Posts Tagged ‘Slow Food’

What’s for Dinner?

Posted in Atlanta, cooking, vegetarian on April 16th, 2010 by Betsy – 4 Comments

I know everyone’s eager for the traditional summer veggies we all love.  Mmm, corn, squash,  tomatoes.  But take a look at what’s beautiful and in-season right now at The Local Farmstand.

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Can you resist these beautiful veggies? Decisions, decisions.  What to choose?  What to make?  So many vegetables. So little time.

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I made this for dinner last night…Delish.  I don’t have a name for it yet, but it was amazing.

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Who knew salad could look so good?  Crystal Organics salad mix and beets.  Woodland gardens micro greens.

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Chopped pistachios.  Roast beets, peel, cut.  Saute with balsamic vinegar, honey and olive oil.

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Top with goat cheese.  Eat.

IMG_0697The Local Farmstand – 1198 Howell Mill Rd – Atlanta, GA 30318

To Picnic or not to Picnic: A Trip to Serenbe Farms

Posted in Atlanta, Uncategorized on April 15th, 2010 by Betsy – 11 Comments

Over Easter weekend, David’s parents came to visit us in Atlanta.  Being that Bob shares my interest in farming and local food, we decided to take them to Serenbe Farms.  For those of you unfamiliar with Serenbe, it’s a “certified organic farm nestled in sustainable Serenbe community,” about an hour southwest of Atlanta.  People own homes in the Serenbe development, which also includes a handful of shops, a couple of restaurants and an inn.  The farm grows lots of vegetables throughout the year and folks in Atlanta can participate in a Serenbe CSA during the warmer months, and share in the farm’s bounty.

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David and I ran a trail race at Serenbe last fall and enjoyed our time in the town, but I definitely got a little bit of a Pleasantville vibe from Serenbe.  It just seems a little ‘too put together’ for a farm.  Think rustic Pottery Barn.  Even the signs in Serenbe seem like they’ve intentionally been created to look old.  It’s definitely worth a visit to check out and assess for yourself.

David and me at Serenbe in the fall after running the trail race

At Serenbe in the fall after running the trail race

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On Saturday morning, we packed a picnic (because where else could be a more perfect place for a picnic than a farm community?) and headed south.  It was a gorgeous day, so we walked around the farm and the community.  I immediately fell in love with the baby goats, especially the runt of the group.

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I also took a liking to the pig, or at least that’s what I think it is.  Quite hairy for a pig, right?  Most girls my age covet designer bags, cars, and clothes.  I covet farm animals.

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After checking out the Serenbe shops and making some purchases, we headed back to the car to retrieve our picnic supplies.  Finding a perfect spot for our picnic, we settled down to our meal, the part of the day I had been looking forward to the most.

It makes logical sense, right?  Spring + Farm + Gorgeous Weather = picnic

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Doesn’t it just sound perfect?  To me it did.  I felt like we could be on the cover of Serenbe Magazine or Southern Living.

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Towards the end of our picnic a white haired man, clad in a ginormous Serenbe belt buckle, who’d earlier been driving a green Mercedes approached us.  “Isn’t that nice?,” I thought to myself.  He’s coming over to meet us, maybe even see if we’re interested in buying property here.  Not so much.  David introduced himself and the man towering over us, responded, “Who are you with?”  Wow.  Was I at a country club or a farm?  Our silence showed that none of us quite new how to reply.

‘Sheriff Serenbe’ then informed us that they don’t allow picnics at Serenbe.  Really?  Do they prohibit laughing and hand holding as well?  Now I’m a rule follower so believe me, if any signs existed on the property that listed the ‘picnic ban’ I would never have laid down my blanket.  He proceeded to tell us that we should be eating at the restaurants, not picnicking.  I didn’t think quickly enough to tell him that we’d already made purchases in the stores earlier that day.  Way to drive away your clientele, sir.  David and I had no plans of buying property at Serenbe, but if we had, this anti-picnic stance would most likely have been a deal breaker.  He told us we could finish our picnic if we wanted to, so we ate for a few more awkward moments and packed up our belongings.

Why am I still thinking about this encounter, over a week later?  Unclear.  I think the resonation remains because it makes me feel like Serenbe’s trying to be something it’s not, or at the very least, having an identity crisis.  Is Serenbe about farming and sustainability or elitism?  Can it be all of the above?  It seems like we keep hearing local, sustainable and accessible being used together but do people really want the local farming movement to be accessible?  Throughout history, food has always been a status symbol.  Why does it have to be this way?  Will quality of food always be a way to separate the haves and have nots?

