Snow Days FAIL Confession

February 15, 2010 § 2 Comments

Ok. Eating local food with 5 feet of snow on the ground is HARD.  It’s hard even imagining that things grow out of the ground when you can’t SEE the ground.  That’s no real excuse, I know…  I should have planned better, I should have stocked up on more food when I knew the storm was coming. But I really just didn’t think there would be quite this MUCH snow, or that it would affect DC for so long (yeah, thanks DC, for not plowing anything.)

I did pretty well, but I’ve been feeling guilty all week about my non-local indulgences.  So, in the spirit of transparency (and absolution), here is everything I’ve eaten while tumbling off the wagon.  

Snowpocolypse 1, last weekend– I was trapped (though not unhappily) at a friend’s house in Glover Park from Friday night to Sunday afternoon.  There was zero local food in his house and naturally I forgot to bring anything, so over the course of the weekend I had some Barilla pasta and tomato sauce, toast, Bob’s Red Mill oatmeal, and lots of French Champagne (not apologizing for that one).

Being the gentleman he is, he went out into the storm to forage some food for me, and though Whole Foods was closed, he managed to find the only barbeque joint I’ve ever heard of that uses local and sustainable meat- Rocklands BBQ.  As it turns out, Rocklands is also repped by Sweetgreen’s fabulous PR maven, Dusty Lockheart, and she told me the owner, John Snedden, buys many of his animals from 4-H kids at the county fair… and, as a former, 4-H kid myself, that is about the best thing I’ve ever heard. And the bbq was really good (being from Texas, I’m a harsh critic).  Ok aside from the meat I did also have a heaping portion of decidedly NOT local mac and cheese. I may have detected a Velveeta sauce (so tasty, so close to being flavored plastic).

Then I went into my first week at Sweetgreen. For the most part it’s pretty easy to eat locally at Sweetgreen (though soon you will hardly be able to NOT eat locally there, muahaha!).  We already get lots of local fruit and veggies, and all the chicken and turkey is sustainably raised around Gettysburg, PA.  The salads are easy. It’s the Sweetflow that gets me.  Sweetgreen’s tart frozen yogurt is just SO GOOD, and I’m already addicted.  But right now I can’t claim it’s made with local ingredients. In the next couple of weeks we are switching over to a custom Stonyfield blend made with their plain organic yogurt. Stonyfield is an amazing company that has grown to massive success, and yet has managed to stay true to their mission of supporting sustainable family farms.  The vast majority of their milk comes from Vermont, and I’m telling you right now… Sweetflow is about to be added into the “exceptions” column with coffee and chocolate. It’s now non-negotiable. If you want to know why just come try some. 

Other times I fell off the wagon because I just couldn’t help it- 

UrbanDaddy.com DC launch party at the W Hotel- 1 bacon wrapped shrimp (Thailand wrapped in nitrates), 1 lobster roll (Maine lobster, sot so bad), 1 veggie roll (first time I’ve had rice in months), and again… lots of French Champagne.  Food aside, someone please tell companies that are coming in to assert themselves as an authority on the local art and culture scene to STOP importing art and culture from elsewhere for their parties.  This was the DC launch party, and they had a DJ, a rock violinist, and a music entertainment group ALL shipped in from NYC.  **Dear UrbanDaddy, I know it’s hard to believe, but we actually LIKE it here. If we wanted to live in New York, we would. Please stop treating us like Manhattan’s bastard step child. Love, DC.**

My friends Matt and Hillary’s engagement party- It was a great party but a rough night because of some relationship drama (nothing to do with the very happy couple. Just my own, naturally). I drank lots of single barrel whiskey and had a few nuts and shrimp to avoid getting piss drunk. 

