to raising our two boys on HomeFarm and connecting deeply into the Healdsburg community. We wanted to celebrate everything we could think of surrounding good farming, good cooking, and good eating,” Lipton says.
SHED is a market and café with a modern grange hall, where Doug and Cindy have partnered with Demeter USA to host biodynamic workshops and events from January through June. “Attendance and interest has grown considerably. Some events sell out well in advance,” Lipton says. Past session have included a biodynamic winemaking panel and tasting, a biodynamic approach to living soils and foods, living farms, and the art and craft of biodynamic apiculture.
With Lipton’s soil-scientist credentials it’s no surprise that many turned out for a Compost 101 workshop he gave last spring at HomeFarm. The group gathered around mounds of compost resembling miniature haystacks. “Our organic matter comes predominantly from SHED’s kitchen scraps plus HomeFarm’s own vegetative waste. We compost it and add it to the soil. The rich humus grows the produce that goes back to SHED. It’s circular though we don’t grow nearly enough to fill SHED’s needs…. so we rely on the many other farms in our area,” Lipton says.
Biodynamic agricultural practices are well established not only in the United States but also throughout the world. Consumers are backing away from foods grown on land saturated with pesticides, fungicides or herbicides. There are farmers who don’t want to farm like that either. Many are reverting to earlier agricultural practices, practices used by our forefathers, practices used before synthetics. They’d prefer to look to nature and the microbes beneath their feet for sustenance, and to the moon and the stars for guidance.
What would a foodie’s paradise in wine country look like? For many, it looks a whole lot like SHED, a market, café and community gathering space in Healdsburg designed to bring folks closer to the way food is grown, prepared and shared.
Winner of a 2014 James Beard Award for restaurant design, SHED was created by Doug Lipton and Cindy Daniel to celebrate Sonoma County’s agricultural heritage. Sonoma is a place where all kinds of crops are grown and products made—not just the wine that puts it on the map—and the couple’s modern Grange reflects the best of the local farming culture.
With agriculture at the core of what they do, SHED highlights gardening equipment, produce and prepared food. They sell heirloom seeds, mill their own flour, cure meats and curate local food, kitchen equipment, cookbooks and tableware.
Doug and Cindy provide some of the vegetables, flowers, fruit and eggs for the café from their own 16 acres in the Dry Creek Valley—which they’ve dubbed HomeFarm—where 11 acres are under mixed organic and biodynamic cultivation, and the other five as native riparian habitat. They’ve got a little bit of a lot: Rhone-varietal grapes for wine, French olive trees for oil, chickens, sheep, bees and heirloom-variety orchards, plus a market garden for vegetables and cut flowers.
Healdsburg, a well-heeled town anchored by a central square that is surrounded by restaurants, shops, art galleries and, of course, wine stores and tasting bars, is the perfect place to transition into evening. Start at Shed, a cavernous culinary market and cafe devoted to local farming culture that features everything from butter churns and herb shears to umami salt and kombucha on tap.
James Beard Award–winning Mark Jensen designed this modern-style barn tripling as a farmer’s market, general store, and restaurant “We wanted to create a light, open space that was reminiscent of market halls and found inspiration in the words of Wendell Berry: “An agrarian mind begins with the love of the fields and ramifies in good farming, good cooking, and good eating,” says co-owner and creative director Cindy Daniel. Idle on the patio for housemade charcuterie and sip on-tap shrubs and kombucha. Later, shop the well-curated wares—Norfolk harvest baskets, Sneeboer garden tools, and Shed’s pantry line of spices, pickles, and preserves. healdsburgshed.com; 25 North Street
“Shed is a culinary, retail, grocery, coffee, organic, local experience in the truest sense of the word. I love everything about this place. I can literally spend hours here. While I love all meals here, brunch is my favorite. Maybe pick up one of the many amazing cookbooks to flip through while dining, grab a shrub cocktail to start, and make your way through the menu. On your way out, stop by the small produce section and pick up your dinner.” –R.B.
On his kitchen counter, Perry Hoffman, executive chef at Shed Cafe in Healdsburg, sets down a tray of spices, including a bag of Japanese roasted black sesame seeds. Plumper and more flavorful than the pallid kernels that languish in supermarket spice bottles, Hoffman pinches a few of the heirloom seeds into his mouth, gnashing them with pleasure.