We still enjoyed our picnic, prior to the interruption and my Serenbe fascination remains, despite being potentially black listed from the property for being a rule breaker.  I do love that the farmers at Serenbe are young, enthusiastic growers who share a love of and appreciation for the earth and it’s bounty.  They encourage volunteers on the farm and pay you for your work in fresh veggies.  In fact, I hope to spend time working on the farm this summer.  I’ll just make sure not to bring a picnic.

Enjoying our coffee purchased at the Serenbe Bakery.

Enjoying our coffee purchased at Serenbe's Blue Eyed Daisy.

Looking for an Atlanta CSA?

Posted in advice, Atlanta, cooking, vegetarian on April 5th, 2010 by Betsy – 2 Comments

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“Find the shortest, simplest way between the earth, the hands and the mouth.” – Lanza del Vasto

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CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) groups are a great way to get access to delicious, fresh, local produce and connect with local farms.  As the weather gets warmer, many CSAs are getting started and looking for members.  If you haven’t yet found a CSA, the Small Farms CSA runs from May 2nd through August 15th.  Operated by Judith Winfrey and Joe Reynolds of Love is Love Farm, they will bring your fresh produce from their farm and a few other local farms.  You receive a weekly shipment of veggies and you can also choose to add meat to your CSA from Riverview Farms.  The Small Farms CSA offers two pick up locations:

-        The Universalist Unitarian Church on Cliff Valley Sunday mornings from 10am to 12:30pm.  http://www.uuca.org

-        The East Atlanta Village Farmers Market on Thursday evenings from 4pm to 8pm.  http://www.farmeav.com

Here’s a list of items you might find in the CSA:

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Arugula, Basil, Bush and Pole Beans, Beets, Broccoli, Carrots, Cherry Tomatoes, Collard Greens, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Fennel, Field Peas, Green Garlic, Heirloom Tomatoes, Leeks, Lettuce Heads, Kale, Okra, Pac Choi, Pears, Salad Greens, Salad Radishes, Spinach, Strawberries, Sweet Turnips, Sweet Onions, Sweet Peppers, Summer Squash, Tomatoes, and Watermelons.

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Boxes may also include: Free range eggs, Local goat cheese, Locally milled corn grits and corn meal, Local, raw honey

And of course, everything in the CSA is naturally gluten-free!

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Slow Food Family Dinner with Carlo Petrini: Athens to Atlanta Part III

Posted in Atlanta, event, local food, recipe, Restaurants, Uncategorized on February 25th, 2010 by Betsy – 3 Comments

I’m a little quirky; I know that.  My quirkiness factor shines through when I talk about my passions.  Three of my favorite things are fresh produce, folk music, and local celebrity chefs.  Yes, it’s an odd assortment but those are some of my loves.  Well, Sunday evening I got to be part of an event that involved all of the above favorites.  Can you believe it?  What a lucky girl I am!

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On Sunday night, Slow Food Atlanta put on this incredible ‘family dinner’ at Watershed Restaurant in Decatur.  Slow Food founder, Carlo Petrini, was the guest of honor and other important ‘Slow Food’ folks attended. This event was a great way to conclude the Georgia Organics weekend and brought many amazing people from Athens back to Atlanta.  Even a couple of speakers that I heard at the Georgia Organics Conference attended the dinner, including Michel Nischan of Wholesome Wave Foundation and Diane Harris of the CDC.

Not only was this an amazing culinary event, but the money raised from the dinner went towards Slow Food’s Terra Madre Foundation.  What is Terra Madre?  This international foundation works to “bring together different players in the food chain who together support sustainable agriculture, fishing, and breeding with the goal of preserving taste and biodiversity.”  I love the emphasis put on taste and biodiversity.  For example, it’s good to have many varieties of apples and potatoes, not just russet and golden delicious. Agricultural variety is beneficial to all of us because it encourages local farming, develops our taste buds, and allows us to enjoy better and healthier foods, packed with vitamins and tasty goodness.  If we support small, local farmers, we’ll be ‘preserving taste and biodiversity.’  Petrini and Terra Madre believe “eating is an agricultural act and producing is a gastronomic act,” therefore we need to be followers of both farming and flavor.

