Posts Tagged ‘local’

Squash Blossoms at Oyamel

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

For local readers … if you missed Chef Raffa at market Thursday, head on over to Oyamel this weekend to catch their Sopa de Flores de Calabasa (Squash Blossom Soup) and other special treats featuring this fleeting summer ingredient!

Flor de Calabaza Rellena recipe coming soon!

Compromise and Indulgences

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

This week, the Washington Post‘s Mighty Appetite blog is hosting an Eat Local Challenge. I signed up, even though we are already doing the One Local Summer challenge, and frankly, at this time of year it’s almost more of a challenge not to eat local — at least when you spend as much time at farmers markets as we do!

The ELC challenge was simply to include 10 local items into your meals over the course of the week. The Southern Maryland “Buy Fresh, Buy Local” campaign, also this week, suggests adding one farm-fresh ingredient each day. Since we ate 10 local items on Saturday alone, I challenged myself to go further — no chain coffee or lunches, and eliminating some of my usual cheats. While we don’t have true local grains (mills yes, but the grains come from elsewhere), my general rule is to get locally-baked breads and pastas. For other grains, the rule is organic and/or whole grains – and if all else fails, absolutely no high fructose corn syrup. Which meant I made my pie crust from scratch this weekend, since Pillsbury meets none of those standards. I would like to make my own bread and pasta, but it’s hard to find time with a toddler who seems to get clingy whenever I head into the kitchen.

As a “foodie,” there are certain ingredients I could never give up, such as olive oil, olives, sea salt, balsamic vinegar, citrus and my Hungarian smoked paprika. The OLS challenge exempts oil, vinegar and spices, so I permit those. Whenever possible, I follow the Locavore “Terroir” rule — if local olive oil isn’t available, then buy it from regions that specialize in that product (and preferably organic and/or fair trade certified). I also try to buy my gourmet products from locally-owned shops. We have some great bakeries and shops nearby, including Cheesetique in Del Ray and Grape + Bean in Old Town, which make it easier.

I know this is a family-friendly blog, but sometimes the grown-ups enjoy an adult beverage with their meal. While I have yet to come across Virginia-produced gin, we do have a decent wine and beer selection. (And Delaware’s Dogfish Head is just slightly more than 100 mi. from us.) Virginia wines can be hit or miss though, so I stopped into Grape+Bean to see what local wines they carried.  I was told rather apologetically that they only have two at the moment, but hope to add more soon. I picked up a bottle of Thibaut & Janisson sparkling wine to enjoy this weekend. Definitely an indulgence, but I thought it would be fun to celebrate the best of local drinks along with all our peak summer produce. (Their other pick was Barboursville‘s Voignier.) In addition to wine and coffee, Grape+Bean sells fresh-baked bread from Restaurant Eve. I got the most perfectly chewy loaf of olive bread yesterday to accompany last night’s pasta dinner.

Another area where we are blessed with local options is dessert. Of course, it’s not that hard to make your own frozen treats, but we have a number of locally-owned establishments who make scrumptious treats with local, farm-fresh ingredients — the Dairy Godmother, Moorenko‘s and Dolcezza, to name a few. With sources like these, there’s no need to rely on those two guys from Vermont.

For those participating in the Eat Local challenge, or just taking small steps, what’s the one non-local thing you can’t give up?

One Local Summer, Rainier cherry edition

Monday, July 7th, 2008

I had been on the hunt for Rainier cherries ever since Ramona reported buying them the weekend I was out of town. I hadn’t realized they were grown on this coast. I finally spotted some at the West End market last Sunday and snatched them up — only to discover another farmer had them cheaper. Oh well, they were worth it. I love the slight tartness and sweet aroma. Which, incidentally, pairs wonderfully with gin.

Other local highlights this week included corn and peaches appearing at our Alexandria markets (Del Ray and West End), flavorful yellow cherry tomatoes, and sweet onions in our CSA bag.

We had cherries twice Sunday, first, brunch of challah French toast with yogurt, honey and Rainier cherries:

And for dinner, grilled pork chops with Rainier cherry glaze and grilled corn-on-the-cob:

Recipe: Sweet Cherry Glaze

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. slightly tart cherries, Rainier or Queen Anne’s are ideal, halved and pitted
  • 2 T honey
  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • 1 t corn starch
  • 1 t water

Instructions: In small saucepan, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Dissolve corn starch in water. Gently smash cherries with back of spoon to release juices, stir in corn starch mixture and cook 1 minute more. Serve warm over pork chops, chicken or fish.

In tribute to the beginning of peach season, I bought Dogfish Head‘s Festina Peche (DE, 117 mi.), a great summery brew released every year on June 1.

Another local treat was the rich and creamy, organic Moorenko‘s Creme Fraiche ice cream, made in McLean, VA (15 mi.), and sold at local Whole Foods.

Other dishes using local produce this week included smashed cherry tomato fusili, and CSA salad with leftover pork, peaches, basil, sweet onions, garlic scape, basil, almonds, quinoa and lettuce.

Farmers/Producers:

  • Basil, scapes, lettuce, sweet onions – Potomac Vegetable Farms CSA, VA, 23mi.
  • Rainier cherries – Westmoreland Berry Farm, VA, 71mi.
  • Yogurt, Pequea Valley Farms, PA, 132mi.
  • Honey, Toigo Orchards, PA, 114mi.
  • Onions, cherry tomatoes – J&W Valley View Farm, VA, 84mi
  • Pork chops – Fauquier County, VA, 67mi. (via Let’s Meat on the Avenue)

Don’t forget: share your favorite food memory and help flooded family farms!

One Local Summer Picnic, wk2

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

Eating local while on the road can be challenging, but visiting the local farmers market is one of my favorite things to do while traveling. As mentioned below, we stopped at the Port Washington Farmers Market on a recent trip to New York, on our way out to some wineries on Long Island’s North Fork.

A Local(ish) (NY) Picnic Lunch: After some terrific wines at Roanoke Vineyards (recently mentioned in the NY Times), it was on to my in-laws’ pick, Palmer Vineyards, where we enjoyed a mostly-local picnic lunch of fresh goat cheese on organic baguette, procured from the market that morning, dried fruit from home, and North Fork potato chips (sweet potato and sour cream & onion). The toddler danced to the live music while we took in the vineyard views from the porch. A lovely summer afternoon!

A Local (NY) Breakfast: On the way back to Queens, we stopped at an organic farmstand, with lovely strawberries and some actual Long Island goat cheese, which we ate for breakfast the next morning. These little berries have a firmer texture than our Virginia berries, and the goat cheese was some of the creamiest I’ve ever tasted. Delicious!

A Local (VA) Dinner: Back at home, we again had garlic scapes in our weekly CSA bag. My new favorite preparation is to toss them with a touch of olive oil and kosher salt, then throw them on the grill. The grilling mellows the flavor, resulting in the perfect complement to some fresh (Fauquier County VA) beef burgers on locally-baked, garlic-rubbed Italian bread. (Then I put non-local organic ketchup on it…homemade ketchup is on my to-do list this summer!)

Fresh from the Market, DC

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

One of the primary reasons I started this blog was to log our farmers market and CSA-fresh produce finds and the recipes we use them in, and I enjoy reading what others make with their farm fresh produce to get new ideas each week. Eat.Drink.Better has a weekly compilation from around the country. FarmtoPhilly is a wonderful, informative and inspirational local foods site from just up north. I thought I would check out some DC-area food bloggers and see what they’ve been making lately. Not surprisingly, strawberries, rhubarb and asparagus are the hot ingredients.

* Fresh from the Farmers Market badge courtesy of A Veggie Venture.