Visit With A Salumiere: Stephen Pocock of Boccalone

We sat with Stephen Pocock, head Salumiere at Boccalone in the San Francisco Bay Area to find out about how he got started in the business and what’s most important to him. Stephen has been working with Chris Cosentino since Incanto, and is excited to help take Boccalone to new heights in the near future.

 

Stephen Pocock

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Giving Thanks

Recently, while I was representing our farmers at Chipotle Mexican Grill’s Cultivate Festival in Miami, I was asked why it matters how we treat our livestock on the farm if we plan to eat them in the end anyway.  I have thought a lot about this subject over the years, ever since I was a little girl on our farm tending the animals that I loved so dearly.  Most farmers take pride in their care of for the livestock.  Here are a few of the reasons why I believe farm animal welfare matters.

 

Sarah's daugher, Sophia, at a young age with Sarah's father, Paul Willis, on the family farm.
Sarah’s daugher, Sophia, at a young age with Sarah’s father, Paul Willis, on the family farm.

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A Meat Lover’s Guide to Eating in Wine Country

There are over 400 wineries in the region we recognize as Wine Country in the United States, located just north of San Francisco. This includes Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley, Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Bennett Valley, and Russian River Valley. Long, dry summers culminate with a burst of heat before fall, creating the perfect climate for grapes.

As you drive down the one-lane winding roads, it truly feels like you’re in Italy or France, with rolling hills to the left and right and vineyards stretching for miles. It’s a great place to enjoy the weekend with your lover, a celebration with friends, or just a relaxing retreat from the hustle and bustle of city living.

To make your stay a little less stressful, we traveled Wine Country to find restaurants that have phenomenal meats to pair with the region’s spectacular wines. We did not come out disappointed! Whether you’re visiting for relaxation or fun, check out our meat lover’s restaurant guide to eating in Wine Country for tips on some of the area’s best restaurants.

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Recycling in the Farm Fields

As the daylight hours shorten, the landscape gradually transforms from the rich greens of summertime into various autumn shades of gold in the farm fields.  On the farm, that means one thing: harvest time! On our farm, we mainly grow field corn, soybeans, oats and hay. Some of these we grow organically, whereas others we use more conventional methods.

 

recycling on the farm
Sarah’s father, Paul Willis, with some farrowing hogs in the winter.

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Rural All American Apple Pie

sarah-picking-apples-from-her-tree
Sarah Willis at her family apple tree.

 

We have an old apple tree that grows right next to our gas barrel here on the farm.  Admittedly this is not an ideal location, but these are the very best apples for making apple pie.  My grandmother planted a crabapple tree (the only native apple tree to North America) there many years ago.  In the wild, apples are highly heterozygous and don’t grow true to the subspecies of seed.  Apples of all varieties are created by grafting trees onto a hardier apple root stock. This is how our favorite apple originated: from the root stock of the original crabapple, a separate seedling grew into another tree.  We are not sure what kind it is but believe it to be a Mackintosh.

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Visit with a Chef: Dominic Orsini

We took the time to sit with Chef Dominic Orsini, Executive Chef of Silver Oaks Winery in Napa Valley and recent author of The Silver Oak Cookbook: Life in a Cabernet Kitchen. Find out how he found his passion for cooking with only the freshest ingredients, and how he’s worked to build a sense of place through his cuisine.

 

Chef Dominic Orsini
Chef Dominic Orsini harvesting vegetables from the Silver Oak gardens.

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What It Means To Be An Honorary Farmer: Marczyk Fine Foods

Marczyk's Fine Foods
Marczyk Fine Foods in Denver, CO; their location at 5100 E Colfax Avenue during their annual Burger Night Fundraiser.

 

At our annual Farmer Appreciation Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, we present the Honorary Farmer of the Year award. This recognition is given to a Niman Ranch customer – whether it be a meat distributor, grocer or restaurant – that shows outstanding commitment to the Niman Ranch farming community. They go above and beyond being a customer to embody the true meaning of partnership in their actions towards promoting sustainable, humane agriculture.

This year, we honored a long-time friend of ours, Marczyk Fine Foods in Denver, Colorado. Owners Pete, Barbara and Paul Marczyk have increased their commitment to our Next Generation Scholarship Fund through private dinners at their home, having customers “round up” at the register, selling special items at their deli, and our favorite event of the year: Marczyk’s Burger Night. The Fund is set up to give our farmers’ children a better chance of returning to the land by curbing school loan debt. This ultimately preserves traditional farming practices and promotes the advancement of the next generation of farmers.

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The 2016 Niman Ranch Farmer Appreciation Dinner

The tradition of the Niman Ranch Farmer Appreciation Dinner is alive and well! We recently celebrated our 18th annual event at the Embassy Suites Downtown in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday, August 27.

Each year we painstakingly select a group of highly acclaimed chefs who meet our strict criteria. They are award –winning chefs in their regions and they have shown a real commitment to supporting Niman Ranch and our family of farmers and ranchers not only through purchasing Niman Ranch meats but by raising awareness about how our network of family farmers raise the livestock.  Most often the initial reason many chefs choose Niman Ranch is because of the outstanding meat quality, but once they realize the connection with flavor and how the animals are raised, they become advocates for our entire program.

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10 Quick and Delicious Recipes to Make This School Year

Whether you just sent your kids off to school or you’re in school yourself, making fresh, delicious recipes at home can be a challenge. Eating out every day gets expensive and spending two hours in the kitchen between cooking and eating can be cumbersome.

That’s why we’ve put together this list of our 10 favorite recipes that are both quick to cook and delicious. You’ll be able to enjoy what little free time you have to run errands, focus on homework or just enjoy more time with your family.

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The 2016 Niman Ranch Next Generation Scholarship Awards

Next Generation Scholarship Winners
The 2016 Niman Ranch Next Generation Scholarship winners.

For the last eight years, our grocer and meat distributor customers across the country have raised money for the Niman Ranch Next Generation Scholarship Fund. Awards are given at our annual Farmer Appreciation Dinner, which celebrates our family farmers with a delicious meal prepared by top chefs from across the country.

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