International Wine and Food Festival- Nic and I did a really fun live stage demo at the Fest of our new Winter Market Quinoa (coming soon to Sweetgreen), and I think we did pretty fantastic- even though we were right after Jose Andres, and no one can compete with than man onstage! Our quinoa salad included Firefly Farms Allegheny Chevre (MD), Mr. McGregor’s Mushrooms (NJ), sweet potatoes from Lois’ produce (VA), and micro beet greens from Lakeville Produce (DE, I think?)… but quinoa is definitely from South America (though organic), and I’ll bet the raw beets and red onions we used are from California or something.  But it was so good I ate like 5 lbs of it (and then some again for lunch today…).  I’d say it’s about 75% local… but I’m going for 95% at the low end.  I’m going to tweak that recipe so that the only thing not totally local is the quinoa, which will be organic sustainable. And then sometimes I might switch it out for some local wheatberries. Just for kicks 🙂

I feel like there have been a few others here and there also.  I guess it hasn’t been so bad overall… but I haven’t felt as in touch with my food as usual this week, and my body has noticed.  It’s been a fast and furious first week at Sweetgreen, and with the snow and it being the middle of February and everything… I just felt a little out of control.  I’m vowing to get back on track this week.  I bought a bunch of meat and poultry from Bev at EcoFriendly today at the market, so that will have to make up for the lack of vegetables coming out of the ground.  Veal cutlets, young chicken, and pork loin, oh my!

Not that this week is going to slow down or be any easier! We are opening our 4th outpost, Sweetgreen Logan this Friday… and we are adding 2 soups and 3 sides (which we are calling The Market).  It’s going to be AWESOME.  But I’ll likely be at work way past dinner time for several days. 

So far, life as the Sourceress is pretty freaking fantastic. Now I just have to remember to get myself some local food as well as the restaurants! On to week two..

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Sunday Suppers with Alice Waters

January 26, 2010 § 2 Comments

On Sunday night, January 24th- Alice Waters and Joan Nathan created an evening of extravagant Sunday Suppers that will not be soon forgotten.  Generous Washingtonians opened their homes to famous chefs from around the country (and France!) and groups of people dedicated to solving hunger and promoting local food systems. 

As the seat sales ($500 each) for the “Sunday Suppers” benefitted DC Central Kitchen and Martha’s Table, I was lucky enough to attend a dinner to speak on behalf of the Kitchen.  Perhaps because they know I am doing this year of local eating, or perhaps just because I’m lucky, I was given a seat at the home of Kathryn and Michael Hanley where Jeff Buben and RJ Cooper (of the much celebrated Vidalia, here in DC) were cooking with almost exclusively local, and all sustainable, food. 

Fresh, local food has long been a signature of Vidalia- which I had regrettably forgotten until last night.  It is definitely going my Where to Eat list. 

The dinner was out-of-control good.  9 courses of pure deliciousness.  The company was engaging, the hosts gracious, and the chefs inspiring.  It was a perfectly refined evening.  And then the after-party at Oyamel started and all my politesse went right down the hatch with the tequila. But oh, it was such a good time.  I got to talk with everyone from brilliant chefs to progressive farmers.

My darling Bev Eggleston of EcoFriendly Foods introduced me to John Jamison, of Jamison Farm who raises some of the best lamb in the country.  Demetri Recachinas, chef and food manager of Martha’s Table, and I had a long and wonderful conversation about our shared future, and how we must work more closely in the coming year to accomplish our lofty goals.  Nick Stefanelli, executive chef at the fairly new and well-reviewed Bibiana Osteria, assured me- after rabid questioning- that I would be perfectly safe eating at his restaurant, as he only sources the highest quality local and sustainable ingredients… something I was only too happy to hear.  I was also briefly mistaken for Post food writer Jane Black, and I regrettably had to inform the gentleman that sadly, no, I was not.  But I was enormously flattered. 

I was out until the wee hours, and Monday morning came far too early, but it was all completely worth it.  As someone working in both hunger solutions and high-end food sourcing, it was the perfect combination of my worlds.  I met Alice Waters (a long time hero of mine) and Joan Nathan, two of the most incredible women in food, and Josh Viertel, the President of Slow Food USA, and numerous other famous chefs, foodies, and hunger and poverty warriors.  

It was an incredible night for all involved, and the pure generosity of the chefs, food purveyors, and hosts was inspiring.  Sunday Suppers raised over $100,000 for DC Central Kitchen and Martha’s Table.  Not too shabby for some simple Sunday Suppers at home.

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