Category Archives: farm to table

Fifteen Food Fantasies? Is that Enough?

Setting aside family obligations and business, what is your main reason to take a trip? For some, it might be to take in a show at a West End Theatre. and laugh all the way to the American Bar at the Savory. Others might crave some Caribbean beach time with an early evening breeze and a nice Riesling at hand. Or hitting the slopes with the morning sun peeping over the furs at a foot of fresh powder. BTW, on that skiing thing, some slopes out west are opening early this year. ARAR has the scoop!

For me, food is a major draw. If I am fed well, I tend to like wherever I am.  Actually, I am not that hard to please. The basic stuff — if done well — will bring a smile. But I do fantasize about going further. About mysterious wonders emerging from the kitchen to my table.

Dinner at Le Manoir

or this?

Don Alfonso 1890 Calamari

If you have this same sort of yen, check out this post that offers 15 places around the world that are dedicated to make your “travel for food” dreams come true!


Is it Burnished Potato Nugget Season Already?

September is nearly done, and we are headed towards serious autumn. Oscar the rescue cat wants to nestle by the fire, and I am thinking about getting the autumn wardrobe ready. La sciarpa, if you please! And I guanti , pronto!

Last autumn,  we made a huge effort to turn apples into apple cider and had enough to last until spring. This year, we are back at it! So far, it appears that we will not make as much, but the apples are still falling!

And in the kitchen, attention turns to more hearty fare. How about this?

Steam-roasted, pub-style potatoes that have the texture of a deep-fried cloud. Taylor, I believe, covered them in gravy, which is just gilding the lily. This is a PSA to remind you it is now burnished potato nugget season; act accordingly.

You may want the recipe for that one!

How Do You Produce Great Chefs?

Good question.

Back when I was a lad, you didn’t. Becoming a chef was not an optimal career choice. The folks who went down that road usually did so because they dropped out of the mainstream. Tony Bourdain was a good example of that type of person. And he was a great success story. Most of the folks like him did not achieve what he did.

But times have changed and so too has our food culture. We now accept the idea that “celebrity chefs” are very, very cool. We pay huge amounts to sample their wares. We get caught up in how to make things in our kitchens . And we want to know what the kitchens of the celebrity chefs look like too.

Ina Garten in her kitchen

Here is an example of where we are right now. The Robb Report targets people who aspire to the highest lifestyle standards – super rich. And it can be annoying because it is so obviously promoting expensive stuff to buy. At the same time, following The Robb Report offers a window into what some people think living really, really well is all about. And as you can see from this post about the “Ment’Or” gala dinner, celebrity chefs and eating really well fits right in.

Image result for Ment'Or

And there is something missing here. The missing thing is connecting food culture to community. Making our dining part of strengthening locality. Farm to table can help there in breaking farmers out of their isolation.  Perhaps we are headed towards “celebrity farmers”. The pop up scene helps too – as an avenue that opens up more opportunities for young people to make and serve food in communities.

So what is lacking? What will make this come together as a “movement”`? I think we need an institution that is devoted to figuring out how to do this on a global scale. Or perhaps there is such a thing and I missed it.

What do you think?

These Days, The Wine Buzz is All About Relatinships

Robert Parker used to be the main dude in the wine trade. Wine makers hoped that he would give them high numerical points when he sipped their new offerings. If he did, they could sell at high prices. If he did not, they were behind the eight ball.

But things have changed. Or should I say, things are changing. These days, the wine trade is being disrupted by a wave of new wineries that are making “natural wine”. These wines have different taste profiles. Profiles that Parker wouldn’t recognize.

And these new producers are being championed by a new generation of wine experts. These are people who venture out to all sorts of new places to find natural wine producers, and bring their products home.

In the US, the means that the District of Columbia has a competitive advantage when it comes to this new dimension of the wine trade. Why?

In all 50 states, bars and restaurants are required to buy from a licensed distributor, who buys from an importer, who buys from a producer—a system that incentivizes distributors to only purchase well-known wines they’re sure they can sell. But D.C. isn’t a state, so (a restaurant or bar) can bypass the distributor and buy directly from the small, independent winemakers (it) wants to highlight.

To do that, the restaurant needs a flesh and blood person who goes out to find this stuff. Enter Maria Bastasch – wine director of Maydan — a great DC restaurant.

This is a fun story! And it is the type of story we will see a lot more of in the next years.


In Normandy, Cows are Kings!

I knew that there was something special about Normandy dairy, but I didn’t know much about it.

Image result for Normandy cows

Dave Lebovitz has corrected that shortcoming for me.

Dave writes about his trip to Normandy — getting into the details of production of Normandy camenbert, creme fraiche,  and butter.

This is one reason why I want to include a jaunt through Normandy in my fantasy expedition from London to Paris through Cornwall and Normandy!

looking for Natural Wine in London? Here are Your Best Bets!

I see the natural wine movement as part of a larger movement where folks demand more fresh food – call it farm to table, if you will.. Fewer chemicals. Fewer additives.More relationships with local purveyors and growers.More interesting flavors. More open talk about what goes into our bodies.

So there you are in London. You are craving natural wine. Where do you go? Have no fear! Here are 5 picks that will serve you well!

I would go for

The Laughing Heart
277 Hackney Rd, London, E2 8NA

Part off-license, part wine bar and part restaurant – Charlie Mellor’s Laughing Heart on Hackney Road is a low-lit sexy late-night hangout with a spectacular list of small wine producers that changes by the minute. Chef Tom Anglesea’s British-meets-Far East menu is the perfect accoutrement, with dishes such as the Bonito Crudo and Nam Jim and Sichuan Crème Brûlée.


BTW, if you are in London this weekend, there is a lot going on — including this rather unusual food event

FOOD FESTIVAL: Tuck into all manner of grub inside the Tower of London moat. A food festival pops up in the erstwhile waterway, with artisan traders selling everything from cheese to gin. Street food stalls sell nosh to tuck into then and there, and celebrity chefs cook up a storm in the demo kitchen. Look our for beefeaters actually eating beef too. Tower of London, included in admission, 13-15 September

Something Cool is Brewing in San Juan

From BA

Hope tastes like plantains and pernil. Two years after Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit Puerto Rico, rebuilding efforts have led to an increased emphasis on sustainable farming, breaking up the colonial legacy of industrialized agriculture and reliance on imported food while also doubling down on native ingredients. Now local farmers enjoy steady business from seasonally minded chefs pushing the culinary heritage of cocina criolla. Both farmers and chefs are powered by a resilient spirit that can be witnessed in real time, as La Placita de Santurce is packed once more with dancers balancing flaky empanadillas and Medalla beer. At these upstart and legacy spots, the food of Puerto Rico has never felt more Puerto Rican.