KQED Food Blog: Bay Area Bites: Ze'ev Vered's Garden
Bay Area Bites: culinary rants & raves from bay area foodies and professionals
Previous Posts
The Mother of All Cooking Shows
Beach Blanket Picnics
Melissa's Great Book of Produce
Chocolate Adventure Recipe Contest
Slideluckpotshow in San Francisco!
"Grilling" Fish Inside Your Kitchen
The Old Clam House
Luh-Luh-Luh-Laiola
Cook by the Book: Impress for Less!
Mariquita Farm Mystery Box
 
 
BAB Guidelines

'Bay Area Bites' is part of KQED's Blog Authors Collaborative. Blog contributors and commentators are solely responsible for their content. If you're interested in writing or contributing to a blog on kqed.org, email us with your idea.
 
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Ze'ev Vered's Garden


The pot of chives was waiting for me in Moraga. Little did I know there was an entire afternoon of wonder in store for me when I went to pick it up.

With just his hands, a shovel and a wheelbarrow, 79-year old Ze'ev Vered has shaped seven terraces of gardens and orchards. Trees bearing pistachio, quince and pomegranate push up against the golden hills. A 6-foot cyclone fence that encircles his garden, to deter the insistent deer, has long been covered with the rambling vines of eight different varieties of grapes. The paths between each hand-weeded bed switch back several times, a steep trail that leads from one beautiful, delicious plant to another.



Raised on an Israeli farm and then trained in forestry, Vered landed four decades ago in the Bay Area. He settled into insurance work to help raise his family, but much of his free time was spent building up his garden and cooking -- he handled all the savory food while his wife took care of the sweets. When he retired, Vered finally launched a business that expressed his passion: Herb Gardens by Ze'ev. He specializes in culinary herbs, helping his customers grow unique gardens that reflect their favorite cuisines, from my little chive pot to complex, professionally tended installations.



Vered treated me to a lunch: Salad Caprese with his own sun-warmed tomatoes and a lovely barley soup made from the herb-stuffed carcass of a spit-roasted turkey. After I'd had enough to eat, he walked me slowly through his garden.

Here are some highlights from my amazing tour, sprinkled lightly with Vered's salty jokes and stories:


After many years, Vered has perfected his own secret blend of soil. For example, powdered dolomite lime sweetens the mix to provide the basic pH that culinary herbs prefer.


Whenever his wife and he traveled to Mexico, they'd bring back a few pots. If you find one you like, he'll sell it to you.


Vered sequesters his newly potted plants inside wire cages for a week to protect them from squirrels, who love to dig up the plants. His plants all have well-established root systems, and as soon as you get your herb pot home, you can begin harvesting and cooking.

At one of his lectures, a skeptic kept asking Vered, "Are you sure that your plants are organic?" He answered patiently until the third time, when he couldn't help adding, "Yes, these plants are organic. And not only that, they're orgasmic -- I get a real charge out of growing them!"


Welcoming visitors at the entrance to his herb garden are pots of low-spreading, tiny-leafed Corsican mint.


The herb invites you to caress its velvety surface and then imbues your hand with its fresh, summery perfume. Someday, I'm going to have a garden path with Corsican mint growing in the cracks between stones.


The leaves of this slightly bronzed peppermint has a sharp flavor that lingers long. I could feel its menthol in my sinuses.


Spearmint has a softer, rounder flavor. Growing in this large patch is what Vered calls "Safeway mint."

A much-lauded celebrity chef, who will here remain nameless, needed fresh mint for his cooking show. Vered gets a call from the chef's assistant. "What kind of mint does he need?" Vered asks, referring to the many varieties he grows. A pause on the phone. "You know, the Safeway kind."


Three sages hold court along his retaining wall.


For the first time, I came face to face with a fresh caper. If you don't pick and pickle the small bud, it opens into a beautiful white and pink-tinged blossom.