Sonoma County’s Healdsburg is a town known most for its high-end restaurants and fantastic cuisine, as well as it’s close proximity to wine country, which results in endless great wine lists. Having first opened its doors in 2013, SHED is not a new kid on the block, but the restaurant’s atmosphere and creative culinary delights are anything but old school.
“SHED felt authentic, with a transparency between farmers, chefs and the community,” chef Perry Hoffman says about what attracted him to the Healdsburg restaurant scene. And in a town full of great restaurants, SHED’s exterior and interior space is just about as unique as Hoffman’s menu—surely drawing in both locals and out-of-town visitors. It’s a massive industrial warehouse turned into a rustic, but very welcoming restaurant and retail space—think farmhouse-style restaurant meets fermentation bar meets boutique home meets garden shop.
“Being a part of SHED—a business that stands for farmers, sustainability, education and ingredients—is exciting,” wine director Patricia Philitsa states. Upon entering, that commitment to Sonoma County’s agricultural life and passion for full-flavored ingredients is evident in the design of the space. The front half is equipped with a full-service fermentation bar complete with coffee, wine, cocktails, beer, cider, mead and even probiotic shots. Offering a local, seasonal menu—with many of the ingredients grown and made in-house by the SHED team—Hoffman appreciates that “…this area is geographically diverse with great places to forage, different microclimates that produce an array of products, and many small farmers, ranchers and producers to work with.” He furthers, “At SHED, I can cook in my style—and explore a wide variety of flavors.”
Home goods, cookbooks, preserved goods (made in-house) and culinary gadgets stock the wood, provisions-style shelves for perusal and purchase on the left side of the space. And the farm side on the right offers gardening tools and outdoor supplies to provide inspiration for sprucing up your own outdoor space. Then, right in the center of it all is an open-concept kitchen and prep-space, with surrounding restaurant seating. Operating during breakfast, lunch and dinner, SHED provides a creative menu that is sure to satisfy at any hour of the day.
When popping in for dinner, you’ll want to start with a shim—a low alcohol cocktail—as an aperitif. Wakatake Sake, elderflower tea, ume plum syrup and lemon combine to make a creamy textured and sensual cocktail; the delicate sake flavor is juxtaposed against a kick of salt and herb on the rim of the glass, brightening up the citrus and floral flavors. And don’t miss the opportunity to pair this Sake shim with some oysters on the half shell—fresh with just a touch of salt and olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon to bring it all together.
Dining with chef Hoffman, you never know what might be available that’s not on the menu, as he’s always working to create unique and seasonal offerings. “My culinary team and I get energized and excited when the seasons shift and new products become available; we enjoy the process of creatively collaborating to bring our ideas together,” Hoffman says about his approach in the kitchen. A herring salad served with a fish fumé broth is by far one of the most unique dishes I have tasted in a Healdsburg restaurant. Herring, shaved almonds, watercress and fennel make for a savory and herbal offering; the dish is texturally stunning, with a pickled essence, and a cool and fresh approach. Pair this dish with the interesting white blend 2015 Scholium Project Miss Texas—there’s Chardonnay, Verdejo and even Friulano in it—with great acidity, a mouth-filling texture, lemon and juicy green melon flavors, and you’re in for a one-of-a-kind coupling.
From the more robust side of the menu, a SHED classic is the Parade Farms heritage chicken served with a savory bread salad, sunchoke pureé and dandelions conserva. Here, the savory bread salad tastes like it was fried in animal fat—adding an extra layer of depth and richness—and the entire dish is beautifully textured. Delicious savory flavors combine with the tender chicken, anise and umami-rich gravy to make this dish a filling offering, but it never feels heavy or out of balance—just utterly satisfying in its depth of flavor and texture. So hearty, it pairs well with the 2014 Front Porch Farm Red—a Grenache and Syrah blend from Russian River Valley with a medium body, silky texture and flavors of raspberry, black cherry and violets.