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How did I get to be at this incredible event?  Unfortunately I was not a paying customer, but I participated as a volunteer server and greeter for the night, allowing me to enjoy the festivities and be a part of the action. This was my first experience waiting tables and let me just say, I have a whole new appreciation for the food service industry and all of the work involved in getting a plate of food in front of the diner.  Watershed’s kitchen is pretty small (at least it seemed small to me) and there were a lot of cooks in the kitchen, trying to complete their dishes and get food out to the tables.  The menu for this meal was created by the chefs, and each course represented a meal from that chef’s childhood.   One of the things I enjoy most about cooking is the memories that taste can trigger.  Each of these chefs poured their heart and stories into their dishes and every plate looked absolutely gorgeous.

If you’re like me and love all things foodie, you’re asking yourself, “who were the celebrity chefs?”  The list is long, with an extensive number of James Beard nominees in the group.  So while I was already star struck from shaking hands with Carlo Petrini when he walked in the door, being in the same kitchen with all of these celebs just about put me over the top.  I could care less about Johnny Depp or any other movie star, but chefs fascinate me and I’m awed by their talents.  Chefs for this family dinner included Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene, Kevin Gillespie of Woodfire Grill, Steven Satterfield of Miller Union, Kevin Ouzts of The Spotted Trotter, Billy Allin of Cakes & Ale, Scott Peacock of Watershed, and Cathy Conway of Avalon Catering.  Ridiculous, right?  To have all of these guys and their cooking entourages in the same kitchen, with me carrying out their incredible food, I felt like I’d died and gone to food heaven.  I didn’t even get to eat the food, but I didn’t mind at all.

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I was so busy once the guests arrived that I did not get to take photos of the actual event or the beautiful food.  I’ve included some photos of Watershed and the room before the family dinner.  Now just visualize it packed with people, amazingly presented food, chefs wandering the room talking to the diners, and us servers in our white button downs.  Highlights of the meal were the Kevin Gillespie’s ‘One Dish Hog Dinner’ served in individual cassoulet dishes, and Steven Satterfield’s roasted oysters, Savannah red rice, served family style with Kevin Ouztz’ biscuits.    Here’s a look at the program and menu so you can get a better picture of the event since there are no photos to document it.

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Menu
Cocktails
Woodford Reserve Mint Julep
Prepared by: Mark Williams, Slow Food Bluegrass
Daniel Morrison, Watershed
NV Bodegas Matilde Totus Tuus Brut,
Cava; Spain
Red Brick Blonde Ale;
Atlanta, Georgia

Hors d’oeuvres
Scott Peacock, Watershed

Music
Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls

Beet Salad
2005 Domaine du Viking Sec Tendre,
Vouvray; France
Linton Hopkins, Restaurant Eugene

One Dish Hog Dinner
2004 Kluge Albemarle “Simply Red” Bordeaux Blend;
Charlottesville, Virginia
Kevin Gillespie, Woodfire Grill

Roasted Oysters, Savannah Red Rice
with Andouille Sausage & Shrimp
served with
Green Salad and Angel Biscuits

2006 Domaine de la Chevalerie ‘les Galichets,’
Bourgueil; France
Steven Satterfield, Miller Union
Kevin Ouzts, The Spotted Trotter

Applesauce Cake with
Calvados-Vanilla Cream and Caramel

Cafe Campesino Coffee
Cathy Conway, Avalon Catering

Each chef is listed with the item he/she created and presented to the diners for this special meal of memories and good food.  You can also click on this link to see the entire program, read about each chef’s culinary inspiration for his dish and learn the evening’s recipes.  You’ll notice that a lot of these dishes are entirely gluten free!  Doesn’t it make your mouth water just looking at it?I also loved that Charlottesville’s Kluge wine was represented on the menu.

The evening’s program was not just about food.  Slow Food Atlanta’s, Judith Winfrey, opened the evening with a beautiful welcome, followed by a performance by Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls, one of the owners of Watershed, hence rounding out the evening for me by adding some folk music to the event.  Saliers sang two songs, including the crowd pleaser, ‘Galileo.’  It was a lovely way to start the evening.  To hear her play the guitar and sing, just her, in such an intimate setting was incredible.

