Recipe courtesy Chef Chris Kobayashi, Artisan
The farm-to-table philosophy has taken seed throughout California, but few take it to heart with the same gusto as the family behind Paso Robles’ standout eatery, Artisan. Not only does chef and co-owner Chris Kobayashi maintain close ties with local farmers, ranchers and artisanal producers, his wine director/spouse, Shandi, dons dusty boots and overalls five days a week to tend their own plot of fertile soil at Five Dog Farm on the east side of nearby Templeton.
A few years back, the Kobayashis met the owners of Five Dog at the Paso Robles farmer’s market. Impressed with what Chris and Shandi did with their produce at Artisan, the owners offered the restaurateurs some of their unused acreage as well as the use of their tractor and well water. The Kobayashis hungrily snatched it up and have gone on to grow 100% organic broccoli, onions, tomatillos, and assorted lettuces, greens, squashes, tomatoes and herbs.
In nurturing their 450 plants, the Kobayashis and their pitchfork-wielding restaurant staffers have learned a great deal about what grows in the Central Valley microclimate. Fostering farm-fresh ingredients has upped their passion for doing justice to the region’s edible bounty and allows them to share details with patrons about everything on their plates.
Earlier this year, the Kobayashis moved their restaurant to a new, larger and more high-profile corner spot across the street from Paso Robles’s town square. But the move wasn’t about sizing up—the new space will seat the same number of people as the original. It was about designing a space custom-made for guests to get a succinct taste of what their eatery and their hometown is all about.
Outfitted with eclectic interiors featuring cork floors, reclaimed barn wood and a wall of farmhouse windows, it offers outdoor seating and an expanded bar serving culinary cocktails that, like Artisan’s entire menu, are produced using local fruits and vegetables. There’s no better spot for visitors looking for authentic regional flavor and flair.
Favorite Farm-to-Table Finds
Abalone: Employees visit The Abalone Farm in Cayucos to witness the abalone lifecycle from infancy to harvest. Artisan’s abalone tostada appetizer comes adorned with carnitas and avocado.
Honey: The Central Valley holds many beekeepers, including SLO newcomer The Humble Bumble and Stoltey’s Bee Farm in Atascadero. Plus, the uncle of one of Kobayashi’s line cooks is a beekeeper.
Olive Oil: Artisan prefers the French New World transplants at Olea Farm in Templeton for flavorful dressings and high smoke-point cooking oils.
Rabbit: A single-shingle operation, Paso’s Bella Sage Rabbitry provides meat that shows up in paella and as a pâté.
Mulberries: Likening their bright flavor to Fruit Loops, Kobayashi uses them for desserts and entrées with darker fowl like squab. They come from Paso’s Windrose Farms.
- ½ pound dry brown tepary beans (or any white bean)
- 1 onion, halved
- 1 carrot, halved
- 2 celery ribs, halved
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 2 sprigs each thyme, rosemary, oregano
- Salt and pepper to finish
- 1 poblano chili, roasted, seeded, peeled and diced
- ½ pint heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
- ¼ red onion, diced
- 1 ear corn, roasted and shucked
- 6 tablespoons vinaigrette
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- ½ cup lemon juice, fresh
- 3 lemons zested
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, microplaned
- 1 tablespoon coriander, toasted and ground
- 1 tablespoon cumin, toasted and ground
- Pinch cayenne pepper
Pick through the beans and discard any rocks or other foreign matter you may find. Rinse the beans thoroughly and soak in 2 quarts of water overnight. Drain the beans and reserve. Heat a six-quart dutch oven over high heat. Place the onion, cut side down, carrots, celery, garlic and olive oil in the pot. Char the vegetables until they become blistered and deeply caramelized.
Deglaze with white wine. Reduce by half then add the beans and chicken stock. Bring to a boil then set to simmer. Simmer beans stirring occasionally for 2 hours or until cooked through. When the beans are cooked, drain and season with salt and pepper and cool to room temp.
Mix vinaigrette ingredients together in a bowl. Reserve. Place bean mixture, vinaigrette and remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl and toss. Season mixture with salt and pepper. Let sit for an hour. Add extra vinaigrette to taste and serve. Serves 6.