Malibu Farm@the pier

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Malibu Farm at the Malibu Pier

Down the creaky pier planks and past the buckets of bait, with surfers to the North and paddle boarders to the South, and across from the tackle shop, Helene Henderson’s “Malibu Farm@ the pier” opened at the Malibu Pier on Friday morning, kicking off a hot Malibu Labor Day weekend.

Smart and spanking new, the cafe’s white clapboard boathouse appearance with its blue trimmed windows and potted lavendar plants, is simply charming. The cafe’s straightforward sign resembles a school house chalkboard with the welcoming words “Malibu Farm@the pier,” beckoning the discriminating aesthete, the curiously hungry and the stubborn foodie.  Inside, the steel-ship gray painted windowsills, solid wooden tables and zinc trimmed light fixtures, chairs and counters will warm the heart. Under a boathouse window, a bucket of loose flowers capture the morning light.  On an opposite wall hangs a seasoned handmade magazine “rack” made of corkscrew holes to keep a grip on rolled up local journals.  The interior and exterior of “Malibu Farm@the pier” is a visual natural as its blends into and complements the pier and Malibu’s casual lifestyle. Its style authentically hearkens a classically simple Swedish boathouse that yacht and fisherpersons, sailors and sea lubbers embrace. Surfers will dig it too.

The Scandinavian feel of the café and its menu cannot be left to coincidence, for it is in Sweden that Ms. Henderson spent much of her youth acquiring a keen understanding of food and its preparation while cooking and baking alongside her Swedish grandmother. Smart grandmother- for Ms. Henderson has a gift and if you don’t believe me, pick up a copy of “The Swedish Table,”(U. of MN Press, 2005), penned by Henderson herself. 

Henderson is something of a legend in Malibu, supported by a legion of “Malibu Farm” devotees, culinary students, mothers and children, husbands and friends. The plainspoken and outspoken have all have feasted on the hearty farm-to-table dishes made up of ingredients from Henderson’s backyard and crafted with her healthy and elegant know-how. Her varied cliental is a testimony to this chef’s cooking mantra of “fresh, organic, and local” and I’ll add: tasty, light, original, and satisfying. I am assured that Henderson’s commitment to good food will not be compromised by the canon of press and magnanimous public positioning her Malibu Farm warrants. She will stay loyal to the humility of her cooking style.

Now that Chef Henderson has brought in her son Casper Stockwell to secure the ranks —and serve up his special cocktail concoctions once dinner is introduced— one can’t help but delight in the possibilities the café will provide: breakfast, lunch, and eventually dinner! Fresh watermelon juice, quinoa oatmeal with maple syrup and coconut milk, Swedish mini pancakes with whipped cream and berries, crab cakes and capers aioli! Valkommen!

This column originally appeared on Alexis Deutsch-Adler’s blog, My Muse.