“It all starts with nature and what is coming from the earth,” Hoffman states. And after tasting his cuisine, it’s clear that he both respects and honors the food with which he works. His culinary creations are unique in their design, downright full of flavor and truly showcases the quality of ingredients in a sensual way. The same can be said for Philitsa’s wine list, which boasts “good wines at reasonable prices, with a commitment to local, organic and natural wines,” she states. “It’s a small list, nearly all local vintages from Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties. We focus on keeping our selection as close to home as possible,” thereby honoring SHED’s overall commitment to working with the community in which they operate. So if you’re a local looking to enjoy your community’s goods, SHED’s got you covered. And if you’re from out of town looking for a truly authentic taste of Northern California cuisine and wine, then SHED is just about as representative as it gets.
How do Wine Country chefs coax so much flavor out of simple ingredients, bringing out the deep, complex notes of smoke and fermentation while fine-tuning the upper register of citrus and fresh herbs?
With all the skill of a classical maestro, Healdsburg Shed Culinary Director Perry Hoffman has mastered that balancing act — after all, he was the youngest chef in America to earn a Michelin star — and taken it a step further. Last year, he launched a new line of Shed Pantry products as a way to share the flavor-enhancing tricks he uses at the Shed Cafe with home cooks.
“There’s s a big, beautiful wall that chefs use as an arsenal,” Hoffman said of the powders and spices, finishing salts and pickled veggies he relies upon on a regular basis. “We stare at our wall of 300 oils and spices and ground anchovies, and it helps us create.”
At the behest of Shed owner Cindy Daniel, Hoffman developed and launched the upscale line of dehydrated, smoked and preserved products last September. Since then, the product list has grown considerably, expanding upwards to 70-some secret weapons that evolve along with the seasons, from Lemon Salt to Pickled Red Onions.
“Canning, drying, pickling and fermenting are wonderful ways to preserve the bounty from our local farms and to capture seasonal flavors,” Daniel said. “We hope they’ll inspire new worlds of flavor in the home kitchen.”
This Sunday, you could surprise mom with an array of Shed Pantry products, or you could take it a step further by making a light but flavorful lunch that showcases a few of these flavor boosters in action.
For the annual spring holiday, Hoffman put together a three-course Mother’s Day menu: Chilled Asparagus Soup with Caper Tarragon Powder Crème Fraiche; Roasted Halibut with Vadouvan Conserva; and Vanilla Ice Cream with Macerated Apricots, Honey and Shed Lemon Salt.
“Mother’s Day is spring, simple and fresh … and it’s always brunch or lunch,” said Hoffman, whose mother is a florist and grandmother founded The French Laundry in Yountville. “You should be able to get up afterward and enjoy the day … take a hike and spend time with mom.”
The chilled soup, made with an asparagus stock, brings out the intrinsic freshness of the spring vegetable. You can simply serve it with the caper tarragon crème fraiche, or go ahead and top it with all kinds of crunchy garnishes, from fresh morels to asparagus tips.
“I like the cool, crisp and green aspect that chilled asparagus has,” he said. “When you cook it, it just becomes velvety and creamy without adding much dairy … and I like a little something to chew on and bite.”
For the halibut dish. Perry created a conserva — an intense and savory mixture of lemon and olive oil and garlic — that he spiked with the Shed Pantry Vadouvan, a French spice inspired by the masala spice mixture of India.
“I love the sweetness that it has,” he said of the conserva. “It has caramelized onions and garlic and fenugreek, so it has these sweet notes … and we cook it all down until it’s soft.”
The fish is garnished with sautéed radishes and fiddlehead ferns, which Shed is sourcing from the Mad River area of Mendocino.
“I have always adored it,” he said of the wild fern. “It’s mild and somewhat similar to asparagus … it’s green and crunchy and almost more about the texture.”
For dessert, what could more delicious than a scoop of vanilla ice cream, finished with some spring fruit and honey spiked with the Shed Pantry Lemon Salt.
“The Lemon Salt is wonderful .. it gives it a little citrus zing,” he said. “The apricots are tart, and they just love a little squeeze of lemon on them … and the honey gives it caramel and toasted notes.”
Hoffman’s dehydrated powders, which come in unusual flavors like green garlic and charred eggplant, Nicoise olive and shiitake mushroom, have caught the attention of the national press. Last month, Bon Appetit magazine praised the powders as an “instant” way for home cooks to update their spice cabinet.
“People just love the smoked onion powder because it’s so intoxicatingly sweet and rich and smoky … it’s the new French onion soup packet,” Hoffman said. “The Caper Tarragon Powder is really fun, too. It’s very French, anisey and sweet from the tarragon, and briny and sweet from the capers.”