When Carlo Petrini spoke to conclude the night’s program.  he addressed world wide agricultural issues and the importance of supporting farmers in all countries.  Petrini believes in the importance of connecting and collaborating with all parts of the food system, including chefs, farmers, and consumers.  As we listened to Petrini’s words, it was incredible on to be surrounded by incredible chefs and farmers as we celebrated slow food and mother earth.  When Petrini talks about ‘the pleasures of the table’ and enjoying cultures through food, you feel like you’re there with him, tasting the cuisine and enjoying the people he’s describing.  Petrini has an incredible ability captivate an audience, speak to our hearts, and allow us to feel his passion.  These are rare talents for public speakers in general, but Petrini has to speak through a translator and you still feel his love, energy and enthusiasm for good tasting food.

Many people worked hard and were involved to pull off this incredible evening and I’m so glad I got to play a (minor) role in the event.  Was I exhausted afterwards?  Yes.  Do I ever want to be a full time server?  Never.  Did I love every second of this event that combined my favorites: local food, celebrity chefs, and folk music?  Absolutely.

Athens to Atlanta: A Weekend of All Things Food (Part I)

Posted in Atlanta on February 22nd, 2010 by Betsy – 9 Comments

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Since our move to Atlanta last August, I continue to be amazed by just how ‘foodie’ this city is and I love it.  Many restaurants here embrace the idea of serving local food, and each week, I meet more people who believe in the mission of feeding our population good, fresh, nutritious food.  This weekend I had the opportunity to take advantage of some incredible, uniquely Georgia, food opportunities, that allowed me to learn more about the food policy world, being a conscious eater, and even work in the same kitchen as some of this year’s James Beard nominees.

On Saturday morning I drove from Atlanta to Athens to participate in the 13th annual Georgia Organics Conference.  While I couldn’t attend the farm tours on Friday afternoon, the nerdy teacher in me was eager to participate in the Educational Sessions on Saturday.  Georgia Organics does an incredible job organizing this huge event.  With eight sessions to choose from during each of the four time slots, the conference’s offerings were large in number and diversity in choice.  Everything from “Bugging Out” (management of pests) to “Small Scale Composting,” to “Rooting the Farmer in Farm to School.”

Every session I attended was informative and led by passionate and incredibly smart people.  It’s refreshing to know just how many motivated people are involved in farming and food policy.  Since I don’t (yet) own my own farm, I chose sessions in the ‘Food Systems’ and ‘Slow Food Culture’ categories and I thought I’d fill you in a little on what I heard.  Definitely a day of inspiring people with insightful (and even hopeful!) thoughts.

Eating for the Future: Led by Anne Palmer, Program Director for Johns Hopkins Center for A Livable Future, this presentation particularly interested me because I lived in Baltimore after college and the connection between food and public health is important to me.  Palmer’s discussion gave many staggering statistics about cities’ (especially Baltimore), lack of access to healthy food.  We can’t expect our low income populations to eat healthily if there’s nowhere to access good food, right?  For example, in southwest Baltimore there are 43 ‘food stores,’ but 76% did not sell fruit and 69% did not sell vegetables.  (Both of these statistics include canned fruits and veggies too.)  Isn’t that unbelievable?  One thing I never thought about was that grocery stores are so big now that they tend to be built in the suburbs.  This is fine for a family with a car that can drive to these locations but many people living in cities don’t have the resources to get to these gigantic Wegman’s and Safeways, making them limited to what’s in their neighborhood.  Palmer is working with local farmers, trying to get produce into city stores and even city farmers’ markets.  Overcoming physical and social barriers that prevent good food from getting to low income populations is her goal.

In Search of a Righteous Porkchop: Nicolette Hahn Niman wrote the 2009 book, The Righteous Porkchop and she spoke at Georgia Organics about her quest to find the righteous pork chop, as well as the history of the meat farming industry in the United States.  A lawyer, Niman worked for Bobby Kennedy in his environmental group and investigated pig farms in Missouri and North Carolina, and how they mimicked the model started by the poultry industry in 1920s.  Referred to as ‘modern agriculture,’ this system involves antibiotics, hormones, terrible living conditions, and polluted air and water for neighboring populations.   Did you know that 70% of the antibiotics produced in the U.S. are given to animals, not humans?  Many of these large corporations even convinced local legislators not to enforce federal laws through lobbying and bribery.  I have a confession: I’m much better about making sure I know where my vegetables come from than my meat or dairy.  Nihman was so inspiring and encouraging but also not judging.  She talked a lot about how we should all make changes to our diets, but that it should be incremental.  Make small changes, such as eating one vegetarian dinner a week, not vowing to entirely wipe out poultry from major meat corporations from your diet.

