Chefs Iso Rabins and Larry Piaskowy preparing the roaster for quail.
Soupe de Poisson
Rabins goes out in a minus-tide about once a month ("often really early in the morning," he said) to gather the nori-like seaweed that was featured in the aoli that topped off this seafood soup. (He warned that it's pretty important to watch the waves so you don't get stranded in water you didn't expect, as he once did while gathering seaweed near the Golden Gate bridge.)
Rabins caught this herring during its brief run in the bay: "There's a phone chain of fishermen that will call each other when they see the herring coming in," he said. "You take a net, throw it out, wait 15 seconds, and have about 20 pounds of herring. It's super cool." These were lightly pickled and served with mustard seeds and a horseradish potato salad.
A signature Wild Kitchen dish. Gnocchi were tossed in a nasturtium leaf pesto. "The leaves," said Rabins, "intensify the spicy, peppery flavor that you'd find in nasturtium flowers."
The quail, cooked on a La Caja China roasting box outside the winery, were stuffed with foraged hedgehog, yellowfoot, and black trumpet mushrooms from Mendocino. They were served with polenta squares and broccoli rabe.
"Squid are super abundant around here," commented Rabins. "As the water gets warmer, we get more squid." These were seared and served with canellini beans, sausages, and poblano peppers.
Salad of Wild Greens
Though the little gems and frisée in this salad were cultivated, Rabins found the miner's lettuce in Golden Gate Park. "There are hidden pockets—untraveled secret gardens in the city parks that people go to a lot," said Rabbins. The salad was topped with pickled beets and candied pecans.
Getting Their Brulée On
The kitchen team prepping the dessert.
Candy Cap Creme Brulée
If you didn't know better, you'd think this was a maple-flavored dessert, but the maple flavor and aroma comes from Mendocino candy cap mushrooms. "They're little baby red mushrooms that smell like maple syrup," said Rabins. He dried the mushrooms first, then steeped them in cream to pull out the flavor for the dessert. "I'm not that into sweets," he admitted, "but I'm really excited about this dish."