If you’re enchanted with world cuisines, especially those of the Middle East or Mediterranean, these pantry products can provide a shortcut to authentic dishes that would otherwise be unreachable for cooks who are often long on ambition and short on time.
“I’ve been using powders for 16 years,” Hoffman said. “When you dehydrate produce, you concentrate the flavor of that element … that’s a way to give people a jump-start. In addition, it’s new flavors and new ways to use those flavors, so it’s an easy way to experiment and play around.”
For an aperitif to the luncheon, Hoffman suggests a lightly alcoholic shim made with one of the Shed Shrubs, a line of seasonally-based drinking vinegars that date back to the Colonial era, when they were used to preserve fruit long after the harvest. The shrubs are made from fresh fruit, vinegar, organic sugar and aromatics.
By creating this new line of Shed Pantry products, Hoffman hopes that he will inspire home cooks to raise the bar for those looking for restaurant-quality food, without employing a sous chef.
“Home cooks want to have the same options that chefs do,” he said. “This is a way of being able to capture those flavors in a jar and be close to the same outcome.”
Even in the middle of winter, the plates at the Shed Cafe look like it’s spring. Chef Perry Hoffman, formerly of Etoile at Domaine Chandon, has his own greenhouses, and the presentations — even the soulful duck cassoulet — are strewn with frilly kale leaves and delicate yellow and orange flowers. No other restaurant in Sonoma County so gloriously embraces the county’s agrarian history as this “modern grange,” which also sells garden equipment, heirloom seeds, flour milled onsite, house-cured meats, tabletop items and prepared food. The cafe is set in the middle of all this, with the kitchen on one side and, on the other, a series of glass garage doors that can be rolled up for outdoor seating. It’s an ideal setting for Hoffman’s vibrant food. Examples include creamy salt cod brandade flavored and garnished with garlic scapes, fava leaves and a tarragon-caper powder, with dozens of upright house-made potato chips; or pizza topped with sunchokes, Meyer lemon, stinging nettles, red onion and rosemary. This is the place to go in Healdsburg for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Want to get even farther afield? Head up the 101 about 90 minutes past the Golden Gate Bridge, and you’ll find yourself in Healdsburg, a smaller, more charming cousin to those well-known wine-country towns of Napa and Sonoma. A great spot for bike riding, day hikes, and of course, wine tasting, Healdsburg has also become a dining destination in its own right. A standout is Shed, a marketplace and restaurant that houses a fermentation bar and cures it own meats. Here you’ll find the best selection of artisan products made in this area and an extensive home goods, kitchenware, and gardening section. And in a surprise to no one, the rustic farm-to-table menu at the restaurant is accompanied by an awesome wine list featuring some of our favorite local producers like Leo Steen, Scribe, and Preston, an organic winery and farm at the far end of the Dry Creek Valley.
In our experience, the words “instant” and “delicious” rarely go together. The exception? When someone else puts in the time and effort, and you get the immediate reward. That’s the beauty of flavor dusts, basically, tricked-out versions of those onion and garlic powders languishing in your cabinet. Dehydrator-and-smoker-wielding chefs have been cooking with these super-concentrated powders for years. But now, thanks to Chef Perry Hoffman, the culinary director at celebrated Sonoma County restaurant Shed, home cooks can harness the powder as well.
This year, Shed started bottling and selling the same powders that Hoffman cooks with at the restaurant: flavors like purple saurkraut, Niçoise olive, and green garlic; in other words, this is not your standard spice rack.
“Powders may have begun in the world of fine dining as a flavor enhancer, but they’re really everyday tools for the kitchen,” Hoffman says.
His charred eggplant dust is basically a Genie in a bottle: Stir it into a bit of olive oil and yogurt, and you’re suddenly tasting baba ganoush. That onion powder, made by slowly smoking yellow onions over applewood chips, is the building block of a perfect grill marinade. Stir the tarragon-caper dust into butter and rub on roast chicken, or add the shiitake powder to stock for an umami boost.
If using flavor dusts turns into a bit of a habit, you could consider making them yourself. But we think there’s nothing wrong with keeping a little “instant” in your routine.
