Farm to table: Bush basil, blue hubbard squash and Thetis Sammons


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Malaqueta peppers, 50 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, borage, curry plants, variegated basil, Mexican mint, Italian squashes and New Zealand water spinach. ‘This is all fairly common compared with what I would like to grow,’ says Thetis Sammons over the phone (while she’s also watering her herbs).

Since summer Sammons has been farming five acres, on a 75-acre agricultural preserve, in the Santa Ynez valley under the name Epic Organics (also the name of a farm she had up in Santa Cruz). For many California chefs, Epic Organics is synonymous with unique, outstanding vegetables -- maybe even the Platonic idea of unique, outstanding vegetables. Now she is planning to expand with an additional 4 1/2 acres.


‘My dream is to bring in food from areas where there are conservation issues -- Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego. ... Hopefully by next year I’ll be able to bring some new things to the table.’ Sammons will be the first farmer featured in a series of ‘Farm-Maker’ dinners at Craft in Century City, organized by chef de cuisine Matt Accarrino.

‘I do the growing part,’ Sammons says, ‘and I envision what happens to the vegetables, but it’s a pretty rare treat to sit down to dinner’ at a restaurant with the fruits of her labor. On the menu are her late-harvest purple tomatillos, blue hubbard squash, shell beans, sweet peppers, leeks, sage, chard (see the full menu after the jump). Pastry chef Catherine Schimenti uses the spicy, tiny-leaved bush basil for her chocolates.

Craft ‘Farm-Maker’ dinner, Nov. 10, 7 p.m., $160 per person includes wine pairings. 10100 Constellation Blvd., Los Angeles, call (424) 204-7485 for reservations.

-- Betty Hallock

Photo: Thetis Sammons. Credit: Betty Hallock

Leek & onion custard

Potato, sea urchin, sturgeon caviar and crisp oyster Late harvest tomato tatin

Cherry tomatoes, purple tomatillo, cucumber, bush basil and seed Blue hubbard squash tortelli

Toasted pecan, housemade Tasso ham and sage sauce Australian suzuki

Epic shell bean cassoulet, kale and herb salad Lamb saddle and shoulder

Sweet pepper, Swiss chard, meyer lemon and black garlic jus Picolo cow’s milk cheese

Persimmon, pomegranate and almond Sugar pumpkin brulee tart

Pickled cranberries, yogurt sorbet and pumpkin seed croquant Catherine’s handmade chocolates

Epic chili pepper and bush basil