Corte Madera chef Aryan Abbassi of Novato-based Ariana’s Cuisine has built a loyal following of health-conscious customers over the past six years, many of whom return to local farmers markets each week to stock up on her nourishing soups and sauces.
More recently, she’s added a fan base that came by surprise.
“When I first started my business, my best customers were always the ones with kids who, from 6 months on, would devour the sample cups of my soups,” says Abbassi about visitors to her booth at the farmers market on Saturdays at Marin Country Mart in Larkspur and at the Sunday Marin Farmers Market at the Civic Center in San Rafael. “It became a little party around the table.”
When parents continued to request that she expand her line, Abbassi responded by creating Ariana’s Baby Cuisine and applying the same high-quality standards and protocols that she does with her regular line.
“I’m OCD even with my adult products,” says Abbassi about using clean, organic ingredients. With the ultra-local line of fresh, nutrient-dense, first-time solid foods, she slowly studies one ingredient at a time.
“I personally make each product with the highest quality of handpicked – literally by me – organic and sustainably raised and grown ingredients,” she says. “I am proud to say that each week, many of my products come from the vendors at the farmers markets. The growers and the bounty of each season are my additional source of inspiration. “
The formulations target three growing stages. The stage-one foods, medium to thick purees made from a single organic ingredient with a touch of lemon juice as a natural preservative, help to determine a baby’s likes and dislikes and discover any potential food allergies.
One or two additional ingredients are added in stage two that highlights seasonal organic fruits and vegetables, and has a thicker consistency. And stage three is a soft and chunky baby version of Abbassi’s adult soups that contain a blend of organic ingredients like butternut squash or roasted sweet potato in a nutritious beef or chicken bone broth base and a spice like turmeric and cumin.
Her intention is to give parents an opportunity to offer different types of nutrition – protein, greens, fruit, etc. – that they can pull from the freezer for immediate use, like roasted broccoli or sweet English pea purees. These also make a healthful dip for cooked veggies or pasta sauce for older kids.
Baby foods are freshly made and packed just prior to pick up in FDA-approved, BPA-free 32-ounce containers ($ 22). The first order comes with a free silicon baby food freezing tray. Spoon in baby foods, freeze and transfer cubes to storage bags for up to four months.
Abbassi says new parents and their babies aren’t the only ones who have shown a keen interest in her newest line.
“I have a whole unintended group of customers,” she says. “Almost half of my sales have been to customers who are buying for their senior parents or relatives who have seriously restricted diets and need extremely nutrient-dense foods. Another small group buys for relatives who are going through chemo treatment and don’t have an appetite for complex flavors, but need simple, highly nutritious meals. “
Abbassi is a law school graduate who worked as a senior litigation paralegal in San Francisco for more than 15 years before attending culinary school. She then worked in restaurants including Epic Roadhouse in San Francisco and the former Brick & Bottle in Corte Madera and credits one chef along the way as teaching her “never to prepare any given product short of absolute perfection and never to accept anything short of absolute perfection from anyone in a kitchen. “
“I am a very lucky woman,” she says. “Not too many people think of their work as an opportunity to do what they really love for the people they love. This is the bright side of still being a very small business. “
Place orders by calling or texting 415-505-3023 before 6 pm Tuesdays for pickup from 9 am to 2 pm Saturdays at the Marin Country Mart Farmers Market at 2257 Larkspur Landing Circle or from 8 am to 1 pm at the Sunday Marin Farmers Market at 3501 Civic Center Drive in San Rafael.
Find more about Ariana’s Baby Cuisine and the current weekly menu at arianascuisineofmarin.com.
Saltwater restaurant in Inverness is providing opportunities for visitors to not only indulge on its locally harvested and renowned oysters, but also learn everything they’d likely want to know about sourcing, pricing, varieties, seasonality, aqua terroir, storing, wine pairing and shucking with its oyster seminars.
A sit-down dinner with wine pairings completes the educational experience that can be arranged on-site at the restaurant or at an off-site location for a private party or corporate event.
The restaurant is open for lunch from noon to 4 pm Fridays and Saturdays (no reservations), and for a single seating, four-course prix fixe dinner at 6:30 to 8 pm ($ 95 for food, tax and gratuity) for which pre -paid bookings are available. Or visit for lunch from noon to 4 pm or dinner from 5 to 7 pm Sundays (no reservations).
The team is hoping to expand hours in the spring and summer. Go to saltwateroysterdepot.com or follow on Instagram @saltwaterdepot for updates, or make dining reservations or oyster seminar inquiries on the website or by calling 415-669-1244.
Slide Ranch above Muir Beach is ready to welcome visitors back for itsSpring Fling after a two-year pandemic hiatus. Between 10 am and 4 pm April 30, milk goats, feed chickens, meet baby animals, tour the garden and make cheese or granola at the nonprofit teaching farm above the Pacific Ocean.
The fundraising event also features live music, local organic food, a live sheep shearing demo and craft activities for all ages.
Search for Slide Ranch at eventbrite.com to purchase tickets. Admission is $ 35 in advance, $ 45 at the gate. Children 2 years and younger enter for free.
Slide Ranch is at 2025 Shoreline Highway in Muir Beach. For more about the mission of Slide Ranch and its programming, go to slideranch.org or contact at 415-381-6155.
Leanne Battelle is a freelance food writer and restaurant columnist. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org with news and recommendations and follow on Instagram @therealdealmarin for more on local food and updates on the launch of The Real Deal Marin restaurant guide.