Posts tagged ‘slow food’

March 1, 2013

It Makes a Difference | Askinosie Chocolate Tasting

Tasting SheetIt’s sometimes the unplanned moments that work out to be the best ones in your day.

Take the morning e-mail from a thoughtful Slow Food Columbus member who types a quick joke, makes you laugh and extends an invitation to attend a chocolate tasting with Shawn Askinosie in the Jeni’s Ice Cream Kitchens.

That afternoon.

Well, you have to say yes, don’t you?

I should say yes more often.

Especially when you’re saying yes to hear what Shawn Askinosie has to talk about.  Not only is he making remarkable chocolate that’s traceable from bean to bar, but he and his family are working hard to improve the lot of the farmers who grow the beans, the neighborhood and community in which the factory is located and heck, the lives of every single person who unwraps a bar of what I am starting to think is some of the best chocolate that has ever melted on my tongue.

Shawn takes something that inherently makes people happy – chocolate – and then ups the ante by making it good for everyone along the supply chain.  Good, clean and fair indeed.

His noble work takes him all around the world to the cocoa farmers and co-ops that he trades with directly who reside in that narrow band 20 degrees to the north and to the south of the equator.  There, in far flung locales from Ecuador to Tanzania to the Phillipines, Shawn partners, pays fairly and profit-shares with growers – many of them women – to produce not the rarest beans, but the ones handled with the greatest care.  Askinosie beans are carefully raised, picked, fermented and then sun-dried in the equatorial heat.

Don’t take my word that it’s these careful steps that makes Askinosie among the best chocolate made anywhere.  Listen to David Lebovitz.

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August 9, 2011

Summer’s Gone | Flying J Dinner

I had a lovely summer vacation.  Complete with my adorable parents (Zeus and Demeter) and my sweetest nephew visiting and plenty of fantastic time outdoors, with good food, sunshine and heat.

The apex of all this fun was Slow Food Columbus‘s Shake the Hand that Feeds You out at Flying J Farm.  Longtime readers of this blog will know that I dearly love the farmer, Dick Jensen, and his organic, grass-fed cattle in Johnstown, Ohio.  And the dinner that the Slow Food Chapter plans every year out there is truly the best food event in the city, bar none.  It was, in fact, one of the main catalysts for me starting this blog.

This year, the Caskey family from Skillet commandeered the farm kitchen to turn out mouth-wateringly delicious courses.  Sous vide beef tongue, anyone?  Please, sir, I want some more.  Demeter managed to score seconds.  Lucky.   Nicolene Schwartz custom created the Flying J, an OYO vodka based cocktail with quick pickled peppers and tomatoes from the farm.  All the vegetables for the dinner were harvested earlier that day, from the fields at the farm, by wonderful SFC volunteers.

The tables groaned under wildflower bouquets, homemade pickles of all kinds (wasabi green beans, dill pickles, chow chow), candles, oodles of wine and chilly Columbus Brewing Company beers.  We even had a buttery, whole-roasted, whey-fed pig course.  Did you know that comes right after dinner?  Right before dessert.  Of hand cranked Snowville Creamery ice cream with roasted peaches and balsamic.  Ice cream churned by happy children that spent the rest of their time playing chase in the meadows, petting ponies and the donkey, messing with a farm cat and feeding the farm dog under the table.

There wasn’t an unhappy creature in the whole bunch.  Laughter spilled over the hill and up to the barns.  Friends crowded around the table to share a meal, a laugh and a glass (or two?) of wine, a sip (or three?) of pawpaw-cello and connect over the importance of food in our lives.  It is what not only feeds us, but sustains us and connects us all.

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Not to put too fine a point on it, but it was perfect.

For more pictures of the lovely evening check out Hungry Woolf’s flikr stream or add Ely Brothers as a friend on Facebook.

Playlist included Summer, by Buffalo Tom.

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.

September 16, 2010

Slow Food People

Pavilions at Slow Food Nation

Image via Wikipedia

 

There’s a great video at Slow Food, even if it’s a bit long, it’s worth seeing.  

Terra Madre is the biennial conference coming up in Torino in October.  Ten people from Central Ohio will be joining 8,000 fisherman, farmers, cooks, and academics from all over the world to share knowledge and skills.   The Slow Food movement works to counteract the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat and how it tastes.  It brings together pleasure and responsibility.  

That’s why I’m involved. 

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