Ode to Canelé

There would be no Farm to Curb without Canelé, Corina Wiebel’s much-missed restaurant in Atwater. Everyone at Farm to Curb shares some of this beloved restaurant’s lineage. And since Corina, the matriarch, has returned from Sicily for a visit, we built this week’s menu around some of our favorite Canelé dishes. 

Canelé was clearly Corina’s vision, but she graciously shared the stage with so many folks passing through, green cooks and chefs waiting for their own restaurants to open. She even invited friends to serve their food out of her kitchen. You couldn’t dine there without some sort of dinner theater provided by the wide-open kitchen, with a range of characters so unexpected and entertaining. Several of whom are now the backbone of our Farm to Curb operation. 

Canelé was a restaurant driven by ideals. The overflowing compost bins, the trips to local farms, the living wages, and the bussers who became waiters, made me realize that cooking could be a noble profession. Corina’s food was full of the same integrity and authenticity, and this week’s offerings are an ode to just that. 

Channel the Corina in you. Make something that appeals to you deeply. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It might not be easy. But it shall not be compromised. Perhaps some of our Canelé-inspired fare can help you get there.

Corina’s making a batch of her famous harissa. It was the first prepared food we offered with our produce boxes. Spread it on a Bubb and Grandma’s jumbo baguette. Or braise some Sonoma lamb shanks, stir some harissa into the braising liquid, and serve it with our chickpeas a la Canelé over some couscous with Valbreso feta crumbled on top. 

We’re also making boeuf bourguignon…  tender, winey prime beef with roasted mushrooms, pearl onions, and bacon lardons. To serve it a la Canelé, we’ve got pappardelle pasta for sale as well.

My kids learned to love duck confit, chicken liver and squid ink at Canelé, but they almost always ordered the pancetta-pistachio pasta: spaghetti with morsels of chewy pancetta and sweet pounded pistachios bound with creamy parmesan and finished with bread crumbs. To recreate it at home, we have Molinari pancetta, Santa Barbara pistachios, parmesan Cravero and rustichella spaghetti, and we’ll share the recipe. 

I almost always ordered the branzino, which Corina baked whole in salt. We are selling branzino filets and large caper berries, and putting celery, red onion and parsley in the box for you to recreate the crisp, biting salad that was always piled high on the fish. 

We also have whole free range chickens and Peads and Barnetts pork chops, which were also staples on the Canelé menu, although their sets changed with the season. At some point both of them were prepared with harissa. And we’re making a batch of Canelé’s crème fraîche dressing that was always tossed with Coleman lettuces and fine herbs. 

To finish off your meal, we have wine poached prunes and Gioia’s mascarpone. This pair makes a simple and elegant dessert. At Canelé, we served them alongside our french toast which you could make quickly with Proof’s brioche loaf or Bubb and Grandma’s jumbo baguette soaked overnight.

And if you’re lucky, we might just have a basket of canelé this week at pick up.