I stopped by Blackbird Tavern in downtown San Jose on Wednesday, where owner Chris Esparza and executive chef Dawn Smith were celebrating the restaurant's new partnership with Garden to Table, a community farming nonprofit that operates a one-acre urban garden just blocks away on Taylor Street.
Garden to Table founder Zach Lewis, whose academic eyeglasses and trimmed beard make him look a lot more like a grad student than a farmer, had brought over a number of veggies he had harvested that morning, including green garlic, fava bean leaves and radish sprouts.
Smith put them together with other ingredients like Marin County mushrooms to create a three-course tasting menu that included garlic soup and a pasta ragout.
Looking ahead, Esparza says the plan is to incorporate Garden to Table vegetables into the menu items. Lewis will even plant or procure items that Smith is interested in using for new dishes.
"It really is a different level of organic," Esparza says, "because you take out all the trucks and refrigeration that aren't involved when you're getting the produce from 10 blocks away. It can be delivered by bike or even by foot."
For more information about Garden to Table, visit www.garden2table.org.
UNCORKED CLASS: It's probably a safe bet that many people who enjoy drinking wine don't have a clue about tasting it or pairing it with food (and to be honest, most of them are probably just fine without that knowledge).
But those looking to acquire such skills might want to venture coastside to join Valeta and T.J. Rodgers at their Half Moon Bay Wine and Cheese Co. on April 5 for the release party of Clos de la Tech's 2009 vintage. The event, which runs from 2 to 5 p.m., will feature five pinot noirs that'll be paired with cheese and meat.
As if that isn't enough to draw in wine fans, there'll be a drawing for a giant 3-liter bottle of the coveted Domaine du Docteur Rodgers, with proceeds benefiting Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. It's not the biggest shop in the world, so I'd recommend RSVPing early at https://closdelatech2009vintageparty.eventbrite.com.
RUNNING START: It's great to see so many tech companies -- Microsoft and SGI among them -- supporting the Spring Forward 5K/10K run in Mountain View on April 5. More than 1,000 runners and walkers from all over the valley are expected to come out to the inaugural event, which will bolster Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County's efforts to end poverty in the region.
"We are really thrilled to see the tech community jump into this type of event and join us in fighting poverty in Silicon Valley," said Blach Construction CEO Mike Blach, who's on the Catholic Charities board.
There's still time, of course, to register for the event, which starts at Microsoft's Mountain View campus and ends at Shoreline Amphitheatre (which isn't as far as it seems when you're stuck in post-concert traffic). Get more information at http://springforward5k10k.com.
FOODIE'S DELIGHT: More than a dozen of Silicon Valley's top chefs will be taking part in "Star Chefs and the Wines and Spirits They Love," an April 13 event at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View to benefit Child Advocates of Silicon Valley.
The chefs -- including Josiah Slone of Sent Sovi, Philipe Breneman of Lexington House, Jeff Fitzgerald of Dio Deka, Ross Hanson of Oak & Rye, Nanci Wokas of Hewlett-Packard and Justin Perez of Justin's Restaurant -- will staff stations and they'll be providing samples of some of their dishes. Of course, there'll be some great California wines to go with that, too.
And it's all for a great cause. Child Advocates is a nonprofit that matches foster children with volunteer court-appointed advocates who provide important educational and emotional support and make sure the child's voice is heard while navigating the court dependency system.
Tickets are available for $150 a person at http://casvstarchefs.com.
SIX-LEGGED SNACKS: If you're going to Wednesday's opening night for San Jose Rep's new show, "Game On," you might want to arrive before the 7:30 p.m. curtain -- especially if you're an adventurous eater.
Don Bugito, a San Francisco-based street-food project that serves up edible insects, will be on hand with samples of chocolate-covered crickets, superworms of the spicy and chocolate-covered variety and chile-lime crickets. And the traditional Afters! post-show party will include toffee-flavored mealworms with vanilla ice cream.
The Silicon Valley-flavored show is actually about baseball and not beetles. Which is why San Jose Giants mascot Gigante, that great orange ape, will be greeting patrons opening night, too, starting at 6:30. Hopefully, he doesn't scarf down too many bugs.