Recently planted caper bushes that Vered hopes will soon cascade down part of his hillside.


Enough horseradish to feed a small village. Vered likes using its leaves in salads before pulling up their roots and bottling his own sauces.


Mediterranean bay, known as true laurel, has a sweeter, less harsh flavor than California bay. Here, small plants spring up from a potted tree's crown roots.


Tomatoes grow two levels down from his fruit and nut trees. Asked if he shares his fruits and vegetables with his neighbors, Vered says "Back when they used to be nice to me!"


Golden quince with their soft, delicate fuzz.

At the top of one hill, just past the plum and pistachio trees, Vered placed a bench in the shade of grape vines. He can sit and gaze across the valley. I asked him if he sat here with his wife, while she was still alive, and he smiled mischievously. "Oh yes...and sometimes we held hands."


Pistachio nuts just beginning to blush.


Over the next several months, this tiny bud will flower, fruit and ripen into a juicy pomegranate.


Vered grows a rare variety of Asian pear, the only sand pear that resembles its European cousin in shape.

Vered picked some tomatoes and plums for me to take home, and then asked if I wanted to taste some of his green tomato pickles. Uh, yes, I LOVE green tomato pickles!


The tiny, still green cherry tomatoes are tart, a nice pick-me-up after the hot afternoon sun. They're preserved in his own special brine.

To a colleague who asks for the recipe to his kosher dill pickles: "Well, first you cut the tip off each little cucumber...."

Herb Gardens by Ze'ev
Ze'ev Vered, M.S.
(510) 631-0199 (925)631-0199
P.O. Box 6486
Moraga, CA 94570

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

 
 

4 Comments:

Blogger shuna fish lydon said...

Thy,

What I adore about this post, and many others you write, is that I feel like I have been given a glimpse into a Bay Area treasure I may never have found out otherwise.

This one is another lovely example of what you not only love about the Bay Area, but are more than willing to share with any and all who have the time to roll down the rabbit hole with you.

:: thank you so much ::

8/19/2007 11:04 PM

 
Blogger wendygee said...

Beautiful photos! and great captions to go along with them. Sounds like an amazing visit...a great resource...an interesting character...

8/20/2007 12:27 PM

 
Blogger Jim said...

Beautiful! I am so inspired. I want a garden path with Corsican mint too.

Thank you for taking the time to put together such a wonderful post.

8/23/2007 11:15 AM

 
Anonymous Tamar Vered said...

Excellent portrayal of Ze'ev, who also happens to be my father. I might add that as well as he has tended to his herbs and gardens, he has managed to even surpass that in his skills as a father. Thank you for such a terrific article on my Dad. The pictures are equally as amazing. His phone number has changed to (925)631-0199. Please note the new area code.

8/26/2007 8:50 PM

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Locate CP Restaurants:
Check, Please! Google Map
 
KQED Food Sites
Check, Please! Bay Area
Jacques Pépin Celebrates!
Jacques Pépin:
Fast Food My Way
Jacques Pépin:
The Apprentice
Jacques Pépin:
The Complete Pépin
KQED Wine Club
KQED.org Cooking
Weir Cooking in the City
 
Tasty Food Sites
CHOW
Chowhound SF
Crushpad
CUESA
CulinaryCorps
Eat Local Challenge
Edible San Francisco
Epicurious
eGullet.org
Food Network
Food Talk
Group Recipes
Hungry Magazine
KTEH Food
Leite's Culinaria
Locavores
Mighty Foods
NPR: Food
Om Organics
Serious Eats
SFGate: Food
SFGate: Wine
SF Station: Restaurants
Slow Food SF
Top Chef
Wikimedia Commons: Food & Drink
Yahoo! Food
Yelp: Reviews
 
