A Starlander Afternoon

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Last week, I had the lovely pleasure of spending the afternoon in Starlander Cafe’s back patio, while conducting a little collective brainstorm with my talented colleague. This is the perfect place to escape – from trolley buses, carriages, oblivious bikers, haunted ghost tours- all those seemingly tourist attractions that drive locals crazy. Not only has Starlander perfected the panini making methodology (the bread is supplied by local Harris Baking Co), they have a superb and friendly waitstaff! And if you’re lucky, they will let you stay in the patio as long as you like after hours and watch the pups at the adjacent dog park frolic and play. So take a little stroll south of Forsyth in the Starland District and enjoy a perfect panini and a glass of sweet tea. On cooler days (like yesterday), the “goat bomb” is a must. Thai tomato soup with a surprise hunk of fresh goat cheese in the bottom. It’s a creamy concoction that’s undeniably amazing!

Reversed Volumes

Came across this two amazing conceptual artists this week, Katharina Mischer and Thomas Traxler from Vienna, Austria. They founded mischer’traxler in 2009. Needless to say, I feel in love with their work. It’s beautiful, organic, whimsical, and innovative (integrating new technology into art). But since this is a food blog, I’m particularly interested in a collection they call ‘reversed volumes‘, which uses fresh produce as the primary source of inspiration for creating delicate forms that result from imprinting actual fruits and vegetables in organic material. They use a ceramic power, which can harden without undergoing the process of actual firing, and therefore, is able to maintain a more natural replication of the produce. ‘reversed volumes’ was originally created for pop-up shop foodmarketo. Enjoy!

Labels that Grow

When I can’t get to the farmer’s market on the weekend and I’m desperately in need of some produce for a mid-week meal, I head to the grocery store- usually my local Kroger because I can walk (trading 1 carbon footprint in for another). One of the things I struggle most with is packaging for fruits and veggies (plastic bags, plastic wrap, the occasional styrofoam tray, and those annoying PLU stickers). My favorite alternative for plastic comes from BAGGU’s mesh produce bags, which I just realized they no longer carry (you can still find some on other wholesale retail websites). That’s a total bummer, they’re awesome and I’ve gotten so many complements at the market and the store!

But this student from UK, Ben Huttly has the answer. He’s created a take on packaging that solves the waste issue: using 100% biodegradable, recyclable, and plantable paper that is laser-cut and laced with seeds, an extra bonus for mother nature. The twine that holds everything together is made from natural cotton and is also 100% biodegradable. And not to mention, it’s super cute. Let’s bring this idea overseas!

Back in the Day

A recent visit to one of my favorite Savannah food stuffs provided the perfect opportunity for an impromptu photo-op. Back in the Day is known for its amazing confectionaries and freshly baked bread, resulting in perfect panini pairings (my fav are the madras curry chicken and bacon jam) oozing with flavor explosions. But aside from the delicious eats, I love the interior charm. It really is like being back in the day, with self-serve cream and italian sodas in the refrigerator and workers running about, adorned in their home-made printed aprons. So next time you’re in town, slow down and stop in for a sweet southern surprise, and cozy up in their eclectic space.

It’s not uncommon to see a birthday princess in her tutu

 

The Equal Exchange Free Range Cafe

Would you like your coffee served from the cutest on-the-go trike ever? Yes, please! Meet the Equal Exchange Free Range Cafe, the first mobile coffee trike of its kind in Boston. An initiative from the West Bridgewater company, which focuses primarily on sustainable and environmentally conscious business practices, Equal Exchange decided to take fair-trade brew to the streets of Boston. The title “free range cafe” is perfectly symbolic of the trike’s mission and  it’s ability to cover lots of ground. Cafe developer Meghan Hubbs conceptualized Equal Exchange, and through its presence in the city, hopes to reframe the company’s local image and perhaps change Boston’s coffee culture. The Free Rangers say it’s caffeinated euphoria, I think it’s simply smart and too cute to say no to.

On your next morning commute, visit the Free Range trike at the Charles MGH station.

Smart Reuse- Palatable Pallets

Just came across this great reuse project for leftover pallets. Perfect for a restaurant, but even more perfect for a pantry or an open-air kitchen. Provided they are in good shape, I would love to find homes for all my mix-matched tableware, linens, and rows of root vegetables among the pallet shelves. And if you haven’t seen this site, check out pinerest immediately!

