Monday, October 1, 2007


In the summer of 2003 I visited Northern California for the first time. It was both an eye-opening and mouth-watering experience: Mission burritos, lunch at Chez Panisse, dinner at Piperade, and best of all, an afternoon at Copia.

Copia is a cultural arts center devoted to food and wine. One can easily spend the day wandering through their edible garden, stopping for a wine tasting, taking in an art exhibit or cooking class, and staying for a film. Copia also boasts Julia's Kitchen, a restaurant named after Guess Who. On that afternoon in 2003 I had the pleasure of taking a class called World O' Melons taught by Brigid Callinan. The melon and chile salad I learned that day has secured a place in my permanent cooking repertoire.

Last month I went back to Copia. My friend and I attended a Taste of Copia event which includes a garden-fresh, three-course meal and cooking lesson. The instructors - chef, garden expert, and wine educator - demonstrate how to make the dishes and pair them with wine. We started with an Arugula and Beet salad served with Ricotta Salata and a Lemon Verbena vinaigrette. Next was Capellini with Ahi Tuna, Tomato, Summer Squash, Olives and Basil. Desert was a Lemon Cream frozen sandwich. One of our wines, a deliciously dry Riesling from Washington State, was immediately purchased at Cornocopia to take back to NYC.

Although I've yet to eat at Julia's Kitchen, Copia was nice enough to send the Library some menus to be included in our Menu Collection. They'll be entered into the database shortly and will be available for researchers to peruse now and in years to come.

Now if only they would open a Copia East.

Garden Melon Salad
(adapted from Copia's World O' Melons)
2 medium-sized ripe melons, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 limes, juice only (to taste)
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 ripe red chile, seeded and very thinly sliced (I use jalapeno sometimes)
1T honey, to taste
Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
Salt, to taste

Place melons in a large bowl and sprinkle with lime juice, honey, and salt. Allow melon to sit until salt is dissolved, then toss in shallots and chiles. Taste melon and adjust sweetness, then drizzle salad with olive oil to taste.

Frozen Lemon Cream Sandwiches
(From The 150 Best American Recipes by Fran McCullough and Molly Stevens)
One 7-oz. container cold crème fraîche
1/4 c. lemon curd
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
12 crisp butter waffle cookies
1/4 c. finely chopped unsalted pistachios (or almonds)

Line a small baking sheet with waxed paper. Use an electric mixer to beat crème fraîche, lemon curd and lemon zest in a chilled bowl until firm peaks form. Arrange half the cookies on a baking sheet and spoon the lemon cream on the centers, letting it ooze gently to the edges. Top with remaining cookies, pressing down gently. Transfer the baking sheet to the freezer and freeze until the sandwiches are firm, at least 4 hours.

Spread the nuts on a plate and rolls the edges of the sandwiches in them. Serve at once.


The Foodie Princess said...

Lucky you getting to visit Copia and as I was reading your post I was thinking the exact same thing "When are they going to do a Copia East"


Anonymous said...

Copia has one of the best edible gardens too! There were no less than 30 different varieties of lavender growing when we were there. Their trellis system for their tomatoes is also the inspiration for my trellis in my backyard. Great place...need to make it back there again soon! Thanks for the reminder...
Los Angeles

Deborah Dowd said...

Sounds like a wonderful time, and I am intrigued by the melon-chile combination. I will give that one a try!