Tangy Food Blogs
101 Cookbooks
A Full Belly
Accidental Hedonist
agoodfoodblog
An Obsession with Food
Anna's Cool Finds
Becks & Posh
Between Meals
Blogsoop
Bunny Foot
Butter Pig
Cellar Rat
Chez Pim
Chocolate & Zucchini
Confessions of a
Restaurant Whore
Cooking For Engineers
Cooking with Amy
Cucina Testa Rossa
Culinary Muse
Denise's Kitchen
Digesty-SF
Eater SF
Eggbeater
Extramsg.com
Feed & Supply
Food Blog S'cool
Food Musings
Food Porn Watch
Gastronomie
Hedonia
I'm Mad and I Eat
In Praise of Sardines
Jatbar
Knife's Edge
Life Begins at 30
Love and Cooking
MeatHenge
Mental Masala
Moveable Feast
Nosheteria
Organic Day
Passionate Eater
San Francisco Gourmet
SF City Eats
Simply Recipes
Spicetart
The Amateur Gourmet
Tablehopper
The Ethicurean
The Food Section
The Grub Report
The Petite Pig
The Wine Makers Wife
Vin Divine
Vinography
VirgoBlue
Wandering Spoon
Well Fed Network
Word Eater
World on a Plate
Yummy Chow
 
 
   
Search BAB

Eye Candy: Food Photos
BAB on flickr.com
Join Flickr for free and share your photos with the Bay Area Bites and Beyond group pool.
 
Food Books
 
The Moosewood Cookbook
by Mollie Katzen
 
Baking: From My Home to Yours
by Dorie Greenspan
 
Grand Livre de Cuisine: Alain Ducasse's Desserts and Pastries
by Alain Ducasse, Frederic Robertmison
 
The Big Book of Outdoor Cooking and Entertaining
by Cheryl Alters Jamison, Bill Jamison
 
Tasty: Get Great Food on the Table Every Day
by Roy Finamore
 
Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way
by Lorna Sass
 
The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa
by Marcus Samuelsson
 
Michael Mina: The Cookbook
by Michael Mina, Photographer: Karl Petzktle
 
What to Eat
by Marion Nestle
 
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
by Michael Pollan
 
Essence of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate
by John Scharffenberger, Robert Steinberg
 
Romancing the Vine: Life, Love, and Transformation in the Vineyards of Barolo
by Alan Tardi
 
What to Drink with What You Eat: The Definitive Guide to Pairing Food with Wine, Beer, Spirits, Coffee, Tea -- Even Water -- Based on Expert Advice from America's Best Sommeliers
by Andrew Dornenburg, Karen Page, Michael Sofronski
 
The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-be Southerners
by Matt Lee, Ted Lee
 
Bread Matters: The State of Modern Bread and a Definitive Guide to Baking Your Own
by Andrew Whitley
 
Coloring the Seasons: A Cook's Guide
by Allegra McEvedy
 
All-new Complete Cooking Light Cookbook
by Anne C. Cain
 
Modern Garde Manger
by Robert B. Garlough
 
The Spice and Herb Bible
by Ian Hemphill, Kate Hemphill
 
The Improvisational Cook
by Sally Schneider
 
Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children
by Ann Cooper, Lisa M. Holmes
 
Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia
by James Oseland
 
My Life in France
by Julia Child, Alex Prud'Homme
 
A Passion for Ice Cream: 95 Recipes for Fabulous Desserts
by Emily Luchett, Sheri Giblin (photographer)
 
Au Pied De Cochon -- The Album
by Martin Picard
 
Memories of Philippine Kitchens
by Amy Besa, Romy Dorotan
 
Simple Chinese Cooking
by Kylie Kwong
 
 
An Invitation to Indian Cooking
by Madhur Jaffrey
 
Hungry Planet
by Peter Menzel, Faith D'Aluisio
 
Sunday Suppers at Lucques : Seasonal Recipes from Market to Table
by Suzanne Goin, Teri Gelber
 
Simple Soirees: Seasonal Menus for Sensational Dinner Parties
by Peggy Knickerbocker, Christopher Hirsheimer (Photographer)
 
