ARThound

Geneva Anderson digs into art

Thistle Meats, downtown Petaluma’s new butcher shop and charcuterie, has opened

Thistle Meats is downtown Petaluma’s new butcher shop.  Co-owner Molly Best took some off Saturday afternoon and stepped outside her bustling shop to greet Jackson with one of Thistle’s sidelines—delectable grass fed liver treats for dogs.  $2.50 per pound.  Pawsome!  Photo: Geneva Anderson

Thistle Meats is downtown Petaluma’s new artisan butcher shop. Co-owner Molly Best took some off Saturday afternoon and stepped outside her bustling shop to greet Jackson with one of Thistle’s sidelines—delectable grass-fed liver treats for dogs. $2.50 per pound. Pawsome! Photo: Geneva Anderson

When I started ARThound four years ago, I said I’d be a hound for art, digging up stories and sniffing out the details.  On Saturday, Jackson, my Rhodesian Ridgeback—the better half of ARThound— scooped me while we were out walking.  Excitedly, he guided me to downtown Petaluma’s new boutique butcher, Thistle Meats, 160 Petaluma Blvd, marked by a life-sized white pig.  It was love at first whiff.  Forced to wait outside while Petalumans entered freely, Jackson uttered a tortured groan and locked busy co-owner Molly Best in a soulful stare.  It worked!  She stepped out to greet him personally with a dried grass fed liver treat that forever put her on his map.  As we left, Jackson did the equivalent of a hound tweet….soon a fetching another ridgeback, Daisy, turned up with her owners and so did an enthusiastic yellow lab, Gunner.  A droolfest for Molly Best!

I’d heard all about Thistle for months—proprietors Molly Best and Lisa Mickley Modica have been on the radar with the arts community due to Molly’s artsy background.  A few years back, when I was covering Cornerstone Sonoma, I discovered her shearing a sheep in a promo clip for the short film, “The Shepherd & the Dollmaker,” about the collaboration between Sonoma’s artists and farmers.  She’s also the grown daughter of local sculptor David Best (art cars and ephemeral temples).  Recently, I was struck by Paige Green’s photograph of Molly and Lisa, accompanying Inside Scoop SF’s update on Thistle—two beaming, talented, and determined women honing a great idea.

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Lisa Mickley Modica has a background in land conservation and small business and non-profit management.  She was introduced to Best through mutual friends in the community and they both have children who are close in age.  “I knew immediately that we would hit it off,” said Modica.  “I really wanted to start something that was central to our community and to bridge that gap between downtown Petaluma and what we’re surrounded by, which is this beautiful agriculture, and our ability to experience it first-hand. Teaming up with Molly was a natural progression from that.”   Thistle Meats, a whole animal butchery—with three butchers on staff—strives to celebrate Petaluma’s local bounty by offering really good locally raised meats from farms and ranchers that Molly and Lisa have selected for their quality.  Thistle will also offer a charcuterie program with a range of unique pates, salumi, terrines and other cured meats as well as local produce and eggs and prepared foods.  The process is incremental, taking time to do it right with an appreciation for traditional methods and flavors and banking on culinary-minded Petaluma following suit.

ARThound is on board—it’s high time that downtown Petaluma balance itself out…how many more upscale thrift and furniture stores do we need?  The small shop has a great clean minimalist vibe to it…white tile walls, expansive glass cases showcasing fresh cuts of meat and poultry, and all the tools of the trade on display.  There’s a gorgeous antique bronze bull head on the wall at the front of the shop…refinished by sculptor David Best who is also responsible for the gifting the pig outdoors, which had been in the family for some time.  “The pig landed in our laps and we just love the character it adds,” said Modica.

Atriaux is one of Thistle Meats’ artisan delicacies.  A rich combination of roughly equal parts of pork, liver, and heart, the mix is wrapped in lacey caul fat—the thin membrane of fat that covers the intestines of pig, cow or sheep—this helps it retain its shape and imparts flavor as is melts into the meat when cooked.  Photo: Geneva Anderson

Atriaux is one of Thistle Meats’ artisan delicacies. A rich combination of roughly equal parts of pork, liver, and heart, the mix is wrapped in lacey caul fat—the thin membrane of fat that covers the intestines of pig, cow or sheep—this helps it retain its shape and imparts flavor as is melts into the meat when cooked. Photo: Geneva Anderson

Business was hopping when I popped in on Saturday afternoon.  An attention grabber was the Atriaux, a gorgeous and traditional Old World delicacy, a 35-32-33 combo of pork, liver, and heart, wrapped in caul fat, a striated lacey fat membrane, resembling fancy stockings, that holds the intestinal lining together.  Chef butcher John Richter, who was working the counter on Saturday, told me that he had started the day with a huge double-stacked platter and, by late afternoon, had just a few patties left.  “It’s just amazing stuff,” he boasted.   I bought a plump one (total cost $2.76) and went home and grilled it and served it with sautéed mushrooms and a wine reduction sauce, all over a bed of greens…yummm.