Shed, a restaurant and market in Healdsburg, Calif., now sells its wares online. Along with kitchen goods, garden tools and pantry foods, the company offers nine colorful seasoning powders, some made from ingredients grown on the Shed farm. Dust the powders on poached fish, soups or deviled eggs, or use them to season sauces and dips. The green garlic powder is musky, niçoise olive is crumbly and assertive, and smoked onion harbors a sweet edge. While the shiitake mushroom powder is bland, the jade-green Padrón pepper powder is vegetal with a kick — dynamite in the place of salt on the rim of a margarita glass: Shed Powders, $15 each, healdsburgshed.com.
Psst. You, sir. Over here. Yes, you. Step this way. Come a little closer. There, we’re alone. Now then, can I interest you in a little magic dust? Wait, it’s not what you’re thinking. This is the good stuff. Homegrown even.
Look at this pinkish one. Know what this is? That’s purple sauerkraut that’s been dehydrated and turned into this intensely flavored seasoning. No, you don’t sniff it. Sprinkle a little on your scrambled eggs or, better yet, put it atop a pan-fried steak or grilled fish. Delicious.
Or look at this one: charred eggplant powder. I’m thinking a sprinkle of this over your babaganouj would be extraordinary. Or how about this tarragon-caper powder? I like a little of this on top of deviled eggs. It’s like a secret weapon. People have no idea where all that flavor is coming from.
I’d like to take credit for these, but this is the work of chef Perry Hoffmann and the good folks at Shed in Healdsburg. They’ve developed a whole line of the powders, seasoned salts and other kitchen pantry items. I’m fond of the green salt—bay leaves, thyme, parsley, rosemary and Jacobsen salt spread around the rim of a bloody Mary. It’s a great way to take a little Sonoma County with you wherever you go.
While it doesn’t fit inside my trench coat here, Shed also makes delicious pickled vegetables like carrots and chile peppers, savory shiitake mushrooms, eggplant conserve and even pickled kale. There’s also a line of fruit preserves and shrubs. What’s a shrub? It’s made with very ripe fruit and herbs and spiked with vinegar to preserve it. They’re great as a base for cocktails or a little sparkling water for a DIY soda. Just the thing after enjoying a rib-eye steak dusted with a little purple sauerkraut powder. 25 North St., Healdsburg. 707.431.7433.—S.H.
If you’re familiar with SHED in downtown Healdsburg, then you know how incredible EVERYTHING is. Farm-fresh local produce, beautiful kitchen ware, pantry items and all those wonderful meals prepared on site. And what makes everything so delicious? A talented team + extra touches of ingredients developed and used inside their kitchen. So for the first time SHED is bottling them up so you can bring these flavors home with you. The new Pantry line is a collection of spices, powders, salt blends, peppers, pickles, preserves and shrubs—all inspired by what’s used everyday at SHED Cafe.
I recently joined a luncheon with the SHED team, including co-owner Cindy Daniel and Executive Chef Perry Hoffman. We learned more about how this line came together and experienced the flavors in some Spring-inspired drinks and dishes. In addition to educating folks on good farming, good cooking and good eating, Cindy and Perry wanted to show ways of preserving seasonal bounty and flavors through canning, drying, pickling and fermenting. It’s been a dream of theirs and now the new products are available in-store and online.
All images by Leslie Santarina.
Healdsburg SHED defines itself as a modern grange. It’s that vibrant and creative link of land to table that inspired this cafe/shop/community gathering space. You’ll find beautiful kitchen tools designed to last a lifetime; uniquely local, small batch provisions for a well-stocked pantry and, of course, the inspiration and information you need to journey confidently into the realm of innovative kitchen artistry.
Everything is so well curated and so beautifully presented that one could easily find oneself entertaining multiple food fantasies. For example, the combination of a perfectly crafted mushroom foraging knife, Meyer lemon olive oil, and a gleaming copper risotto pot could inspire you to greatness. If that’s the case, you might also consider taking the “Foraging in the Wild” workshop offered by Shed’s culinary director, Chef Perry Hoffman.
But you could just as easily fall in with any of their other seasonal workshops, including one on making your own shrub drinks and one on herbal wellness. And, of course, beautifully illustrated cookbooks abound, including one next to the Japanese donabe clay smoker that explains the specific cooking techniques you may have discovered at the Single Thread Restaurant.
Driving north on Highway 101, it’s easy to forget that you are still in the heart of one of the most fruitful winegrowing regions in the world. You pass industrial parks, sleepy towns, old gas stations and tumbling hills dotted with those famous happy cows—but just beyond the roadside scenery is a vast patchwork of some of the most fertile agricultural land in the world, marked by a variety of geographic characteristics. Mountainous terrain is heated by the sun during the day, and cooled by coastal winds at night. Fog lingers in valleys full of rich, rocky soil quenched seasonally by the Russian River. (more…)
If you’re a Michelin-starred wunderkind, it might seem like a risk to swap a fancy Napa restaurant for a glass-fronted barn in a town once best known for its farmers’ parade. But not to Perry Hoff man, who recently made the move from the Étoile restaurant at the Domaine Chandon winery to SHED, a Healdsburg barn with a general store, restaurant and a food lab fed by its own 30-acre farm.
“I didn’t think it was a risky move at all,” says Hoffman, whose grandparents owned Napa icon The French Laundry. “What it came down to was ingredients — smaller producers growing harder-to-fi nd heirloom varieties. The small two- to 10-acre farms of Sonoma are producing some of the most How Healdsburg, a once-sleepy farmer’s town in Sonoma County, became the farm-to-table capital of America amazing vegetables in the world. If you have good soil in Napa, you plant grapes; if you have good soil in Sonoma, you can do both.”
Hoffman is not the only chef to head for Healdsburg, which has a host of new locavore eateries, including the much-hyped new SingleThread (see sidebar). But behind the hype is simple nature. The small farms provide some of the best produce in America.
The 10,000-square-foot SHED, for its part, feels like a curated homage to the good life — from laser-engraved rolling pins in the store to the deli’s shiso-infused sea salt and grains, all freshly milled on site.
In the café, Hoffman gives the local bounty an international twist: The heirloom tomato salad harbors a surprise of kimchi and sour gherkins, and roasted lamb shoulder gets paired with sunfl ower seed mole.
Hoffman also looks for the best local suppliers. “It’s all about supporting neighboring businesses,” he says. “Instead of writing a check to a big corporation, we are able to support local livelihoods.”
Cindy Daniel also felt some apprehension from the community 3½ years ago when she opened Shed, a restaurant and gourmet mercantile. A 20-year resident who moved from San Francisco to start a 16-acre farm here, she felt that the town had grown too wine-centric. She wanted to focus on its agriculture.
Shed’s concept seems to be paying off, with weekends crowded with tourists and weekdays bustling with locals, who come to sip kombucha at the fermentation bar, buy house-milled flour, peruse French cheese knives or dig into a dish of halibut in smoked tomato broth. The upstairs event space has hosted 91 community groups. Shed just added 16 dining seats and increased hours to seven days a week. It also started a new take-away service. Each day after 4 p.m., Chef Perry Hoffman brings out just-cooked porchetta or roast chicken that can be purchased to bring home.
Hoffman, former chef of Etoile at Domain Chandon in Yountville, is excited to be cooking at such a different venue. “I came from fine dining and cooking for destination diners,” he says. “I will never forget my first day here in this beautiful modern building, when a farmer in filthy jeans with shears in his pocket sat down with his wife and baby for coffee. Their bill was $12. You would never see that in Napa because the farms don’t exist there. It was important for me to see that and to keep that going.”
Sipping the rose-pink iced strawberry and tarragon shrub at the Fermentation Bar at SHED in Healdsburg, California, I wonder what America’s pioneer farmers would have made of this modern interpretation of their thirst-quenching soft drink. The seltzer bubbles prickle my mouth, releasing pleasantly vinegary strawberry notes with a peppery hint of tarragon. It tastes of summer without the sweet sickliness of a soda pop.
Doug Lipton and his wife, Cindy Daniel, moved to Healdsburg, California almost 20 years ago to start a farm. In January of this year, Michael Bauer of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote an article, Is Shed the Best Restaurant in Sonoma County? – quite an honor in an area known for some of the best restaurants in the country. What an amazing journey they have been on. SHED is Doug’s and Cindy’s local food-focused modern grange – hosting a market, cafe and fermentation bar. It is the expression of their hard work and commitment to bringing together the local community of ranchers, fishermen, artisan producers, backyard gardeners, long-time farmers, professional chefs, home cooks, food crafters, educators and enthusiastic learners – all with a passion for food and farming.