The Cook's Book
by Jill Norman
 
Molto Italiano : 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home
by Mario Batali
 
Nobu Now
by Nobuyuki Matsuhisa
 
Cheese : A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Best
by Max Mccalman, David Gibbons
 
Bones : Recipes, History, and Lore
by Jennifer McLagan
 
Whiskey : The Definitive World Guide
by Michael Jackson
 
The New American Cooking
by Joan Nathan
 
ChocolateChocolate
by Lisa Yockelson
 
Easy Entertaining: Everything You Need to Know About Having Parties at Home
by Darina Allen
 
Cooking at De Gustibus: Celebrating 25 Years of Culinary Innovation
by Arlene Feltman Sailhac
 
Dough: Simple Contemporary Breads
by Richard Bertinet
 
Chocolate Obsession: Confections and Treats to Create and Savor
by Michael Recchiuti, Fran Gage, Maren Caruso
 
The Food Substitutions Bible: More Than 5,000 Substitutions for Ingredients, Equipment And Techniques
by David Joachim
 
Recipes: A Collection for the Modern Cook
by Susan Spungen
 
Spices of Life: Simple and Delicious Recipes for Great Health
by Nina Simonds
 
Mangoes & Curry Leaves: Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent
by Jeffrey Alford, Naomi Duguid
 
Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light
by Mort Rosenblum
 
Vegetable Love: A Book for Cooks
by Barbara Kafka, Christopher Styler
 
A History of Wine in America: From Prohibition to the Present
by Thomas Pinney
 
Fonda San Miguel: Thirty Years Of Food And Art
by Tom Gilliland, Miguel Ravago, Virginia B. Wood
 
Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South
by Marcie Cohen Ferris
 
Washoku: Recipes From The Japanese Home Kitchen
by Elizabeth Andoh, Leigh Beisch
 
 
Weir Cooking in the City: More than 125 Recipes and Inspiring Ideas for Relaxed Entertaining
by Joanne Weir
 
Rick Stein's Complete Seafood
by Rick Stein
 
The Great Scandinavian Baking Book
by Beatrice A. Ojakangas
 
Serena, Food & Stories: Feeding Friends Every Hour of the Day
by Serena Bass
 
John Ash: Cooking One on One: Private Lessons in Simple, Contemporary Food from a Master Teacher
by John Ash
 
The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook: Eating Well for Better Health
by Donald Hensrud, M.D., Jennifer Nelson, R.D. & Mayo Clinic Staff
 
Foods of the Americas: Native Recipes and Traditions
by Fernando and Marlene Divina
 
The Provence Cookbook
by Patricia Wells
 
Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World
by Gil Marks
 
Last Chance to Eat: The Fate of Taste in a Fast Food World
by Gina Mallet
 
Bouchon
by Thomas Keller
 
A Blessing of Bread: The Many Rich Traditions of Jewish Bread Baking Around the World
by Maggie Glezer
 
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
by Molly Stevens
 
On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
by Harold McGee
 
Entertaining: Inspired Menus For Cooking with Family and Friends
by George Dolese
 
The Breath of a Wok: Unlocking the Spirit of Chinese Wok Cooking Through Recipes and Lore
by Grace Young, Alan Richardson
 
Cooking New American: How to Cook the Food You Love to Eat
by Fine Cooking Magazine
 
The Japanese Kitchen: A Book of Essential Ingredients with 200 Authentic Recipes
by Kimiko Barber
 
Arthur Schwartz's New York City Food: An Opinionated History and More Than 100 Legendary Recipes
by Arthur Schwartz
 
Poet of the Appetites: The Lives and Loves of M.F.K. Fisher
by Joan Reardon
 
Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes
by Jeffrey Hamelman
 
Everyday Dining with Wine
by Andrea Immer
 
 
Copyright © 2005-2008 KQED. All rights reserved.