***DISCLAIMER- in exchange for reduced registration, I agreed to write 3 posts about my experiences at the International Food Bloggers Conference. This is my first post.***
|The growing endive|
In the cold darkness in trays stacked on trays grows the endive. Did you know that there is only one endive farmer in the United States? I really had no idea. Only one farm that grows endive. And yes is really pronounced än-ˈdēv.
|Rich Collins, the original endive farmer in the US|
|The root waiting to be decapitated and put into growing beds, this is the start of the second growing season|
|Our hosts for the morning|
I had a eye opening experience about the endive while visiting the California Endive Farms. I was on an excursion with about 30 other food bloggers. As we rode through the Sacramento farm delta, Rich Collins gave us the low down on the the history of the endive and his history of how he started with endive farming.
I confess I knew very little about the endive. Did you know that the endive is the second growth of the chicory plant or that is grown in darkness, like a mushroom? Well they are! While chicory grows wild or is harvested for coffee, it’s the root that is harvested put into cold storage and then planted and in the cool, moist dark storage the endive grows and thrives, until harvest time.
|The chickory root in cold, very cold storage|
Rich Collins is the original endive farmer and the only one in the US. This farm supplies the US with 50% of the endive and only on the west coast. The east coast gets their endive from the Belgium. Rich’s passion for the endive and for farming shined while he explained the processes of his farm. We toured the cold room where the roots are stored. Which felt good. 32 degrees vs. 100 degrees outside. We toured the growing room, cool, dark and damp just the way the endive likes the growing conditions. Crate upon crate in the darkness was the endive. Each was formed to resemble a torch flame, growing in their own little world. Crates stacked upon each other, high to roof. It look surreal and reminded me of a B rated sci-fi movie, The Day of the Trifids.
|Stacks and stacks of endive in the cool, misty dark room|
|Row and rows of growing endive|
The California Endive Farms grows the white, the red and now the newest variety the Coroline and yes it’s pronounced Cora-Leen.
|The endive is in the front row and the Coroline is in the back row|
Rich has retired from the endive farming business but it looks like the traditions will continue on in California.
To end the day we were served a wonderful lunch under a 150 year old Sycamore tree.
|Lunch under the Sycamore tree consisted of grilled endive salad.|
Grilled Endive Salad (PLEASE note that this my interpretation of the salad we were served at lunch. Rich was kind enough to give me the ingredients but the amounts. So this is what I used).
6 grilled endives
1/2 sliced red onion caramelized
1/2 cup of dates, chopped
1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds
Shavings of Parmesan cheese
Dressing, mix to taste:
1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
2 tablespoons Honey
salt and pepper to taste
Grill the endive and cut off the root at the bottom and slice. Caramelize the sliced onion. Chop the dates. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
In a separate bowl mix the Balsamic vinegar, mustard, honey. Combine with all the other ingredients. Stir in the pumpkin seeds and the parmesan shavings.
This can be served cold or at room temperature.