Reflections on progress

The subsequent paragraphs written by Jean-Louis Flandrin explain precisely the need for alternative food networks and validate the potential impact of Slow Food on our industrialized landscape.

“The undeniable advances in agriculture have brought problems along with benefits. The exodus from the countryside has left today’s farmers in possession of much larger farms than in the past. They obtain much better yields from the soil with less effort, thanks to mechanization, artificial fertilizers, and new species, yet they suffer from crises of overproduction, and [are] burdened by enormous debt.

Strangely enough, neither farmers nor farm organizations seem inclined to question the wisdom of the continual improvements in yields that have led to the present situation of chronic oversupply and attempts to limit production by leaving some land unplanted. Nor do they seem to worry that steadily falling agricultural prices (coupled with the fact that the demand for food cannot increase indefinitely) have decreased the share of the average family budget spent on food.

For consumers the benefits of agricultural progress are no less ambiguous. Not only has the environment been seriously polluted by modern fertilizers and intensive farming methods, but the decrease in food prices has been accompanied by a decrease in quality. Fruits look impeccable to the naked eye because they are free from damage by insects or disease, yet they may be tainted by invisible pesticides. Harvested while still immature, they lack fragrance and flavor…Gourmets will often travel long distances to buy [produce and meat] from specialty farmers. Is this progress?”

What a great question to end on.

a modest practice in farming

 

Taste: a noble sense

So close to finishing Food: a culinary history from antiquity to the present! And I’m really glad I was able to keep my eyes open long enough to catch the significant passage that highlights the importance of taste. For your reading pleasure, I will share with you this excerpt from the great Saint Jerome of the seventeenth century:

” ‘Taste is not the noblest of the senses, but it is the most necessary. Without taste, man cannot live for long, but he can live without the other senses.’ Although we value taste today, we see it as less important to survival than sight or hearing. Even in the culinary realm, we rely on sight to read food labels, indications of safety and freshness, and so on. We no longer rely on taste to decide what might be harmful to our health, and nutritionists no longer advise us to heed our taste in deciding what to eat.”

Pretty amazing that this was written in the late 1600s, and yet like so many other historical events, still holds true in present day.

a clean plate relies on taste

 

 

Co-ops on Campus

I just came across this organization, and quite frankly, don’t know how I missed it! COFED (cooperative food empowerment directive) is a nationwide training program that reaches out to college students and educates/empowers them with ways to create and establish “ethically-sourced and cooperatively run” sustainable food stores and cafes, as an alternative to the fast food options that inevitably lead to those unflattering Freshman fifteen. Currently, they  have partnered with 8 west coast schools: University of Washington, Oregon State University, Humboldt State, UC Davis,  UC Santa Barbara, UC Berkeley, City College of San Francisco, and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo… and they have grand aspirations for the next five years: train 1,000 student leaders, initiate 35 new sustainable store fronts, and reach over 700,000 college students. They are presently seeking donations to match the $30,000 already attained through their Launch Committee, so if you have a few dollars to spare after those tax refunds, put them towards educating the next generation of America’s college students on the value of alternative food systems.

 

I'll always take fresh over frozen.

 

 

 

florida food story

While on a quick trip to south Florida, I stopped to visit with a local citrus farmer, Jerry, and his orange-loving chocolate lab Sophie. It was my first time picking Honeybells and tangerines from the tip top of the trees, carefully making sure to not puncture the skin (we only lost one, and it wasn’t really lost, the juice went right into my mouth 🙂 yum! We ended up with five giant grocery sized bags of the sweetest, juiciest citrus there is! I have my vitamin C for the next month, fresh, local, all-natural, and pesticide-free. Many thanks to the dedicated farmers and the skills and knowledge they lend to curious upcoming generations like me.

simple perfection

 

jerry and dad walking to the orchard

empty cart waiting to be filled for Highway 80 travelers

picking the hanging fruit

the sweet smell of hard work

lost one to the picker

jerry the citrus grower

jerry and rosalie's outhouses

sophie waits patiently for a tangerine

fruits of our labor