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I did love one of Niman final lines though: “Everything you eat should come from a place you could enjoy visiting.”  She and her husband, Bill Niman, own a cattle ranch in northern California that is absolutely beautiful and the animals looked happy and comfortable.  Two of the things I loved most about Ms. Niman is that she is a vegetarian, yet believes there is a righteous porkchop and at the conference she brought her 1-year old son, who came to the book signing with her.  I love seeing strong women, who are pursuing meaningful careers that also fit with motherhood.

Policy’s Influence on Food Choice and Access: The name of this workshop is pretty self descriptive, but the people on the panel brought a variety of perspectives to the table.  Dr. Diane M. Harris and Dr. Joel Kimmons, both from the CDC (Center for Disease Control) discussed the importance of prevention when dealing with chronic diseases, and how much diet can contribute to prevention.  Harris mentioned the idea of ‘libertarian paternalism,’ and nudging people in the right direction to make the healthiest choices.  Kimmons discussed the CDC’s initiative, for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.  The importance of decreasing high caloric foods, increasing physical activity and decreasing obesity obviously make huge long term health benefits for the American population.  He mentioned there are many components to the Food Systems Network and we need to change the entire system, not just one component.

Christa Essig, spoke next about creating a food system that benefits all of the systems within the system, including economic, environmental and social.  She discussed many different issues involved in getting food to the people who need it but especially talked about just how much buying power large institutions have that feed their employees.  For example, Google really took the lead on this idea by only serving healthy, quality food in their cafeteria.  Essig also went on to discuss the importance of companies working with farmers to tell their story and get access to the food.  Often transportation and time are two of the biggest obstacles for farmers to get their food to different populations.

The final member of this panel, Michel Nischan, President of Wholesome Wave Foundation, spoke about the need to get quality produce into high population, low income areas.  The mission of Wholesome Wave is “to encourage and support increased production, availability and access to fresh, healthy and affordable locally grown food for the benefit of all.”  I love this idea and I hope to some day bring Nischan’s ideas to Virginia.  Nischan was all about the idea of “If you build it, they will come.”  He said that we underestimate our low income, urban populations and if you create access and affordability to good produce, they will buy it.  He pointed out that many urban populations are first generation immigrant populations who, prior to the U.S., bought most of their food at markets.

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A great Q&A session followed this panel and similar to all of my workshops, I was inspired by the passion that the panel leaders as well as those of us in the audience shared for consuming quality food, supporting farmers, and getting more Americans access to the best and most nutritious food.  I found the day to be very hopeful, even though we discussed many issues and policies that sometimes seem hopeless.

Can you tell I had an amazing weekend?  I’ve already written way more than is ‘blog appropriate’ and I didn’t even get through Saturday.  Stay tuned to hear about my final workshop of the day as well as the Slow Food Atlanta Family Dinner with Carlo Petrini at Watershed that I was a volunteer server for last night.

Local Food Economics: It’s Easy to be a gluten-free local consumer

Posted in Atlanta, local food on December 2nd, 2009 by Betsy – 1 Comment

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Check out this video presented by Georgia Organics.  It raises a lot of great questions and thoughts about the benefits of buying locally and creating a sustainable, local food economy.  We’ve gotten so used to buying cheap food, but is it good food?  Is it nutritious?  We don’t think twice about spending money on clothes, cars and home decorating.  Why not spend more on what we’re putting into our bodies?

The video features Ron Eyester, the chef/owner of Rosebud, one of my favorite local restaurants, discussing why he buys local.  Judith Winfrey and Joe Reynolds, from Love is Love Farm, share their thoughts about how we, as a community, can benefit from supporting local farms.  Check it out:

Local Food Economics: Georgia Organics

Eating locally fits easily into a healthy, gluten-free diet.  Fresh produce is definitely gluten-free and tastes so good!  Do you know what’s in season right now in your area?  What are some of the meals you make with fresh, seasonal produce?  If you live in Atlanta, here are some photos of local produce you can find right now at your farmer’s market.  Roasted sweet potatoes, homemade applesauce, butternut squash risotto.  Doesn’t it sound delicious?  Beautiful, local, AND gluten-free!

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