Sunday, January 13, 2008

(San Francisco) Bay Leaves

I just learned last night on a hilarious episode of the cult classic PBS program "California's Gold," that what we call California Bay Laurel is the same tree as the one called Myrtlewood in Oregon - those contrary Oregonians just wanted to distinguish themselves from the decadent Californians.

When I was young and had no money, I used to pick and dry these California Bay Laurel leaves, stuff them into empty spice bottles, make decorative handmade labels, and give them as Christmas presents to everyone on my list.

I was reminded of these a week or so ago when we were driving my wine-loving brother and his lovely wife to a winery on the Oakville Grade between Napa and Sonoma valleys. There, alongside the road, were growing bay trees so we stopped to collect some and dry them for the DC relatives to take home with them.

If you haven't tried this local version of the classic bay leaf in cooking, get a good field guide and go hunting! You'll know you have the right tree when you crinkle the leaf in your fingers to release the tangy aroma. They are delicious and easy to dry. Just clip the twigs and leave them out on a counter in a shaded location and wait a week or so. In the meantime, they look great decorating a bowl of fruit. Once they are dry, store them in baggies or bottles out of direct sunlight for some truly local flavor.


6 Comments:

Anonymous MRs. L said...

Are you serious about the Myrtlewood? I lived in Oregon for two years as a kid and we used to go to the local Myrtlewood shop to buy things. Had no idea!

Sunday, January 13, 2008  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Mrs. I, I was surprised, too, as I had never heard that but two pretty knowledgeable Humboldt State profs said it, so it must be true. You're right, Oregon makes a lot of items out of myrtlewood, as well as out of burl.

Sunday, January 13, 2008  
Blogger Rev. Biggles said...

Cool! Yes, these little leaves piqued my interest as well. The first post was my little introduction to the beasts and the second one is a little more interesting.

http://www.cyberbilly.com/meathenge/archives/001149.html

And don't miss this one:

http://www.cyberbilly.com/meathenge/archives/001164.html

xo, Biggles

Tuesday, January 15, 2008  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Hey, Rev, could you possibly re-type those links, cutting them into shorter lengths - Blogger cut off the last part so I can't read them and I really, really want to! Or at least give me the month and year so I can go search your archives... Thanks!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008  
Blogger Rev. Biggles said...

Dang, if I make them shorter, they don't work.

Up until today, you should be able to cut and paste. I did it just now using Opera, Mozilla and IE, works fine. But that's not a sure fire way.

Give me a day and I'll figure out some way of sending you a URL. I think there's an online dealy, tinyurl that can compress it. Odd though, in 4.5 years this is the first time one couldn't get in to meathenge with a url supplied. I'll figger it out, times they are a changin'.

xo

Tuesday, January 15, 2008  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Biggles, okay, thanks - but if you can't figure it out, if you shorten them, I can cut and paste that into a search window, then rearrange them to look good to the computer, and get there as long as I have all the digits to put in. Or, tell me the month and year and I can scroll your archives. Merci beaucoup

Tuesday, January 15, 2008  

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