Archive for ‘Shopping’

December 12, 2010

Pearl Farmer’s Market | San Antonio

“Back when I was growing up, there were no farmer’s markets in San Antonio.”  This should be said using your grumpiest old person’s voice.  For my recent visit I wanted to know: where can you get local produce?  Is there a Slow Food chapter?  What restaurants are doing local sourcing?  Where can a food nerd like Persephone get really excited?  Crickets.  I realized I had to get my old Texan-do-it-yourself attitude and figure it out for myself. 

I had heard that there was a farmer’s market at the old Pearl Brewery, so we headed there Saturday morning with the full intention of spending 15 minutes making a quick round.  I was not expecting to see that old lot and building transformed into a vibrant space being used simultaneously for a morning farmer’s market and a tamale festival

Walking in, I passed il Songno and was lured by the views through tall windows to the kitchen where the chefs were making pasta, into its entryway to study the menu.  When I come back to San Antonio, this eatery run by James Beard nominated Andrew Weissman, will be tops on my list. 

We wandered towards the market and passed the Twig Bookshop (where Cherub was just in time for story hour).   The covered alleyway had vendors from Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard, and Sol y Luna Bakery.  We walked a bit further into the open courtyard that overlooks an extension of the Riverwalk and hit the motherlode.  Dozens of farms all from a 150 mile radius with everything from vegetables, to pecans to grass-fed bison, to yard eggs, and heritage pork.  I wept just a little bit.  It’s here.  I am so happy that San Antonio has this.  Now every visit home will include a trip to Pearl on either Wednesday afternoons or Saturday mornings.

The fact that Pearl is anchored by a CIA campus (one of only three in the US with the other two being in Napa and Hyde Park) says to me that San Antonio has made a real committment to food.  It is not just bar-b-que and enchiladas anymore.  I’ll say it again: not that there’s anything wrong with that.  Demeter made enchiladas yesterday and I’ll be posting her recipe for the enchilada “gravy” in the next few days.  And as I write this post, Zeus is smoking a brisket.

 To wrap up the trip to Pearl, we stopped at the demo tent where Steven McHugh, executive chef at the three-week-old Lüke, was sampling his Bluebonnet organic greens salad with Humble House baby blue cheese (HH is a vendor at Pearl), cane syrup dressing, spiced pistachios and candied beets.  We talked local sourcing, which he is very passionate about, and who’s doing it in San Antonio.  Turns out there’s not too many, but it’s growing.  I told him we’d be by later in the afternoon for lunch and I can say easily, it was the best meal (outside Demeter’s enchiladas) I’ve ever had in San Antonio.  I’ll do a post about it in full, complete with pictures, a bit later.

I’m having fun down here in San Antonio.  You should come.

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November 29, 2010

Giveaway of the Day | Heart of the Artichoke Cookbook

If you are or know a food lover, this is the Christmas gift.  Really. 

The Heart of the Artichoke, by David Tanis, is beautifully written and photographed.  Much like those showpiece cookbooks that you will probably never cook from.  But the true beauty of this book lies in its practicality.  Co-Chef at Chez Panisse, Tanis’s cooking is the epitome of seasonality married to simplicity.  His charming and unassuming personality shines through from the very start of the book.   Yes, he cooks at the most loved and famous restaurant in the country.  But here’s how he cooks at home. 

I was near tears so pleased to see him crystallize something I have been trying to convey for sometime here in the Kitchen.  You have time to cook.  “mesmerized by television shows hyping the thirty-minute meal and the blood sport of competitive cooking, we have somehow forgotten the pleasure of giving ourselves over to the true kitchen experience.  This doesn’t mean spending hours and hours in the kitchen.  It’s not more difficult cooking, but a different way of engaging with food.  What matters is the joy.” 

The book begins with personal food rituals that Tanis holds dear, from peeling an apple in one long curvaceous strip, to his methodic way of enjoying oatmeal (I have a similar quirk with French toast, ask me about it sometime), to the perfect simple meal of beans (lovely Italian white beans) on toast.

It is a very intimate and throughly engaging book with each menu beginning with a story of its origins.  You can sit and read this book.  And when you do, you want to make these dishes.  All of them.  I can’t tell you how much pleasure I’ve gotten out of my copy already.  It will be a well-loved treasure.

Would you like a copy?  Of course you would.  You’re dying for one.  To win one, in the comments section of this post, or in a tweet, tell me what is your favorite cookbook?  You have until Tuesday, November 30, at noon to submit your entry.  The winner will be chosen randomly using Random.org.  For full giveaway rules, click here.  Good luck, my dear readers.  I hope you win!

November 27, 2010

Giveaway of the Day | Silver Bridge Coffee

I have enjoyed Silver Bridge Coffee since earlier this year.  I sampled it at Whole Foods and was smitten.  I’m a sucker for a really good flavored coffee.  And Silver Bridge has some great ones.  Right now I’ve been drinking the Pumpkin Spice.  If I’m not careful I can go through a whole carafe.

I recently met Lorraine Walker, owner of Silver Bridge, at the Dublin Whole Foods when she was sampling her coffee for people.  She had a line three deep when I walked up.  It’s wonderful to talk with her because she is so passionate about her business.  Lorraine is a proponent of fresh, small batch roasting. “Coffee is an agricultural product that should be roasted and brewed fresh. The difference between fresh roasted coffee and the stuff in the can or gourmet coffee at the store is like the difference between eating a strawberry shipped in from the West Coast or picking one fresh from your garden.”

