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Vertical Harvest

Cultivating Self-Sufficiency in Jackson Hole

An interview with architect Nona Yehia of Vertical Harvest Jackson Wyoming is best known for its upscale resorts and breathtaking Teton mountain backdrop. It’s a city that averages 38 feet of snowfall annually, with a short four-month growing season. A playground for skiers and outdoor enthusiasts it may be, for gardeners not so much. Thanks to the vision of architect Nona Yehia and her co-founder, Penny McBride, the two have transformed the way Jackson receives some of its vegetables. In a town that’s long been dependent on trucked-in produce, Vertical Harvest is a step in the direction of sustainability. Their innovative three-story greenhouse occupies a narrow 1/10th of an acre lot and turns out an astonishing 100,000 pounds of produce each year; that’s roughly the same yield as a conventionally farmed five-acre plot. And in doing so, Vertical Harvest provides jobs for the developmentally disabled, some of Jackson’s most vulnerable population. Christine Havens: What prompted you to start Vertical Harvest? Nona Yehia: “It’s funny, I never set out to be a vertical farmer. I’m an architect by trade, and I believe in the power of architecture to build community. I’ve always pushed the boundaries in design, I’ve always been engaged. It’s a labor of love,” she laughs and...

Pastry Chef Ron Mendoza at Aubergine

Art of the Macaron: Cooking Classes at Aubergine

It’s small. That was my first thought on entering the tidy, well-lit kitchen at Aubergine. I had attended an eight-course dinner there the month before, a sumptuous and innovative menu featuring white and black Alba truffles, expertly woven into each luxurious course. I knew what sort of magic could come from the belly of this modest space. It would be my first time meeting Executive Pastry Chef, Ron Mendoza, a lanky fellow with salt and pepper hair and the sort of thick, square-framed glasses hipsters wear. The Chef directed me to my spot, at which point, he poured me a glass of Champagne. At my workstation I found a folder with the recipe, a neatly folded apron, towels, an assortment of containers and a piping bag and tip. As he went through the instructions, I noticed the other students taking copious notes. Mendoza smiled while mentioning that his favorite part of teaching macarons was watching student attempts at piping. How hard could it be? It’s a cookie. I am, after all, trained as a classical artist, a sculptor, and a winemaker no less. I watched him pipe out an entire tray in what seemed like mere seconds, gracefully moving from one macaron to the next with the precision...

La Balena Cucina Toscana

La Balena Cucina Toscana & Foradori Fontanasanta

Dappled sunlight bathes La Balena’s patio in a warm and languid light, and, in spite of the fact that it’s mid-January here in Carmel, I’m regretting the jacket I’ve worn over my light cotton dress.  A nearby fountain with a salt-stained patina, seated in front of a hedge of flowering Bougainvillea, lends the atmosphere to a place that hardly requires further embellishment. We had with us, a chilled and golden-hued bottle of Foradori Fontanasanta Vigneti Delle Dolomiti Manzoni Bianco. My first encounter with this biodynamic producer would also be my first time sampling the aromatic Manzoni Bianco grape. A cross between Pinot Bianco and Riesling, Manzoni Bianco (or Incrocio Manzoni) is well-suited to the cooler climes of  the Veneto, Friuli, and Trentino-Alto Adige. All of these winegrowing regions are linked together by the rugged spine of Italy’s Limestone Alps, the Dolomites. Winemaker Elisabetta Foradori champions biodynamic methods of farming and uses a natural approach in the winery, including, as is evident here, extended maceration on the skins. 2012 is bursting with notes of unripened pear, alpine flowers, chamomile tea, dried herbs and a whiff of chalk dust. Medium-bodied, it boasts a lovely texture, fine intensity and saline-dusted mineral accents of granite and chalk....