Knowing full well that both women had been working non-stop for weeks to get Thistle launched, I jokingly asked Modica if they both planned to work in the shop all the time.  She let out a frenzied groan, “Let’s say we are still exploring how to do that in a healthy way.”

Details:  Thistle Meats is located at 160 Petaluma Blvd, see the life-sized white pig.   Hours: Monday –Saturday 10 to 7 and Sunday 11 to 4.  Phone: 707 772-5442.  Not much detail on their webpage yet but visit their Facebook page for the latest updates and specials https://www.facebook.com/thistlemeats

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March 3, 2014 Posted by | Food | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Late Show Gardens, at Cornerstone Sonoma, leading gardeners and artists tackle climate change and sustainability, September 18-20, 2009

The Late Show Gardens Announcement banner

This weekend I’ll be attending a new type of garden show at Cornerstone Sonoma which says it’s putting issues of climate change, drought, sustainable practices, and renewable resources at the forefront.  I hope so.  Just as “green” is a golden catch-phrase, many garden shows also now use terms like “climate change” and “gobal warming”  to attract  those of us who are concerned about the environment and our planet’s future but then pack their booths with wares that don’t match their message.  “The Late Show Gardens” promises to be something different, something serious, and I’m excited.  The show is the brainchild of Marin residents Robin Parer of Geraniaceae Nursery and Pam Scott, former head of the Marin County Master Gardeners and is thoughtfully planned in early fall, a key planting time for our Mediterranean climate.  More than 15 innovative and socially responsible garden designs by local and internationally renowned designers will be featured as well as a panel of internationally prominent speakers, a few of whom are experts on climate change.  

Among the noted speakers on the three-day program are environmental artist/designer Topher Delaney, ornamental grass wizard John Greenlee and the editor of Pacific Horticulture magazine, Richard Turner.  Appropriately, the show will open on Friday morning with Patricia Glick’s lecture “The Gardener’s Guide to Global Warming: Challenges and Solutions” which will focus on climate change in Northern, CA.  Glick is the National Wildlife Federation’s Senior Global Warming Specialist and has worked on the issue of climate change for nearly 20 years.  Later on Friday, San Francisco-based journalist Mark Hertsgaard, who has covered climate change globally for the past 20 years, and has a reputation as a solid watchdog for global warming policy, will give a talk “Gardening Under Global Warming,” exploring how global warming will alter weather and growing patterns world wide over the coming years.  Hertsgarrd’s most recent piece “Shades of Green” for The Nation explored the Waxman-Markey climate change bill.  

“The Late Show” also promises to entertain us with thought-provoking garden displays that will prod us to consider gardens designed around the use of art, creative landscaping and sound installation—which do not require the use of water.   Peter Munder Good, Liz Einwiller, Adam Greenspan and Sarah Kuehl have collaborated to create “Grow Melt,” billed as a global warming demo–a wall of ice that is 6 feet high, 20 feet long and 10 inches thick that will thaw as “The Late Show” progresses.  We can watch the effects of ice-melting on various plants in the environment they’ve created. 

 Beth Mullins of Growsgreen Landscape Design will exhibit her award winning garden from the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show.  Mullins created “Over Growth” for “The Late Show Gardens” which thematically addresses the need to upset established order and systems before it is too late.   Stephen Glassman, known for his innovative use of bamboo, has created a huge ship, a Noah’s ark?? of sculpted bamboo, that is set back in a revene of wild grasses.

Monica Viarengo calls her garden path, “Black Soil,” a spiritual and moral call that is a reflection on climate.  Black is the color of fossil fuels but it is also the symbol of nobility, ambiguity and secrecy.  Black is actually “achromatic,” being the sum of all colors.

Shirley Alexandra Watt’s “Garden of Mouthings” is a response to declining bee populations, celebrating honey bees as well as the 4000 bee species native to the US, of which 1600 species are found in CA. Watts collaborated with bee expert Jaime Pawelek, CCAC faculty and architect Andrew Kudless and builder Ross Craig to put together an environment that combines a honeycomb structure, a sound installation based on a Sylvia Plath poem, and bee-friendly plants.  

Hugh Livingston is a Oakland-based composer, noted cellist, and garden “soundscape” designer.  He activates environments with innovative sound compositions that soften traffic and background noise and accentuate the natural environment and are delivered through sound generators that are also artworks.  He has teamed with sculptor Philip Livingston, his father, to create “Garden Party.”  Life-size human cut-outs imitate the experience of a garden gala, with a flow of conversation and music.  Visitors will be encouraged to join the party and will be handed parasols with which they can stroll the garden.  And, at this party, the tomato cages will talk!  

It all sounds wonderful and timely, especially the important emphasis on offering real solutions to the issues that threaten our environment.  The press release for the event promises a setting where “world-class minds will come together in one place and present resource-saving ideas helping to improve our impact on the earth.”  

“The Late Show Gardens” is a registered 501 (c) 3 non-profit and the proceeds of the event will be used to support the Trust for Public Land and The Garden Conservancy.  Visitors will also be able to purchase plants and unique items reflecting the show’s theme.

September 17, 2009 Posted by | Art | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment