Each and every seed planted at noci, is Chosen for seasonality, taste and BEAUTY. This selection is Soley based on my palate. Cause, if I am not inspired to create something with it, we ain't planting it.
Hence, my newly crowned title, the Seed queen.
It wasn’t until I began picking the seeds that I realized, how much I actually knew about the different varieties. I chalk this up to all the years of curiously talking to the farmers that grew the food I was purchasing at local markets who, in turn, introduced me to discover so many beautiful heirloom varieties I had never known. Marking down the types I loved in the back of my consciousness for this time in my life it seems.
Honestly, I never thought it would be thrilling for me to select seasonal seeds, but it is. I even get excited while making the damn garden signs. Just staring at the name of most of these heirloom varieties get me. For example, Traviata Eggplant. It’s like an Opera or something. And then it grows beautiful jet black, with this sweet flesh. Next door to it in the garden, however, is another stunner, Listada DiGandia - a GORGEOUS purple stripped Italian variety. Delicious. Don’t get me started on the peppers and tomatoes and onions. I could go on for days.
All the seeds are certified organic too and, though we haven't gone through a certification process, we follow organic gardening practices and never spray or use chemicals or pesticides of any kind. Our green leaves might not be perfect, but they are delicious none the less and, those cucumber beetles just love them.
I am not the gardener (yet) let's be clear about that. We are lucky enough to have our fabulous gardeners, Michael and Zena, leading the way. Along with the help of some badass workers and Organic Cold Creek Compost from Mendocino - the garden not only grows but flourishes. And then, once it does, I am even more inspired to cook with it. The seeds, the plants, the gardens, are the thread that binds the taste of Noci altogether. To gather, to taste, to inspire and to create. This is one of our my desires for our members at Noci. To encourage them to cook.
Speaking of cooking, one of my favorite summer simple recipes right now, is to chop up one of our Red of Florence Onions (!!), a medium-sized Goldie Zucchini (if I can find a small one), a handful of Pink Bumblebee Cherry Tomatoes (the name I mean come on!), a few Glow (orange) Aura (yellow) and Carmen (red) Sweet Peppers, some Ping Tung Long Eggplant (the skinny purple long ones), a spicy Red Flame Pepper, a sprinkle of some fresh Oregano, Sea Salt and Olive Oil - on a parchment paper lined baking sheet in a preheat 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until everything is golden and caramelized. Garnish with some fresh Oregano leaves or chopped Purple Basil. Toss with some Pasta or serve as a side dish. Simple, rustic and perfecto.
Even if you make a simple pot of White Beans, toss in good olive oil on top, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, flaky sea salt and garnish with some of our BEAUTIFUL Sweet Pea Flowers. Before Noci, I had no idea field peas created these gorgeous edible flowers that taste quite literally like a sweet pea. But now I do. And when they are in season, I garnish everything with them.
I can not wait to get set up to make our own Noci products which will, naturally, be directly inspired by the overflow in our gardens. I already have a long list of tested recipes that I am excited to share one of these days. It will be small batch stuff. Limited quantity. But, until I have a commercial kitchen/staff to create our products- I will be curating the retail building with all my favorite fabulous local foods for anyone to stop and pick up. Inspired by everything delicious you would want to have the perfect picnic.
My husband always gets on me for not calling myself a chef.
To which I always respond, I am a passionate home cook babe, not a chef.
He rolls his eyes and says - your life revolves around making food, who are you kidding? First thing in the morning, you have a pan in one hand and a whisk in the other. You love everything about food and creating dishes. You are a chef. Not the traditional, sweating your ass off in a kitchen type chef, but a chef none the less. And you do it better than most.
I tell him to suck it, and then we sit down to eat a lavish meal I created inspired by the Noci gardens and have a laugh.
Listen, I have always been into food. Cooking it, learning about it, tasting it, healing from it, reading about it, avidly shopping at farmers markets, striking up conversations with strangers about recipe ideas, hosting dinner parties, baking, photographing it, am endlessly inspired by seasonal produce, and writing about it (yes I am working on the Noci Cookbook).
Does this make me a chef? I'm not sure. I am an actress that hasn't gone back to acting since having children - who loves to cook. The kitchen has become my stage. Dinner, my theatre. And if you follow me on Instagram, you have probably gathered this already. Or that I am just a crazy bitch. Or, ahem, probably both.
Ping Tung Long
Pink and Purple Bumblebee (!!)
Green and Purple Tomatillos
Green Curly Kale
Mustard Hot Shot Mix
Red Ruby Chard
Rhode de nice
Green tint patty pan
Red Plant Mix
King Richard Leek
Red of Florence
Salt and Pepper
Purple Opal Basil