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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Aquaponics: The Brighter, Greener Food System at The Perennial

Posted By on Thu, Nov 13, 2014 at 11:07 AM

click to enlarge Red-veined lemon sorrel from Viridis, an aquaponic farm in Watsonville. Green in more ways than one. - OMAR MAMOON
  • Omar Mamoon
  • Red-veined lemon sorrel from Viridis, an aquaponic farm in Watsonville. Green in more ways than one.

When it opens in mid-Market in early 2015, The Perennial will be a restaurant whose mission is to serve delicious food while being as sustainable and green as possible. It sounds San Francisco enough, but in a world of increasing CO2 gas emissions and in a state in the state of drought, it’s more important than ever that everyone does their part to lower their environmental impact.

The team at The Perennial's helm is husband-and-wife restaurateurs and authors Anthony Myint and Karen Leibowitz, founders of Mission Chinese Food. The duo is raising the bar for restaurant environmentalism by building an aquaponic greenhouse in Oakland where food scraps from the kitchen will be turned into fresh, organic ingredients for the restaurant. Learn more details about this closed-loop process in their Kickstarter video, which is raising money for their ambitious goal.

Compared to traditional soil-based farming, an aquaponic greenhouse uses one-tenth of the water and produces increased crop rotations and yields. If successful, the model could be replicated and adopted by other restaurants around the world.

On the food front, Myint and Leibowitz have enlisted the help of Chris Kuyuna, who formerly cooked at Coi and most recently trained at NOMA in Copenhagen (the guy knows his veggies, to say at the least). The team hosted an educational event at Nomiku’s HQ in The Mission on Monday night in where they previewed some bites composed from vegetables grown from Viridis Aquaponics in Watsonville (who is also helping build the aquaponics facility in Oakland). Though sturdier and firmer in texture, the greens were indistinguishable in taste from those at a farmers market, which is obviously a good thing given California's bounty of fresh and delicious produce.  

Perhaps most intriguing about aquaponic farming is the prospect that locally grown produce could be available year-round. Since vegetables are grown in a controlled greenhouse environment, we could have fresh, delicious, and pesticide-free tomatoes all year, even during winter when they're out of season. Panzella in December? I'm into that. 

click to enlarge Lamb neck braised in preserved tomatoes, serranos, and mirin. Served with charred radicchio and chicories from Viridis, along with pomegranate seeds and pickled walnuts. - OMAR MAMOON
  • Omar Mamoon
  • Lamb neck braised in preserved tomatoes, serranos, and mirin. Served with charred radicchio and chicories from Viridis, along with pomegranate seeds and pickled walnuts.



click to enlarge Oil-poached trout served on a rye crisp with a leek/jalapeno puree and topped with micro-basil from Viridis. - OMAR MAMOON
  • Omar Mamoon
  • Oil-poached trout served on a rye crisp with a leek/jalapeno puree and topped with micro-basil from Viridis.

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Omar Mamoon

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