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Saturday, December 29, 2007

local, but far from home

We've been in Colorado this entire week, on the Western slope, to be exact.

I've been searching out local food stuffs and found a few interesting items.

  • Organic, local grape juice made at a winery nearby
  • Local (Southern Montana) wheat flour, ground in town
  • Lamb
Surprisingly, the lamb is hard to get.  To buy Colorado lamb, in Colorado (CO has the fifth largest sheep population in the US), you have to go to the last remaining butcher in town (Quality Meats) and special order.  You may ask, what's all the lamb in the grocery story.  I went to the biggest store in town and saw cryovac after cryovac of Icelandic lamb.  * sigh * 

Anyhow, the lamb made a delicious meal, even if all the sides were made with California vegetables.

Oh, and if you're ever on the Western Slope, look out for the Palisade Brewery IPA.  Pretty delicious stuff.  And I here that DeBeque Winery practices sustainable growing practices.  The gewurztraminer is nice, not great, but nice.

Back to sustainable Brooklyn, tomorrow....

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Cabbage ROCKS

yes, you heard me. if you buy a great, local cabbage and treat it with love - it's delicious.

today, i shredded a savoy cabbage. i took out garlic confit from the fridge.

in a cast iron pan, i sauteed the confit. then added the cabbage and a 1/2 cup of water. reduce heat and let cook for 1 hour.

it was sweet and slightly bitter. DELICIOUS and just 2 ingredients.

local winter beers ... not so good

Long a fan of Anchor Steam Christmas Ale, I thought, why not try the local winter seasonals. Winter seasonal is a loosely defined style that allows the brewer to add spices and herbs into a bottom-fermented (ale) beer. And the co-op had 5 different winter ales, so why not try them all. I mean, beer is 92+% water, so having it shipped from Utica is better than San Francisco, right? Well, not when they all taste terrible.

I had the following:
  1. Great Divide Hibernation Ale - the best of the worst. It was malty and rich, but had a slightly acrid smell. The major problem with this beer, IT'S FROM DENVER!
  2. Stoudt's Winter Ale - the best of the locals. it was neither here nor there. just a muddy cocoa-ish ale.
  3. Smuttynose Winter Ale - drinkable but not worth it. Though, if you find their wheat wine, then that's worth it!
  4. Brooklyn Winter Ale - pretty bad, meager ale. It's supposed to be in a Scottish Ale style. This is the rare time when I will say this about beer; I MAKE A BETTER SCOTTISH ALE.
  5. Geary's Winter Ale - the worst of the lot and the only one I poured down the drain.

oye vay. i guess i can go back to the better local beers or try to enjoy the Anchor Steam now and then - a special treat.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Danny Meyer is a SHAM

I wish my smartphone wasn't dead. I saw the most terrible thing the other day en route to work.

On a Wednesday, I'm walking west on West 16th street from Union Square. It's 7:45am. As I pass Union Square Cafe, I see a delivery coming in.

It's about 20 gallons of TUSCAN milk (I don't think they are reading the AMAZON reviews.). It's WEDNESDAY. RONNYBROOK is about 100 yards away.

When you're charging $4 for a cappuccino, you can afford local, well-cared for Milk. Meyer is a sham.

I sent a letter. let's see what they have to say.

localvore in California

quick observations...

though hard to find, in between Starbucks and Peet's, there are some great local cafes throughout the Bay Area making exquisite coffee.

What's interesting is that the few I visited all use a local, organic milk. For some reason, that's pretty rare on in New York. I can only think of Cafe Grumpy going to the length to use Ronnybrook milk.

Localvore goes non-local & eats well

So we took a trip to the Bay Area and to Chez Panisse.

A couple observations:
  • I love that Chez Panisse only serves purified city water - flat and sparkling. I love, even more, that they don't charge for the water. The restaurant recognizes the environmental destruction of sending glass-enclosed water from Italy to California.
  • I don't love that they sell grape juice from Italy though. You're telling me that Chez Panisse, all of 100 miles from the finest winemakers in the US, can't get a California grape juice?
  • Only a certain type of restaurant can list MILK on the menu right below the dessert wines and sell it. We had to order a second serving because the girls loved it so much.
  • And only a certain type of restaurant can serve a $7.50 serve listed as "A Frog Hollow Farm Warren pear with new crop Barhi dates, and Black Mission figs." I would guess most people would not order this. It's too easy right. Well, we did order it and I don't know where these dates come from but without even offering them to my wife or children, I finished them. AMAZING.

Overall the experience felt very local and lovely. we order 8 items and, aside from one, they all tasted of a well-made Bay Area meal.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Vegetarian is the new prius

I read an interesting post by Kathy Freston. Raising livestock has an incredibly caustic impact on the environment. But haven't humans hunted and eaten land animals from the beginning of time? Yes, but that image is nowhere near the reality of animal production in 2007. Fast Food Nation will give you a quick documentary on the differences.

Using statistics and compelling logic, Kathy argues that removing meat from your diet does significantly more for the environment than driving a Prius, or even not driving at all.

What about the middle ground; eating only locally-raised, free-range meat. Then all the energy in creating and delivering hormones/antibiotics and subsequently transporting meat is removed.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

month ends and what did we learn

We learned that eating local in the summer is easy EXCEPT for a few things.

You probably don't realize how much you stop and "get something" quick, like a muffin. You probably don't realize how few cafes use local, organic milk. And you definitely didn't realize how hard it is to find starch with local ingredients.

at least I didn't.

But I did learn that August in Brooklyn does NOT require any non-local vegetables, fruits, meat or seafood.

And we learned that bread made from 100% whole wheat flour is dense.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

big farmer's market take results in RAGU * 2

More and more farmer's markets are including local ranchers and purveyors of local meats. By and large, these small farms raise their animals the right way - fed on the land, no hormones, no antibiotics and plenty of sunshine.

Well the take from yesterday's farmer market visit yielded two AMAZING ragu today. The only unpleasant part was standing over the stove in August cooking these sauces.

but with my homemade bread and a salad of heirloom tomatoes, they made an amazing dinner and even better leftovers.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Fruits

I bought some local peaches, spinach, pasta sauce (from Petaluma). Unfornately the tortillas from Whole Foods is from New Mexico. Mainly fruits and vegetables from California are contributing to my diet.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Farmer Market Triumph

Wow, what a heavy heavy shop this Saturday.

Cantaloupe, 15 peaches, 5 apples (first of the season), eggs, bell peppers, corn, garlic, ...

And to learn from the end of last week, we're cooking most of it to enjoy during the week.

August will be a cheesy month

Hungry House
So I stopped by Murray's Cheese on Thursday and picked up 1 1/2 lbs. of cheese. We found three New York cheeses, Sprout Creek Toussaint, Dancing Ewe Caciotta and Lively Run Cayuga Blue. Added to that was a Lancaster, PA cheese - Goot Essa Cheddar. There are all fantastic cheeses, but the major cheese eaters deemed them all behind our house favorite, Cato Corners Bambino Vivace (which we bought another 1/2 lb of at the farmer's market).

The Grand Army Plaza market also has Lynnhaven Goat Cheese, so that'll be next weekend.

All the cheeses made a fantastic cheese plate, along with a few wedges of our house bread.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Hungy House Exempt Meal no. 1

One had pizza at Adrienne's Pizza Bar. The other had lunch at Union Square Cafe.

Lunch at Union Square was:
  1. Bread - baked in-house, but of flour from far away
  2. Heirloom tomato salad with onions and goat cheese - all local
  3. Frascatelli with all sorts of things - made in-house of man far, far away ingredients.

looking forward to the weekend. the house is getting very spare....

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Day One in the Hungry House

Well, we ate well. We ate green beans, corn, eggplant, strip steak, chicken soup, and homemade bread.

Bread? Ah bread. We'll be making our own bread this month. We found a grist mill that buys wheat from Long Island and mills it in RI. But, they only make whole wheat flour, so we'll be eating some seriously dense loaves as I work in 10% white flour, milled in VT, but grown in SD.

Already, I realize that we need to cook a lot on the weekends and have food available.

Day One

Okay, so when I signed up for the local challenge I didn't really contemplate that there would be sacrifices in eating local. I signed up because I thought it would be easy enough to do. My two exemptions are bread and cereal, because my understanding is even the ingredients must be local. Thus even if I buy fresh baked bread, unless the flour is locally made, I'm out of luck. Therefore, chocolate is out for a month. Yesterday I went to Lucca, my favorite sandwich shop, on Chestnut Avenue in San Francisco. The problem, however, is that it carries imports. Fortunately, the turkey and cheese are locally produced in Sonora. The hummus was made at the shop, but the chickpeas were imported so I had to pass. I am sure that I will commit a number of violations as I attempt to eat locally. For example, I doubt the scone that I snack on today at Starbucks was made locally, and of course the Cotswald cheese left in my fridge from last week that I had with my eggs today is made in England. More or less, I ate locally today with corn, ravioli with artichokes, and a turkey sandwich.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

oh, what's going on...

localvore challenge.

Three households. 30 days. Eating only things that are 90% local (i.e. grown within 250 miles). Two exemptions per household. 7 meal exemptions (eating out or such).

Household 1 - Hungry House - is in Brooklyn, NY with four hungry people. Two little monsters. And two grown ups. The house is exempting - grown ups get to eat nuts and cereal. Monsters get dried fruits and cereal.

Household 2 - Endicott - is in Endicott, NY with a gal returning home to bring the message of local, organic and natural to the tri-cities. Endicott is exempting bread and cereal.

Household 3 - Hippytown Hero - is in San Francisco, CA with a guy laying down the law. H'town Hero is exempting bread and cereal.


Why are we doing this?
I could say but James and Alisa describe it better here.

It all begins on August 6th.

the kids are not alright...

Anyone still doubting that America has a childhood obesity problem? You can look atcharts or just spend an afternoon at any major US Amusement Park. We went to Sesame Place. Amazing.

I was amazed at how many obese children were at the park. More amazingly, the parents feeding them lollipops, chips, soda and ice cream astonished me.

I don't pretend that our little localvore challenge will change all these habits. Hopefully, someone will read about efforts like ours and others and maybe give it a little thought.

I'll quote the recently-made famous author Michael Pollan, "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." Sounds simple enough. If that's not simple enough, he lists a few rules to eat by.
1) Eat food. Don't eat anything that your great-grandmother (or someone's great grandmother) would not recognize as food.
2) Avoid food products with health claims.
3) Avoid food products with ingredients you cannot pronounce. Avoid high-fructose corn syrup.
4) Get out of the supermarket.
5) Pay more, eat less.
6) Eat more like the French. Or the Japanese. Or the Italians. Or the Greeks. Pick a culture and eat like them.
7) Eat mostly plants, especially leaves.
8) Cook.
9) Eat like an omnivore - a varied diet.