In addition to being passionate about quality and freshness, Lorraine is also a champion of other women-owned and -run businesses.  Which is why she stocks several varieties of Cafe Femenino.  The Café Femenino Coffee Project is a social program for women coffee producers in rural communities around the world.  Additionally, Lorraine charitably donates a portion of  her sales from these coffees to support the homeless women and children at Amethyst.

Great story, right?  I know!  And the coffee is really, really tasty.  Silver Bridge gift packages would make perfect holiday gifts, 12 ounce packages make great hostess gifts.  Locals here in Columbus can pick up Silver Bridge at either Whole Foods or the Hills Market.  And for non-locals, she has a complete selection online.

Today’s giveaway includes a Silver Bridge travel mug, one 12 ounce bag of whole bean Dominican Republic Cafe Femenino, and one 12 ounce bag of ground Caramel Creme.  

To win, either write in the comments section of this post how you take your coffee, or send me a tweet with the same information.  Entries end November 28th at noon EST.  Full giveaway rules can be found here.  Good luck!

November 26, 2010

The Official Persephone’s Kitchen Holiday Gift Guide

The turkey coma is fading, the leftover turkey carcass is simmering on the stove for stock, and now you can start thinking about what to do about your holiday gifts.  ‘Tis the season to be giving!  Perhaps you’ve got a friend or family member that loves all things food, or all things Ohio or all things fabulous. 

Persephone is here with a trusty list that’s sure to have them smiling.  Here are some of the things that will be wrapped and given to our nearest and dearest this year, whether it’s under a tree or lovingly pressed into the welcoming hands of a hostess with a houseful of merrymakers.

For the Baker

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October 14, 2010

Kingsdale Market District: If Phineas and Ferb Made a Grocery Store

After I dropped Cherub off at school, I knew exactly how I would spend my morning: the new Giant Eagle Market District opened.  There had been a definite buzz about it for quite a while, me along with several of my goddess friends had been quietly stalking the place, obsessing over the floor plan on the website, driving by after dark, when the lights were on to see inside and tripping over ourselves to go to the preview parties.  The day had finally arrived.

I have seen my share of big grocery store chains, when we lived in New Jersey.  We loved Wegman‘s in Woodbridge which ushered in a new era of shopping.  When I lived in Texas, Central Market blew my mind on a regular basis.  And even here in Columbus, the Dublin Whole Foods is the second largest outside of Austin.  In my grocery shopping life, I’ve been spoiled for choice.  But this is Market District is scary.  Because it’s my closest grocery store.  And it’s awesome.  It’s almost as if the folks at Giant Eagle had visited all of these beautiful stores that I had shopped at and combined them into one superstore that would completely dominate everything else.

It is a bit like the boys from Phineas and Ferb (known for their antics such as building a rollercoaster, or a time machine or writing a one hit wonder when mom’s not looking) decided to build the most colossal grocery store ever.  It’ll have nearly 500 varieties of cheese!  Twenty seven hundred bottles of wine!  A Rösti and crepe station!  Rattlesnake and python as proteins in the meat case!  Razor clams!  “Ferb, I know what we’re going to do today.”

 

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October 1, 2010

Rules of the Game

I figured it’d be best to set some ground rules for the next week of cooking, eating and imbibing.

I’ve looked up the definition of local food, and have been presented with a number of conflicting definitions.  But this week’s theme from Local Matters is OH So Good.  And many people are comfortable saying anything within two-hour drive can be considered local.  Fortunately, we live right smack in the middle of Ohio.  We’ll go with that two-hour rule.

Because I want you to try this, too, even if it’s just for one meal, we’ll follow the “wild card” locavore rules, which are the most accessible of the movement and allow for coffee, sugar, spices and the like.  (Persephone is not a very nice girl if she doesn’t have her caffeine.)

But I am going give up the Coke Zeros.  I’m pretty sure they aren’t locally harvested.

I’ll also occasionally feature Ohio-produced goods this week, like Rossi Pasta or Silver Bridge Coffee, although neither source locally.

In general, I’ll do my best to make sure it’s from as close to home as possible.

All this week, too, in keeping with our theme, I’ll be featuring some of my favorite Ohio music.

The goal of the week is to have some fun, try some new dishes, meet some new farmers and eat some great food.  Thanks for following me on the journey!

September 3, 2010

North Market Spices

I told you I was out of pepper.  I rectified that sad situation by visiting the newest addition to North Market this morning.  Ben Walters is the foodie that has filled the spice void at the Market.  And filled it he has.  “We’ve already rotated through just about all our original stock, and we’ve only been open just over a month.”  His personal favorite, the Applewood Smoked Salt sold out of 10 pounds in the first day

Part of the genius of North Market Spices is that you can buy in bulk.  If there is a hurdle for new cooks – or resistant cooks, for that matter – it’s that building a spice cabinet can be expensive.  Enter buying spices in bulk.  You can buy a little of what you need or try something new without committing to an amount that you might not use quickly.

This morning, Ben’s really lovely Mom Cindy helped me navigate the brightly stocked shelves full of glorious smelling culinary additions.  A cook’s dream, really. 

Ben stocks over eighty different spices, and even mixes original spice blends for beef, chicken and lamb.  Many of these are certified organic, kosher, or halal.  One blend, Mr. Bill’s Seasoned Salt smells like it’s dying to be matched up with a great piece of steak.  His lavender is locally sourced from Freckle Bear Farm.  And this fall he’ll be blending mulling spices for wines and cider as well as mixing spices for stews and cool weather favorites. 

Can you tell?  I’m already a fan.

North Market Spices is a super little shop with a great family behind it.  Make sure you pop by and try a little bit of something new when you stop at the Farmer’s Market open tomorrow.

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