Today we are excited to talk to Doug Lipton about SHED and what they are doing in Healdsburg 20 years later.
SHED’s Cindy Daniel and Doug Lipton were invited guests on this historic visit to Cuba to share their support and their knowledge of organic farming.
SHED’s executive chef Perry Hoffman made you want to lace up your boots and head out into the sunshine to forage for some wild foods, check out this VIDEO shot of Chef Hoffman and Edible Marin & Wine Country’s Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Gibson Thomas on the trail of nature’s bounty in Healdsburg’s Dry Creek Valley.
When you are learning how to forage for wild foodstuffs, you are learning to learn. That is, you are learning (or remembering) to be curious and observant. Every day is different, every piece of land holds its own ecology, every season follows its own pace…
No other restaurant in Sonoma so gloriously embraces the agrarian history of the county as the Shed in Healdsburg… Chef Perry Hoffman…creates combinations that define the season. In winter, his onion soup, glazed with cheese and crunchy croutons, looks like a rock formation strewn with tiny yellow and white flowers. He roasts poussin and serves it with the head and feet attached, graphically telescoping his farm-to-table approach… Michael Bauer, chief restaurant critic
Michael Bauer, the restaurant critic for the San Francisco Chronicle bestowed SHED’s Cafe with three-stars and noted it is the best restaurant in Sonoma. “I’ve never seen combinations that visually depict the bounty in such a vibrant, respectful way….The Shed celebrates its location in a way that no other place duplicates. It feels like the most authentic and beautifully conceived restaurant in Sonoma County right now.”
Food: ★ ★ ★½
Service: ★ ★
Atmosphere: ★ ★ ★
Shed holds immense appeal for the out-of-towners who flock to Healdsburg on weekends for wine tasting, charming bed and breakfasts, and farm-to-table dining. What better way to immerse oneself in agrarian life than within Shed’s manicured, denim-stuffed walls? Serving as a hub for Sonoma County’s many-spoked agrarian community — manifests in Shed’s retail outlet, its event programming and its ingredient sourcing for the restaurant….Healdsburg Shed is, for a certain type of person, a wonderland of aesthetic and gastronomic pleasures — one that simultaneously gives a visitor the feeling that she is becoming a more responsible citizen…Roll your eyes all you want. Here’s the thing: Everything at Shed is really, really good.
No place in Sonoma — or the Bay Area for that matter — uses such beautiful produce as Perry Hoffman, who took over the kitchen of this impressive business last fall. He may serve whole sand dabs on a cutting board with a colorful array of baby vegetables, and whole roasted poussin with its feet and head still attached, splayed on a bed of sauteed greens and surrounded by edible flowers. The food has a fresh yet rustic sensibility you won’t find elsewhere.
One of the (many) high notes of my dinner at SHED last weekend was a sturdy slice of pecan spice cake, served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It’s one of those wallflower cakes that won’t win any beauty pageants, and that’s part of its appeal. When a cake appears with zero frills, it’s a good sign that its greatest attributes lie within. Such was the case with this cake, which was generously stocked with pecans and all sorts of warming spices.
The folks at SHED are passionate about the connection between food and farming…SHED has become more than just a restaurant: it is a community center for education, sharing and celebrating fresh, wholesome food.
A video story on October’s Japan Month and Toshiya Kotorii, a Tokyo soba master who collaborated with Sonoko Sakai, a Los Angeles Japanese cooking teacher and author who studied under him for a soba bar pop-up series in SHED.
If you live in Sonoma County, you are no stranger to the concept of “buy local,” but…what does it take for Sonoma County’s small farmers to get their products into these stores? And what does “local” actually mean?
What once was old is new again … again. Shrubs—Colonial-era drinks made from vinegar, crushed fruit, and sugar—are trending as a light and refreshing sweet-tart solution to summer’s heat.
Shed occupies what is possibly the most elegant pre-engineered metal garage we’ve ever seen: It’s equipped with all kinds of innovations for efficiency and sustainability, like photovoltaic panels, elegant exposed wood, and wide garage doors that can be opened up for ventilation on hot days.
Farmers’ advocate “Follow the Rooster” campaign named SHED the top Sonoma County business that is selling and buying local products, joining CSAs, or hosting farm-to-table dinners.
