slow food nation day two

A continuation of yesterday's post on my assignment at Slow Food Nation.

More fun today at the Civic Center Marketplace. Met a lot of great vendors and tasted a lot more wonderful food. Also spent a lot of time in the press room digitizing, speed-editing and uploading video clips. Check them out:

Then we headed back to the Taste Pavilions at Fort Mason for most tasting and talking. Once again, I came away so inspired by everyone I met. Whether it was June Taylor talking about her White Peach & Rose Geranium Conserves or Peter Giuliano of Counter Culture Coffee explaining single-farm espressos – everyone was so knowledgeable and passionate about what they did. Unlike in so many other industries, I didn't get any sense that anyone was in this because they had "found an angle" or some way to get-ahead or just make a buck. Rather, everyone seemed to be living from the heart and following their passion. It doesn't get better than that.

I also got a chance to snap a few more pics in the Taste Pavilions.

There were so many great-looking displays, but one of my favorites in terms of creative presentation was the Pickles & Chutney pavilion. Curated by Michelle Fuerst and designed by Sagan Piechota Architecture it featured walls made up of lid-mounted mason jars

and an undulating, domed ceiling made out of suspended lids (unfortunately, not very well documented here)

Another spectacular display was the bread sculpture in the Bread Pavilion curated by Steve Sullivan of Acme Bread.

Looking forward to another day at the Taste Pavilions tomorrow!

slow food nation day one

Wow. Today was my first day as one of the official video-bloggers for Slow Food Nation. My friend Carla B. from Local Forage and I are doing real-time reporting from this three-day festival (billed as "The Largest Celebration of American Food in History".) I've been on my feet for the last 15+ hours and I'm thoroughly beat, but also amped up from all the amazing things I saw/learned/did today. (Which basically includes everything I'm most interested in–organic gardening/farming, artisanal foods, heritage/heirloom practices, food politics, and design all rolled into one. Heaven on earth!)

Food for Thought

We started the day at an inspiring panel discussion on the World Food Crisis where four of the foremost authorities on the subject (Vandana Shiva, Carlo Petrini, Raj Patel, and Corby Kummer) discussed how the industrial food production system has left communities worldwide in the grip of hunger and dire food shortages. The panel was moderated by Michael Pollan.


After that we spent most of the day eating and interviewing our way through San Francisco's Civic Center which was transformed into an urban garden/farmer's market/outdoor food bazaar. It would be hard to pick a favorite from all the delicious food we sampled and interesting people we met, but our first videoblog from the day was about Heritage Pork.

Taste Pavilions

We ended the day at the press-only preview of the Taste Pavilions at Fort Mason Center. Since I had already thought I'd died and gone to heaven at the Civic Center Marketplace, I'm not sure how to describe the nirvana that followed here. Some of the best Bay Area architects created 15 unique and visionary  freestanding food environments where visitors can sample and learn about the finest sustainably-produced food in the country.

I'm sure I'll be posting a lot more about this in the next few days (when hopefully I'm less exhausted) but in the meantime here's an image from the charcuterie tonight. Fra'Mani mortadella on fresh baked rye bread, topped with sauerkraut–a combination of flavors I would never have thought to put together but it was so good it really almost brought tears to my eyes (and don't even ask how many of these I ate!)

Looking forward to more tomorrow!

woods lake

All summer I've been jonesing for a camping trip to a high alpine lake. I love that granite scenery of the Sierras. This week the kids are in-between summer camp and the start of school, so I talked my brother into joining us for a three day midweek trip. We just returned from an idyllic alpine experience at Woods Lake. Hiking, swimming, and cooking over an open wood fire. Summer perfection.

stalked by religion

Like a lot of people these days (at least in Northern California) I consider myself spiritual but not religious. So it's not like I go around looking for religious "signs." But something weird has been going on the past few days.

On Monday I was in the parking garage of the medical building of my kids' pediatrician and noticed this in the ashtray next to the elevator.

Then yesterday I had a breakfast meeting at Cafe Lo Cubano in San Francisco and this was my total at the register:

Then today I was at the Alemany Farmer's Market (BTW, for those of you interested in shopping there, my friend Carla just published a great guide to the market yesterday on her blog Local Forage that I highly recommend.) and on the way back to my car I noticed this:

And is that blood smeared all over the cone? What does this all mean? Weird.

appliance love

I’m not that much of a consumer (well, by American standards anyway) so it’s not often that I get really excited by a purchase. But I am thrilled about my new upright freezer! As much as I love canning and preserving foods in traditional ways, I’m also big into freezing. The freezer section of my refrigerator has always been obscenely packed to the gills. So I finally treated myself to a spacious (EnergyStar compliant though!) freezer. I’m so happy to have ample room for all my stocks and sauces and garden surplus. Not to mention that I can now keep the freezing cylinder of my ice cream maker¬†always frozen and at the ready for ice cream at a moment’s notice!

riffing on no-knead bread

Ever since Mark Bittman wrote about No-Knead Bread in the NY Times two years ago, it seems like everyone has gotten into the no-knead craze. I've experimented with various versions myself trying different combinations of flours etc. (One of my friends even tried making one with annatto powder to produce a delicious orange-colored version that looked great topped with avocado slices.)

A couple weeks ago I was reading Marie Wolf's blog, breadbasketcase, and she was making a Parmesan-Black Pepper version that she had adapted from a Williams-Sonoma recipe. I haven't actually made a version where I've added any non-grains to the doughs (though I've been thinking of trying one with carmelized onions and caraway seeds) so today I was inspired to try my own cheese version. I basically followed Marie's version but with the following modifications:

Instead of:                                                    I used:
     3 cups all-purpose flour                                  2 cups all-purpose flour + 1 cup white whole wheat flour
     2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper       1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
     1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese                    1/2 cup grated Manchego cheese
     1/2 cup Parmesan cheese chunks                    1/2 cup Manchego cheese chunks

The results were fantastic! Especially delicious topped with some Jamon Serrano.

purely pecan pancakes

Started my day with the flourless pecan pancake recipe from my friend, Carla’s blog, Local Forage. I have to admit I was a little nervous about these–kind of like when my vegetarian friends rave about the latest soy “sausage” they love–sure it tastes really good if you’ve completely forgotten what REAL sausage tastes like! Pancakes without grain raised my suspicions in the same way. But I’m always trying to find ideas for getting protein into my carbo-loving children, so I was up for the experiment. They were a success across the board, very rich and tasty. But you do have to set your expectations for something very different than the typical super-fluffy American pancake. These are thinner and denser but still delicious. I also fried them in coconut oil which added a nice flavor.

One helpful note: definitely cook over slightly lower heat than usual because I found it was easy for the batter to quickly carbonize and leave a really unpleasant burnt taste.

long beans

It's always fun to grow something new in the garden, but I've been extra-excited about my Chinese Red Long Beans this year. They are just so cool looking! I ordered the seeds from Territorial Seed and grew them on the bean tepee along with my regular favorite green beans, Emerite, which I always order from Cook's Garden. Today the long beans were finally ready to harvest (and they really are incredibly long!) I found a few different recipes for "dry frying" them but ended up using this one which was really tasty. The long beans hold up quite a bit better than green beans do under high temperature wok cooking. I will definitely grow these again.