It’s hard to know where to start, because I want to start with everything and be sure I miss nothing.Do I pause at the coffee/juice bar for an immersion-drip, or maybe a fresh beet/carrot/ginger/lemon juice? Or do I go nose first into the tin buckets of roses and bluebells? Oh, but here’s the deli counter. Hmm, smoked trout mousse. Pickled smelt. Apricot chutney. Honey hazelnut pate. Perhaps I can swing by the milling room for a bag of just now (like-five-minutes-ago) stone-milled heirloom grains.
In Sonoma…pioneering it all is SHED, a grange hall, fermentation bar, and marketplace housed in an airy, two-story steel and glass flex space that won a James Beard Award in 2014 for its architecture. Next month, as a tribute to the region’s bounty of organic and heirloom produce, SHED will launch a monthly farmers market tour, coupled with lunch in their garden.
I stepped into Shed with coffee on the brain. The enormous, creekside building in Healdsburg, California, is something of a culinary bazaar, an ever-changing marketplace of Sonoma County’s many gustatory offerings.
Our vision was to create a place where the beauty and aliveness of the complete food cycle—the growing, preparing, and eating —would become visible, revealing and reinforcing the path from farm to table, and back to farm.
I walked in for breakfast, and somehow managed to stay through until lunch — this place will do that to you. Coffee bar, pastry shop, to-go counter, fresh produce grocery store, kitchen & home store, and a cafe all under one creative roof.
When Cindy Daniel opened Shed nearly two years ago, her aim was for it to be more than a restaurant. “We wanted to make a true expression of the whole food cycle,” she explained of her 21st-century barn in Sonoma County. Part store, part café, part events center, the nearly 10,000-square-foot space is all that—plus a fermentation bar (of course) for wine, kombucha, and more. (Get some of our favorite recipes from Shed.) …Daniel has stocked Shed with beautiful and functional items she deems essential to being a better cook, gardener, and, yes, eater, whether it’s the little black dress of cast-iron skillets, the handiest gardening shovel, or just-milled rye flour from a nearby farm.
(The story was a group collaboration with recipes written by our culinary director Miles Thompson and Gillian Helquist in the fermentation bar, with beautiful images by our friends Taylor Peden and Jen Munkvold (Peden+Munk) and food styling by our own SHED-ite, Lora Zarubin.)
Retail and restaurant complexes come to the fore. Food & Wine was kind enough to shine a light on SHED’s innovative concept in this thoughtful roundup of mixed-use establishments.
In this insightful interview, the Chronicle‘s Inside Scoop writer Carey Sweet checks in with SHED co-owner Cindy Daniel on the completion of SHED’s first year and the thrill of the James Beard Award nomination.
We love this lifestyle feature on the rise of young farmers and the importance of the old-fashioned Grange and the new-fashioned Grange Movement. Raising new farmers is so important!
Jeff Cox, who reviews restaurants for our local daily paper, here dons a national cap to cogently explore SHED’s mission, with a special emphasis on what we’re trying to do with our Grange concept.
We’re proud to be mentioned with our neighbor, Chalkboard, in Condé Nast Traveler‘s foodie roundup, and yes: Healdsburg is undoubtedly a foodie paradise!
In this insightful interview, the Chronicle‘s Inside Scoop writer Carey Sweet checks in with SHED co-owner Cindy Daniel on the completion of SHED’s first year and the thrill of the James Beard Award nomination.
We’re grateful to Modern Farmer for really underscoring our mission and the vibrancy of the SHED community in this article.
We are proud to have won a 2014 James Beard Award for our restaurant design. Before the final decisions were announced, Eater National gave a sneak peek at all the nominees. We were certainly in great company!
The 10,000-square-foot Healdsburg Shed brings farming, gardening, cooking, and eating together in one glass-walled building. It distills Northern California’s food and wine scenes–with everything from a wood-oven cafe to a fermentation bar with kombucha on tap; from a spot selling local grains (milled on-site) and hand-forged garden tools to workshops, talks, and film screenings. Shed also does Sunday Suppers, a monthly dinner series with local winemakers, farmers, and chefs.
Learn to make the components of our popular mezze plate! 7X7 gets the lowdown on how we compose each part of it, from the sweet potato hummus to our proprietary dukkah to our quinoa and tzakziki.